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Too many weddings, not enough cash?

If you’re in your 20s or 30s, it can seem like it’s almost always wedding season.The winter months are the least popular in some parts of the country, but December has been gaining fast, according to TheKnot.comThird Party Link — joining the favorites — June, August, September and October.
It’s likely you’re finding a lot of wedding invites in your mailbox (or inbox) pretty much year-round, and you can expect to pay, on average, a whopping $673 per event (up 13 percent from last year!), according to a recent American Express® surveyThird Party Link.So what should you do before saying “I do” to all these weddings? Follow these 5 tips to save yourself from stressing out and overspending:

  1. Don’t budge from your budget: It’s a good idea to include a line in your budget for weddings and gifts so you’ll have money set aside to cover most of the costs. Having trouble saving? Learn how you can change your spending habit into a savings habit. You also don’t have to attend every wedding you’re invited to. Consider only RSVP’ing “yes” to invites from your closest friends and family members — and politely decline the other invitations you receive. Or, just attend the wedding and say no to all the pre-wedding eventsThird Party Link, such as showers and bachelor parties. Speak up and voice your financial concerns to your besties: if they’re really your BFFs, they’ll understand if you can’t afford to attend everything.
  1. Recycle your fashion finery: If you can’t bear the thought of wearing the same dress to multiple summer weddings, hit the sale racks or lease a new look each time with a service like RentTheRunway.comThird Party Link, which loans dresses out for as low as $50 plus $9.95 shipping. You can also borrow an outfit from a friend or consider investing in a classic black dress you can accessorize differently (with a belt, shawl, jewelry or handbag) for each event.
  1. Go far, frugally: Following destination wedding etiquetteThird Party Link, the happy couple has hopefully given you ample time to save up — plus negotiated a great group accommodations rate, making it easier to fund your getaway. If the venue is still too expensive, check sites like AirbnbThird Party Link or HomeAwayThird Party Link for rentals you can share with other guests. PRNewswire.comThird Party Link estimates that going this route can save you 41 percent, or $102 a night versus a hotel. As for getting there, look to purchase your airline tickets when they are more likely to go on sale, such as on the weekends or after a Monday special.
  1. Shower the couple with sensible gifts: TheKnot.comThird Party Link suggests planning ahead and breaking down your total gift budget as follows: 20 percent on the engagement, 20 percent on the bridal shower and 40 percent on the wedding. (If you’re not invited to an engagement party or shower, add more to the wedding gift, if you want.) Shop early to buy the less expensive registry presents before they’re snatched up, or consider splitting a big-ticket item with friends to lower the cost of your gift. Anna Post, the great-great-granddaughter of etiquette guru Emily Post advises you to first think about your budget, your relationship to the couple and what you think they’d like in order to come up with a cost.
  1. Give of yourself: Offering your time and talent to the couple is as thoughtful as giving a gift — and budget-friendly, too. Your present could be creating the flower arrangements, taking photographs, making invitations or party favors for the guests, designing a wedding website, or singing or playing music at the event. It’s a nice way to give something memorable and appreciated, that won’t cost you more than your time.

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