City Survivors: Cut the cost of saying ‘yes’ to those wedding invites

Helen Knapman's picture

Weddings – a marriage made in heaven for the bride and groom, but most certainly not joyous occasions for our purse strings.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good wedding. That heart-stopping moment when you wonder if anyone will burst through the church door demanding the wedding is called off, the “I can’t believe they just said that” moment during the speeches, the dad dancing spectacle, and, of course, the simple pleasure of seeing the union of a happy couple.

But while most people’s focus goes on the stupendous cost of hosting a wedding, a thought should also be spared for the guests.

Recent research reveals that the average amount spent per guest on going to a wedding – from travel and outfits to gifts for the bride and groom – amounts to a whopping £645!

I’m going to two weddings this summer, both of which are abroad and could end up costing me big. But there are always ways to cut prices.

First up, travel. If the wedding is overseas, use a flight comparison site to find the cheapest journeys – I used If you need transfers at the other end, research the cheapest way to do it before you go and book online; don’t just pay for a pricey taxi on arrival. Online forums are your friend here. I use

If the wedding is in the UK, grab cheap train tickets by booking in advance – rail companies typically release tickets 12 weeks before the date of travel. And while you’re at it, check if you can save by buying a National Railcard. My boyfriend and I have a Two Together card, and before I turned too old (sob!) I had a 16-25 card. These cost £30 for a year, but you save a third on most rail journeys.

Next up is accommodation. Do you have family or friends you could stay with, buying them a bottle of wine or bunch of flowers will be cheaper than forking out for hotels. Or consider budget hotels – the last few weddings I’ve been to, I’ve stayed in a Travelodge or a Premier Inn – these often have room sales so keep an eye out. Airbnb, where you stay in someone’s home, could also be a cheap option. At one wedding I’m attending, five of us are staying in a flat booked via Airbnb, saving about £350 each compared to staying in a hotel.

When it comes to your outfit, the cheapest option is to wear something you already own. If you’re worried you’ve been seen in it, consider accessorising it differently – with a new tie or jewellery, for example. If you decide you need something new, check charity shops and lookout for discounts. I bagged a bargain dress for this summer, which was going cheap in last winter’s sales.

Cutting the cost of gifts can be tricky if the couple have a wedding list, but I know people who’ve made the wedding cake or taken the photographs on the day instead of buying a gift. Alternatively, you could look after the couple’s pets or water their plants while they’re on honeymoon.

But if you can’t afford to go, don’t get into debt. Turn down the invite; the couple will understand.