Posts in the 'wedding guests' Category

BAB Throwback: How to Make the Most of Being a Broke-Ass Wedding Guest

I wrote this little ditty two years ago, but it’s just as valid now as it was then (though my life has changed considerably). Weddings are expensive for everyone involved, and I feel like I’ve been hearing some extra griping across the Internetz about the inconvenience from a guest POV. So, let’s sit back and get our week going with these tips on how to do wedding guesting, Broke-Ass style.

BAB Throwback How to Make the Most of Being a Broke-Ass Wedding Guest.jpg

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Not everyone can be a baller like Metro kitty.

We all know being a Broke-Ass Bride is about being wise with your green and making sure it’s spent in the right places and with the right people. But what about when you’re a guest at a broke-ass (or not) wedding and you’re still a broke-ass? Unlike when planning your own wedding, being a guest isn’t necessarily at the constant forefront of your mind, occupying all of your money- and sanity-related thoughts. Your life is no longer engulfed by the “OHEMGEEZ how are we going to afford to feed/inebriate/entertain everyone we know and love AND get my hurr did AND pay for alterations AND make sure our friends know how much we appreciate them with gifts AND … AND … AND … ” Well, you know.

But being a broke-ass wedding guest can still have its panic-inducing, curl-up-in-a-ball kind of moments. I’m attending a wedding June 16 in Louisville, Ky. It is one of two I was invited to this summer, and the other I had to respectfully turn down because, well wouldn’t ya know it, it was on the exact same day. It was really difficult for me to say no because the bride was one of the first roommates Husbandface and I had together when we began cohabitating. But the one I eagerly said ABSO-FREAKIN’-LUTELY to is one of my nearest and dearests. In fact, she was in our wedding and her mama has been like my own for many many moons.

But! Louisville is pretty far from my little neck of the woods. And since off-season hit Husbandface and I like a fastball right to the schnozz (sorry, it’s also baseball season), things got pretty tight around here in a hurry. With him getting laid off until his new job starts in June and me working full-time, but for a newspaper — which, as an industry, tend to be notorious for mediocre wages — I knew I had to be uber wise about how I spent my cash, money, yo. But there was no way in a blazing inferno I would let my lack of flow hinder my only vacation this year and my chance to hang with my girls.

In December, I thought things would be peachy-keen. I bought a baller new dress (on sale, from ModCloth) and began browsing some swank digs to lay my head for the week. Then April hit and KABLOOEY! I still have the dress, but can no longer pony up for the luxe life.

As luck would have it, I’m traveling with the bride’s mama. And she is super spending-savvy. First we camped out on Kayak.comOrbitz.comPriceline.com … you name it, to find the absolute cheapest airfare. Things were looking to bottom out around $500. Then, as if with a stroke of luck, the bride herself came through with the best news of all: She had vouchers from her and her fiance’s chaos-riddled journey to get to my own wedding. So, with the vouchers and a 5-hour drive to get to the nearest big airport, the round-trip tickets for both of us only cost $120. WHEW.

Next up was the hotel issue. Obviously, we wanted to stay at the hotel closest to the venue, which is the one where the block had been booked *YOU GUYS. If you don’t already know this, pay attention: Blocks often times cost money for the couple. But, if they can fill the block, they are not only saving you money (in some cases, like when we got married, HALF OFF), but sometimes they’ll even get a room for a night out of it. So really, it behooves ALL THE PEOPLE to take advantage of the couple’s legwork in setting these up.* However, it was a bit pricey to hole up there for the total of 10 days we were going to be there. So, we scoured the area for good deals. But Louisville is BIG. And we weren’t renting a car, thus we’d be relying on the bus system. And *Ta Da*!!! The bride’s Maid of Humor/Sisterface stepped in and offered up her crib AND her know-how of the city’s public transport.  So, Sisterface and I are bunking down at the aforementioned hotel for two nights surrounding the wedding, and I get to play roommate with two of my fave ladies in the world for the rest of the week.

Now, I only have to scrimp and save for food, booze and other accouterments (have I mentioned it’s baseball season? Because I’m TOTES checking out the Louisville Slugger factory).

Now, I know that not everyone will luck out quite in the way I did, but between my destination wedding and attending this wedding (the first one ever I’ve had to travel for without my parents), I think I’ve racked up some tips for you:

Camp out on travel sites. Sign up for fare-alert emails, check back daily (if not twice!) and check out surrounding airports. The town I live in is generally at least an extra $200 to fly in/out of. One an hour and a half away knocks anywhere from $50 to $150 off that price. The one we’re flying out of? It’s a fairly big airport, so it’s super cheap to fly into another major airport. The drive makes the savings worth it.

