When you are a young professional, you live in dread of the friendly mass-facebook-message: "Hi guys – Please send me your current address!! Xoxo, your random old sorority sister/friend/roommate/3rd cousin twice removed". Now you are frantically checking the balance of your bank accounts and your credit card limit before you decide whether or not to pretend you've moved to Guam while you wonder how the hell you ended up on the guest list.
Before you call me a wedding-hater or something equally heartless, let me say that there is NOTHING better than attending the wedding of two people you love. I have been to lots of those weddings and I cried at every single one. I've caught bouquets, I've crafted place-cards, I've done readings and I was even a 23-year-old flower girl.
However, dropping more than an entire paycheck on a wedding between an acquaintance and a stranger out of obligation – is the WORST. I have been to a lot of those weddings, and I've cried at them too, but mainly because of the mint.com low balance reminders that kept popping up in my email.
Well, you can't spray Roundup on Jesus, and once that facebook message shows up, you can't spray Roundup on this random pseudo-friend's wedding either.
Sooner or later there will be a brightly designed "save-the-date" in your actual, physical mailbox and by then, even the pruning shears will be useless. Before you start clicking through airfares and the registry with an impending sense of financial doom, here are some things to think about:
· Did you know that it's perfectly acceptable to not attend a wedding? That's right – you can say "no". This is why people send RSVP cards with options instead of a militiaman with a rifle. You should still send a gift, but no one is going to come after you with a pitchfork for spending less than $50.00. No one understands financial woes better than people who are planning a wedding. This is especially appropriate if your only contact with the bride or groom over the last six months has been that silly facebook address exchange.
· I would never suggest that you put a dollar figure on your friendships, but it can be useful to think about who else will be at this wedding. If you don't know the bride and groom that well (or if you are no longer close), the "reunion" factor can make all the difference. Could you increase the "bang for your buck" on this wedding by seeing friends/family from far away then instead of doing a long distance trip to see them later? Better yet, could you also go splitsies on a hotel room with them? Whatever you need to do to keep yourself from crying over mint.com updates – if you're going to drop the cash, you should be having fun.
· You don't have to spend it all at once. While the end figure is still the same (HIGH), you can pay for the flight one month, the hotel another, and the gift up to one year after the wedding. This can take the pressure off a bit and allow you to plan and prepare – secret #1 to financial happiness in my book. Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something.
· Your Partner who doesn't know these people DOES NOT want to go to this wedding. They do not want to split the hotel room and gift and they definitely do not want to pay for a plane ticket to get there. If you don't want to pay for them, don't push the issue. Receiving an invitation with a +1 is nice, but again, there is not a shot-gun pointed at your head. Going stag can be fun, and in most of the scenarios I've been in, it's also cheaper (for you, and for your soon-to-be-wed friends).
Before I wrap up, I'd like to say a final word on the invitation of obligation. If you made it on to an invite list and think that you might not be wanted at the wedding, think again. If they invited you (which means spending a fair chunk of their own change on you), they are prepared for you to attend. Period. If you don't want spend over a month's rent on these two people – good for you, be not ashamed. But please don't pretend that it's because they didn't really want you to attend. It is because you don't really want to attend, and that is just fine.
Spendwell, my thrifty friends. Enjoy what remains of wedding season!