smart spending

Keep it simple for the wedding party

You can also check out sample sales and secondhand stores. For her best friend's wedding, Julia Magnusson and her fellow bridesmaids found matching designer gowns at a consignment shop -- with the tags still on them. "After the wedding we consigned them back to the shop so that we weren't stuck with them and someone else can use them," says Magnusson.

Your bridal party will love you if you select a color and let them find dresses on their own that fits their shapes, tastes and budgets. Same thing with shoes. Almost anything will go with gold, silver or black.

Options for groomsmen

Guys have it easy: Rent a tux, which comes with shoes, and return it the next day. But you can save them more money by letting them wear what they already own. If everyone has a navy blue suit, for example, match their ties and/or pocket squares -- items that can even be part of your groomsmen gifts.

If you're going with tuxedos, shop around. Most rental shops will throw in a free tux or suit rental for the groom. At Men's Wearhouse, for example, one tuxedo or suit is free to keep or rent with five paid rentals.

Buying tuxedos might even be less expensive than renting, so do some research for your groomsmen as you do your own wedding planning. If they buy instead of rent, they'll have something they can wear again on another occasion.

Lend a hand

Betsy Pruitt and her husband paid for the maid of honor's dress and the best man's tuxedo rental. "To me, it only seemed right that we pay for their outfits considering they were doing us a favor of being in our wedding," she says.

But you can assist your wedding party in other ways instead. For example, when attendants fly in for the wedding, make sure that someone picks them up from the airport. Or if a few people are flying in around the same time, let everyone know so they can split the cost of a cab or rental car.

You can also see if family or friends have an extra bed or couch so out-of-towners can crash for free. This is key if your bridal party is coming in early for the rehearsal dinner and will need a room for two nights instead of one.

If you're staying overnight at the hotel where you'll be married, open up the suite to your bridal party. They get a free place to sleep, and they'll help calm any prewedding nerves.

That's why you asked them to be in your wedding, after all.

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