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Five Ways to Minimize Wedding Party Expenses

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For many, the wedding is no longer a one-day affair — it”s grown into a wedding weekend with expensive festivities lasting three days or more. It”s estimated that guests alone will spend $500 to attend one and that figure doesn”t even include the wedding gift, according to EngagementExperts.com. Bridesmaids can plan on spending up to $1,400 to be a part of a friend”s big day, according to TheKnot.com.

Getting together a game plan before the wedding season kicks off will ease the strain on your closest friends” and families” wallets — and help alleviate your stress levels. Since you”re already looking to save money wherever you can, here are some unique ways you can save your guests and your wedding party money as well.

1. Only invite locals and closest long-term friends to your wedding.
Same goes for your bridal party. Keep it to your best friends and siblings. Couples are inviting fewer guests to weddings these days (144 compared to 152 in a 2010 Wedding Report study). You”ll save money too!

If you”re looking to inform your greater circle of friends about your nuptials, send out an announcement featuring a photo from your day after the event.

2. Let your bridal party pick their own attire.
The only thing more impractical in the world than a bridesmaid”s dress is possibly the Segway. Even if you”re lucky enough to score a decent-looking dress, the chances of you ever wearing it again are nil. It”s a growing trend to do non-matching dresses. Embrace this practical alternative and choose a color, or give your girls parameters to pick their own dress.

If someone offers their services for your wedding, suggest that be their “gift” to you. Whether it”s helping arrange flowers, valet parking or doing hair and makeup, if a friend pitches in for your wedding, let them know their services are the best gift and completely sufficient.

3. Create a gift card registry.
Where there”s a wedding, there are showers. And lots of them. Engagement parties, bridal showers, lingerie soir##es, home warmings — the parties are as endless as the disco tunes at a reception. Keep the registry simple — and 21st century — by creating your wedding gift registry at CardAvenue for gift cards to national retailers. Not only do you forego returning one of two fondue sets, your guests can save on costly shipping charges.

4. Get practical when it comes to accommodations.
If travel is required to attend and/or be part of your wedding, consider your guests” needs. While you want to reserve rooms at a good rate, you don”t want them to slum it for the weekend. Many hotels offer special rates for weddings, but you may also find out if local friends and family might offer guest bedrooms for those who may need extra help.

Guests could split a rental car and hotel room. Chances are there will be many others flying from out of town, so an extra trip to an airport or a pullout sofa bed may work just fine.

5. Be thankful.
After the last packet of birdseed has been flung, remember the reason you”ve put up with all this wedding nonsense. You want your friends and family to celebrate one of the most important days of your life together. You care that they”ve sacrificed to be a part of your big day. Don”t let that go unacknowledged. Include a note in the wedding program, a toast at the reception or a sweet line of thanks as part of the wedding favor (or on to-go boxes where your guests can take home some grub for later.)

Weddings expert Cara Davis is the author of Cheap Ways to Tie the Knot and blogs from her home in Orlando, FL, about cheap ways to spend and save at CheapWaysTo.com.