“With spring and summer knocking on the door the number of invitations you receive for weddings are likely to increase. Many people find it difficult to balance what they can afford while not skimping on wedding related gifts. It is important to consider your budget carefully to make sure that you do not put yourself at a financial disadvantage because of someone else’s big day,” says Eunice Sibiya, Head of FNB Consumer Education.
There are ways around attending the wedding and contributing to gifts without breaking the bank.
Sibiya’s top five tips:
1. Set out a budget from the outset
Once you receive the invitation, decide what you are willing to spend on the wedding and what you can, realistically, afford.
“Factor in possible accommodation and travelling costs and based on your budget, start saving up in an easily accessible account during the months leading up to the wedding. The idea with such an account is not necessarily to earn interest but rather to have funds readily available when you spot the ideal gift or when you have to pay for accommodation. This will help you to avoid spending a large amount at once or worse, incurring debt,” advises Sibiya.
And, once regular saving has become a part of your monthly budget, continue to save a small amount every month for life events such as weddings, baby showers and birthdays.
2. Gifts for all occasions
“There is no shame in not contributing to all of the gifts. Kitchenware, special lingerie or a weekend away with the boys does not come cheap,” says Sibiya.
Even if they are good friends, don’t allow yourself to incur debt that you will be paying off long after the wedding day has come and gone. Rather be creative with your gifts: print some photos out and make an album, or write out your favourite recipes. Otherwise, consider purchasing gifts together as a group, a small amount from each person can go a long way.
If it is a destination wedding, be honest with the bridesmaids and explain to them that you cannot buy gifts for all the celebrations leading up to the wedding. It is more important to be there in the moment when the couple says “yes” than to buy a lot of gifts.
3. Taking the edge off destination weddings
Destination weddings are becoming fairly common and early planning is the key in these instances.
“If it requires a flight, make sure that you book as early as possible, flights at the last minute will always be far more expensive,” says Sibiya. “Alternatively, if you are driving, make sure you organise in advance that you go with friends, which will make a big difference to the petrol bill.”
4. Accommodation need not break the bank either.
“If the wedding is in an area were family or friends reside, ask if you can stay the night,” says Sibiya. “Or do a search and find bed and breakfast accommodation or a cheaper alternative in the area. Don’t be afraid to share and remember that you will spend very little time where you stay – there is no need for the most luxurious accommodation.”
5. It is your right to be choosy
Pick your weddings; you are under no obligation to attend every wedding that you get invited to. If the invite is from a distant family member or acquaintance that you are unlikely to see much in the future, weigh up whether going to the wedding is worth the cost. The last thing you need is to create more debt to your current commitments.
“One thing you need to remember is that if you are finding the wedding to be a financial strain, it is up to you to make the best decision for your pocket. If you are really unable to afford it, it might be best to consider declining from the start,” concludes Sibiya.
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