Select Page

Wedding guests: how to keep down the cost

by | 25 April 2015 | Guests

We found an interesting headline in Hello! magazine. No, not “minor celebrity sunbathes on holiday” or “person you don’t know has relationship dramas”, but this little factoid:

“Average wedding guest spends £440.”

Assuming that’s not a news headline about one decidedly average person (read it again), that’s a pretty scary figure. So if you’ve got two weddings to attend this summer, how do you get through them without bleeding the best part of a thousand buckaroos?


Apparently nothing clears out your current account more thoroughly than buying a new dress or suit for a wedding.

We say ‘dress or suit’ but let’s be honest: it’s the ladies who suffer most here. If you don’t like to wear a dress again after you’ve been pictured on Facebook wearing it, that’s a bit of a burden, financially, but you’re not alone.

Ebay is your friend here, as is Etsy. But your best friends are probably sites like where you can exchange all your worn-once dresses with other people in the exact same position.

Book everything early

A wedding is the one surprise expenditure that you get plenty of warning for.

You can save money on a bunch of things by booking way in advance – trains, planes (automobiles, not so much), hotels and, to an extent, clothes. If you get plenty of notice, you can often buy clothes for the wedding when they’re out of season – sometimes even in January sales.

So remember: the early bird gets the worm. (Although the second mouse does indeed get the cheese.)

Book things early to get bargains

Book things early to get bargains

Don’t feel like you have to do all the expensive stuff

Some wedding invites can feel pushy.

It sometimes feels as though you have to be on this flight and stay in this hotel or you’d be totally insulting the happy couple. But that’s not true.

If they’re genuinely your friend(s) then they won’t mind you saying, “I don’t have £200 a night to stay in the fancy hotel with everyone else, so I hope it’s okay for me to just stay at the Premier Inn down the road.”

For more distant friends, a good line to deliver here is “but I’d never miss your wedding”. I can’t go to X, I can’t afford Y, “but I’d never miss your wedding.”

Get together

No matter what you’re doing, it’s cheaper to do it as a group. If you’re travelling or sleeping, don’t do it alone.

Getting a cab on your own? Foolish. Get four people in there. Already got four in a cab? Nonsense, cram eight of you into a minibus. Hotel rooms? As many people (who you trust) as you can book into one room.

The key to the numbers game is this: don’t restrict yourself to people you know. If you’ve only got one other friend who’s going to the wedding, don’t be shy. Get the bride and groom to introduce you around (even if it’s only on Facebook) to find other guests who want to club together. Save money, make friends. Score.

Okay, so you could end up on a four hour minibus journey crushed up next to a flatulent personal space invader who won’t shut up about Breaking Bad. But that’s why you scope them out on Facebook first.

Plane taking off

The cost of travelling to weddings can soon add up


Speaking of Breaking Bad: remember that scene where Walt’s friend is being showered with expensive gifts but is totally touched when Walt gives him a nostalgic pack of the discontinued noodles they lived on in college?

Well, don’t give noodles as a wedding gift (not even Super Noodles), but follow Walt’s lead. With gifts, thought and effort beats cash-splashing every time (unless your nearlywed friends are materialistic a-holes).

So capitalise on how well you know your friend and find something meaningful – something that money can’t buy. Even if you don’t know the bride or groom that well, places like Not on the High Street do loads of personalised gifts that you can customise to create something special.

There’s also lots of ideas you can check out on Pinterest or, if you’re an arty and crafty person, some cool gifts you can make yourself.

Call us evil but…can you get out of it?

Come on – we’ve all thought about it, right?

Let’s say a wealthy distant relative (who you never really liked anyway) is getting married in Monte Carlo. You’ll barely know anyone there and it’s a three-day event that’s guaranteed to cost you upwards of £2,000.

If you can’t play the “can’t get time off work” card, don’t underestimate the power of genuine, pitiful semi-honesty: “I’m sorry, I’d love to go, but I just don’t have that kind of money”. Obviously, this plan will fail if the person happens to know that you do have that kind of money, but better things to spend it on.

If all else fails, you’ve got one last, drastic option. No, not the ‘actually go to the wedding’ one. This one:

Take the £2,000 you would’ve spent going to the wedding and book yourself a luxurious holiday that, gosh darn it, just happens to clash with the wedding. Then say you’ve had it booked for ages.

We’re not bad people – we’re just being practical.

About the author

Matt Phil Carver

Matt’s a copywriter and blogger from West Sussex, England. He spends his days helping people simplify their writing and give their words more punch and personality. At weddings, Matt’s always quick to get up and dance, even when the vicar’s telling him to wait for the reception.


  1. Jennifer

    Enjoyed your article How to Keep Down the Cost – Also, renting items vs buying is another great way.

Guests Wedding guests: how to keep down the cost