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Wedding Bells Wringing Wallets

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Wedding bells are ringing and my wallet is screaming for help!

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"Going to the chapel and we're gonna get married"… hold that thought!

Wedding bells are ringing, but not for me. I'm coming to the age where my friends are starting to tie the knot. Initially, my response to upcoming nuptials is overwhelming happiness and joy! But my gut asks, "Will I be able to afford all this?"

As a recent college graduate who no longer receives handouts from mom and dad, I need to think about myself. Maybe it's selfish, but let's face the facts; does it make sense to max out your Visa for other peoples' weddings? I sure hope you're all shaking your heads.

My first experience on the marriage circuit was a year ago. A sorority sister of mine mass texted us a picture of her Tiffany (TIF) ring and announced she was engaged. My immediate response was, "Well that's silly! She should have waited a few years until we all could actually afford it. "

Even though that seems a tad off the cuff, it holds true. You're clearly going to make a higher salary when you're in your late 20s than your early 20s, but love is love. It was time to start thinking about my gift budget.

I had the opportunity to speak with Jill Meister, the editor-in-chief of getmarried.com. She was able to provide me with several firsthand tips regarding wedding presents.

Meister recommends guests follow the registry whenever possible, and allot gift budgets on a case-by-case basis. She advises friends that might be in a financial bind to be truthful and upfront about their situation with the betrothed couple.

Most people create registries, but you don't need to stick to them. I found Bed Bath and Beyond (BBBY) very helpful because of its longstanding 20% off coupon that never expires. I was able to save $15 and receive a complimentary gift wrap.

That might not sound like much; however, you'll see the money all adds up. Before I purchase anything these days, I do a quick Google search to see if there's any extra promotion. Of course, if you give your friend this, chances are you won't be invited to any future engagements.

Meister informed me that budgeting isn't only taking place on the guests' side, but the wedding couples are also censoring their budgets. With 63% of couples paying for their nuptials themselves, they've become more invested both emotionally and financially.

The recession isn't drying up the $55 billion dollar wedding industry. However, it is forcing vendors and customers to become more creative in an effort to save money while still putting on an elegant affair.

Big trends this past wedding season include creating signature drinks as opposed to having an expensive open bar, ordering smaller floral arrangements with flowers that are in season, and doing it yourself whenever possible. Meister acknowledged that one of her readers created a "wedding workshop" where family and friends were put to work creating place cards and wedding favors.

While faux pas in the past, borrowing and renting used wedding dresses has also become increasingly popular in the past six months.

Brides recognize this might be a hard time for their bridesmaids' as well. Brides often select a color and designer for their bridesmaid dresses and let the bridal party select a style they prefer.

If you're attending a wedding and think your gift might be a little anemic, you can offer your services like create graphics, sing at the wedding, research, mail invites, lick stamps, and even tie up the little bags of rice! If you're planning your own, getmarried.com has a handy wedding budget calculator, similar to a P&L, which can help you allocate your money.

Whatever financial bind you're in, being open and honest with your friends and yourself is always the best advice no matter what side of the altar you are on.
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