How guests can keep their budgets at the height of the wedding season

It’s a remarkable year for weddings, with industry experts at The Wedding Report predicting that more than 2.5 million couples will tie the knot – a 40-year high. But you may find that your finances are not quite ready to take on the costs associated with being a guest at the wedding.

Half (50%) of Americans say they plan to attend a wedding in 2022 — but less than a third (31%) have included attendance in their budgets, according to a new survey.

“I think the guests will start looking at all the things they haven’t looked at before and decide, ‘Is it really worth attending this event? In some cases, she says, they may just decide to send a nice gift in their absence.

Before responding to the invitation to attend, consider important factors—from travel costs to your relationship with your spouse—and consider these ideas to fit attendees into your budget.

Think about saving on travel costs

Among the most important factors Americans put before attending a wedding are distance from home (47%) and the cost of travel and accommodation (43%), according to a NerdWallet survey of more than 2,000 people conducted online by Harris Poll.

Airfare or driving costs can accrue in addition to housing. Using the miles or points you have earned can help reduce travel expenses.

Getting around town once you arrive is another cost. “Each wedding is a few hundred dollars to rent a car when you’re there for the weekend,” says Elliot Abel, a certified financial planner in Madison, Wisconsin. Consider sharing the costs of renting a car or sharing a ride with other guests to save some cash.

Most couples still offer discounted hotel room blocks to their guests, says Harris. Make sure not to miss the deadline for concluding this deal. You might also consider sharing a room or splitting a vacation rental with other guests.

Appel also suggests doing double duty if you have family or friends nearby that you’re planning to visit this year.

Set reasonable spending limits on gifts and fashion

Going to the wedding is only part of the cost. You also want to bring a gift and look elegant. After more than two years of epidemic living, the formal clothes hanging in your closet may not fit the way they used to.

“If you can repeat the outfit instead of doing several different outfits for each wedding, I always recommend it,” Abel says. Clothing rental services like Rent the Runway or Nuuly help you cut costs and still feel special.

And don’t let expectations of obnoxious spending on gifts hold you back.

“Just because we know the person well doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend a large amount of money on a gift,” Abel says. He suggests a gift that has a personal meaning behind it, something that “may reflect on a shared experience or memory.” A group gift is another way to offer an item at a higher price without jeopardizing your budget.

Strategically extend the budget

You should probably do everything you can to share a special day with a close friend or family member — even if it increases your budget.

Appel does not advocate going into debt for a wedding. But he says, “I also don’t want people to miss out on those unforgettable experiences.” He suggests trying to reduce spending or increase income temporarily to cover additional costs.

If these strategies aren’t enough, you might consider putting your wedding expenses on a credit card.

However, make sure you have a plan to pay off this debt – debt collapse or snowball tactics are common. And use credit cards strategically. Transferring fees to a card with a low or 0% APR for balance transfers gives additional time to pay without increasing the interest.

If you have time, save before you go

If you know there are weddings in your future, start planning now.

Put guest expenses into your budget with a sinking fund — a savings account designated for planned expenses. Keeping small pieces consistently over time is more manageable.

Also, cutting costs across your budget not only helps you afford to attend the wedding, but also helps you respond to rising inflation in general. Consider buying store brands, renegotiating bills, canceling subscriptions, and reducing discretionary spending.


This article was provided to the Associated Press by personal finance site NerdWallet. Amanda Barroso is a staff writer at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected]

Related links:

NerdWallet: Guests are able to juggle the wedding boom, rising costs and COVID concerns


This online survey of 2,054 US adults age 18 or older was conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of NerdWallet from March 15-17, 2022. Of the respondents, 961 were going to attend at least one wedding in 2022. Sampling accuracy for online Harris Poll surveys is measured using a Bayesian reliable interval. For this survey, the sample data is accurate to within +2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For the full survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, contact Sarah Borland at [email protected]

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