KATHERINE BOYLE

The Washington Post

Saving money on your wedding day is easy. The courthouse couldn’t be a cheaper venue. But how do you save on the weddings of friends and colleagues? The costs add up quickly.

“We found that gifts, on average, run around over $100, and the cost is higher if it’s a close friend’s wedding,” said Kristin Koch, senior editor of the TheKnot.com. “On average, people spend $75 on attire and over $300 on travel. Destination weddings can run close to $1,000.”

People are also spending more on wedding wardrobes. “It is amazing how much people spend to attend weddings,” said Jennifer Hyman, co-founder and chief executive of Rent the Runway, a membership website that rents designer dresses and accessories. “You used to be able to buy one outfit and wear it to a few weddings. But now that photos are instantly on Facebook, you can’t do that anymore.”

Experts weigh in on how to keep costs down on your friends’ big days.

CLOTHES

Rent your attire

Much like the bride, women often want new dresses for the occasion. But why buy a dress when you can rent it for as low as 10 percent of the cost of buying? In April, Rent the Runway launched its Weddings Boutique, which helps guests plan outfits for all the bridal events. The company also supplies free stylists who will plan outfits based on size, style, color and occasion.

Accessorize

We forget that people are so busy judging the bride’s dress that they’re bound to forget about yours. Dress up something in your closet with vintage or rented accessories.

TRAVEL

Plan ahead

As with all travel, plan ahead. Don’t wait for the save the dates to arrive. Look for flights and hotels the minute the Facebook announcement goes up. And don’t wait for the bridal party to supply information on where to stay or how to get there.

Avoid expensive lodging

It might be tempting to stay with the bridal party, but you can almost always find a less expensive alternative a few miles away. For lodging, consider using airbnb.com, a website that matches travelers with people willing to rent rooms or apartments on the short term. If you’re traveling alone, ask the bridal party to supply you with a list of other singles who might be interested in sharing a room.

Car rental alternatives

If you need to rent a car, consider peer-to-peer car-rental alternatives such as RelayRides.com. For singles, Koch recommends finding someone before the wedding who is willing to share the rental car.

GIFTS

Know when to splurge

According to TheKnot.com, the average cost of a gift for a family member is $146. Gifts for friends are significantly less at $79. And the age-old adage of price per plate as a measure for how much to spend no longer applies. “We use a 60-20-20 rule: Spend 60 percent on wedding, 20 percent on shower and 20 percent on engagement party,” Koch said. TheKnot.com recommends $75-$100 for a co-worker, $100-$120 for a friend and $100-$150 for a close friend or family.

Get there first and game the registry

Be the first one to sign up for items on a registry, and be strategic. Choose an item you know you can find cheaper elsewhere.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Plan ahead to avoid exorbitant costs by stocking up on gifts, shopping around the registry and not spending on clothes you could rent or reuse.


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