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The real cost of being a wedding guest

Just because it’s their big day, don’t feel you have to spend what you can’t afford.

With half of adults going to a wedding this year, M&S Bank has calculated the average spend by guests and it’s potentially more expensive than a holiday.

Factoring in hotel, gift, outfit, travel, drinks and beauty, we’re likely to spend a huge £800 over a wedding season. The average cost per ceremony comes in at £266.

Despite these high costs, two in five think the cost is more than worth it, though a third claim to have spent more than they expected.

Average costs

  • Gift - £25.52
  • Outfit - £120
  • Accommodation - £50
  • Drinks - £34

Source: M&S Bank 2017

If you’re faced with multiple nuptials this year, we’ve some tips to help you have a great time.

Plan what you can afford

The first step is to work out what you can afford to spend. Our budget planning tool can help you list your expenditure and work out what you have left after you get paid.

Then create a mini budget of what you think you’ll spend at each wedding. You’ll get a half decent idea of whether you can afford to attend them.

Think before putting it on a credit card

If you don’t have enough to pay for the expenses of being a wedding guest, think before you put it on a credit card. Borrowing money to pay for it can be dangerous.

If you don’t have enough funds coming up that will allow you to repay in full and avoid interest payments, it’s possible you could get caught in a debt spiral.

That means you may have to say no to some parts of the wedding. Explain why you can’t make it and your friend will hopefully be understanding.

Cutback where you can

Popular ways to cut the cost of attending a wedding are hunting for hotel deals and shopping for outfits in the sales.

If those costs still prove too expensive, see if you can stay at a friend’s house or share an apartment. You might even be able to recycle a dress you already have or wear the same one to multiple weddings.

Likewise, don’t feel you have to buy the biggest present on the gift list. There should be a cheaper option or you could buy something bigger with friends.

Car sharing with other guests can also bring down the travel costs or book your train tickets well in advance.

What do you think?

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  • Tat / 18 March 2016

    Myself and a friend have both discussed our experiences and the cost of attending separate weddings - we both found that the brides in question wanted two lavish hen parties, with one being local and one being away. My partner is also going on a stag doo which is being organised by the best man, and everyone is expected to stay in an expensive hotel together and do activities that need paying for - this happens a lot nowadays from talking to friends and we feel under pressure to keep the bride and groom happy by going along with it. It's a long way from my parent's hen and stag doo, which consisted of everyone going to the pub together and my dad having some drinks in the house with his friends, it seems that not all, but some weddings nowadays are also about members of the wedding party trying to outdo each other with gifts and surprises for the couple. I understand fully why this article was written.

  • Caroline / 11 February 2016

    Really dislike this post. I don't believe that one should not be there to support friends and family. What are people spending that huge amount of money on?

  • Bram Nash / 22 November 2015

    Went to a great wedding recently! Near my home town. Wife and myself wore existing clothing, the only exception being a charity shop hat (£10). A friend drove us to the ceremony. The reception was next to the church. Taxi home later in the evening (£12). Add the cost of the wedding present (£70). A superb day for £92!

  • Ordinary Jon / 21 July 2015

    I sometimes can't believe what I read, £640 for a guest at a wedding, what a load of nonsense!! I don't know what sort of weddings you go to, but it obviously on this planet. Get a grip on life and stop trying to make ordinary people feel inadequate.

  • Emma Burns / 13 July 2015

    Disagree with the above statement that the suggestions are a 'load of tosh'. I was invited to friend wedding out of the area as they married from brides hometown in Kent when I live in the Merseyside. Spoke to friend/Groom asked if anyone else from the area was going and they gave me their details. Was then able to share hotel room and car which saved me loads of money. Have bought all my dress in the sale also. I had 5 wedding within 6 months. Bought 2 dresses in the Monsoon sale in January and altered a dress I already had. Dresses should have cost £240 and I spent £60 big saving. Everything suggested is possible. You just have to open your mind to positive suggestions.

  • Brian Chaston / 12 July 2015

    What an absolute load of tosh! If the wedding is "out of area" the probability is that you are the only one from wherever you are attending, so the car share thing becomes irrelevant. Imagine how you would feel if some people who are going to a wedding rang up and asked if they could stop at your house, and I don't know many middle aged adults who would consider sharing a hotel room. Your "wear the same thing to a multitude of weddings", "buy something in a sale" or "recycle an old garment" is verging on the pathetic. Don't know why I keep receiving your emails becaause most of their content is either disparaging or ridiculous.