A friend of mine recently attended a wedding that took place across the country from where she lives. Between the flight, the three nights at a hotel, and the travel to and from the airport, she wound up spending about $1,500. Ouch.
Although hosting a wedding can be an extremely expensive endeavor, attending one is hardly cheap, especially when there's travel involved. If you're invited to an out-of-town wedding, there are a few things you can do to make that trip more affordable.
1. Carpool with other guests
If the wedding you're supposed to attend is within a reasonable driving distance (say, five hours or less), it almost always makes sense to get there by car rather than fly. Not only will the cost of fuel generally be cheaper than an airline ticket, but you also won't have to pay for things like baggage and getting to an airport. Then, to lower your costs even more, round up some friends, pile into a single car, and have everyone split the cost of driving.
2. Rent a house near the venue instead of staying at a hotel
Renting a home with a group of friends can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a wedding stay compared to what a hotel would cost. For example, you can snag a home large enough for eight people in Miami for $250 a night on a weekend in August. A single hotel room for one or two people, meanwhile, might easily cost the same amount. And, as a bonus, by renting a property, you'll have access to a kitchen so that if the bride and groom aren't providing all of your meals during your stay, you'll have the option of preparing them yourself for a fraction of the cost of what a restaurant would charge.
3. Get a block of hotel rooms
If renting someone's property in the vicinity of the wedding you're attending isn't possible, then you may have no choice but to stay at a hotel. If so, aim to snag a group rate by asking the hotel for a block of rooms, or see if the bride or groom will arrange this for you. You might easily score a 10–20% discount by reserving multiple rooms at the same time.
4. Cash in your air miles if you have to fly
Driving to a wedding venue isn't always feasible. If flying is the only way to get there, but you have a travel credit card you've accrued miles on, cashing them in for a free trip could lower your costs substantially. And although you may feel inclined to save those air miles for another trip, keep in mind that when you attend a wedding, there are other expenses to think about, like attire and a gift for the bride and groom. Therefore, it might pay to use your miles for a wedding, and save paying for your flight out of pocket for trips on which travel is the most expensive component.
Traveling for a wedding can put a huge strain on your budget, even when you do take steps to minimize your costs. The last thing you want to do is rack up debt in the course of seeing friends or loved ones tie the knot, so the next time you get a save-the-date card for a wedding that's out of town, start setting funds aside for it immediately. Do your best to estimate your total costs, and then put money into savings each month so that by the time that event rolls around, you'll have the ability to pay for it.