Attending a wedding costs a week's salary. That's ridiculous

Why are people spending £479 on attending a wedding?

Updated: 
Wedding guests drinking champagne while the newlyweds clinking glasses in the background

A new report has revealed that going to a wedding costs almost the average week's salary - at £479. The study, by American Express, found that people were doing what they could in order to bring the price down, but were still paying the lion's share of their weekly wage every time they attended a wedding.

The biggest cost was the present - at an average of £102. This was followed by travel at £94, their outfit at £75, and their accommodation at £74.

The hen or stag parties cost an average of £58, while drinks from the bar cost £48, and hair and beauty £28.

Jenny Cheung, Director at American Express said: "While a wedding was once considered extremely costly for the bride's father, our study shows that guests face a significant bill. With this in mind, it's never been more important to get your finances in order so you can have fun when it comes to the big day."

But while some of these costs may be unavoidable, the vast majority of them can be slashed dramatically - without upsetting the bride and groom. There are ten great ways to cut back, so you can do the stag for £20, a local ceremony for free, and even travel to a wedding and stay overnight for less than £100.

Local ceremony for free

1. Consider alternative presents
The bride and groom will be looking to cut their costs just as much as the guests, so it's worth considering offering to help out instead Help taking photographs, arranging flowers, baking the cake, or making favours can cost you little or nothing - and be worth far more than £102 to the bride and groom.

2. Cut back on an outfit
The study showed this was the area most people considered cutting back on - with 52% shopping in the sales and 59% using clothes they already own. If you have friends or family who are not going to the wedding, you should also talk to them about any clothes they may be able to lend you. There's a good chance they spent a small fortune on a hat they only ever wore once, so they may appreciate someone else getting some value from it too.

3. Stick to water after dinner
There's every chance you'll have had your drinks paid for with the meal, so it's not too much of a hardship to stop there. A recent study showed that the average person drinks their entire weekly alcohol limit at a wedding, so your liver might thank you for it too.

If you really need something new

4. Buy second-hand
There are plenty of vintage clothes shops, fantastic outfits being sold on sites like eBay or Preloved, and even charity shops. You can easily assemble a full outfit for far less than £75 if you shop carefully.

Distant ceremony for £100

5. Share travel
If you know other people travelling to the wedding, you can easily go in a car together and split the cost. Even if you don't know anyone else going, the bride and groom may be able to pair you up with someone and cut the cost of travel in half.

6. Be creative about accommodation
If you have to stay away from home, then it can seem tricky to cut the cost, but it's not impossible. You don't always need a hotel when you can use AirBNB or search for a campsite nearby. It may sound ludicrous to get dressed for a wedding in a tent, but many sites have large shower blocks, where there's nothing stopping you dressing in your finery.

Stag for £20

7. Make a sensible decision about the stag/hen night
If there's a trip overseas, then you can bow out on the grounds of cost - and arrange to meet up afterwards for a drink. If there's a long and involved event closer to home, there's nothing stopping you from opting in for the first drink - and buying one for the bride or groom - and leaving before things get messy and expensive.

8. Help organise the stag or hen do
Not only is it a lovely thing to do for the bride or groom, but you can also keep a lid on costs. You can pick somewhere with a fixed menu or cheaper drinks, or even arrange to kick things off with a picnic in the park, or drinks at home, so you can start the party at a particularly low cost.

If all else fails

9. Get cashback
As Cheung suggests: "A great way to make the most out of your wedding spending is to use a credit card that offers rewards or cashback. That way you'll get a little something extra back after the celebrations are over." There are also cashback sites that could help take the sting out of any spending - on everything from train tickets to gifts.

10. Talk to the bride and groom
If the cost of a wedding means you're unlikely to be able to go, then consider whether you are close enough to the couple to expect special treatment. If it's a close friend or family member, don't be afraid to ask if they can match you up with someone for cheaper travel, check if they know people who live nearby who could offer up a spare room, and ask them if there's any help you can offer instead of a gift.

If you aren't particularly close, then this may not go down as well as you might hope, so you might be better off saying no, and saving the cash for a wedding that really means something to you.

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