Even if you're not getting married this year, you're probably planning to attend at least one wedding. For millennials, that average is closer to three.
Although wedding season doesn't kick off until June, you should create a wedding budget now as you map our your big picture goals for the year, says financial expert and former CNBC host Suze Orman.
That's because, even if you're not the one saying "I do," weddings are still a major money suck.
A 2016 survey from American Express found that millennials spend an average of $893 per wedding they attend as a guest. When they're in the wedding party, that spending rises to $928. That means between airfare, gifts and other expenses, young people are shelling out an average of $2,679 per year to celebrate the nuptials of friends and family.
But, as Orman points out, most twenty- and early-thirtysomethings are also working toward other financial goals that are arguably more pressing.
"I bet plenty of millennials are the same people who are trying to juggle the rent and stay current on their student loans," Orman writes in a 2017 blog post. "And I know plenty of millennials are still working to get their emergency fund going, let alone have at least eight months of living costs saved up."
You don't have to skip your college roommate's big day in order to bulk up your emergency fund, but you shouldn't be letting one-time events like weddings impede other financial priorities, either. Start saving up now for the multitude of purchases you have to make when wedding season gets into full swing. And sort your priorities.
"You need to be smart about this," Orman writes. "You may want a new outfit for each event, but you sure don't need one. You may want to give the couple an expensive gift, but you don't need to. A heartfelt gift — yes, homemade! — is going to be even more special."
And, if you have any destination weddings on the horizon, make a plan well beforehand and stick to it. "Your goal is to cut back your regular spending the second you get the 'save the date' notice," Orman says.
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