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The Cost of Being a Wedding Guest

Two Cultures Beautifully Married Into One Wedding Day Photo By:

Guest Post by Kacey Bradley 

The cost of being a wedding guest isn’t pretty. But with careful planning and some budget saving tips, you can survive and keep your bank account thriving this wedding season. 

How Much Does It Really Cost?

Sometimes it’s difficult to tell how much you spend on a wedding when your funds are spread out between parties, travel, gifts and the wedding itself. However, the total cost can be more than you think. 

According to a survey by The Knot, the average person heading to a wedding for a distant friend or family member spends an average of $372 — including gifts, travel, parties and clothes. The number grows even more if you’re going to a wedding for a close friend or family member. Guests at those wedding spend an average of $628 on all facets of the wedding mentioned above. 

Here’s where your money goes when you decide to attend a wedding, and how you can save in each area. 

1. Gifts

This isn’t always just the wedding gift. If you’re attending for the bride, it could mean a bridal shower gift, a bachelorette party gift and a wedding gift. The amount you spend on a gift varies by age, with millennials spending the least — $57 when they’re in the wedding party, $47 for close friends or family and $48 for distant relationships. 

If that seems like a lot, there are ways to cut back. Shop the couple’s registry earlier since they most likely have items that are priced low to high. If you check out the registry earlier, you could snag a cheaper item ahead of the big day. Also look for registry gifts outside of the provided list. Another retailer might have the same exact product cheaper elsewhere. 

If there's still nothing in your price range, try making your gift. You can frame their wedding invitation or create a Pinterest-worthy timeline of their romance. Wine is also a good choice since it’s a gift that the couple can share together

2. Travel

With destination weddings becoming the rage, it's likely that you'll travel to a wedding outside of where you live. One in four couples now gets married in a state other than the one they live in. Guests that travel to a wedding typically spend $321 for travel and $322 for accommodations. If you're in the wedding, the number shifts to $342 for travel and $293 for accommodations.

Get thrifty where travel is concerned and set up alerts for the cheapest flights. Try to book a hotel room early — either in the hotel block for the wedding or somewhere else that has great discounts. You can even join up with some friends and split the cost of an Airbnb house. 

If you must dip into your vacation budget for a wedding, extend your trip. For example, a destination wedding to Florida might just be your excuse to stay a few extra days for a mini vacation with friends who are also attending the wedding. 

3. Parties, Parties, Parties

We all know that a wedding isn’t just the actual wedding. There are showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties and receptions that may or may not be an open bar. Take that all into stride and budget accordingly. For example, men spend an average of $738 on a bachelor party while women spend an average of $472 on a bachelorette party. 

Get the details early about the wedding plans so you can budget. If you have a hand in planning some of these activities, check for cheaper options such as a driving range for a bachelor party or a wine tasting for a low-key bachelorette party. 

Also, don't be afraid to say no. Your friends and family will understand if some of these wedding extras aren't in your current budget. They'll want your presence at the wedding more than these extraneous events, and they'll want you to be financially secure.

4. Clothes

It’s hard when everyone you know is buying a new dress for the wedding, but you’re not sure if you want to dip into that savings account. 48 percent of wedding guests buy a new outfit, one that has an average cost of $81. It’s even more if you’re in the wedding, in which the average cost is $207. 

Instead of buying something new, check out places that rent formalwear such as Rent the Runway, Le Tote or Menguin. You’ll get designer dresses at a fraction of the cost. This works for men too. You can rent a tuxedo through Menguin or invest in a neutral suit that you can mix and match with different pieces.

Give What You Can

Weddings are a fantastic time where you get to reconnect with friends and family and see people you love join their lives together. Don't let finances ruin the moment. Set a budget, and stick to it. If you find yourself in a situation where you can't pay for certain things, have a conversation with the bride, groom or other friends that are attending the wedding. Find thrifty ways to attend and have the time of your life celebrating love.

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