This is how much it costs to be a wedding guest in 2024

Floral arrangements for empty chairs for a wedding ceremony in spring
Being a wedding guest can be a costly affair. (Getty Images)

Attending a wedding is a special occasion that many people look forward to – a day filled with love, romance and celebration. But new figures show that the high cost of being a wedding guest is taking a toll on Britons.

Nearly half of Brits (44%) would consider declining an invitation to a friend or family member’s wedding out of fear it would cost them too much, new data from Guides for Brides shows.

Factoring in travel, accommodation, a new outfit, a gift for the couple, and childcare, Guides for Brides says that the average cost of attending a wedding as a guest in the UK tallies up to a wallet-squeezing £337.50. Meanwhile other figures suggest the cost could even be double this figure.

The survey, which involved more than 2,000 people, revealed how much potential wedding guests are willing to pay for each category. More than half (54%) said they were happy to spend between £100 to £200 on accommodation, while between £50 and £100 was the most comfortable price point for a new outfit.

Over one in three said they would agree on spending £25 to £50 on a wedding gift. A quarter of those surveyed who had children said they would pay £50 to £100 for childcare.

When it comes to what wedding guests expect on the big day, more than half (58%) said they expected the couple to cover all food costs on the day.

Wedding guests have to cover expenses like accommodation and travel, so many don't expect to also have to pay for drinks on the big day. (Getty Images)
Wedding guests have to cover expenses like accommodation and travel, so many don't expect to also have to pay for drinks on the big day. (Getty Images)

Almost a quarter (24%) said they would want drinks during the day to be paid for, while a slightly larger proportion (27%) said they expected an open bar at the evening reception.

However, travel could make or break the decision for a wedding guest. Destination weddings are becoming increasingly popular among brides and grooms-to-be, but only 5% of Brits said they would be willing to travel more than three hours for a wedding.

Nikita Thorne, head of strategy at Guides for Brides, gives her advice on how wedding guests could save money while attending someone else’s nuptials. She says: "There are lots of ways you can save money as a guest attending a couple’s big day. For example, if you know other guests in attendance, you could travel together or save on accommodation by splitting the cost of a hotel room or Airbnb. You could also share the cost of a bigger, more meaningful present for the couple, which can work out slightly cheaper for you individually.

"Many couples also don’t expect their guests to splash out on an outfit for their big day. So before you go on a shopping spree for a brand new outfit, why not consider shopping second hand or delving into the back of your wardrobe to find an outfit that you already have? It’s a great way to save money and is better for the environment too."

Separate figures by debt advice company UK Debt Expert suggest that the cost of attending a wedding could be even higher, at an average of £618. This covers typical travel expenses at £196, accommodation at £203, and an average gift spend of £217.

Bride celebrating with her friend at beach wedding party
Celebrating your friends or family members at their wedding is a precious moment, but may be more difficult due to rising costs. (Getty Images)

But the costs involved for solo guests soars by £309 compared to couples because of the "singles tax", the company said, referring to "the premium a person pays for products, services and life events… because they have to front all costs on their own".

Where couples can split the cost of accommodation and childcare, single people have to shoulder the financial burden themselves.

Commenting on the findings by UK Debt Expert, Zoe Burke, wedding expert and editor of Hitched, said: "If you’re aware that you have guests coming to your wedding alone and you’re worried about the financial implications for them, there are a few things you can do.

"You could ask if they’d like you to team them up with anyone else travelling to the wedding – car-sharing, especially for long journeys, is a great way to keep costs more manageable. If you also know you have guests attending without a plus one who already know each other, you can let them know who has RSVP’d yes so they can link up about potentially sharing accommodation.

"Another thing couples can do to keep the costs down for all guests is to avoid asking for gifts. This won’t necessarily work for everyone, but even if you don’t put gift details down, those that can are likely to still give you a gift!

"For singles attending a wedding looking to keep costs down, I’d suggest doing some of the above if you can – with or without the couple’s help! Look for guests you can carpool with and even share accommodation costs, and if you do want to bring a gift, discuss choosing something and splitting it between a few of you to make your budget go further. These are all great ways to save money as a wedding guest."

It’s not just weddings that people are thinking twice about attending. Hen and stag parties can also set guests back a significant amount, particularly if they are held over several days overseas.

A 2023 survey commissioned by Aviva found that people attending a friend or family member’s stag or hen do face coughing up £779 in the UK or an eye-watering £1,208 if they go out of the country.

Around a third of those surveyed said they have declined going to a stag or hen do, with 79% of this proportion saying it was because of the costs involved.

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The most popular wedding dates for 2024, 2025 and 2026 (Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read)

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