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Get your credit card ready: Wedding season is here

By , CardRatings Contributor
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If you have been invited to a wedding this summer, you may want to get ready to break out your bank card. American Express (American Express is a CardRatings.com advertiser) says wedding guests will shell out an average of $539 to attend this year's soirees. That's $200 more than last year, and surprising, about the same amount those participating in the wedding will spend.

While weddings can take a bite out of your budget, there may be no reason you have to skip the festivities. A little planning and some smart use of your rewards credit card can help keep costs down so you can enjoy a guilt-free celebration.

Travel and dressing up are top guest expenses

According to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, spending by wedding guests is expected to jump 59 percent from last year. While guests said they would spend $339 in 2012, that number is expected to be $539 in 2013. Those participating in a wedding expect to spend $577.

Chief among guest expenses are dressing to the nines and getting to the event followed by a gift for the newlyweds. American Express pegged average expenses in these categories at the following amounts:

  • Travel: $167
  • New apparel and accessories: $161
  • Wedding gift: $108

Other expenses include child care, dining out and participating in the bachelor or bachelorette party.

When it comes to gifts, we tend to spend more on our family than friends. American Express found the average gift for family members was $144 while our friends were worth only an average $97 gift.

Tips for savings money on weddings

Amex reports 30 percent of the adult population has plans to attend one or more weddings this year which means 69 million of us will be listening to family, friends and even co-workers say 'I do' in 2013. Try a couple of these strategies to keep your costs in check.

  • Travel: Pull out the gas card or the airline card if you plan to go any distance to attend a wedding. Not only can you rack up miles, points or cash back, you may be eligible for certain perks if you book with the right credit card. For example, some travel credit cards may let you check your bags for free or make you eligible for hotel upgrades. Another way to save on travel expenses is to piggyback your summer vacation off the wedding rather than plan a separate trip.
  • Clothes and accessories: The obvious way to cut down on clothing costs is to shop your own closet. Another option, if you are going to multiple weddings, is to buy one basic item (cue the little black dress) and personalize it with different accessories for each event. If you absolutely must have a little more bling for the wedding, consider renting a designer gown from a website such as RentTheRunway.com or LendingLuxury.com.
  • The gift: This is another time when your best rewards credit card will come in handy. Many cards offered rewards catalogs that may include gift cards to stores such as Bed Bath and Beyond which are popular choices for bridal registries. If you are flying to the wedding destination, you can also save money on luggage fees by buying the gift after you arrive or having it shipped directly to the lucky couple.

Weddings aren't only expensive for the bride and groom. They can also add up to some serious spending for you. So get your cash back credit card ready and scout out the best deals to be part of the big day without draining your wallet dry.

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