Being a wedding guest can get really expensive. Erin Lowry of BrokeMillennial.com shares how her Other People’s Wedding Fund keeps her friends and budget in check.

As a 20-something woman with an extensive amount of family and friends interested in making their love a legal entity, I’ve started to experience a steep increase in wedding invites. After being invited to five weddings one year (and serving as Maid of Honor in one), I realized I had to start getting serious about saving just for the cost of attending weddings. Being a wedding guest can get really expensive.

My Wedding Travel and Gift Fund

New York City may be a hot spot to visit, but unless you’re loaded with cash, it isn’t a common place for people to get married. As a New York City resident, I’ve embraced the fact that I need to travel for nearly every wedding to which I’m invited. Some are just a train ride away, others require a rental car, and some are as far away as Texas—which means booking air travel—ugh! Not to mention all the additional travel expenses and gift purchases required for bridal showers and bachelorette parties before the big day.

To offset the relentless money drain of attending and participating in weddings, I created an Other Peoples’ Wedding Fund.

Don’t get me wrong; weddings are normally a ton of fun—particularly if there is an open bar. And participating in the ceremony is enjoyable about 90 percent of the time. But the average wedding I attend costs me $500 to $600 due to travel costs, the hotel, buying a gift (or gifts), and, in some cases, needing to get a new dress. Add about $300 extra to that average when I’m actually in the wedding party. That could be up to $3,000 in a single wedding season. See ya, vacation to Europe!

Instead of desperately trying to minimize my living expenses from May to September in order to afford all these weddings, I regularly contribute to my Other Peoples’ Wedding Fund.

Currently, 23 percent of all my freelance income goes into the account and $100 per regular paycheck. This money also gets used for personal travel as well. Now I don’t have to live on rice and beans four months of the year in order to afford attending weddings.

How I Learned to Say No

I don’t advocate being a party pooper, but there are times I simply can’t afford attending a wedding or being in a wedding party. It’s OK to say no sometimes (obviously not if it’s a sibling or an in-law). I’ve also started the practice of having very honest conversations with a bride about my budget for her wedding, which helps prevent tense conversations down the road about not attending a bachelorette party or doing my own hair and makeup.

Divide and Conquer

It’s great to have a date for weddings, but being in a serious relationship means doubling up on wedding invitations. Just recently, when one of my boyfriend’s college buddies got engaged, an alarm went off in my head—we’re going to start having about 10 weddings per season between the two of us. We can’t possibly afford that!

So we aren’t breaking up, but we are splitting up for weddings. We won’t always go as plus ones, simply because it’s too expensive. We also don’t want to prohibit the other from attending. And when we do go to a wedding together, we’ll turn it into a mini-vacation—like recently, when we attended a wedding in Dallas and then spent two days exploring Austin afterward.

I love being present and able to support my friends and family on such momentous occasions in their lives, but it’s also imperative to me that it doesn’t come at the cost of going into debt or compromising my own financial goals.

Lowry FINAL_0638 (1)

Erin Lowry is the founder of BrokeMillennial.com, where she uses sarcasm and humor to explain basic financial concepts to her fellow Millennials. Erin lives and works in New York City.

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