Wedding bells are in the air as wedding season approaches, but money worries may be getting the way of your excitement. It can get costly, and not just for the hosts. For many, weddings mean scraping together money to afford everything from an outfit to wear to the perfect gift for the happy couple. According to Bankrate, guests attending the wedding of a close friend or family member spend $628 on average. Weddings can really add up which means your wallet could be in trouble. However, don’t fret!
If you’ve got back to back weddings this season, there are plenty of ways you can cut costs without cutting corners.
Preparing for Wedding Season
Start the season off right by giving yourself a budget. Consider every wedding you are going to, where they are located, etc. Don’t try to stretch what you can’t afford. Be honest with yourself about what you have overall and then you can worry about what to spend for each individual wedding. Trying to budget for each wedding individually makes it easier to lose track of money and you may get yourself into debt. Consider everything from the obvious such as hotel arrangements to smaller things such as whether or not it is a cash bar.
Once you have your budget, you can also start saving up for the events. If there are some you want to go to and feel you just can’t miss, save up a little extra so you have some more wiggle room. You should always work on your personal savings, but this can be a goal for you to have in mind. I would suggest keeping your savings account separate from your wedding guest fund. Having a specific number to work towards can make getting there much easier and give you the motivation you need to get there.
Be honest with yourself about what you have overall and then you can worry about what to spend for each individual wedding.
There is no shame in not purchasing a brand new dress for every wedding you attend. Many dresses now can be worn in different ways, giving you the opportunity to have a new look for every occasion. Mix and match various shoes and accessories to help change the look even more. You should also check out your friend’s closets. Swapping clothes is a great way to get new looks without having to spend any cash. The same goes for shoes as well. You can also get old bridesmaid dresses tailored into shorter cocktail dresses. This way you will get more use out of them.
Lodging and Travel
Hotels can cost a fortune. If you have friends going to the same wedding with you, it may be a good idea to consider splitting a room with them. You could also look into cheaper options such as Airbnb or stay with a friend in the area. Sometimes even the hosts of the wedding will receive a discount on a hotel if they plan on staying over, check with the happy couple. The same goes for getting to the venue. Whether you are traveling out of state or going somewhere close, the costs can add up. Consider carpooling to the venue with friends as well. You can all split the costs for either gas or the Uber, whatever it may be.
Consider carpooling to the venue with friends as well. You can all split the costs for either gas or the Uber, whatever it may be.
Gifts straight from the registry are often the most expensive ones. If you cannot afford them, there is no shame in giving what you can.
They are called “gifts” for a reason, they are entirely optional. You should at the very least bring a card but there are plenty of other viable gift options other than expensive registry gifts.
Shop around for the same gift just at other stores. You may get a better deal or have coupons that you can use. There is also no shame in giving the happy couple cash, a check, or a gift card to the store their registry is with. Your budget should include specific gift amounts for each wedding. Those you are closer with maybe you spend more on, but that is at your discretion. Remember, to stick to your budget when it comes to a gift you don’t want to be left paying a very expensive credit card bill for months just to impress whose getting married.
Don’t be afraid to tell your friends money is tight; there is no shame in that.
Salon services can cost a fortune. There are much more budget-friendly alternatives.
Hair and Makeup
Salon services can cost a fortune. There are much more budget-friendly alternatives. Local makeup brands such as Sephora offer to do your makeup when you purchase an item at a certain cost. There is also no shame in doing your hair and makeup yourself! Give yourself time to practice different looks and styles so you have time to get it right! There are plenty of DIY videos all over the internet for you to learn from.
You may find you that you have to budget for other events such as the bridal shower and bachelorette party. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends money is tight; there is no shame in that. It’s the thought that counts after all. This is where splitting up tasks and gifts with other people will go a long way. You can get them the expensive gift while still being budget-friendly. If it comes down to picking which events, you can go to there is no shame in that either, don’t be afraid to say “no”. When you financially overextend yourself, it takes away from the experience because you are thinking of that impending debt in the back of your mind. You’re not actually enjoying yourself and then it is just money wasted.
What Happens if I Do Acquire Post-Wedding Debt?
Sometimes debt happens! So long as you are living within your means and it does not get out of control, then it is ok. Debt doesn’t become an issue until it becomes unmanageable. If you have acquired debt now that all the weddings have come and gone, focus on that balance.
It is a good idea to incorporate debt you accrued into your monthly budget. It’s easy to lose track of it but incorporating it into your budget forces you to pay it off in a timely manner.
Look at the minimum payment you have and consider the interest rate. If you can afford to pay more than the minimum I highly encourage you to do so; you will pay off the debt sooner and save money on the interest. While you may want to go all out for a friend of family members wedding you have to keep in mind your own financial goals short-term and long-term. Expenses that come along with being a guest should fit into your budget and not interfere with your financial stability. Planning and budgeting accurately will keep you afloat during wedding season!
Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.
When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.
2016: What rules?
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.
Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.
And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.
And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?
Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.
Digital policies for 2020 and beyond
While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.
Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy
Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:
- If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
- While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
- If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
- Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
- Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?
Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.
Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply
The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:
- Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
- Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
- Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
- Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
- Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
- Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
- Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
- Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.
Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles
Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.