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.
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.