I’d heard about wedding season. It sounded fantastic. Good friends getting married every weekend, exotic trips away, tear-jerking speeches, and busting out to classic Madonna on the dance floor with old friends. Oh the good times!

But no one told me about the hit to the bank balance – or at least, not until I brought it up and now that’s all anyone talks about.

There’s no way around it. Weddings are expensive. There’s an entire industry spinning around the one big day. Sure, we could boycott them, but I’m getting married later this year and I want my people there!

In theory, no expense should be spared for the special day… but every wedding is someone’s big day.

Here’s how I plan to manage it:

Be prepared

With three weddings on the schedule and many friends on the brink of engagement, I know what’s ahead for the social calendar (possibly for the next few years!). So I’m putting aside a small amount of money each week for weddings. It prevents me from allocating the money elsewhere, and allows me to attend the weddings I just can’t miss.

I always make travel plans at the last minute. Not any more! Recently I was horrified to learn of a $900 round trip to an upcoming wedding (that’s why I’m now driving the long distance instead). When the next invite drops, I’m scanning the web for cheap flights and accommodation.

Beg, borrow, or steal

My sisters have fantastic wardrobes and are a few years ahead of me on the wedding timeline. So I plan to borrow from them. But even if that’s not an option for you, why not mix it up among your group of friends? If everyone’s on the same social circuit there are bound to be wedding outfits galore – and trust me, people rarely remember a dress someone else wore, everyone wears things differently.

Carpool

Flying isn’t always the only option. Look into the distance and driving time. It may be more manageable than you think. Share the drive and costs with a group of friends and make a road trip of it.

Sleep cheap

Some couples will arrange special deals with a local hotel, but others might simply recommend the “nicest”. Take some time to do your own research on hotels and consider other options like airbnb.

Give better

Gift giving is completely personal. One couple I know is saving for a down payment on a house, so instead of giving them an engagement and wedding gift we pooled it and contributed funds toward their investing goal. This allowed us to spend exactly to our budget rather than an extra $20 here or there.

A group of us pooled our funds to give a larger gift to another couple. It allowed us to purchase something grand and thoughtful without blowing our budgets.

I also plan to scour flea markets and second hand stores for some vintage treasures and buy them on the spot. Waiting for an occasion puts on the pressure and can often cause you to spend more than you need to.

Remember – a gift is not always called for. I have received some lovely cards from friends recently congratulating us on our engagement. These are just as treasured.

Are you a wedding regular? Share your war stories? How have you improved budgeting over time?