Spring and summer are popular seasons to have weddings, making it an expensive time of year. The costs associated with attending a wedding -- from gifts to fancy apparel to travel -- can be budget busters, especially if you have numerous weddings over the course of these two busy seasons.
Here are some ideas to keep those expenses down:
While guests may feel obligated to give gifts to the couple exchanging their nuptials, spending money is not necessary. Guests need not buy expensive items from the couple's long wedding registry or write a big check.
These frugal gifts will express your well wishes to the newly married:
-- A thoughtful card. Those who cannot afford to purchase a gift can write a heartfelt note for a personal touch. Remind the couple of an experience you shared together, offer your relationship advice, quote famous words or write a poem.
-- A special photo. Give the newlyweds a beautiful picture of them together. Sure they'll likely have a wedding photographer at the big event, but perhaps you've captured a nice moment between the two love birds during the time you've spent with them. This gift can be treasured for many years to come, and it can cost less than $10. Depending on the size, photographs can be printed for just a few dollars, sometimes even less. Drugstores and office supply stores offer these services. Also check for available coupons before completing your transaction. To find a picture frame at a low price, look at dollar stores, craft stores and retailers like HomeGoods.
-- Personalized plaques. A custom address plaque or a decorative door knocker with the couple's last name makes a celebratory, and cost-effective, present. This gift commemorates a major milestone in their relationship and will last for years. These items can be ordered online.
-- Trees and plants. Purchase a tree or another plant the couple can watch grow over time. This long-lasting present can be enjoyed for many years to come. Shop at a local garden supply or hardware store.
With a low-cost, yet thoughtful gift, you're one step closer to attending a wedding without breaking the bank. The next challenge is what to wear.
Suits, dresses and the shoes
Getting dressed without going over budget can be easy for day-to-day clothing. You know where to shop and how much you feel comfortable spending, but special occasions can present a challenge. Dressing up for a celebratory event like a wedding may happen just a few times a year, so your closet may not necessarily be full with options.
Rather than spend unnecessary cash on clothes you may not have an opportunity to wear again in the near future, take a closer look at your closet. Try to dress up garments you already own by pairing them with fancier items. For example, women may find success combining a tasteful necklace and a dressy pair of shoes with a more casual dress they wouldn't have otherwise worn to a wedding.
If your closet doesn't contain the items you need to dress appropriately for the occasion, try to borrow garments from someone you know or shop the sale racks, consignment stores or thrift shops for gently-worn items. You can also rent dresses from online sites for a much cheaper price than you'd find at department stores.
Now that you have a gift to bring and know what you'll be wearing, transportation is the last remaining expense.
If the wedding is nearby, opt for a cost-effective transit mode rather than a limousine or car service. The bridal party will probably be chauffeured, but the guests don't need to pay for this luxury. Plan to drive yourself, make arrangements to carpool with other guests, use public transportation or take a taxi.
When you do need to travel for a wedding, make your arrangements far enough in advance to take advantage of cheaper airline tickets. Hotels also commonly offer a discount to wedding guests, but the amount of available rooms for a lower rate is often limited. Reserve your room as soon as possible to avoid overpaying.
With these tactics, you can enjoy the wedding season and happily toast the newlyweds -- without worrying about toasting your wallet.
Jon Lal is the founder of coupons and cash back website BeFrugal.com, which saves shoppers an average of $27 per order thanks to coupons plus an average of 7 percent cash back at more than 3,000 stores.
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