How much does it cost to attend a wedding as a guest
With weddings well and truly back on the agenda post-Covid, you might find yourself feeling a bit like Hugh Grant in the early 90s, flitting from one event to the next. But with each ceremony and reception party, comes a cost. Weddings are big business, and attending one can be expensive.
We’ve looked at every cost you might face when attending a wedding in the UK as a guest – and then considered some easy ways you might save some money.
Here’s our guide to how much it costs to attend a wedding in the UK in 2023.
Before the wedding costs
Yep, before the big day itself there are a few costs you’ve got to consider from the pre-wedding events to gifts and outfits.
Cost of attending hen and stag dos
While not everyone going to a wedding gets an invite to these personal events, if you do you could be looking at a big chunk of your wedding budget here. There’s a feeling that if the wedding is going to be in the UK, then the hen party or stag do can be abroad.
Because of this, it’s hard to put a price on these events. A night out in a nearby city might only cost around £80 for dinner and drinks. Add in a train journey and overnight stay, and you’re already looking at around £200. If you’re going abroad, it could be anywhere up to £1,000.
- Average cost: £200. That’s according to Plan the Hen.
- Ways to save: Don’t go. We don’t want to be party poopers, but if someone’s asking you to spend a weekend in Barcelona at a cost of £1,000 then you shouldn’t feel obliged to attend. Or you could suggest going local. Speak to the best man or bridesmaids to find somewhere personal to the happy couple that’s a bit easier on the wallet.
- Reduced cost: £0
How much for wedding outfits
If you’re only attending one wedding this year, you might be able to dig out a suit or dress from your wardrobe for the occasion. But if you’re going to a few, you won’t want to turn up in the same old outfits.
So, let’s assume you’re going to buy yourself one new outfit for 2023’s wedding season. This all comes down to personal taste – whether you’re happy with a £100 dress or want a full £800 three-piece suit.
- Average cost: £150 for a new outfit.
- Ways to save: Embrace the rental revolution and loan something super smart for a fraction of the cost. Companies like Loanhood allow you to rent stylish outfits from established and up-coming designers from as little as £5 a week.
- Reduced cost: £5
How much to spend on wedding gifts
We’ve pulled some information together before on this topic in our wedding gift etiquette guide. We suggest the average you should be spending on gifts is between £25 (if you’re only attending the evening event) and up to £200 from close family and friends.
Read the full guide to find out who gets gifts from whom and how much you should budget for wedding gifts.
- Average cost: £100
- How to save: Adding a personal touch can show you’re thinking of the happy couple without having to blow the budget. Browse our personalised wedding gift hub to find gifts that match your budget.
- Reduced cost: £30 – our gifts for the happy couple range from £3.50 to £29.95.
Wedding day costs
When the big day arrives, you got a lot to consider as a guest. But with a bit of advanced planning, you can make the day fun and affordable.
How much to get to the wedding
Transport costs obviously vary on where in the UK you’re travelling to. A study has shown that 67% of Brits would be happy to travel up to 4hrs for a wedding. The average speed of trains in the UK is 65mph, while cars travel around 57mph. So, in that 4 hours most people would be willing to travel 260miles by train or 228 miles per car.
On average, the cost per mile per train is 20p and the cost per mile per car is 30p. That works out at £68 for the furthest car journey people would be willing to take and £52 for the train journey.
- Average cost: £60.
- How to save: Car sharing makes most sense. The costs here are per journey, so if you get 4 people in one car you can cut your cost to £17 per person.
- Reduced cost: £17
Cost of accommodation for wedding guests
If you’re staying overnight (and let’s assume you are as you’ve just travelled 4 hours), this could be one of your biggest costs. A few studies put the average cost of a hotel room in the UK as just under £100, while AirBnBs are around £120/night. It’s worth bearing in mind the hotel prices are per room – so you might be able to fit more people in your Airbnb. And these prices are the yearly average – prices will probably rise during peak summer months.
- Average cost: £110.
- How to save: Book in advance. This can save you up to 22% on regular hotel costs by planning in advance. Try comparison sites or check for price match promises. But the best way to save is to share. Book a large Airbnb and share with a few guests.
- Reduced cost: £60, assuming you share an Airbnb with someone else.
Childcare costs for wedding guests
Let’s assume an overnight stay, then you’re looking at the cost of a babysitter for during the event at your hotel. That could be a 12-hour session. If you were to go with a normal babysitter, you could find yourself out of pocket by £120, with the average hourly rate for a babysitter at £10. There are some sites that offer specialist wedding babysitting services at a flat rate, but even these come it at around £150 for the day.
- Average cost: £150
- How to save: Family members could once again save the day. It’s probably cheaper to put the kids’ granny up in a hotel for the night (£100) or have them stay in your Airbnb with you (£60).
- Reduced cost: £60.
Cost of wedding day hair and make up
On the day, you’ll want to look your best. And wedding hair and make-up – even if you’re not part of the bridal party – comes at a cost. Let’s assume you’re getting your hair styled only – no cut and colour here – and you’re still looking at around £25.
- Average cost: £25
- How to save: Ditch the trip to the hairdressers and either do it yourself, get a friend to do it, or simply let it hang loose.
- Reduced cost: £0
Wedding day food and drinks
While you’ll get some food at a wedding, you might not be catered for all day. And if the main meal isn’t until the afternoon, then you’ll need a big breakfast on the day followed, possibly, by a light lunch. You’ll also need to think about next day food.
As for drinks, this depends on the event. Many weddings have a free bar or provide wine at the table. But you might fancy something different or find the bar is cash only.
- Average cost: £50 for light lunch and few drinks on the night.
- How to save: If you’re staying in an Airbnb or hotel, breakfast there. It’s much more affordable – and you can stock up on a large brekkie. Want a quick short drink before the bar opens? Bring along your own hip flask.
- Reduced cost: £20
Total cost to attend a wedding
If you go all out and embrace the day, you’re looking at around £845 – per person! Which is a lot. But, with a few cost saving measures, you could have all the fun and spend less than £200.
If you’re still looking for inspiration on what to buy the happy couple, visit our personalised wedding gifts section.