Even in the best of economic times, the wedding budget is top of mind for the bride and groom—and, more often than not, their parents, who may be footing some—or all—of the bill.
But what about their guests? Are they feeling the pinch during wedding season too?
According to a new AP-Brides.com Poll, guests aren't letting budgetary concerns get in the way of celebrating life's milestone moments. They are still spending money to attend and purchase gifts for weddings.
But those expenses can add up. Among those who had attended a wedding recently, the median cost of attending came in at approximately $200, including gifts, travel, lodging, clothing and other expenses. For those who had to travel more than 100 miles, the median cost jumped to just over $400.00.
Although the bride and groom are not obligated to pay guests' travel and hotel costs, they can help out by researching accommodations and deals.
"It's a good idea to locate a few reasonable places for them to stay and request a block rate," says Brides.com Etiquette Contributor, Anna Post. "Send the information three to six months in advance—or more, if you can—in a save-the-date mailing. Include the room prices and names of the airlines that fly to the location. Given that loved ones are going out of their way to be with you on this occasion, it's a nice idea to help them get started with their plans."
Even with the added cost of travel, only 3 percent of respondents said they had declined a wedding invitation in the past two years because of the cost factor.
Guests also said the cost of the gift would not deter them. (The median cost wedding gift alone was $80.00, with the most popular price point being $100-$199.)
When posed with a hypothetical scenario where someone was invited to a wedding but couldn't afford to buy the kind of gift they felt the couple would expect, the most popular solution among respondents would be to attend the wedding but buy a less expensive gift with 42 percent saying they were very likely to do so. Relatively few guests said they would attend the wedding but not give any gift at all, and even fewer said they would make up an excuse to avoid attending the wedding.
People were slightly more likely to say they would buy the more expensive gift even if they couldn't really afford it than were likely to decline the wedding invitation and tell the couple reason why.
Even among invited guests who weren't able to attend the wedding, the majority polled (63 percent) said they would still feel obligated to send a wedding gift anyway, with seniors agreeing much more strongly than younger generations. "Weddings are the only time that it's required to send a gift, regardless of whether or not you attend the event itself," says Post.
But one group of guests stood out as in need of an etiquette refresher on gift giving—single men. More than 4 in 10 single men said they were more likely to attend the wedding and not bring a gift at all.
"Every wedding invitation carries the obligation to give a gift," says Post. "If you're spending a lot to attend the event, you may go for a less expensive item or something you've made yourself. But do get the couple something. There is no price range, as it's too different for each person and their situation."
Where people do have a little more leeway are in all the celebrations leading up to the walk down the aisle. Among those polled, only 10 percent said they felt compelled to purchase something for the engagement party and 37 percent for the bridal shower.
"You don't need to send a shower gift to the bride if you can't attend the shower itself," says Post. "However, as only close friends and family of the bride are usually invited to the shower, chances are you know her well and may want to send her a shower gift to celebrate anyhow."
In the end, attending a wedding is about sharing a once-in-a-lifetime moment with close friends and family—even if all the guests don't agree on what makes the event so special. Women we polled said that the "I do's" and seeing the bride's gown were tops. And for the guys? It's the food at the reception.
__Confused about Wedding Etiquette? Read more from Brides.com contributor Anna Post:
For more information on the survey, visit The Associated Press.