Take advantage of hotel blocks. Even if it’s just for a night or two around the wedding. After a fantastic event, it’s so nice to go somewhere close, maybe a little more upscale than what you would normally book, and bask in the glow of what you just experienced. Chances are you’re getting a killer deal, won’t have to deal with too much in the way of transportation to and from and will most likely run into fellow revelers for nightcaps or morning coffee. You’re also helping the newlyweds out.

Take a chance and bunk up with a fellow single traveler. You could split the cost of the room and any taxis/shuttles you take during the week. And you could make a lifelong new friend. Also, by offering this, you could be alleviating any possible whining to the bride/groom/family that may be taking place. And everyone knows a happy couple means a rockin’ event.

What are some ways you’ve found to make travel, especially traveling for weddings, a little less painful on the purse?

 

BAB Classics: Ask Liz: The Wedding Things You Just Can’t Do

Food and money. Man, oh, man. Isn’t that the broke-ass life? You always try to have enough of both, but what about when you’re trying to throw a big ol’ party? That’s where the stakes get raised, and some good, timeless advice from erstwhile BAB team member Liz, of Silver Charm Events, swoops in to soothe the nerves.

Dear Liz,

My fiance and I LOVE a good party. We have budgeted for 150 guests at our wedding, but there are more than 150 people that we want to celebrate with us. The long and short of it is: we cannot afford to feed everyone. We are having a great local cover band, and we would like to send out secondary invitations for those acquaintances to join us, after dinner has been served at the reception. Is is tacky to ask an additional chunk to come at 8:00 for dancing and drinks but not the ceremony and dinner? How should we word those invitations so as not to offend anyone?

Signed, 

Down to the Count

Make ‘em fit, or leave ‘em out. Anything else is asking for trouble.
(Courtesy of Elizabeth Anne Designs)

Dear  Down,

Not to be harsh, but I don’t really see that going over very well. Basically, you’re saying that you don’t like them enough to invite them to your wedding and pay for their meal, but just enough to hang out with them when it’s going to cost you less money. It’s not what you mean, but it’s definitely what you’re saying. And I don’t know if you sent Save the Date cards to them, too, but if you did, eyebrows are definitely going to rise, just like their expectations did.

So, what to do, what to do? A couple of things, I think. Figure out how much each additional person would cost you, and look at the various pieces of your budget to see where you can make some cuts to accommodate. One step down for your meal, or one less appetizer? Stick to beer and wine and a specialty drink? Don’t go top shelf on the liquor? I don’t know what you’re doing now, but there are almost always places where you can cut and still be comfortable with what you’re getting.

And, realistically? Not everyone is going to be able to attend, anyway. I’m not the biggest fan of B-listing potential guests, mostly because it’s a lot of work, but try and make it work for you. Send your invitations out early enough to the 150, and then for every “No” you get, send one out to the B list.

But, I would definitely do a budget check, first.

The only other option is to not invite them, period. And, yes, this means that you won’t have everyone you want at your wedding, but most couples face that reality, sooner or later. You’re really not doing them, or yourself, any favors by sending out a half invite. Invite or do not invite. There is no “try.”

“That’s so funny! Together, we spent over $3,000 to be in our friend’s wedding!”

Dear Liz, 

 I am a bridesmaid in my childhood best friend’s wedding. I knew I’d have to shell out some bucks, but I had no clue how much I was expected to spend… until now. She’s had an engagement party, a bridal shower, a honeymoon shower, and now her two-day destination bachelorette party is coming up. I told the Maid of Honor that I wasn’t sure I could go if it’s going to cost me more than $300. She has already booked the hotel, but every time I ask her for the total amount I am expected to shell out, she dodges my questions. This has happened three times, so far. It’s getting to be frustrating. I’d hate to cancel last minute on it, but she really won’t communicate with me. Plus, it’s a surprise for the bride, so I can’t talk to her about it. I also have to have a minor surgery a week before this shindig. I don’t want to jeopardize my recovery process by going on this weekend trip, either. My question is, do I stay or do I go? I feel that I will risk the friendship of not only the bride, but also the Maid of Honor (who is another childhood friend) if I didn’t show up. I wasn’t at her bridal shower (same day as my grandma’s 90th birthday party) so I feel obligated to go to this bachelorette party. Yet at the same time I don’t know how I will be physically after this surgery, and I do not want to go broke because of this bachelorette weekend. If I do not go, how do I break the news to the maid of honor? This is really stressing me out!

Signed,

Bridesmaid Bummer

Dear Bummer,

Bottom line? You can’t go. I’m really sorry, I know you want to celebrate with your friend, I know you’re worried about your relationship with her and your other friends. But you will be a week out from SURGERY, and if you’re talking about a “recovery process”, then it isn’t that minor. Not only is it a really good excuse, it’s a really good reason. Plus, it’s not going to help your stress level, before or after surgery, if you’re worried about how you’re going to cope, financially.

