Wedding season is here and it can be expensive being a guest, especially if you have a few to attend. I’m sharing my thoughts, feelings and money saving tips on being a wedding guest on a budget!
I absolutely love going to weddings; I’m a sucker for romance and usually end up in floods of tears at some point! It’s usually around the first dance when the tears start flowing, coincidentally this is also when the copious amounts of bubbly and wine usually kick in. The only first dance I have laughed through rather than cried, was at my best friends wedding. My god-daughter Millie, who was three at the time, grabbed a pink hat out of the photo booth box and ran in circles around her mum and dad whilst they had their first dance.
I feel like I’m a seasoned professional having
attended so many weddings over the past few years. Being in my late twenties means there’s no shortage of invitations dropping onto the doormat! The only draw back of going to all of these lovely events is the cost. It can be a bottomless pit of spending; there’s the outfit, accessories, hair, nails, tan, make up, card, gift, hotel, taxis… the list goes on. There are however, lots of ways to save on these things, so I want to share some of the ways I pinch the pennies when I am off to a wedding.
One of my favourite things about being a wedding guest is getting to wear some sort of fancy hat. There aren’t many times when you can wear such a fancy hair accessory without feeling silly.
They can be quite expensive but not if you know where to get a bargain. I’ve had some stunning ones over the last few years, all of which have been second-hand. Take that term loosely though, all of the hats and fascinators I’ve bought have been worn once or twice to similar events so have been worn for a grand total of about ten hours. That’s practically brand new!
The likes of Ebay, Shpock, Gumtree and charity shops have a plethora of millinery (or simply put – women’s hats) for a fraction of the original prices. I’ve paid between £5-£15 for all of mine and after I’ve worn them, I’ve resold them and got some of my money back. You can also buy out of season, Department stores tend to sell them off quite cheap in the Autumn/Winter sales. If you can get a neutral one it can be a good investment as it can be worn with many different outfits. I had a simple black one that I’ve worn to three different weddings.
When it comes to outfits, I find you can’t go wrong with a dress. My go to choice is a bodycon, midi length dress or a nice floaty maxi dress. Both are a classy and sensible length suitable for sitting in a church. Surely this goes without saying but I think it’s worth a mention, never EVER wear a white dress if you’re a guest at a wedding!! It still amazes me how many people still wear white despite this being a big no no.
There’s often plenty of options on the high street for those kind of dresses but shopping preloved not only keeps the costs down but is a great way to cut back on wasted garments. Vinted, Depop, eBay and charity shops can be brilliant for wedding suitable outfits. Often some dresses have only been worn once or twice. There’s the odd brand new with tags too! I found the dress pictured below for just £1 in a local charity shops and it’s perfect for a wedding as well as being comfortable.
One item I think is a handy accessory for a wedding is a pashmina or a lightweight scarf. It might sound a little old fashioned but they’re such a cheap way to finish off an outfit. Not only do they look pretty but they are practical for keeping warm if outdoors. They come in a variety of colours so they’re easy to match to any outfit and I find they are much more convenient than carrying around a jacket all day. Then there’s the fact it can be worn as a scarf in autumn and winter meaning you’ve got an item you can rewear rather than buying a jacket you might just wear once.
Hair and make up are obviously important when going to a wedding; chances are there will be a camera in your face at some point of the day. I’ve been to weddings where the photographer has appeared out of nowhere and pointed a huge lens right in my face. I still wouldn’t waste money getting my hair and make up done professionally. There are so many Youtube videos and online tutorials about how to create the perfect look; with a bit of practice I’ve learned how to create some really pretty up-do’s that are quick and easy to do. It’s the same with make up. Why spend large sums of money if you can do it yourself? I actually enjoy this part of getting ready (as long as I give myself enough time). Of course if you find that doing these yourself isn’t for you, definitely try local salons who might offer a bundle package on hair and makeup.
I have similar thoughts when it comes to things like fake tan and nails. I used to fork out £15 per spray tan and upwards of £20 for a set gel nails, I’ve since discovered a few products that save a lot of money that look just as good as the salon equivalent. Elegant Touch false nails are brilliant, they are so quick and easy to do and they come in a variety of shapes and styles. At around £5-£8 a pack they are a bargain!
When it comes to fake tan, I have a few favourites. St Moriz is a budget brand that is easy to apply and gives a great coverage and rich colour.
It costs around £5 a bottle and easily does two or three separate applications. Another favourite of mine – especially for weddings – is St Tropez in shower tan. It’s a bit more expensive at £15 a bottle but is sometimes on offer for around £9/£10. It is quick and easy to apply (just three minutes in the shower each day) and gives a natural looking tan. It also has a really nice almond smell and leaves your skin feeling soft.
A lot of the weddings I’ve been to have been in various places around the country. When I’ve needed to stay over for a night or two I’ve always checked AIRBNB to see what’s available in the area. I found an amazing place to stay for a friend’s wedding last year that just a few minutes from the wedding venue. Want to know more? Have a read of my post all about AIRBNB and the amazing annex we stayed in. There’s also information on how to get money of your first AIRBNB trip.
Finally, the gift… there’s no money-saving on this one I’m afraid. Long gone are the days of buying a toaster or set of dinner plates for the happy couple, it’s all money and gift cards now and I completely understand why. The amount you can afford or want to give is down to you but the general rule is you give more if you’re a day guest rather than just the evening and it often depends how well you know the couple. This is something I honestly don’t mind putting my hand in my pocket for, after all, I am getting to enjoy a full day of lovely food, drinks and entertainment courtesy of the bride and groom.
Some of the weddings I’ve been to recently have provided so much food and drink that I’ve not had to put my hand in my pocket once during the day. Amazingly, I even had to turn down a few prosecco top ups because the waiting staff were coming round that often! I’ve also had some great experiences; one wedding had a drinks reception at a local vintage railway and a ride of the East Lancs steam train! This was an amazing treat and really made the day!
So that’s it, my thoughts and feelings on how to be a wedding guest on a budget. Share your hints and tips in the comments below.
Happy Wedding Season,
Thrifty Clair x