Wedding Etiquette: 8 Tips To Surviving the Season

Weddings are joyful occasions, but they can also be stressful for guests who must make decisions on finances, shower and wedding gifts, time off from work and attire.
04/16/2014 09:34am ET | Updated June 16, 2014
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Weddings are joyful occasions, but they can also be stressful for guests who must make decisions on finances, shower and wedding gifts, time off from work and attire. There is no doubt, surviving the wedding season takes careful planning, especially when you are juggling multiple celebrations.

Here are some tips:

  1. Build a flexible wedding guest wardrobe. Invest in a couple of basics that can be changed up with accessories, jackets, scarves and jewelry. Don't rule out a black dress, a perfectly acceptable option for a wedding.
  2. Shop smart. Discount stores, national retailers, and high end consignment shops can all be a good source for quality clothing and accessory items that won't break the bank.
  3. Be a savvy gift giver. Find out where each couple is registered and sign up to receive store coupons from those retailers. Start early so you have ample time to watch for sales and special deals. This allows you to make your purchase(s) before other guests have picked the best, most affordable gifts. Be creative; if cookware is on the list but you can't afford to buy the entire set, buy one piece and include a favorite cookbook, cooking utensils, hot pads or something decorative and useful.
  4. Stick to your budget. Being a gracious guest doesn't mean overextending yourself. If the registry selections are beyond what you can afford, feel free to go off the registry or give a gift card with a manageable amount. Factor in the costs of shower gifts, travel expenses and other pre-wedding celebrations you may be invited to.
  5. RSVP wisely. Don't confuse an invitation with an obligation to attend. Consider the relationship you share with the bride, groom or family members of the couple. A close friend, or immediate family member falls into the "must attend" category. If it's the son or daughter of a close family friend, or coworker with whom you have a strong relationship, that could also be a "yes." If it's a distant cousin or a college friend you haven't seen in years, consider RSVPing "no." The same rule applies to gifts; when you RSVP "no" to attending but aren't sure whether to send a gift, let your relationship with the couple (or their family) be your guide.
  6. You don't really have a year to send a gift. There are persistent myths about wedding gifts, and the belief that you have a year to send a gift is one of them. Good manners dictates you send a gift sooner rather than later. If it slipped your mind and you're feeling bad that six months has passed, send something, along with a note that says, "Congratulations on your marriage."
  7. Send the gift ahead. The best way to deliver a gift is to send it to the bride and groom in advance so you know it won't get lost in the stack of presents, especially if you are giving money or something fragile. If the wedding is taking place in another city, purchase from a company that offers free shipping.
  8. Look for deals on a destination wedding. If you decide to attend a destination wedding, research ways to stick to your budget. Don't feel pressured to stay at the same hotel as the wedding party. Often the best rate can be found elsewhere, just minutes away. Take advantage of any travel discounts you may be eligible for through credit card rewards or associations you belong to. Don't hesitate to seek out a friend to room with to share costs. Given the expense involved in traveling to the ceremony, you are within the bounds of propriety to spend less on a gift than you might otherwise.
You will enjoy yourself as a wedding guest much more if you are not dreading the arrival of a stack of outrageous bills when the parties have ended.

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