I’ve read a lot of posts from fellow RTWers who have helped provide advice as to how to save money for extended travel. Decluttering? Got it. Cancelling your cable? Easy! Don’t go out for costly dinners? Done! Serving as matron of honor in your sister’s wedding? Yikes. This is where things can get a little sticky. Where’s the advice people? Hasn’t anyone else had to go through this?
These days, weddings are one of the most expensive life events a couple will face financially. This applies not only to the bride and groom, but also for couples that are members of the bridal party.
Interestingly enough, Harry and I approached our own wedding with a financially savvy twist. We knew we didn’t want to break the bank with a huge traditional wedding. Our dream wedding took our guests on a weekend getaway, in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin with 21 of our closest family members. We kept it small, intimate, and financially smart.
The last couple weeks were very challenging for me as a member of the bridal party. How do you navigate the often expensive path of being a part of a wedding, versus sticking to the budget in the last 26 weeks prior to leaving? I will tell you it was rough. I had the stressful job of trying to prioritize events, while explaining to others (including the bride) as to why I opted out of traditional bridesmaid bonding experiences (e.g., getting the nails did, spa trips, etc).
Generally speaking, in my budget savvy quest, I actually felt a very cold response from others. In fact, during a particularly tricky time, my mom actually told me, “No one really feels sorry for someone about to leave on a two year vacation.” People “get” the typical priorities when addressing a budget; babies, boarding dogs, and new homes/mortgages. But as usual, long term travel is looked at as a luxury, not as a life goal that you have worked so hard to save for.
So here is what I did & some advice:
1. Develop a budget and stick to it. In advance, Harry and I discussed how much we could spend. We also got creative! As part of our wedding gift, my sister and her new husband received one of our bedroom sets. Not only did they get some furniture to get them started in their first home, but we were able to declutter an entire room! A win-win! You may even ask friends/siblings to “shop” for wedding goods in your home! Grills, bedroom sets, nicer appliances make great gifts!
2. Ask for advice. It’s often hard to ask from advice from other bridesmaids, because they are expected to spend the same money you are. So I consulted with co-workers and friends, who helped remind me that there are other ways to show support…it doesn’t just have to be monetary kind.
3. Be open and keep communicating. I was very honest and upfront about what I could and could not do financially. I made myself have those discussions, despite the fact that it was awkward and hard to do so.
4. Prioritize events to the best of your ability. In looking at bridal events, I thought it was more important to do more larger group events, as opposed to the smaller ones. For example, I decided to book the hotel room the evening of the wedding, rather than going with the girls to get a massage the weekend before. Better to spend the time and money among the entire family, than in a spa room by myself with a masseuse!
5. Ease your feelings of guilt. I had a lot of inner conflict that I had to learn to let go. Because in the end, no one is going to advocate for yourself, but you! In addition, the people who love and support you will show understanding for your dreams.
6. Cut costs by realizing no one is paying that close attention to you. My aunt did my nails. I wore an old outfit to the rehearsal dinner. I did my own makeup for the wedding day. I wore an old pair of silver shoes to the ceremony. My husband wore a suit he already owned.
Overall, I tried my best to be an active participant in my sister’s wedding while continuing to save for our RTW. Has anyone else been in this situation? Do you have any tips to share?