When did other people’s weddings become so expensive?
According to The Knot 2016 Wedding Guest Study, the average wedding guest spent $118 per gift for weddings they attended in the previous three years. Those going to an out-of-state wedding spent an additional $643 on travel and accommodations.
That price tag is enough to turn a happy day into a stressful one. But rest assured, you don’t have to skip the celebration to save your finances.
Instead of breaking the bank to toast the happy couple, consider these seven ways to save money on wedding gifts without being cheap.
1. Shop early and scoop up low-priced items on the registry
If the engaged couple put together a wedding registry, make sure you’re the first in line (or rather, online) to order.
“Don’t procrastinate on choosing a gift,” warned Janessa White, co-founder of Simply Eloped. “Check out the registry as soon as you can and select an affordable present before other guests fulfill the less-pricey registry items.”
Most couples include a range of items on their registry, from low-cost salt and pepper shakers to big-ticket items such as, say, a $390 Breville BBL910XL Superblender. If you wait too long to choose a gift, expensive blenders might be all that are left on the list.
Ivy Jacobson, a senior digital editor for the Knot, recommends combining a few small items in a unique way. “Put together a curated gift of multiple items, like a bartending kit filled with a martini shaker, jumbo cube tray, corkscrew, and coasters,” she suggested.
You also could add homemade gifts to the mix to personalize your gift. That way, you’d give the couple something they want from their registry, but you won’t blow past your budget.
2. Search for discounts at different stores
Even if a couple is registered at a pricey store such Williams Sonoma, that doesn’t mean you have to buy your gift there.
“There is no requirement to purchase gifts from the registry,” said consumer finance expert Kevin Gallegos of Freedom Financial Network. “If you find an item on the registry you would like to give the couple, you may find the same (or similar) product at a lower price either online or at other stores.”
Of course, you want to make sure other guests don’t duplicate the gift. But Gallegos has a solution.
“If you purchase your gift this way, contact the store where the couple registered and ask them to note that the item has been purchased,” he advised. That way, the store can remove the item from the registry and the newlyweds won’t get the same gift twice.
3. Reduce costs with discounted gift cards
Besides shopping around for the best price, you could further lower your costs by using discounted gift cards. Websites such as CardPool and Gift Card Granny sell gift cards for various merchants at a discounted price.
Gift Card Granny, for instance, was selling a $350 Target gift card for about $277 in May, which would save 7.5% on your purchase.
Abaigeal Duda, a justice of the peace for Pioneer Valley Weddings, suggests using the strategy. However, make sure you do due diligence.
“Be sure to check out reviews before giving it a try,” Duda said. “You’ll want a credible site that offers guarantees of authenticity.”
By sticking to reputable sites, you could get savings on cards from major retailers such as Amazon, Costco, or Sephora.
4. Chip in on a group gift with other guests
Instead of shouldering the entire cost of a gift on your own, consider splitting it with other guests. If you’re attending the event with friends, ask if they want to go in on a present together.
Wedding gift marketplace Zola makes it easy to give a group gift. If a couple registers on the site, they can enable its “group gifting” feature on any items on their wish list.
“I always suggest going in on joint gifts with other attendees,” said White. “With this approach, the couple will still receive an amazing gift from their registry and you — as well as a few other guests — can trim costs.”
5. Skip the registry and give a personalized gift
You don’t have to buy a wedding gift from a registry. Instead, you could tap your own talents to make a gift.
“Find creative ways to gift the couple by using your own skills,” said Lilia Karimi, the co-founder of wedwell. “If you’re a photographer or good at documenting, you could offer those services for their wedding or a prewedding shoot. If you’re great at crafts, you can offer to help with wedding decoration.”
Duda took this approach when her sister got married.
“I baked and decorated cookies for my sister’s wedding to give away as favors as my ‘gift’ to her,” she said. “For another wedding, I took photos and gifted the couple a wedding album that I ordered online.”
Even though you might not spend much money, the couple will remember your efforts.
“Any item becomes priceless when you put a lot of thought and effort into it and make it personal,” said Sarah Ntouskas, the CEO of wedding planning company Make It Posh.
6. Make the most of credit card rewards
Credit card rewards can help you save money on wedding gifts, but there’s a caveat. Going into high-interest credit card debt is never a good idea, so avoid this route if you tend to overspend.
But if you can pay off your balance each month, earning credit card reward points could be a great way to save money during the wedding season.
You might earn points for shopping at certain retailers with a particular card. Or you could score a sign-up bonus on a new card for spending a certain amount within the first few months of opening an account.
Of course, you have to be careful not to ding your credit score by opening too many new accounts at once. But if you can use credit cards responsibly, the rewards earned could help you cover wedding gift costs.
7. Use extensions and promo codes to save on online purchases
The first is cash-back site Ebates. “Use Ebates when making online purchases and you can get paid back a percentage, which you can put toward gift-giving or something else,” Bhattacharjee suggested.
You can download the Ebates browser extension, which will notify you if you’ll get cash back when you’re on a retailer website. If you make purchases through those sites, you’ll receive your cash back by check or Paypal each month.
RetailMeNot is her second recommendation for finding cash-back offers or discount codes.
“Before making an online purchase, look to see if there’s a coupon code you can use to save money,” she said.
You also can find promo codes by doing a Google search. Not all of them will work, but you might find a discount that you didn’t see advertised on a store’s website.
Wedding gifts don’t have to break the bank
The average guest might spend hundreds of dollars attending a wedding, but you don’t have to be average.
By thinking outside the box, you can come up with memorable gifts that don’t drain your bank account. Then like the savvy wedding guest you are, you can enjoy the celebration knowing your finances are in order.
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