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Mind your budget as wedding season heats up

Of course you want to share the happy day with the bride and groom. But if you don't prepare financially, the expenses associated with being a guest can overwhelm you.

In a survey of 1,000 people, nearly 1

In a survey of 1,000 people, nearly 1 in 5 of those polled said they declined a wedding invitation because they couldn't afford to attend. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Brian A. Jackson

The summer wedding season is fast approaching.  You might need a tissue to wipe up those tears of joy, but if you don’t prepare yourself financially, you could be crying for another reason.

In a new survey of 1,000 people by Bankrate.com, nearly 1 in 5 of those polled said they declined a wedding invitation because they couldn’t afford to attend. Worse, 30 percent of those who declined said their relationship with the bride and groom was negatively impacted when they didn't show up.

Here’s how to survive wedding season with your friendships and budget intact.

Take time buying a gift

“Traditional etiquette says you have up to a year to send a wedding gift from the date of the event. Give yourself leeway. Ask the couple to let you know after the wedding if there was anything they wanted that they didn’t receive. You buy yourself time and they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness,” says Katherine Frost, wedding planner and owner of A Frosted Affair in Denver.

Prioritize

If you have many friends getting married, decide which parties you're going to attend and what couples you just get a gift. Says Frost, “Prioritize by geography, scheduling or how much you really want to be at their wedding. I know people who put all the invitations into a hat and blindly chose one or two. You decide how to do it.”

Set a budget

Consider all expenses associated with being a guest -- a gown for a formal affair, a hotel if you'd need an overnight stay to attend. “Seeing the expense as a line item in your overall budget will help you maintain focus on your own financial goals,” says Sean Fox, co-president of Freedom Debt Relief, in San Mateo, California.

Remember, says Chrisanna Elser, founder of ThefinU.com, “Wedding season shouldn’t mean open season on your finances.”

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