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Wedding Guests and the Wedding Spend

I love weddings – I am a romantic at heart – plus they are the perfect excuse to get together, see old friends, make new friends, eat, dress up, and dance. I loved having so many people I love at my own wedding.

wedding guest spending

But now that the first wave of my friends are getting married and I’m actually pricing out flights and hotels, I’ve realized that attending weddings can be a big budget-buster, especially if you are traveling across country or farther. USA Today has a June article/video that says a guest spend an average of $539 per wedding attended. And it’s not just Americans who are forking over money, Daily Mail says that Brits spend £440 per wedding. If a couple attends a conservative 2 weddings a year, they’d be spending an average of $2,000+. Four weddings a year and it’d be $4,000+. Add in the fact that most people run into the wedding season during their late 20s and 30s – a time when we are still getting established in our careers, paying off student loans, and maybe wrangling expenses for our first child – and it’s easy to see how even the happiest of occasions can cause money worries.

When a business school friend apologized to me that she couldn’t invite me to her wedding because the venue didn’t have enough room, I was secretly a little relieved. I love her and her fiance, and would’ve loved to celebrate with them in person, of course, but it’s clear that missing the wedding means saving a pretty penny. Getting to her wedding during a summer weekend would cost at least $450 for a plane ticket, plus gas to drive from the airport to the venue, plus the $100+ we’d give as a wedding present. Attending her wedding would have been a $600 outlay, at least.

I’m glad to spend money to attend the weddings of people I love  – after all, what’s money for if not for experiences that are happy and memorable? But I think it’s also important to not let attending weddings jeopardize your bigger financial goals. It’s OK to say no if you can’t swing it, and it’s especially OK to pass on expensive or faraway pre-wedding activities if those plans don’t work for your vacation days or budget.

Do you have any weddings to attend on the horizon? How much do you think you’ll spend?

  • Simon - Well, am actually planning my own…but thats a story for another day :)
    I agree, weddings have become an expensive affair, for everyone..there are just so many details and items to go through that require money. Then there is our attitude that since its one day in a lifetime we should splurge on it…makes you wonder with all the divorces and re-marriages! My most recent wedding to attend, cost me north of $800. Air ticket, hotel, gift to the couple and some misc expenses…they are expensive affairs! ReplyCancel

  • wmwo - I just finished up my "year of weddings" in which I attended 5 over the course of a year. One which was in a different province, one was in Hawaii, and one I was a bridesmaid in. It certainly wasn't cheap, but we did our best to piggyback vacations onto them when we could so that we were getting the most for our money. The next wedding I have on the horizon is my sister's. I'm a bridesmaid, and she want's to get married in Greece (note, we're not Greek). I haven't determined yet how much it's going to cost, but I know I'm going to tack on a couple weeks of travelling since the flight itself is going to be so costly to begin with. I'm just going to say it'll cost thousands. ReplyCancel

  • livingrichcheaply - I am attending a wedding in the fall, I'm the best man so I'll probably be spending a little more. Definitely not as expensive as being a bridesmaid though. I will also give a pretty good sized gift as my best man gave a very generous gift when I got married. ReplyCancel

    • Marissa - That's so sweet and that's what you call "genuine friendship." Good luck!


  • Avant - This is so uncanny. My blog post about saving money at weddings has just been published on onecentatatime.com: http://onecentatatime.com/5-ways-to-save-as-a-wed

    Looks like a lot of people are thinking about weddings as it's summertime! ReplyCancel

  • JW_Umbrella Treasury - I love weddings, also. We just got back from a wedding for which my husband and I were both members of the bridal party. We spent about $1000 on attire and gifts (there were several gift-giving occasions for this particular wedding and it was for a close family member, so we wanted to be generous). We also spent about $1500 on airfare, rental cars, and hotel. However, we would have made the trip regardless of whether there was a wedding, so I don’t consider that to be a wedding expense. We’re also headed to a wedding this weekend. I think it’ll cost around $700, between hotel, bachelor party, and gifts. It’s definitely not cheap. Luckily, all our friends have planned their weddings well in advance, so we have plenty of time to save up for the big day ; ) ReplyCancel

  • alexislives - I had two dear friends get married last fall two weeks apart so it hurt my post-college wallet a little, but I was prepared and glad to enjoy their special day. I''m waiting for my next batch of friends to get married. ReplyCancel

    • Marissa - I am pretty sure they were glad to see you on their wedding day as well, Alex. ReplyCancel

  • Emily @ evolvingPF - I am honestly feeling a tiny bit resentful about the next wedding on our horizon, even though in general I love weddings. It's not about money but scheduling. We just realized this week that we have four events that literally have fallen on the same weekend in September: a wedding, an event for getting season basketball tickets for next year, a 10-year high school reunion, and a departmental retreat. Doing any one is at the exclusion of the others. Gaaaaaah! ReplyCancel

  • The Asian Pear - I’m attending a wedding in 2 weeks in Hawaii! The trip itself with stay will cost me $1500. I’m budgeting another $1500 for food and whatnot.

    Next year, I have to travel to Vancouver for a wedding. That’ll likely be up to $2000 as there’s a bachelorette party + wedding gifts and whatnot. ReplyCancel

    • Well Heeled Blog - I'd typically pass on destination weddings unless I am VERY close with the bride/groom or it's in a place I've always wanted to go. Otherwise I'd just send a nice gift and celebrate with them next time I see them.

      Hawaii sounds awesome – have fun! ReplyCancel

  • mytoughgirl - The next wedding I'm attending is in September. I grew up, went to college, and still living in the same area, so all my friends are in town. So most of the weddings I've attended have been here, so no need for travel expense. I just need to buy a bridal shower gift and a wedding gift. ReplyCancel

  • llcents - I have three weddings to attend over the next 2 months and I'm a bridesmaid in one. It's definitely putting a dent in my budget. The costs add up quickly, especially with the cost of the events before the weddings, like showers and out of town bachelorette parties.ReplyCancel

  • Crystal @ PET - We have a handful of friends and family that we are close enough to that we would spend real money to go to their weddings. Other than those 6-8 people, we would politely decline and save the cash. Thankfully, 5 of those people would be getting married in our town anyway, so it would be inexpensive to attend. And the others would probably elope to Vegas and we'd go there too. :-) ReplyCancel

  • Online Cash Advance - Next week I have to attend 3 wedding parties, this is a huge damage to my budget. How I am able to reduce my expanse? ReplyCancel

  • Tahnya Kristina - I know this may seem really mean but going to weddings are my least favourite part of summer. Maybe it's because the extravaganza takes up a whole day of my weekend or maybe it's becuase I have been with my boyfriend for 14 years and we aren't married – but everytime I get an invitation in the mail I cringe. Have a great weekend. ReplyCancel

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  • Anne - Unique Gifter - I love going to weddings :-) Thankfully, the last few have all been in town, so they've been really cheap to attend, only the cost of the gifts. I bought a hat to keep myself from getting burnt this last weekend, but I'll have it going forward and the rest of my wardrobe was the same as normal. I know that they can definitely get rather expensive, but so far the only ones we've traveled to have been for family or have been where my in-laws live, so they're wrapped into the annual trip. Some friends had six weddings last summer, two being destination (one US from Canada and one somewhere warm), but for immediately family. I don't know how they can afford all of them! ReplyCancel

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