Part of the fun of traveling to weddings is that they're usually a reunion with old friends -- and therefore present excellent opportunities to cut costs.
"Going in with your friends for a group gift is a great way to buy something more substantial for the couple," Winikka suggests.
Winikka advises finding out ahead of time who is going to the wedding so you can make plans to share a hotel room or at least share transportation costs from the airport.
Parading down the aisle dressed isn't exactly the same as strolling down a white, sandy beach, but if weddings are eating up your money and your vacation time at work, turn it into a vacation by tacking a couple of days on to the beginning or end of the trip.
Last summer, when my friend Elizabeth got married in Northern California, I scheduled a visit with another friend in Southern California and then drove up the Pacific Coast Highway.
Think outside the gift box
One of the best things about getting married is the loot you receive. But when it comes to presents, most of the brides I talked to said they'd prefer their loved ones' presence at their nuptials to a fancy gift.
Thanks to Pinterest and DIY blogs, homemade gift ideas are easy to find and replicate. Some of my favorites include homemade soaps, a scrapbook of unprofessional pictures from the wedding and collections of recipes from friends and family.
If Pinterest makes you feel as inadequate as I do, offer to house-sit or dog-sit while the couple is on their honeymoon or stock their fridge with a homemade dinner for when they return.
Just because it's not on their registry doesn't mean it won't be appreciated.
Recycle that dress
You were waiting for this one, weren't you?
It's a myth, ladies. Despite many a bride promising her maids "You can wear it again," I've actually never been able to pull this off.
Count the dress as a loss, a memory of a good time and the start to your very own "27 Dresses" collection.
Though I've never regretted any of the money I spent helping get my friends down the aisle to say "I do," with a little more forethought, planning and creativity, I could have Chicken Danced a lot easier without cracking open my nest egg.
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