6 ways to cut groomsman costs
Bridesmaids get all the press, but groomsmen rack up a fair share of financial burden
By Tamara E. Holmes | Published: August 5, 2011
While movies such as "Bridesmaids" have shed some light on some of the hoops a bride's closest friends must go through to take part in a wedding, less attention is paid to the obligations of groomsmen. As a result, many men find themselves experiencing a serious case of sticker shock by the time the big event rolls around, experts say.
While no two weddings are the same, the cost for a groomsman can easily be anywhere between $500 and $1,500, says Michael Arnot, founder of GroomGroove.com, an online wedding resource for men. While the average cost of groomsman attire is $146, according to a 2010 Real Wedding Survey conducted by TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com, the tuxedo and shoes are typically just the tip of the iceberg. A gift for the couple could run anywhere between $50 and $100 -- even more if you're the best man, Arnot says. Then there's the bachelor party, in which the groomsmen will treat the groom to a night on the town. A relatively mild local bachelor party could cost groomsmen a couple hundred dollars for food, alcohol and entertainment, while "a destination bachelor party could be a $700 to $1,000 expense," Arnot adds.
If the wedding is out of town, not only will you need to pay travel expenses and lodging costs, but you'll need money for incidentals, such as meals each day you're there. A best man might have additional responsibilities, such as shuttling flowers around, so renting a car could be yet another expense.
The travel expenses racked up by paying for a flight, a hotel and a rental car were what set DeLano McRavin over budget. Having to travel from his home in Clinton, Md., to Ohio to be a groomsman in a friend's wedding, the 41-year-old spent $1,000 in travel and lodging costs alone. By the time he paid for his tuxedo, his share of the bachelor party and a gift for the couple, his bill had exceeded $1,500.
"The fact that I had a year's notice made it a lot easier," McRavin says. Yet he still used a credit card to take care of some of the travel-related expenses, "and it took a couple of months for me to pay it off," he says. McRavin's one saving grace? He didn't bring a date. "Heaven forbid you take someone with you -- a wife or a girlfriend -- because you'll incur another couple hundred for your guest as well," he adds.
If the costs of a wedding would wreak serious havoc on your finances, it might be more prudent for you to be honest with the groom and tell him you can't swing it right now. But if you choose to stand up for your friend or relative, there are some ways that you can make the financial burden a little easier to bear.
- Use time to your advantage. With most weddings, there is a fair amount of notice. "If the wedding is 12 months away, start budgeting monthly," says John McCosh, a spokesman for Atlanta-based credit counseling organization CredAbility. Create a list of expected expenses and divide the total by the number of months you have. "So if it's $1,200, start figuring out how you're going to sock $100 a month away." Plus, if there will be airfare involved, you have plenty of time to book early to get the best flight deal possible.
- Set a budget and try to stick to it. Even the most budget-conscious person can get carried away with spending money for a wedding. "This is an occasion where people's emotions get caught up, and they want to do big things," says McCosh. Put your intentions on paper and refer to it whenever you think about making an impulse buy.
- Compare actual and budgeted expenses. When you first write down your expected costs, you're bound to be off a little bit, says McGosh. Keep the total amount you want to spend in mind and if you spend more than you plan on one item, adjust the budget accordingly.
- Use credit wisely. If you do use a credit card, make sure you put in place a plan to pay the balance off quickly, McCosh says. If you can pay it off at once, use a card that has rewards. "If you've got an airlines miles card and those 600 points put you over the threshold for a flight, that makes sense," McCosh says.
- Consider hidden costs. While many costs are evident, others are less obvious. Think gas money for carrying the groom back and forth, or tips for taxis, waiters and other service staff. Since there's likely something you've missed, pad your budget with extra cash for these items.
- Look for ways to cut costs. Talk with the other groomsmen about selecting a less expensive bachelor party. "We're seeing more bachelor parties that revolve around playing golf and dinner -- mild parties as opposed to wild parties," says Arnot. By starting early, you can also look for deals on airfare and travel costs.
Being a part of a friend's or relative's wedding can be a high point in a relationship, as long as it doesn't lead to a financial low.
"The best thing you can do is educate yourself well in advance about what the expenses are likely to be," says Arnot. "That way, there are no surprises in your budget."
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