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Wedding gifts that mean (but don't cost) a lot

Receiving a wedding invitation should be exciting, not dreadful. But if it’s not the first one this season, or if you’re keeping a wary eye on your budget, getting that embossed white card in the mail could bring mixed emotions — and the search for a tactful way to decline.  One-third of Americans have skipped or considered skipping a wedding because they couldn’t afford to attend, according to a  recent survey  from NerdWallet, conducted online by The Harris Poll. Their reluctance to attend is understandable, considering that the average reported budget for a close friend’s wedding gift was $128, according to the survey.  “Many wedding guests look at a friend’s bridal registry and start doing the math,” says Courtney Jespersen, NerdWallet consumer saving expert. “But thankfully, the $100 coffee maker and $200 vacuum aren’t your only gift options.” Here are several budget-friendly  wedding gifts  that cost far less, or even nothing at all. Go in on a gift with a group. Other guests may be in the same boat, and if the wedding registry has gifts at various price points, there’s an opportunity for you to pool your gift budgets and choose something the couple really have their eyes on. Check with friends you know are on the guest list and choose an amount to spend that fits everyone’s budgets. Shop off-registry. You don’t have to stick to the wish list the couple put together, particularly if there’s nothing on there within your budget.  “It’s perfectly fine for a guest to go off-registry,” says Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas. “A registry is a useful guide that makes sure the bride and groom get what they need. However, a guest can also feel free to write a check or purchase something else they know the bride and groom will enjoy.”

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