Being a bridesmaid is expensive. The last time I was one, about 4 years ago, it cost me over $1,000, and I see girls in my weddings spending that and more. I was honored and thrilled to be a part of my friend’s day, as are all the other bridesmaids I’ve met and known. I’m not saying that it wasn’t worth it. But, that’s not a small amount of money — it just isn’t — and that should be taken into consideration.

So, how to tell the MOB? Tell her that you’re having surgery the week before, and you don’t know how you’re going to feel after it, or what you’ll be physically able to do. So, you can’t go. If you think you can pull it, give her $50 – $100 to buy a round of drinks at the party, or figure out how to get it to the bride, with your name on it.

What are the tricks you used to afford all the guests you want? And, what do you think about Bummed’s predicament? Let me know in the comments below! And, if you would like to find out more about me and my little part of wedding world, visit my website at www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz

{Ask Liz} Don’t Let Unwanted Plus Ones Blow Your Wedding Budget

Got a question for Liz? Go to the contact page and let us know what’s up!

Oy, with these things!

Dear Liz,

We are trying to keep our guest list small, but lots of people want to bring their other half, and if we say yes to one person, we’re going to have to say yes to others. How do we tell people that their invite is for them only? Is there a nice way to say don’t bring a friend? I just want family at the wedding, but my fiancé wants to have his friends,too, and that doubles the guest list from around 40 to 100! Please help, we don’t have enough money to feed 60 extra people!

Signed,

Singles Only

Dear Singles,

You know, RSVPs are kind of the butt boil of wedding planning. There are the folks who RSVP right away, which is wonderful. The ones who RSVP but leave out some information like their name or what they want to eat, which is eye-roll inducing but ultimately harmless. I mean, which one of us has never locked their keys in their car before? You get busy, you get flustered, it happens. There are the ones that assume you already know they’re coming, and don’t bother to mail the card in.  There are the ones who just don’t bother to mail the card in, whether they are coming or not. And, then, THEN, there are the guests who look at an invite that is is obviously for a certain number of people, but they “misunderstand” and wedge extra guests into that tiny space on the card, without warning you. Yup. Of course, it’s not malice, it’s carelessness and presumption (“Oh, you meant me? I can’t bring a guest??). Consider yourself warned.

But, yes, before I went on a rant, you had a question: How to tell your guests that they can’t bring a plus one, and make it stick. Use all of these methods and somewhere around 85-90% of your guests will get it.

1. Technically, whoever you address the envelope to, is the only person invited. Address it to Miss Jane Smith, and she’s supposed to RSVP for herself. If Miss Smith is allowed to bring a plus one, then yo would address it to Miss. Jane Smith and Mr. Tobias Miller, or Miss. Jane Smith and Guest. For an entire family it would be addressed to  The Smith Family.
As I said above, that won’t completely do it.
2. The RSVP Cards. Instead of just having a line for guest’s  name, and meal selection, get specific. Write the invited guest(s)’s name on the card yourself, and add the line “__ of 1 (or however many are allowed) guests will attend.”
3. Personally spread the word: You’re having a very small wedding, and you can’t (don’t use the word “won’t” or “don’t want to”) let your guests bring a guest of their own.
4. Put #3 on your wedding website, using the nicest language possible.

When you have to talk to the guests that still didn’t get it, explain that no one else is bringing a plus one, so they can’t either. Use variations of whatever you used for #3 and #4. Try not to worry about it too much – you can only do what you can do, you know?

 

Yeah, this could be hard to say “No” to! (Courtesy of Dahl Shop)

Dear Liz,

As a big ol’ BAB, I had an inquiry that I haven’t seen covered here (though I could have easily missed it). What about “knockoff” wedding dresses, like on Etsy, or on other internet sites?  Now, obviously there are pros and cons, but I wonder if anyone has had personal experience with getting a custom ordered dress that way and whether it IS a big budget saver?  Or would regret going that route for, oh, forever? Thanks so much!

Signed,

Impressed by The Dress?

Dear Impressed,

I have had a couple of brides that have bought “knock-off” dresses on the internet.  It went fine for them, for the most part. The only thing I can tell you is that if you are not completely comfortable with the idea, then don’t bother. All you’re going to do is worry about your dress from the time you order it to the time you get it, and it’s not worth the stress.  You can find beautiful, cost-effective dresses offline, too.

So, what are you doing to cut down the plus ones? And are any of you getting your dress online? Let me know in the comments below! And, if you would like to find out a little bit more about me and my part of Wedding World, go to www.silvercharmevents.com.

