Saving on Wedding Gifts Without Appearing Cheap

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Attending weddings can be an important part of friendship, but many guests are becoming weary from the expenses adding up quickly from going to several nuptials.

Also See: How to Tell Your Kids You Can't Afford to Help With Their Wedding

Guests are becoming anxious of what they will be spending at the expense of their friend's or relative's happily-ever-after since the cost of attending a wedding increased by 10% from 2013, said Erin Ballard, marketing manager of CreditCardInsider.com, a Syracuse, N.Y company that provides credit card and personal finance information.

Keeping down costs from attending weddings of all of your friends from high school, college and work can be solved by offering your services as a gift, she said. If you are lucky enough to have a knack for the arts, you can offer to decorate the cake or step in to take photos or videos.

"The bride and groom will be thankful for your help in cutting down their expenses as well," Ballard said.

Jennifer Kellogg, a grants manager for Clarifi, a credit counseling agency in Philadelphia who is attending five weddings including her own between now and December, said it should be acceptable to offer services or even offer to help plan a part of the wedding in place of giving a gift.

"However, if you offer a service, make sure you're actually skilled at it since weddings are very important days," she said.

Receiving all those heavy wedding invitations in the mail does not mean you need to say yes to all of them. Instead, you should RSVP carefully.

"You do not need to attend all weddings that you have received an invitation for - sending a gift is a kind gesture by itself," Ballard said. "Remember, the couple will save money by keeping the attendance list to a minimum."

What's more, it is not mandatory to purchase a gift off the registration list since they are mere suggestions.

"Some bridal registry websites will allow you to find the best deals for the items on it, so be on the lookout for those options," said Kellogg.

Women can get creative with their wedding attire instead of buying a new expensive dress for each wedding. If you have a friend in your size, consider asking if she would be willing to make a trade and help each other out, Ballard said.

Destination weddings sound like a good deal, because you can support your friend or family member while getting a vacation at the same time. Ballard recommends foregoing them.

"Prices can vary greatly from place to place, making each destination a different cost for your wallet," she said.

If you do choose to head to another city for a wedding, team up and consider sharing hotel rooms or carpooling with a family member or friend to save money.

"The most important thing is that you're there to support the happy couple," said Kellogg. "Weddings are not cheap for both the people holding them and the people attending. From the host's perspective, be thoughtful about the costs someone can incur with even traveling to a wedding - maybe they can't afford to come and bring a gift. At the same time, guests can also get creative with gifts and not have to spend a lot."

Hosts can help their friends save money by choosing a central location for the ceremony. They should also leverage their relationship with their loyalty program at hotels or airlines to book cheaper flights or rooms, said C.J. Brott, whose daughter got married recently and is a portfolio manager on Covestor, an online marketplace for investing.

"My daughter's best idea was to hold the ceremony in Las Vegas since most of her friends were freshly minted doctors and were scattered around the country," she said. "Due to its cheap flights, hotels and meals, along with the central location, most of them were able to attend. To save wedding guests money, the father of the bride used his Diamond Player status with Harrah's to book a block of rooms on the cheap in their best tower."

--Written by Ellen Chang for MainStreet

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