Between your dress, gifts, and the price of getting your butt to the ceremony, you're spending a small fortune - and that's just on the first wedding of the summer. Thanks to these tips, you can stop worrying about blowing your savings on crystal and candlesticks, and start focusing on which hot groomsman you're going to lay claim to. Plus: Read these juicy confessions of a Bachelor Party Stripper
1. Buy Early, Save Big
It's tempting to put off dropping cash on the gift for as long as humanly possible - but don't. Since people like to snatch up lower-priced options for the bridal shower, make sure to buy something in your range before that happens. Four or five months prior to the big day is a safe bet. Always a guest, never a bride? Don't freak out, just read this.
2. Make It Personal
The wedding gift is one thing, but when you add in the bridal shower, bachelorette, and engagement party, what you're shelling out for presents seriously adds up. This is when being creative can pay off: If you've known the bride and groom for a while, give them a framed photo from their dating days (have it printed out in black and white, and find a classy frame). Don't have a history with the fiancé? Ask your local wine shop to suggest a bottle in your price range that ages well, and gift it as a memento the couple can enjoy years from now. Or spend a day one-on-one with the bride doing one of the awesome things only single ladies can do.
3. Snag a Cheap Flight
Out-of-town ceremonies often hit your wallet hardest, but this move eases the sting: Yapta.com will track ticket prices on the flight you want to take and then shoot you an e-mail the second they drop. Then try one of these genius ways to make extra cash fast to foot the bill.
4. Minimize Bridesmaid Dress Damage
In the wedding? It sucks to shell out for something that'll probably never see the light of day again. But the good news is, you can still find a deal. First, it's worth looking into whether the bridal shop will negotiate a group discount. Second, having the shop do the tailoring is usually a rip-off. Go to a mom-and-pop place instead; chances are they'll charge less. (You can also ask them about shaving off dollars if several bridesmaids get alterations there.)
5. Slash Your Hotel Bill
Couples tend to negotiate block room rates for their wedding, but even though those prices may be lower than what's listed on the hotel's Website, don't assume it's the best you can do. Before booking, check rates online at sites like orbitz.com or hotels.com - they're often even cheaper. Also, if you don't know anyone you can split a room with, ask the bride or groom to set you up with another solo traveler. You'll cut the rate in half, and meet someone new too. Want more deals? Try these sneaky ways to save $250 in 30 days.
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.