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Budgeting Tips and Tricks for Wedding Season

Here’s to a season of affordable and joyous wedding celebrations.

Wedding season is the season of gauzy canopies, lacy gowns, and delicate flowers. With invitations flooding your mailbox, you might already be booking your weekends with weddings throughout the next several months.

Celebrating a new marriage together with your friends is great fun, but all those wedding invites can put a real strain on your budget. Between wedding attire, travel costs, and gifts, each wedding can add up to a pretty penny. In fact, according to Express Spending & Saving Tracker, the average wedding guest is out $673 for each wedding they attend.

If these numbers are scaring you, take a deep breath and relax. You don’t need to go into debt just to attend your friends’ weddings. Just follow these tips and tricks to celebrate in style — and within budget.

1. Save on airfare

Get the best deal on your flight with these ideas:

  • Clear your browser cache before searching for a flight so airlines don’t target you with high-prices.
  • Get the lowest rates by booking your ticket for mid-week and/or taking a red-eye flight.
  • Shop on a Tuesday about six weeks before you’re planning to fly out to score the best deals.
  • Use apps like Kayak, Expedia, and Hopper to help you find the best-priced tickets. Some apps will even send you alerts when tickets on a flight you’ve looked at go down in price.

If your destination is within driving distance, you can also choose to hop on a train, board a bus, or rent a car with some friends and turn the drive into a fun road trip.

2. Think outside the registry

Jump off the registry bandwagon and get creative instead! You can give the couple a more personalized gift, like a themed breakfast basket, tickets and reservations for a dream date night, or a customized kitchen package complete with quirky mugs and whimsical gadgets. No one has to know how much (or how little) you spent. But, your gift is sure to be memorable and treasured by the couple.

If you’re part of a bunch of friends who are attending the wedding together, you can also choose to purchase a group gift. Do some detective work to find out the couple’s secret luxury gift wish, like a top-of-the-line grill or a leather sectional sofa, and then let each friend contribute to a pot until you have the full amount. You’ll save on your gift costs and you’ll know you’ve given your friends a wedding present they’ll be thrilled to receive.

3. Don’t buy a gown

Don’t feel pressured to spend hundreds of dollars on the dress you’ll wear to your friends’ weddings. Chances are, you won’t want to wear the same gown twice in a season. Also, the dress that perfectly matches one wedding color can horribly clash with the décor at next weekend’s wedding. Instead of dropping a ton of money on a dress you might wear once, rent a gown for a fraction of the price from rental services like Rent the Runway. You can also borrow from a friend or purchase a gently used gown.

4. Invest in a good suit

Tux rentals can run you up to $150, so if you’re looking at several weekends of weddings over the next few months, it might be worthwhile to invest in a staple suit or tux you can wear again and again. Make sure the suit is of decent quality and will make it through hours on the dance floor with its seams and buttons intact. Once you’ve got your suit in the closet, you can change up the outfit to match different wedding colors and themes by swapping the shirt and tie or the cummerbund and bowtie.

5. Use Airbnb instead of booking a hotel

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a hotel stay for every destination wedding you attend. Instead, check out Airbnb for affordable lodgings in the area. You can save even more by booking a full apartment or an entire house with a couple of friends and splitting the cost.

6. Don’t be afraid to say no

Members of the wedding party inevitably end up outspending everyone else thanks to the wedding attire, shoes, and the pre-wedding parties they’re required to attend. Most of these costs are dictated by the bride and groom. If you’re asked to be a bridesmaid or an usher and you know you can’t afford the associated costs, don’t be afraid to explain your position to your soon-to-be-married friends. They’ll likely understand and either accept your declination or make some adjustment to their plans so you can still be part of the wedding party.

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