Wedding: Saving Money as a Guest

by - Monday, September 21, 2015

I love going to weddings. They are such joyful celebrations and a darn good excuse to get dressed up and sozzled. Whenever I get invited to a wedding, I instantly feel grateful and overwhelmed that someone really wants me to be part of their special day. Because it is, their day. It’s so exciting looking into what to wear, how to do your hair and if the venue is at a location away from home then it’s even more exciting arranging a trip away.

We live in the heart of England, and we have attended weddings local to us, a little further away in Wales and we are even going to one in Greece next year. However much I love the overall excitement of attending a wedding, those pesky little minions in the back of your head start whispering – not so sweet – nothings in your ear about money. Money, money, money, money. All in all, I have never thought about how much attending a wedding actually costs. From planning your ‘oh so amazing’ outfit, to travel to the venue, gifts, drinks, hotels and that’s just for a UK wedding.

Would you believe me if I told you that the average cost for wedding guests when accepting an invitation is £400? - yes that’s right – four hundred smackers! You think I am fibbing, but wait until you hear me out and then you will begin to believe me (I hope)..

With the cost of wedding gifts, accommodation, outfits and the bachelor/bachelorette parties – it all adds up! With that in mind, I am sure we’d all like to save some pennies. Having attending seven weddings in 2014 alone, and from planning my own wedding this year I thought I’d share a few things I’d learnt along the way as well as a few tips on how you can save some pennies next time you receive a lovely little invitation through your door.
When it comes to the day - or build up to the day – this is where the little expenses add up to big expenses. When you think about your new fancy outfit, gifts for the Bride and Groom, travel to and from the venue, hotel if you need to stay over plus the drinks on top can easily add up to around £300. (Imagine doing that 7 times over in a year - new outfit was a must for each one too as they all practically knew each other – uhuh!) 
 We all do it (especially us ladies), we wait until the very last minute until we decide what we want to wear to an upcoming wedding. We end up frantically rushing into town to go late night shopping with the hope of finding a dream outfit, or we spend hours surfing the web. Either way, it ends up expensive as you can end up spending more than you had budgeted just because you can’t find anything that is suitable and will end up settling for something a little more expensive, or ifshopping online you may end up paying higher postage fee’s because you needed to pay “next day special guaranteed delivery”. By planning your outfit in advance or even thinking of ways to re-style an outfit you already own could you save you around £50.
If the Bride and Groom have asked for money as a wedding gift, this is a little harder. But what I will say is that it doesn’t matter how much you put in, there is no “set” amount that you have to give. You are free to put as much or as little as you can afford, and regardless of the amount I am sure the Bride and Groom will be really appreciative of you giving a monetary donation like they had requested. If wanting to buy a present, rather than following the posh John Lewis’s wish list that has been created, why not agree a budget and buy a personalised gift for the newlyweds? It makes it more special and means you don’t need to go overboard with your spending.
Drinks are usually the most expensive part of attending a wedding, especially if the wedding is located in an exquisite location then the drink prices usually double in comparison to your local backstreet boozer. You could plan by googling the venue to see if there is a price list for drinks, if so you can pre-budget how much money you’ll need. Alternatively, just avoid ordering the most expensive drinks or do what I do and have a glass of water in between drinks – no I’m not a cheapskate – not only does this mean that you are saving money but it also means you won’t be as drunk.
 Finding an affordable hotel within budget can be difficult if the wedding venue is in an uber discreet location. There may not be many options or you may have to be prepared to travel to and from the hotel. Surf the web for the latest offers and see how hotels compare, people actually think that booking last minute means you get a “super amazing that you wouldn’t want to miss” deal but the truth is, you don’t. You actually get a better deal booking in advance as most companies know that at last minute, you are really in need of a hotel so will pay higher prices.
When attending weddings with friends, the best way to save some pennies is to split the costs. Whether it be sharing a taxi or having a designated driver in the group and everyone chips in petrol, not only are you saving fuel costs but you will save parking (if applicable) and will also save you from larger taxi fayres for having to go to different destinations. You may also prefer to save money by driving to and from the venue yourselves. Not only will you save money on drinks, but you’ll also save money on hotels etc. Whenever me and my fiancé are invited to weddings, because we live out in the sticks one of us always drives as it’s just more cost effective, so if the couple is a closer friend of mine then Maz will drive and visa versa. If it is one of our joint friends we just see who doesn’t mind driving on the day. Win!
 The “average” bachelor or bachelorette party usually costs around £150-£200 per person attending, and its usually the men who spend more partying with the boyz on their last night of freedom than the ladies. I usually feel quite relieved when I don’t get invited to a bachelorette party, as I get really bad anxiety when I am around a group of people I don’t really know – especially if I am the only one who hasn’t met them before – but also because I know the end up pretty darn expensive and when saving for your own wedding, these things aren’t really the top of your spending list.
After considering how expensive these do’s can be, the last thing I wanted when planning my bachelorette party – and writing my “do’s and don’ts” list - was for the people attending to end up spending an arm and a leg, especially as so many of our friends were spending a lot of money to attend our wedding abroad - we thank you, and love you - so I ended up having three separate bachelorette parties but all simple and low cost, they were all different to each other but people could choose which one (or how many) they wanted to go to. The first cost only around £12 each and was a cute afternoon of tea and cakes, so was low key and was suitable for everyone. The second was a free event for everyone (I won a night at Bistro Live) with a free three course meal and a cocktail, the only expense was to pay for your own drinks on top, but this was a choice. And I know that the third – albeit is a complete surprise for me – is under £35 each and includes a three course meal, Ibelieve (okay guess) that this is fancy dress which will need to be paid for individually, but I suppose it’s a choice so they can decide how much they want to spend on their outfit. 

Enough of me rambling, my point is that even when attending these parties, you can make it as little or expensive as you wish. If you can’t afford the whole mad weekend of drinking, activities and fancy dress costumes then you don’t have to. You might be able to be involved in just some of the events, can you miss the day activities (especially if it’s not your cuppa tea) and just join them for a night of drinking? Whatever you decide, if you plan ahead you will be able to save some pennies or work out the cheapest option for you.
 I hope you’ve found these tips helpful to hopefully help save you some pennies the next time you go to a wedding. If you have any tips to share, please pop a comment below :-)

*Some factual information in this post has been sourced from Money however this post has not been sponsored. 

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  1. This is a really handy post and it's so nice you are considering your guests as well- I think some people can forget how quickly it can add up to attend a wedding. Some people even have to take days off work!
    Liquid Grain

    1. Aw thank you hun!

      Yes it can add up, I think I was only able to write this post because we went to 7 weddings last year and wanted to share our tips :)

      Charlotte Elizabeth xo

  2. I have spent SO much money on other people's weddings! I was a bridesmaid 3 times in 10 months so it really added up. These are really helpful, I love the idea of drinking water between each drink, so simple and an excellent way to pace yourself too.


    1. OMG 3 times in 10 months! I bet that was so expensive.

      Glad my tips could help, I only wish I shared these sooner hehe.

      Thank you for your lovely comment.

      Charlotte Elizabeth xo

  3. Fantastic post. We recently went to a wedding and we spent over £500 which is a lot of money to us. The tips you have posted above are great. One of our greatest expenses was the hotel.