Reader Q&A – Destination Weddings & the Cost

Woo! More questions! Keep ‘em coming, Bitches! This is part of an ongoing series where you basic bitches write in and I help you answer your mystifying money questions.

Reader Lisa writes:

I’m traveling across the country soon for a friend’s wedding. It’s in an expensive big city, and I’ve never been there. Do you think it’s worth it to stay in a higher end hotel in the heart of the city? I do want to sightsee for a day or two. Also, what the heck do other people do for a monetary gift, if attendance alone costs an arm and a leg? I like these friends a lot, but they didn’t go to my wedding, since at the time they were in a rough spot financially (although I don’t want to base my actions on that). Anyhoo. Multi layered question there.

Hiya, Lisa! Thanks for your question. There is a lot to unpack here.

First, I have a question for you. Do you ever intend to visit expensive big city again? Is it on your bucket list of places to visit? I suspect it’s not by the way you’re talking, but I could be wrong. You’d probably be more excited to make the trip if it was somewhere you truly wanted to visit.

That said, I think you have two ways of looking at this trip.

  1. Get in and get out with as little money and time spent on this wedding.
  2. Say, “fuck it” and figure that if you’re going to be spending money anyway you should at least get some enjoyment out of the trip itself.

I have a feeling you think I’m going to say go for number one. 

I am not.

One of things I really want to stress with this blog is that spending money, by itself, is not evil. It does not make you a bad person. I’m hoping that one of the themes that will start to come out in my posts is that of balance.

Remember – while I want to retire somewhat early (55 is my true goal) I’m not one of those crazy people that is going to tell you to live off of rice and beans and wear holey socks and never upgrade your cell phone.

Instead, what I’m going to try to impress upon you (and all my readers) is that we can use money as a tool for creating happiness and balance in our lives. Now, spending money just to spend money or just to keep up with lifestyle creep and those damn Joneses is no bueno.

But spending money to improve your quality of life while still planning for the future, is all good.

So, with one major caveat, I’m going to tell you to spring for that nicer hotel. I’m going to tell you to do some sightseeing excursions in big city you’ve never visited (and are not likely to return too). And I’m going to tell you to enjoy yourself!

(The caveat being, if this trip is going to be something that you’re putting on a high-interest credit card or expensive enough that it is going to force you to withdraw money from savings accounts you’ve earmarked for your future, I’d tell you to skip the trip and instead send a nice gift.)

Now, as for part two of your questions, that of the wedding gift itself, I’d usually tell you to

  1. Shop off their registry
  2. Spend what you feel is appropriate

And in this case, I’m going to tell you the same thing. Go with your gut. If the “usual” gift you would purchase for this couple is more than you’re willing to spend because of all the other travel expenses you’re incurring, I think it’s okay to scale down what you’d normally spend.

That said, I do think that a gift of some kind is a must.  

Find a nice picture frame off their registry, wrap that up, and then try to make it a point to take a nice picture with the couple at the big shindig.

I hope this helps you, Lisa!

If any readers out there have a question – send it to


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