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If it feels like every weekend from spring through fall is booked with wedding after wedding, you're not alone. Wedding season is always fun and memorable, but between travel costs, gifts, the perfect dress, and other expenses, being a guest can quickly get pricey. But we've got tips to help you navigate any upcoming nuptials without going broke.

Start With Your Budget 

Before you start RSVPing, take a good hard look at your budget for the upcoming wedding season. How much can you realistically afford to spend on celebrations? Make a check list for each event, including travel, hotel fare, gifts, attire, and any other foreseeable costs. Once you've set a total budget, you can mindfully set funds for each wedding.

It's also wise to build in a little slack for any unexpected costs that may arise, whether that’s bridal shower expenses or last-minute outfit snafus. Definitely try to overestimate what you'll spend so you’re better prepared versus getting caught off guard by a wave of expenses. This way, if you do go over your projected budget for one wedding, you'll have wiggle room for any others instead of completely starting over.

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Gift Smartly

Gifts are undoubtedly one of the biggest wedding costs for guests. Just looking at that long list in the registry can be overwhelming enough. To save some cash, get crafty with your present ideas. If you know the happy couple loves experiences, put together a "night out" gift basket with tickets to a show, gift cards to restaurants, and a bottle of wine. Or give a sentimental gift like a framed photo from your friendship. 

Hitting up the group chat and asking to pool your money together for a group gift from multiple guests is another great way to spend less. Just be sure one person coordinates the collection to avoid duplicates!

For the registry gifts, watch for sales and take advantage of completion discounts that many retailers offer in the final weeks before the big day. You can also look on secondhand marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist for gently used items from the registry for much cheaper. We also love the idea of bundling smaller gifts together in one larger package to make them look like a bigger gesture.

Travel Hacks

If you'll be traveling for any weddings, be strategic about booking any transportation and lodging ASAP for the best rates. When it comes to flights, Google Flights and apps like Hopper are your bests friends for tracking prices and scoring deals. Set alerts for your routes and dates, and be ready to pounce when a good fare pops up.

For hotels, check first to see if the couple has blocked off a room block with reserved rates (they often will!). If not, or those are still too pricey, try finding an Airbnb or Vrbo rental, especially if you can split it with other guests. Also, don't overlook alternative lodging options like hostels, vacation rentals just outside the city, or bunking with friends or relatives in the area.

See if you can rack up points, airline miles, or even hotel rewards in advance to redeem for free stays or upgrades. Being part of a hotel or airline loyalty program can help make your money go further, which will be your savior if you have multiple weddings to travel to. And be flexible with your travel dates if possible, as shifting your schedule by a day or two can sometimes save you hundreds.

Finding the Perfect Outfit

Attire expenses for all those dress codes can really add up, especially if the two lovebirds prefer a black-tie affair. Our best hack is to build a mix-and-match wedding wardrobe with versatile pieces you can re-wear. Start with a go-to dress or even pantsuit that works for most dress codes, then switch up accessories to re-style the main outfit for different wedding themes and levels of formality.

Also think about shopping secondhand formalwear consignment stores and resale sites like ThredUp, Poshmark, or RealReal. You can often find beautiful designer and boutique pieces that have only been worn once for a fraction of the original price. There’s also the option of renting your looks from an online service like Rent the Runway to try out couture dresses, suits, and accessories for a steal.

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Our Other Money-Saving Tips

Wherever possible, group together with other guests for transportation, lodging, gifts, etc., to cut costs through splitting expenses. Offer to pitch in for hair, makeup, and other services with the bridal party or other attendants to get group rates as well.

And, don't be afraid to be upfront about your constraints and simply say "no" to optional add-ons like pricey weekend-long events, bach parties, etc. You can still celebrate meaningfully with the couple without splurging on every single associated activity and event.

For far-away weddings, consider making it a fun road trip with other guests and split gas, accommodations, and driving duties. Plus, having a travel companion helps save money and makes the trek more enjoyable.

Most importantly, weddings are about supporting your loved ones, not going into debt. With a bit of smart planning, you can absolutely have the best wedding season and dance the nights away without blowing your budget.

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