The Cost of Weddings…For Guests

Anyone who has planned or is planning a wedding knows…they’re not cheap. Between the dress, the tux, transport, venue hire, catering, alcohol, photography, music, bonbonnieres, accommodation, honeymoons, celebrants, florists, and all the rest, it’s not uncommon for weddings to be in excess of $30,000. In fact, the average cost of a wedding in Australia, according to Money Guide was just under $50,000 in 2009. Everyone knows it is expensive to pay for a wedding (not always, and doesn’t have to be, but to go all out, it is), but what about expenses for guests?

I got thinking about this recently, because this past weekend, we attended a wedding. Here were our costs associated with doing so:

Hen’s Night: $135
Hen’s Night Outfit: $70
Wedding Gift: $100 (and I felt cheap, really wanted to give more)
Hotel: $227
Shirt/Tie/Belt for husband: $110
Dress (that I didn’t end up wearing) $60
TOTAL: $702

That includes going a bit cheap on the wishing well donation, and my husband not attending the bucks night. I was blown away when I realised how much we had spent. My husband said, “Don’t think of it as spending money to go to a wedding, think of it as an expensive date night out for us.”

We had a great time. The wedding was perfect, Bride and Groom stunning and glowing, weather was fantastic, company enjoyable. The food was delicious, the wine was flowing. And while I didn’t dwell on costs on the night, it has been in the back of my mind ever since I realised. I’ve just done some research, and came across this from the Huffington Post:

It’s an eye-opener. And with another wedding coming up in just 4 months, it’s time to start saving again! In the mean time, here are some tips to cut costs of attending a wedding:

Dress – borrow from a friend or family member, check thrift shops, or recycle something from your wardrobe.

Accommodation – pick a designated driver and drive home, if possible. Otherwise, look at alternative accommodation – caravan parks or backpackers in the area (definitely not for everyone, but desperate times call for desperate measures!).

Gift – I don’t really recommend skimping, here. Keep in mind your hosts have most likely paid up to (or in excess of) $100 per person for you to be there. The gift should reflect that amount if possible.

Politely Decline – save the money for the wedding, and make an excuse politely decline the hen’s/buck’s nights. This could easily save $200 give or take.

Babysitting – ask a family member or friend to have your little one/s for the night in exchange for doing the same in return another night.

And at the end of the day, forget what you have spent, let your hair down and have a fantastic night! Weddings are so joyous and special, it would be a shame to miss out on them because the cost has blown out of reach.

When was the last time you attended a wedding? How much did you spend to be a guest? 

Linking up with Jess at Diary of a Stay at Home Mum for IBOT


17 thoughts on “The Cost of Weddings…For Guests

  1. Weddings are soooo expensive full stop. I think we spent about $250 for the last wedding we went to – (by we I mean me as I bought a new dress and went to the Hen’s, Mr. Mandie just wore same suit and existing tie) We did $100 for the gift, too. My general rule is $50ish for engagement gift, $100ish for wedding… Am I being too tight?!

    • I think the “etiquette” is to give a gift to the value of the meal (so I’ve been told?). HOWEVER…I also think if a couple choose to have an expensive reception, the guests shouldn’t feel obligated to gift a more lavish gift/donation. I typically think around the $100 mark for a wedding gift also. So I don’t think you’re being too tight! But maybe I am too tight also? I don’t know! Perhaps if we hadn’t already spent so much, and were not staying at a hotel etc, we’d have given more. We had a destination wedding so it cost people a fair bit to come to our wedding, too. But we also asked for no gifts.

  2. I can’t remember when we last went to a wedding – can’t think of one since we have been in Aus (over 12 years) !! But if we were invited we would definitely have to buy clothes – nothing suitable in the wardrobe – I wod maybe think about borrowing if I knew someone a similar size or go op shop way.
    Glad you had a good time – you both looked lovely !
    Have a gee day !

    • Thank you! It was really nice! Wedding season can be very expensive. I knew a couple who had EIGHT weddings one summer alone!!! CHA-CHING!

  3. Weddings are expensive. In Singapore, just the wedding banquet alone usually costs $30k. It’s a cultural (Asian? Because I know in Japan, China, Malaysia etc cash gifts are given too) thing for guests to give the wedding couple money, not gifts, to help with the cost and to wish them well. It’s the norm to accept that because when it comes for their turn to be married, they can expect the same goodness too.

    I think the average for each guest to give is at least $100 for a dinner. More if the dinner is held at a more luxurious hotel. It really is very expensive to have a wedding.. For all involved!

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

    • I think it’s becoming more popular to give cash here, too, especially where couples are getting married but already live together and own a house full of traditional wedding gifts. But yes, they are very expensive! And to think half end in divorce. haha!

  4. They’re some really good tips, there. Weddings can be incredibly expensive, can’t they ? That’s interesting that you gave a present as well as a wishing well donation to the bridal couple. I thought it was just usually one or the other ?

  5. We always give cash of $100. I have not bought a new outfit for either the Workaholic or myself for a wedding for years. We’ve been rotating our wedding outfits, tweaking them but essential repeating a few! Luckily we are out of the peak wedding period of our late 20’s and early 30s and people at the weddings we attend now are rarely in common these days.

    In addition, I don’t do Hens nights and I always say no to being a bridesmaid (it’s way better to enjoy the evening with my hubby instead of being on display). So it seems I am a wedding guest scab!!

    • Being IN the wedding party gets very expensive, too! It’s just crazy. I wouldn’t call you a wedding guest scab, I’d say you’re a very smart wedding guest! To be fair if I took out the cost of the clothing (it can and will be reused) the cost reduces a bit.

  6. The last wedding I went to I took photos as a guest..I was auntie of the groom, and then I made them a present of my pics in addition to a small amount of money. I am retired. I did buy a new dress. That was it. They seemed to appreciate the thoughtfulness of another person’s photos in addition to the official photographer. I am seeing what it costs for my grown up kids to go to friends’ weddings and it is ridiculous if they come along frequently…but if it can be like a special weekend away or date night then it adds to your own experience . $100 is the going rate for cash gift mostly in my experience. I’m here from #teamIbot. Denyse

    • Thanks Denyse, I’m feeling less guilty about “only” giving $100. That seems to be most peoples idea of a fair amount for a gift. That’s a great idea to take photos and give them as a present!

    • I think our’s was somewhere between $12k and $15k, even though I was shooting for under $10k. It’s next to impossible to do! I love attending weddings, just have never stopped to think about the expense side of it. Luckily we don’t attend them often!

  7. My wedding cost the grand total of $175… but that was 22 years ago. For guests we asked for a plate to share and a copy of any photos they took for our wedding gifts. It was simple, sweet and very popular.
    Not sure how I’ll go a second time around though… I’d love to keep it under $500 still! 😀

    • $175!?!?? HOW!?!? That is awesome! I bet you will find a way to keep it under $500. I’d love to hear about it when you do!

  8. Weddings are ‘big nights out’ for sure! And this doesn’t even touch the surface the cost associated with ‘destination’ weddings. My dear friend was married in Vanuatu without us this year. We just couldn’t find the spare $3000 to attend… yikes!!! x

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