How to be a frugal guest... without looking mean
Another day, another beautifully embossed, heavy cream envelope lands with a sizable thump through your letterbox. Does your heart seize with joy at the prospect of yet another of your friends joyfully pledging their troth or does it sink as you start counting the cost before you've even opened it?
Wedding season is upon us and according to recent research by Newbridge Silverware, two thirds of us will attend four of them this year. But for many, an invitation on the mantelpiece is just a reminder of our disastrous financial state.
Sometimes it can seem as if the bride and groom are only thinking of themselves instead of the 100 people they've asked to share their day … what a cheek!
And just what do you gift the insensitive couple who failed to put a comprehensive wedding list into the envelope along with directions to the hotel?
40pc of us reckon €100-€150 is about right for a gift says the survey, while 32pc of us will spend between €150 and €200.
And what if you decide not to go for financial, or other reasons? Do you still have to send a gift or will a nice 'regrets' card do the trick? I deplore the practice of giving money at weddings. I think it's rude and unsentimental and none of it is ever remembered. So many couples these days already have their house bought, and been living together, surely a wedding is an excuse to acquire special items you can't buy for yourself: proper crockery or crystal glasses? Asking guests to effectively show up and pay for their own dinner is as unromantic as it gets. Here are some ways guests can keep costs down:
1. Club together on gifts. If it is money or a voucher, you can dilute the spend by getting together with friends.
2. Give a quirky gift of indeterminate cost. I usually give a good quality picnic basket (with proper crockery) filled with a bottle of prosecco and some non-perishable goodies. Buy in the summer sales.
3. Swap your 'wedding guest' dresses and accessories around with friends, especially if you're going to the same weddings so you'll always look different. If you're getting your hair done, book a hairdresser to come to one house for all.
4. Consider an event voucher instead of money: a balloon ride, racing car lesson, boat trip with lunch. There are great deals to be had on daily deal sites for unusual gifts that will be remembered.
5. If there's a hotel overnight involved call them and get a list of overflow B&Bs. Many offer shuttle services for weddings and it'll be a lot cheaper to stay there.
Finally, remember you don't have to attend at all. It may be a tough decision, but there'll be another one along soon. Send a good quality card, expressing your regret. Buying a wedding gift is not necessary, although you may like to send a small bouquet of flowers if it assuages your conscience for not going!