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Wedding Bells & Dollar Signs

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Wedding season is upon us and with all of last year’s postponements, your calendar might be filling up! According to the Knot, in 2019 the average cost to attend a local wedding was $185, jumping up to $600 for driving out of town and $1,440 if flying. As a guest, what expenses should you expect?


The Gift

How much to spend on a wedding gift is a difficult question. The Knot’s research showed in 2019, the average amount spent on a wedding gift ranged from $80 to $130. Consider splitting the cost of a bigger gift with friends, or contributing to a honeymoon fund if the couple has one. Ultimately, all that matters is the sincerity of your gift… and that you stick to the registry.


The Outfit

Hopefully you can wear an outfit you already have, but what if it’s a black-tie event or in a different climate? You could borrow from a friend or check out options for clothing rental, like Rent the Runway or Armoire, for a budget- and environmentally-conscious option. Shopping your own closet is always the best way to keep this cost low! And of course, please don’t wear white.


The Travel

For local weddings, the cost of gas, public transit, or a ride-share might be all you have to worry about. The cost to drive or fly to another city or state adds up, especially with high flight prices this summer. Try to share lodging with friends to split the cost. Don’t forget renting a car, or getting cabs or ride-shares for other activities, like a welcome party or day-after brunch.


So, what if I can’t afford it after all?

Let’s say you budget ahead of time, but it’s still more than you can manage right now. If you are close to the couple, let them know the cost might be preventing you from attending. They might have solutions, like a friend you can stay with for the wedding, or might tell you not to worry about a gift. If you decide not to go, let them know as early as you can so they can plan accordingly. Honesty about finances is difficult for most of us, but it matters! Sometimes you have to prioritize building your emergency fund and paying down debt.


Thoughts for the happy couple…

It’s kind when couples consider what they’re asking of their guests. Getting a room block at a nearby hotel or two – maybe at different price points – will lock in the nightly rate for your travelers. Letting your guests know that there is no pressure to buy a gift is another way to ease the burden. People want you to feel celebrated and might avoid bringing up the topic of money, so consider all you can do to be a gracious host. One plus side to a smaller guest list: spending less on the wedding and investing more in your future together

Published on July 2, 2021