It costs an average of £256 to be a wedding guest, study shows


A new study has worked out the average cost of being invited to a wedding – taking into account expenses like buying a wedding gift, getting a new outfit for the big day, travel and accommodation.

New research has revealed that wedding guests spend an average of £256 when they attend a wedding, with the wedding gift being the biggest expense costing an average of £86 – and giving cash instead of a gift is becoming the norm.

The study by Lloyds Bank also found that it is becoming more common to be invited to a wedding on a week day, which may help the happy couple save money but forces wedding guests to take at least one day of their annual leave off work.

The total average cost of £256 is made up of £86 for the wedding present, £64 on a new outfit, £58 on the hotel for the night and £48 travel costs.

The research, which involved surveying 4,471 adults in the UK, suggests that new and developing wedding trends are resulting in guests paying more to attend wedding while the bride and groom attempt to save money.

For example, free bars at weddings are becoming a thing of the past as couples opt for a cash bar as a way to minimise the growing costs of weddings.

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When it comes to the subject of wedding presents, 40% if respondents said that they thought the couple asking for cash instead of a more traditional wedding gift was acceptable.

For brides and grooms looking for ways to push the money saving even further, the survey had some interesting results. For instance, only 16% of people think it would be OK not to be offered food at a wedding, and just 22% think that not getting a ‘plus 1’ invite is acceptable – so if you want to keep your guests happy you at least need to feed them and let them bring a friend!

Older people are more likely to spend more as a wedding guest, with those aged 55 or over spending £369 on attending weddings – compared with the average of £180 spent by 18 to 24 year olds.

Week day weddings can work out a lot cheaper than those on a weekend, with weddings taking place on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday proving to be the cheapest – and they are growing in popularity. 15% of respondents said they had been invited to a Friday wedding and 5% said they had been invited to a Thursday wedding.

Announcing the results of their survey, Jon Roberts from Lloyds Bank said:

“When we receive a wedding invitation, our reaction is usually the opposite to our feelings when we receive a considerable bill through the post – but increasingly the cost associated with attending a wedding can’t be ignored.

“What really matters when your closest friends or family are tying the knot is helping them to mark the occasion and having a memorable time.

“Shifting attitudes and expectations are partly a reflection of that, but we must be aware of how much we spend as wedding guests too – if nothing else, so that we can afford to accept all the invitations we receive!”

Tips to reduce the cost of being a wedding guest

Follow our tips below to help make being a wedding guest as cheap as possible…

Book your travel in advance

If you have to travel quite far to the wedding i.e. it’s in another part of the country or a different country altogether, then booking your travel as far in advance as possible can help you save a lot. For train travel you can usually book three months in advance – which also gives you access to the cheapest ticket prices. It may also be worth investing in a rail card to make further savings – see the National Rail website for details on the all the rail cards currently available

Consider staying at a different hotel from the wedding party

The bride and groom will usually suggest a few hotels nearby for guests to choose from, but it’s always worth doing your own research to see if you can find a better deal.

Unless the wedding is somewhere quite remote then you will probably be able to find a cheaper budget hotel. Also, if there’s a group of you going (e.g. family members, Uni friends etc…) then you can also look into clubbing together and renting out a cottage or apartment which could work out cheaper than getting individual hotel rooms.

Get creative with your wedding presents

Most of the time the happy couple will ask guests for cash (usually as a contribution to the honeymoon fund) or a gift – but you shouldn’t feel duty bound to stick to the gift list.

There are usually a range of items on a wedding gift list, so first of all try and get in there early so you can buy one of the cheaper items. If you can’t afford much for a gift then consider something homemade or personal – a framed photo or something like that for instance. You could also offer your time to help out in some way, either on the day or in the build up.

You could also club together with other wedding guests to buy something a bit more expensive.

Do you really need a new outfit?

As buying a new outfit is one of the most costly wedding guest expenses, it’s always worth just taking a moment and deciding whether you really do need to buy something new or if you can make-do with something old.

You can always pick up a few new accessories to give new life to an old outfit, or if you really have to get something new then consider hitting the charity shops or websites like eBay and Preloved to find a bargain.

You can also make the effort to keep an eye out for any deals, cashback offers, discounts and vouchers that may be available to help you save money when buying something new.