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Money Minute: 5 ways wedding guests can save money and stay sane

Forget the bride and groom -- weddings can be expensive for guests, too! The average wedding guest will shell out nearly $700 to see their loved ones walk down the aisle, according to the latest data from American Express.

Finding the right gift is only half the budget battle. Here are a few tips to help you save as a wedding guest.

1. If you were too late to lock in the group hotel rate, you might still have options. Get at least 10 people together and you can try reserving your own block at a discount. Or try booking a group through sites like Priceline or Hotelplanner.com. Or, skip the hotel and get a rental from Airbnb or HomeAway.com. The average hotel rate for wedding guests is about $170 a night, so use that as a good baseline when hunting down deals.

2. All those pre-wedding festivities can really add up. You’ve got engagement parties... bridal showers...bachelor parties in Vegas...ugh! Listen -- If you aren’t super close to the bride and groom, skip one (or all) of these events and save your money. No one will hold it against you.

3. Airfare is hands down the biggest expense for wedding guests, costing an average $225. The best time to buy flights for weddings is six weeks before the big day, so as soon as you get your invite, put a reminder on your calendar. Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings are the best. If you’re flying internationally, start looking for deals five to six months out.

4. Stick to the registry and buy your gift early -- people always go for the cheap stuff first!

5. Nothing to wear to the nuptials? Try renting your dress or suit instead of buying something new you might only wear a couple of times. Ladies can finds lots of designer dresses for a bargain at Renttherunway.com and gentlemen can find great tuxes and suits at theblacktux.com.

Attention married couples and new brides and grooms! We want to hear from couples who regret spending a lot of money on one aspect of their wedding -- the venue? The band? 100 white doves? Send us your stories at yfmoneymailbag@yahoo.com.

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