All my friends are getting married and I’m the one going broke
Money-saving hacks from a serial wedding attender
On the other side of 25, you find yourself dancing to Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’ alone because most of your friends are getting married. With more wedding evites flooding your inbox than credit card statements, the shaadi season could leave you penniless if you’re not careful.
2016 was an eye opener for me. My best friend got married and I was the bridesmaid with a to-do list that was approximately 78,34,738 items long. One of them included fetching Jägerbombs at steady intervals. The following week, I attended a colleague’s wedding halfway across the country that I had excitedly RSVP-ed four months in advance. Three more happily-ever-afters followed that month, in Delhi, Kolkata, and finally, Mumbai. I couldn’t escape any, but I also couldn’t delay that medical insurance payment.
So, after that financial debacle of a year, I took an oath to be more careful. Now, I prepare a detailed dietary chart to keep myself in shape for the sangeets, and I have some sneaky hacks to keep my budget in shape, too.
Sadly, people will still invite their entire colony, local dentist and kindergarten class teacher for weddings, but won’t sign up for gift registries. As a result, buying a wedding present alone can threaten your financial security. Instead, create a gift pool with mutual friends, which allows you to buy an expensive present while reducing the cost per person considerably. The couple will thank you for not adding to their collection of bedsheet sets.
Additionally, you could think beyond material gifting. This one time, I offered to shoot candid photographs for a friend’s wedding. I managed to be right at the heart of the action, my work made its way to the couple’s bedside table and their social media accounts and most importantly, I dodged a massive dent in my budget. It was a win-win all the way.
You could also volunteer to help out by receiving the guests at the airport, organising transport or protecting the bar from Chintu mama’s unquenchable thirst. Perhaps the gesture will be more memorable than the expensive Chanel bag she’s name-dropped 10 times.
It’s about time you spoke to the distant relative you muted on Whatsapp on the grounds of polarising political views. A little small talk can earn you a roof over your head for the wedding weekend, for free. Having relatives or friends in the vicinity of the venue is always a blessing, but not having them around can be a bigger blessing (hello, empty house).
It becomes increasingly easier if you are travelling with friends. Outstation weddings and mini getaways: you can’t really tell the two apart. Turn on your AirBnB notifications to make sure you don’t miss cheap deals. If you are on a shoestring budget, couch surfing can be an option to explore as well.
It’s criminal to repeat looks at weddings. But what really deserves a spot at the Hague is the expectation that you will have different outfits for the haldi, sangeet, cocktail party, religious ceremony and impromptu afterparty.
You’re better off investing in wedding wardrobe staples than risky mutual funds. Dupe the fashion police by wearing the same pair of straight-cut black trousers to three weddings. ‘Friends are getting married’ can be a perfect shopping excuse, though. You could pair them with a long kurta, or a crop top or an Indian-style blouse.
Other versatile pieces include a structured blazer (goes with the trousers or a simple dress), a clutch (unless you want to carry your hipster-printed tote) and a nude sandal (tones down the OTT prints on your outfit).
While some of us whine, others discover a great business idea. Several wardrobe rental services have identified this seasonal hazard. While Flyrobe will give you a free fittings session, Rent A Closet has a curated jewellery collection too. This can be your one-stop shop for the entire look. While you’re at it, also browse through Liberent and The Clothing Rental for their non-designer ranges.
My highly successful back-up plan is to raid my mother’s sari collection. I have also started posting those ‘who wore it better?’ stories on Instagram. On the downside though, you may have to answer 20 random people asking you the same question at the ceremony: Saree kahaan se li?
And as a new wedding evite drops in to my inbox, I’m reaching out for my dire-situation plan—ditching. My friends are getting married, and I am already broke, so, sorry guys, I can’t make it.
This is my absolute last resort. Over time, I have made peace with the fact that paying bills is slightly more important than making a token appearance when your distant friend is getting married.
Of course, it took me a few years to convince myself that it’s not always about me. My friends would still be happy to update their relationship status without my embarrassing dance moves at their sangeet. They will still be on that cruise to Greece regardless of whether I photobomb their plandids at the wedding. Years later, they probably won’t notice my absence in the photo albums. Years later, we may not even remain friends.
But for the time being, as I respond to RSVP with a No, I prepare myself for a barrage of cold shoulders and silent treatment from the couple and their mutual friends. But let’s be fair. Would you choose your house without an electricity connection over free food at a wedding where you know exactly two people? Yes, I knew we would be on the same page.