How going to a wedding now costs guests hundreds (and how you can avoid it)

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Wedding guest

I love a good wedding but now have fewer to attend each year (although, being in my forties, the second time rounders seem to be starting!).  However, whilst it means less parties, it is saving me some cash!  Going to a wedding can cost guests a lot of money, especially because you usually have more than one to attend each summer.  However, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune and the most important thing is not to complain.  It is really rude and not fair on the bride and groom!  I am going to a wedding this year and know that it will probably cost me several hundred pounds at least, but the bride came to my wedding and had to suck up the cost of accommodation and the hen do, so I just have to do the same for hers.  I like to look at the positives, it gives me a great excuse for a party or mini break and as a parent, sometimes a child-free weekend is just what the doctor ordered!

According to Halifax Savings Accounts, guests spend an average £111 on travel and accommodation, £106 on clothes, £81 on wedding gifts, £63 during the reception and £91 on the night of the stag or hen do, but how can you cut the cost?

One of the biggest expenses is travel and accommodation as weddings are rarely local!  You will probably get a list of local hotels from the bride but even with an agreed discount, you might want to double check the normal costs as sometimes for a wedding you may be expected to pay more.  Check whatever price they quote for normal non-wedding guests and then compare and book the cheapest.  If you go for a hotel further afield, don’t forget to factor in taxi costs after the reception too as it can soon add up.  If you can be brave, then wait until the week before and look at, hotwire or who run flash sales.  With a large group, it might even work out cheaper to hire a cottage or house in the local area and of course, this will be stacks of fun too – after party anyone?!

If you are travelling further afield and need to get the train, book up as soon as you can. The best deals are for people who book around 12 weeks before travelling.  The National Rail website actually has a great table telling you the cut off dates for buying cheaper advance tickets from each train operator.  Independent site thetrainline also has an excellent alert system where you can sign up to receive an email telling you exactly when the advance tickets are available to buy.  Don’t forget to check ticket splitting sites like ticketysplit and splittickets, too where you split your journey (without getting off the train) but buy tickets separately for different legs of the journey.  It can save a fortune!  If you plan to drive, ask around and see if there are other guests you can lift share with to split fuel costs.  If you are really strapped for cash, then Megabus have some excellent deals for bus travel.

If the wedding is abroad, first of all, it is okay to decline the invite and the bride and groom will expect a certain number of people not to attend.  However, you can combine it with your annual summer holiday and kill two birds with one stone.  As part of a wedding, there may be accommodation and flight discounts so check with the bride and groom whether they have negotiated a group discount (it will probably say so on the invite though).

Most wedding invites contain a link to a gift list which opens around six weeks before the big day.  Make sure you keep a note so that you can be one of the first to register and buy a present.  The most affordable items are usually purchased first and if you are too late you might feel obliged to spend more than you can afford.  No-one wants to have to buy the hi-tech music system when you could have purchased some towels or cutlery!  Sometimes purchasing the quirkier gifts is fun as the bride and groom often remember who bought those items!  I still remember who bought me the meat thermometer and the crème brulee blowtorch!  If the gift list is too expensive, you could offer to make something that will help them on the big day like favours or the cake.  Even if you don’t agree with giving a couple cash for the honeymoon, you have to respect their wishes.  I find that it is rarely a good idea to go rogue and buy off-list as something which you find gorgeous and homemade, may not be to their taste!

If you have attended a lot of weddings, it can be hard to make your outfit different so try ‘shwopping’ with friends. A dress one of them wore to a wedding will look totally different on you with your choice of accessories and shoes – I doubt anyone would notice and you can do it time and time again.  eBay is also brilliant for hats and fascinators and some people sell their entire outfits for less than half the amount they paid.  Secret sales sites are also excellent for designer wedding outfits but with a discount of sometimes 70 per cent.  You are also less likely to bump into someone with the same dress as you – always a nightmare!

Whatever you end up spending, the key to being a good wedding guest is to be ‘up for it’.  Hit the dancefloor (whether you like the tunes or not!), take fab photos and smile!

Of course, if you are a bride-to-be then cutting the cost of the wedding will be your priority, so I have got some great money saving tips for you in this guide here 


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