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Everyone loves weddings. The chance to party, catch up with people you haven’t seen in forever, and witness true love — all of these are reasons people fork out hundreds of dollars for a one-day or one-weekend experience.

Still, if you are lucky enough to have lots of friends and loved ones who want you to share in their big day, wedding travel can quickly add up and overwhelm your budget. Below are just a few of the tips I’ve picked up to save on costly travel to and from weddings.

1. Book Early, Book Often

There is one thing you can’t gripe about when it comes to the weddings of your friends: you can’t say they didn’t warn you. Most “Save the Dates” go out six months in advance, with a formal invitation following about three months before the big day. This means you have more than enough time to scout the Internet for savings on flights and accumulate travel points for the trip by booking your other wedding trips at the same time. Don’t say it “snuck up on you”, because when it comes to large weddings, they’re rarely thrown together at the last minute. And that gives you plenty of opportunity to save.

2. The Gift of My Presence

Etiquette is changing. I know it is generally customary for everyone to gift the happy couple something from their registry, but if it is a close friend of mine and I paid for airfare and a hotel to attend their big day, I usually just write them a nice note and place a small gift card inside the envelope.

Just say, “You get the gift of my presence!” and most often they’ll understand and be perfectly OK with that. Besides, I’m pretty sure if it were me I’d rather have my favorite people share in my special day than get a new juicer.

3. Skip Breakfast

OK, so I’m not actually suggesting you don’t eat to save some money, but you should skip out on the restaurant breakfast with others that often accompanies the pre- or post-wedding routine. To save money, pack snack bars in your suitcase and eat those when you wake up and join your friends later on in the day. They’ll still be eating and drinking, and you’ll still have money in your wallet. (Or, even better, find a hotel that gives you free breakfast with your stay!)

4. Share, Even If It Makes You Uncomfortable

Try rooming with a friend to split the hotel stay. But rooms aren’t the only thing you can share. If you and someone from the same town are attending the wedding, consider renting a car and sharing the cost, rather than buying a plane ticket. It’ll take you longer to get there, but it won’t be so bad with someone if you split the drive time.

If you are going to a town that rents condos or apartments to out-of-towners through an agency, try and cram as many people as you can into that condo and watch the price per person drop before your very eyes. Sure, I may have once had to spend the weekend with a girl that I hated in college, but in the end she wasn’t so bad and I saved a lot of money in the process.

5. Consider Non-Conventional Accommodations

If you are traveling with a buddy, significant other, or in a large group, websites such as AirBnB.com and Homeaway.com offer non-conventional accomodations that can save you hundreds of dollars. These websites can be a great alternative to a pricey hotel room, and often times the accommodations can be just as nice.

Depending on your budget you can rent a room in a home, or an entire apartment if the homeowner is away for the weekend. Often times, private homeowners go out of their way to add extra “touches” for their guests (I had a friend who received fresh juice and muffins!) in order to get the best reviews on the site and increase business.

As you can see, there are myriad ways to save money when it comes to summer travel for weddings. In the worst case, you may have to pick the one or two weddings of the summer you would like to attend most, and send a thoughtful gift and a regret for the others. Either way, by using these tips your travel won’t necessarily have to break the budget.

Image: iStockphoto

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