See you at the end of the aisle,

 

Liz

{Ask Liz} Short Wedding Questions To End The Year

Got a question for Liz? Go to the Contact page and let us know what’s up!

Inspiration! But, you know, outside.

Dear Liz:

Hi there! I am getting married in May at a stable. I want to have the ceremony on the inside and the reception outside (the views are amazing). Renting lights and paying for them to install them is pricey! Do you know of a cheaper way to provide cute lighting for outside (that actually does the job)?

Signed,

Bright and Shiny Night

Dear Bright,

Well, this is definitely the week to answer that question! Hit Target, Walmart, etc., and/or your local hardware store and pick up as many discounted Christmas lights as you can, and a few extension cords. It’s probably going to take a couple of trips to figure it out, but take them and a (step) ladder to the stable and see what you can do. Practice, practice. Ooh, and ask if you can use Hurricane lanterns outside.

Yeah. Untie the string.

Dear Liz,

What do you do if you have your guest list, send out Save the Dates, and then have a falling out with one of the guests?  Do you still have to invite them to the wedding?

Signed,

Forget About It

Dear Forget,

No. If you aren’t speaking to them any more, and don’t want them at your wedding, you don’t have to invite them. You’re not tied to the Save the Date.

So, did you change your guest list when you changed your mind? And, how are you affording gorgeous lighting on your not-so-cute budget? Let us know in the comments below. And, you can find out more about me and my part of Wedding World at silvercharmevents.com!

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz

{Ask Liz} Bridesmaid Budgets & RSVP Lockdowns

Got a question of your own? Head to the contact page and let us know what’s up.

Pretty is everywhere…

Dear Liz:

I’m in the process of searching for the prefect dress for my bridesmaids.  I want the dresses to be stylish, but different from what you typically see at weddings.  Also, I do not want my bridesmaids to spend a lot of money on these dresses (no more than $200, and that’s pushing it!)  I think I’ve finally found some dresses that I’d like them to choose from, but they are all almost $300!!  I feel horrible asking them to pay that much money for a dress, but these are the only dresses that I’ve fallen in love with (besides my own!)  I haven’t been able to find anything that is similar yet cheaper.  Do I ask them to shell out that much money anyway, or keep looking?!

Signed,

Dressed for Less?

Dear Dressed,

If you are not comfortable asking them to spend that much money on a dress that, odds are, they will not wear again, then don’t. I always say that your bridesmaids want to be there for you, but don’t make that harder for them than it has to be. For one thing, the dress is not even close to the only expense they’ll have to pay to be in your wedding.  Unless…can you can pay for their dresses? Some brides do that, either straight up or as a gift to their girls. That’s the only other option I could see working. If not, stick to your original budget and keep looking. Big sales are coming up in Wedding World in the next couple of months, too, so hang tough. And check out some of the posts we’ve done on bridesmaid dresses to get some more ideas.

 

Seriously, with these things!

Dear Liz,

I have an etiquette question.  There are several people that I have to invite to my wedding who I either know are single or who I don’t even know well enough to know if they are single or attached.  I really don’t want my wedding full of strangers.  I want to keep it as close and familiar as possible.  I’m also in a position that I have  friends I’d like to invite, but without a “plus one.” The question is, if there is a single person I’m inviting can I just invite them and not give the option of bringing an additional guest?  Or is that the worst of bad manners?  I still want to be a generous host but ultimately I want to look around and see faces of people who we know and love and who love us, not a bunch of strangers who don’t know us or care about us.

Signed,

Single Guest-Minded

Dear Minded,

Yeah, people do that. The rule of etiquette is that the only person invited is the person the envelope is addressed to. So, if you were inviting Mia Smith and a guest, then you would write “Ms. Mia Smith and Guest,” if not, just “Ms. Mia Smith.” Now, do people always comply with that? Noooo. But,  make it a firm rule that your guests can’t bring a guest of their own and work from there. Spread the word, and cut off potential problem-makers where you can. Make sure the RSVP card asks for the name of the guest, NOT the number of guests – this is a good way to catch the non-compliant. If they do put an extra name in there, then you can shoot them an email or give them a call and regretfully inform them of the firm rule. Don’t back down, don’t engage. You can even blame something that’s true – there’s limited space, either in the venue or the guest list (“we can only have so many people”). It’s often not a huge problem, but I’ve seen it happen often enough to warn you that it might happen to you. Folks tend to assume they can bring a date. But you know what they say about assuming…

So, how did you handle the unknown guest dilemma? How much were your bridesmaid dresses, or how much did you have to spend as a bridesmaid on the other side of that question? Let us know in the comments below!

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz