If simply watching the rom-com 27 Dresses makes you break out in stress hives, you probably know a thing or two about life as a serial wedding guest—and the toll it can take on your wallet.
Scary but true: The average American spends $703 to attend a wedding.1 And if you're a millennial? Well, that number shoots up to an astounding $893. At an average of three weddings a year, you're likely forking out more than $2,000 just to do the “Electric Slide” and eat buffalo chicken sliders after 10 p.m.
Of course, dropping a few big ones to watch your oldest friend get married is a totally worthwhile investment. But shelling out the same amount to witness the nuptials of super-nice-but-socially-awkward Cindy from accounting? Might be one to skip. Here, etiquette experts reveal three wedding invites to which you can gracefully say "I don't," allowing you to save some cash without losing face.
Invite #1: Your Second Cousin (Thrice-Removed)
Blood may be thicker than water, but so is a stack of Benjamins. If a family member you're not particularly close to (or haven't seen in years) is tying the knot, you shouldn't feel obligated to attend. "The key here is that you have to look at the relationship," advises Diane Gottsman, owner of The Protocol School of Texas.
"You decide if the relationship is significant. If it’s a third cousin or a distant neighbor you used to once know, you don’t have to go to." Gottsman is quick to add, however, that you are obligated to RSVP “no” in a timely manner. And, if you wish, send a congratulatory card.
Invite #2: Your Annoying Co-Worker From Two Cubicles Down
Etiquette experts agree that declining a client or colleague's invitation can get a little stickier, given the potential effect on your business relationship. "If you get invited by somebody in your business network, consider yourself lucky. Normally people get offended if other people are invited within the business network and they aren't," notes Jacqueline Whitmore, founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach.
Gottsman adds: "If an invitation is extended from a client, you should go." Yet, if it's simply a colleague—and one you're not close friends with, at that—you don't have to attend just for appearances' sake. Keep in mind you’ll continue to see this person at the Keurig machine every morning, so, if possible, pair your heartfelt regrets with a small gift. (Trust us, a toaster is still cheaper than a hotel room and rental car.)
Invite #3: Your Pal's Pre-party-palooza
Of course, a wedding isn't just a wedding. There's the bachelor(ette) party, the showers, the rehearsal dinner—all of which can add up to hundreds of dollars, long before anyone walks down the aisle. Even if you've RSVP’d “yes” to the nuptials, you should feel free to limit the number of mani-pedi parties, golf outings and boozy brunches you attend during the lead-up. "You can pick and choose," says Gottsman. "Sometimes you’re invited to three showers. You don’t have to go to all three. You should go to one and give something from the registry." If your palms sweat at the thought of saying no—take a deep breath. There’s no need to give a detailed excuse or devise a fake conflict to get out of yet another pre-party bash. Simply RSVP “no,” and include a note or comment that relays your excitement about the big day. After all, it's the main event that really matters, right?
1 “Here Comes Wedding Season: How Consumers Will Pay for Others' Big Day in 2016,” April 26, 2016, American Express
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