With the arrival of May comes the arrival of wedding season. And that means money; lots and lots of money.

Sure weddings are expensive to host (the average cost of a Canadian wedding is $30k), we all know that, but they are also expensive for guests to attend. It’s estimated that millennials will spend an average of $628 for each wedding they attend. That sounds completely crazy to me! That number does include wedding-related events. It’s becoming more and more common to hold stags and stagettes in other destinations so that sways the average. Now it seems like every other stag I hear about is in Vegas or Kelowna or Banff or something other destination that drastically increases the cost for attendees. Sure it can be a fun weekend away but it also puts a lot of pressure on guests to step up and fork over money they might not have.

You guys know I’m not all about the big wedding. I can put-off the cost of my own indefinitely but it’s not that easy when the invites keep arriving.

I don’t have a master plan to help you eliminate wedding costs but I’ve got a few tips to lessen the budgeting blow.

It’s Ok To Say No

There’s a lot of pressure to RSVP yes when you receive a wedding invitation. There’s no rule saying you have to attend though. Of course, there are exceptions. If your best friend in the whole world is getting hitched then you need to be there. But if cousin Sally who you only see at the annual family reunion is next on the bill then check that no box and move on. Trust me, no ties will be severed because of that. Heck, cousin Sally might be downright happy because now she doesn’t have to buy you dinner.

If you have a year where there’s a wedding every other weekend then don’t be afraid to say no. This is especially true if they involve travel. Look, brides and grooms know it costs a lot when they choose a destination wedding. And that means they need to be ok with some of their guests not being able to afford it. Let them know you won’t be able to make the trip and maybe take them out for a nice dinner post-wedding.

Wear The Same Dress

Seriously! There is no reason to go out and buy a new dress every time you get invited to a fancy event. Find a dress that will work for a variety of events and wear it ALL THE TIME. Stick with something that fits you to a tee but in a neutral colour and no one will even notice that it’s a repeat offender. Everyone is way too concerned about what the bride is wearing to pay close attention to all the guest’s attire.

Budget Friendly Wedding Gifts

Nobody wants to cheap out on a wedding gift but there’s a difference between buying something cheap and crappy and buying something cheap(ish) but uniquely awesome.

I love the idea of buying the happy couple something handmade that will hopefully stay in their home for years to come. This is especially great for couples who have been together for a long time. I know when the bf and I eventually get married we will appreciate people going this route. We’ve lived together for over 10 years and already have more than enough household products. There’s only so many blenders you need, and that number is one. I’d much prefer people buy us something thoughtful.

Caveat: make sure you’re close enough to the couple to know what they like. Unique is great when it’s done right but it can also be very, very bad.

Ok, so what sort of things?

Etsy is my go-to for finding unique gifts, but you can also hit up your local farmers market or craft sale to find something local. Even better, to promote Canadian makers Etsy is offering FREE SHIPPING on a whole bunch of made in Canada products until May 14th. Now is the perfect time to knock those wedding gifts off your shopping list.

Here are a few items that caught my eye when I was browsing for a gift:

Picture from Grey Ghost Nature Photo

I’ve seen this vendor at a couple of local markets (they’re from Edmonton) and the pictures always catch my eye. I have a couple of smaller prints but would love to have this Great Grey Owl flying over my living room couch. Isn’t it such a cool shot?

Wind Chimes from Coast Chimes

I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of wind chimes but I know some people who really love them and have about ten hanging around their deck (hi Mom!) If you have one of those people in your life then I’m sure they would love one of these chimes. Then can get pretty expensive but there are also some that are reasonably priced and would make a perfect wedding gift.

Rustic Wood Sign from Tin Hat Designs

I don’t like spending money on home decor items; it seems like an unnecessary expense. That means I really appreciate when people buy me things to put up on my many empty walls. I like the rustic feel of these wood signs and the fact that you can even create your own custom order takes your gift giving to a whole other level. I’m not big on sappy quotes but I do think this sign would be perfect in a bathroom.

Wall Clock from Sharon M For The Home

A couple of years ago I bought a fancy clock off Etsy and it’s one of my favourite pieces in our house. It acts like art but it’s also practical. Sure, we all carry around our phones 24/7 but it’s still nice to glance over at a wall clock. This one is eye-catching and also big enough to act like a piece of art.

Concrete Vase Set from Mind The Minimal

These little planters are so cute and would be perfect in a home office or a real office. They don’t come with the plant but succulents are cheap and easy to find in most places, and incredibly easy to keep alive, even for those with the blackest of thumbs (me). There are lots of options for planters but I’m partial to these cube ones, and if that’s not your thing you can also get coasters or candles.

City Map from iLikeMaps

A map might seem like a weird wedding present but if you know enough about the couple then you can make it pretty darn sentimental and sweet. Maybe choose the city where they first met, or where they’re planning to go on their honeymoon? I would love one of these and it’s much easier than picking out an actual painting for someone. There are already a ton of options listed but if you don’t see the city you want then you can choose a custom listing.

Cheeseboard from Emerson Pringle Carpentry

Charcuterie has become so popular and is always a hit when you’re hosting a dinner party. If you having a wedding to attend where the bride and groom love to host then a fancy cheeseboard might be right up their alley. They are very reasonably priced so you could even throw in a cheese of the month club. Just saying.

Custom Pet Portrait from Joanne Jarry

Full disclosure: I have pictures of my pets on our walls. Is anyone really surprised about that? You know what’s even cooler than a random shot I took with my cell phone? An actual pet portrait painted by someone who knows what they’re doing. There are lots of options out there but these watercolour versions are so pretty. If you’re going to the wedding of someone who treats their critters like children then you will be an A+ guest with one of these.

Hopefully, that gave you some inspiration when shopping for wedding gifts this season. If you have other budget-friendly gift ideas feel free to add them in the comments! 

Survive wedding season without blowing your budget by choosing one of these 8 budget friendly wedding gifts.

This post was proofread by Grammarly.

Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst


  1. One of my favorite cheap “couples” gifts is the Date Jar. We paint popsicle sticks and write date ideas on them. When you’re stuck in a date rut, pull a stick out of the jar. 🙂

    • Sarah Reply

      That’s such a sweet idea! My DIY skills are pretty lacklustre but this sounds simple enough.

  2. My friend spent $1000 on plane tickets alone to a wedding so a millennial average of $600 sounds so cheap. Of course she was bitter about it but was too polite to say “sorry I’m broke and don’t care about your 197 lb fat fiance.”

    • Sarah Reply

      There is so much pressure to say yes to wedding invites!

      Having to travel makes the cost jump up so high. The $1000 plane ticket doesn’t sound crazy but I imagine guests attending local weddings brings down the average a bit.

  3. I love the idea of using Etsy to find unique gifts. I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding this summer (which is costing me a freaking fortune in travel because I live in the middle of nowhere), so I think I get a pass on a wedding gift.

    P.S. Mr.TA would literally die of happiness if someone bought him a map as a wedding present. I am not joking when I say he spends his free time mapping out junior hockey travel routes.

    • Sarah Reply

      Actually being in the wedding party makes it even more expensive and way harder to say no to things!

      Mr. TA and I have the maps thing in common. When I was little I used to spend hours flipping through my parents’ atlas.

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