A summer of weddings – on the cheap!

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Lego wedding

Lego wedding (thanks to aburt)

Three down, three to go, and that’s just 2011! I seem to have reached that age where all my friends are getting married. Although there’s usually a tasty meal and some free champagne promised, there’s no denying that six extra weekends away are going to have quite an effect on my bank balance if I’m not careful.

As the average cost of attending a wedding is reported at £452, here is your checklist to enjoy a summer of weddings on the cheap…

1. Dress to Impress

This one is more for the ladies, but it’s easy to get excited and buy a new dress for every wedding you’re invited to. But do you really need it? Is there something lurking in the back of the wardrobe that you haven’t worn for a while?

Failing that, can you add accessories and jewellery to give a familiar outfit a new lease of life? Do you have any friends who could swap or lend you something?

If you’ve got nothing suitable at home try charity, vintage and second-hand shops. I found one of my favourite dresses for £15 at a vintage fair. Plus, you know no other guests will be wearing the same as you!

2. Club together for presents

Wedding lists can be another expense, and you don’t want to look stingy by being the guest that buys the happy couple a solitary silver-plated napkin ring! If you know others who are attending then why not suggest pooling your money to get a few of the items on the list?

3. Book transport in advance

Travelling by train? Don’t leave it to the last minute as advance tickets can be a lot cheaper. Money Saving Expert has a lot of tips for getting the cheapest travel deals and I would definitely recommend megatrain (or megabus if you can stand getting a coach) for a bargain fare too.

4. Somewhere to stay

Accommodation for a night away can be pricey. If the wedding venue has accommodation available they may have a discount for wedding guests. Make sure you find out first and if they do, make sure you book it.

Travelodge accommodation is a cheap alternative, particularly if you book in advance. I recently went to a wedding where the nearest Travelodge was a few miles away; however the cost of the room plus the cost of a taxi was still cheaper than a night in a B&B near the venue! If in doubt, ring a local taxi firm to check and you can also use http://taxiroute.co.uk/ to check the price of your journey.

If you don’t get the option of bringing a ‘plus one’ see if anyone else you know is in the same situation and would be happy to share a twin room with you.

5. Budget for the day

Once the wine on the tables runs out, the drinks can be rather expensive. Try and make it last if you can and plan in advance how much you can afford spend and take it with you in cash – often venues don’t take card payments anyway and you’ll have a self-imposed limit on your spending for the day.

Obviously we wouldn’t recommend it, but a popular option seems to be to take a hip flask!

6. Stags and Hens

Some stag and hen weekends can get so expensive that they end up as a substitute for a summer holiday – I’m still saving up for one in August!

If it’s a two-night do (or more), think carefully. Do you need to go to all of it? Are you desperately keen to spend time go-karting/ pot-holing / pole dancing or could you just pop along to one of the nights out?

Fancy dress also seems to be a prerequisite these days, but does anyone ever use it a second time? See if anyone you know has something you can borrow rather than buying loads of stuff for a one-off occasion.

Do you have any money-saving tips for wedding guests? Let us know.

I live in Leeds and have worked for StepChange Debt Charity for two years in the aftercare team. I am also studying part-time for a Masters’ degree in writing poetry, so I know all about having to budget!

I also enjoys going to gigs and walking.

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