I swear literally everyone around me is getting married and having babies. This has been going on for the last few years, and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon. Sure, I expected this to happen once I got into my 20s, but no one told me how expensive it would all be. Coincidentally, every wedding, pre-wedding event, and baby shower I have to go to always seems to fall around the same time added expenses are due, like my six-month car insurance premium or a birthday for someone close to me.
Needless to say, as fun and exciting as weddings and babies can be, I’ve had to learn how to plan and budget accordingly. Because let’s be real: Between the gifts, outfits, travel, and more, things add up fast. After a few years of practice, though, I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of it. So if everyone around you is getting married and having kids and you’re wondering how to financially prepare, you’ve come to the right place. Here are my best budgeting tips for weddings and baby showers as a guest:
Thankfully, we’re usually given a heads-up for these events well in advance—whether it be through a pregnancy announcement or save-the-date invite—which gives us a chance to start planning ahead of time. If you procrastinate things like booking travel accommodations, getting outfit alterations done, or buying gifts, your finances will take a hit. Planning ahead also helps alleviate stress and gives you a better idea of how much you’ll be spending.
I recommend using apps like Evernote to stay organized when financially preparing for weddings and baby showers. As soon as I know when things are happening, I immediately mark them down in the calendar on my phone and computer. I do this religiously for all of my events and appointments because it helps me remember when things are happening, stay organized, and avoid any last-minute surprises and price hikes. From here, I then start factoring costs into my budget and plan accordingly.
Factor costs into your monthly budget
Last summer, I attended a wedding, a baby shower, and two birthdays for children under 5 in the span of one month. Unsurprisingly, my credit card bill was way higher than I’d anticipated. Although I knew those events were coming up (I’d marked them down in my calendar, after all), I’d failed to factor them into my monthly budget and how they would impact my bills and spending.
Thankfully, I’ve learned from that error and I now factor the costs of whatever wedding, pre-wedding event, or baby shower I have to attend into my monthly budget. This usually means that I’ll cut back in some areas (like not buying all the artisanal cheeses I want at the market) to adjust my spending so I don’t go over my allotted budget. I view this as a small sacrifice to make in the grand scheme of things and try to remind myself that it’s for a special event that’ll be remembered for a lifetime.
Opt for rewearing, borrowing, or mixing and matching outfits
I am often guilty of committing one of the cardinal sins of fashion: I rewear outfits—a lot. I don’t do this because I dislike fashion, I do it because I have a few go-to staples in my wardrobe that I feel confident in and can be dressed up or down. Have I bought new clothes for weddings or baby showers? Absolutely! But do I do it every time? No, I don’t. Instead, I try to rewear dresses and mix and match pieces and accessories with it—like shawls, gloves, shoes, jewelry, etc.—to keep things fun and fresh. I’m also a huge fan of borrowing from friends or family because it cuts back on extra spending and gives me the opportunity to wear something new.
If you’re trying to practice smart spending, try rewearing, borrowing, or mixing and matching outfits. If you’re feeling crafty, you can also try tailoring pieces to look different each time you wear them as a way to switch things up. You don’t have to do this all the time, but not buying new clothing, shoes, and accessories for every single event will be a huge financial boost. Plus, when you do decide to splurge on something new, it’ll be all the more exciting.
Set a spending limit on gifts
I personally feel like gift-giving is where things can get expensive, which is why having a set spending limit is key. I’ve set my own spending limits based on what works best for me financially: for close friends and family, I’ll spend $50-$75 on a bridal or baby shower gift and $25-$30 for acquaintances; even if I can’t attend a shower, I’ll still send a gift to let the guest of honor know I’m thinking about them and care.
Meaningful gifts come in all shapes, sizes, and price points. Make sure you’re buying gifts that you can afford and fit into your budget. You don’t always have to buy something, either. Anything handmade (think: painting, photo album, etc.) is a really thoughtful and affordable option.
Don’t make unnecessary beauty splurges
I’m naturally a brunette, so back when I was blonde, I had to get my hair done every two months. Fortunately, my hairdresser isn’t super pricey—but it still adds up—and getting my hair done before I needed to on top of all my other living, wedding, and baby shower expenses was just an unnecessary splurge. So, yes, my dark roots may be showing in some old wedding and shower photos, but it really isn’t the end of the world.
I understand just as much as the next person that we all want to look our best at events like these, but the truth is, making extra beauty splurges just isn’t necessary. If there are things you can do at home—like a manicure or pedicure, facial, spray tan, and so on and so forth—I recommend you do so to cut back on spending. Much like outfits, you can make beauty splurges for specific wedding and baby-related events, but you don’t have to make them every time. Don’t stress if you can’t get something, like your hair, done in time; looking your best means looking presentable, feeling confident, and glowing with happiness—and the last two come from within.
Focus on the positive
I’ll admit that I sometimes get jaded with the number of weddings, wedding events, and baby showers I’m invited to and attend. I’ll find myself getting caught up in how much everything’s going to cost and the areas I’ll have to cut back on instead of focusing on what really matters: being there and showing up for the people I care about. Staying positive and budgeting accordingly helps me stay more present and grounded, which allows me to truly enjoy making memories with those in my life and celebrating the start of the next chapter in theirs.