"Here comes the bride, all fat and wide,” goes the somewhat mean-spirited lyric. But while you can’t have a wedding without the bride and groom (or groom and groom or bride and bride), could you have a wedding without any guests?
Theoretically, you could. But the majority of people like to spend their special day with their nearest and dearest. According to new research by American Express (Amex), more than three in 10 Brits (31%) will attend at least one wedding this year.
But I wouldn’t blame guests for making their excuses based on the cost. Amex’s survey of 2,000 people found that people spend an average £432 as a wedding guest on everything from outfits and gifts to hen and stag dos.
This figure has fallen since last year when it was £479. But it’s still a considerable chunk of money. Plus if you’ve got more than one wedding lined up, everyone else’s big day may well cost you large.
Last year, I had two weddings to attend. This year, however, I am going to not one, not two, not even four weddings, but eight. I even have one in the diary for next year already. Clearly, I’m incredibly popular (OK, so seven of the weddings are my boyfriend’s friends, which perhaps means he’s the popular one and not me *sob*), but I still need to pay to attend those weddings.
If you take Amex’s £432 figure and multiple it by eight (channel your inner Carol Vorderman) that equates to... £3,456! I don’t want to shell out that much, so here are my top tips to cut costs.
The old adage ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ applies to the bride – but after dropping something new, who’s to say guests can’t use it too? Dust off an old outfit or borrow one off a friend. Then jazz it up with cheap accessories – charity shops are a treasure trove for bags, jewellery or ties. If you must buy something new, check out the sale rails and even consider haggling – one Moneywise colleague bagged a 10% discount on a suit from Moss Bros.
I've got a ‘Two Together’ railcard, which costs an initial £30 for the year, but means my boyfriend and I save a third on annual rail travel in the UK. Other similar railcards include the 16-25, Disabled Persons, Family & Friends and Senior.
For car journeys, check out Liftshare, BlaBlacar and GoCarShare to see if you can cut costs by sharing a ride. If you’re heading overseas, I recommend using Skyscanner to dig out the cheapest flights.
If it must be a hotel, check out budget brands, such as Premier Inn and Travelodge – both run sales throughout the year. It’s also worth checking local B&Bs, as well as Airbnb for deals that undercut hotels.
For the more adventurous, I’m camping in the bride’s family’s garden at one wedding. If no one you know can lend you a space to pitch, the website Gamping works in a similar way to Airbnb by listing people’s gardens with their fee.
These days I imagine most attendees discuss possible locations and activities before booking.
If you’re worried about the cost, suggest free or cheap events and create your own games for
an evening in rather than a big night out. Also use the tips above to save on accommodation and transport.
You don’t want to scrimp on friends or family, but they’re likely to appreciate a well thought-out cheap gift compared to a boring expensive one.
Could you make them something personal, such as a photo album or ‘Mr & Mrs’ cushions? Maybe you could volunteer your services for the wedding; could you make the cake or decorate the venue? Or club together with others to pay for a big gift.
Ultimately, don’t get in debt saying “yes” to the invite. If you’re really concerned, don’t go.