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These Online Brands Make Weddings So Much More Affordable

We know what you're thinking: Why are we talking about weddings?

Well, because, globally, they make up a $72-billion-a-year industry ($2.4 billion in the U.S.). Online-only companies (read: no third-party retailers) are making things more affordable and inclusive for consumers, according to Vox. And while wedding season is a whirlwind of fun, it's expensive.

Between the couple's costs and the guests' flights, gifts, and, if you're in the wedding party, obligatory wardrobe, the wedding circuit can feel just as financially draining as the holiday season. Luckily, there are innovative brands out there trying to help.

Birdy Grey
Photo: @birdygrey

When You're in the Wedding Party

The worst thing about being a bridesmaid? Buying an expensive (sometimes questionable) dress you'll never wear again. Such is the problem for many #IDoCrew. Enter: Birdy Grey, an online bridal wear brand that offers chic, comfortable pieces for $99 each. Pro tip: The site offers big sales after each season. The cost alone is impressive for a fancy frock, but the fact that a maid of honor from New York and bridesmaids based in Los Angeles can order matching dresses without much fuss makes this experience totally stress-free for brides.

The brand, founded by besties Grace Lee and Monica Ashauer, has thought of everything. For instance, dresses come with hidden deep know, to hold phones, compacts, and, of course, tissues. There are convertible best-sellers for parties that want a little variation. Color options are crowdsourced from polls on the brand's Instagram. And our favorite thing: The company donates returned, used dresses to The Princess Project, an organization that provides teens with prom dresses. This a bridesmaid dress you'll actually want to buy.

If you're among the groomsmen, there's The Black Tux, which makes renting or buying a matching suit just as easy (albeit at a slightly higher price point).

The Giving Keys
Photo: @thegivingkeys

When You Don't Know What to Gift

Gifting can just feel awkward. Do you give the couple another toaster? If the couple haven't opted for digital registry like Zola, consider The Giving Keys, an L.A.-based jewelry brand that offers a personalized touch with a philanthropic mission. Necklaces, bracelets, and even men's accessories — priced between $20 to $80 — are made with keys, engraved with inspirational or custom lettering. Give the couple matching pieces or gift the wedding party a little something-something as a token of your appreciation.

On top of that, the brand is dedicated to giving back to the community, staffing its team with individuals transitioning out of homelessness. This gift has lot of meaning...and won't break the bank either. Forget weddings — this a good idea for any occasion.

Photo: @bowsandarrowsflowers via @bloomerent

When You're a Couple on a Budget

The biggest costs (venue, DJ, food) can't be ordered online and mailed directly to you. On top of that, the cost-per-use ratio isn't great for wedding-related products, which doesn't provide you a lot of value. How many times can you wear a wedding dress, after all? And those beautiful floral arrangements? Six hours later, consider them trashed or taken by guests. Was it worth it? Maybe. But you can actually extend the life of those pretty plants — and save some moolah while you're at it — with Bloomerent. Think: Uber Pool but with floral arrangements.

When couples opt for a Bloomerent-approved florist in the area, they can list their arrangements for sale on the site. If they get reused, the florist will pick up the florals and the couple will get 10% of their bill back. The next day, the second couple will get 40%-60% off the initial cost of the same florist's used flowers. Bonus: The second couple can even make updates and minor changes to the arrangements. Considering florals can bloom for days with the right hydration and sun, this is an option savvy couples should not overlook.

Now, if only we could eat the wedding cake and have it, too.