The Average Wedding Guest Could Spend $12,000 in 2022

How the wedding boom is affecting guests' wallets.

guests at wedding ceremony

Photo by Moni & Adri

As far as we’re concerned, very few things are as exciting as receiving an invitation to somebody’s wedding. Out of all the people in their lives—family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances— the couple wants you to be present during one of the biggest days of their lives. The catch? With every invite comes expenses—travel, a new outfit, and a gift are just a few— that will sneak up on you. And, if your 2022 schedule is jam-packed with weddings, you can expect to spend a small fortune.

According to a March 2022 survey by OnePoll on behalf of Affirm—which features input from a panel of 2,000 Americans—the average person is slated to spend as much as $3,000 on each wedding they attend. And, since the survey found that most participants were invited to four weddings this year, your role as a guest can cost you up to $12,000. (We know, yikes!) 

“Given so many weddings were rescheduled in the past couple of years, experts predicted a ‘Wedding Boom’,” explains Ashley Feinstein Gerstley, Affirm financial partner and founder of the Fiscal Femme. “The rise in the number of weddings coupled with the rising costs of inflation for things like gas, flights, and hotels are making the costs to attend a wedding in 2022 historically high.”

Though Feinstein Gerstley claims that the costs associated with being a wedding guest in 2022 are “a bit shocking,” guests are also attending less conventional weddings. For example, 35 percent of participants have been invited to sequel weddings—or second ceremonies to celebrate nuptials that took place during the height of the pandemic—and 39 percent of guests have been invited to at least one destination wedding. Although traveling for a wedding is a pricey endeavor, 59 percent of participants are willing to spend more if they can turn it into a proper vacation. 

“As prices for flights, hotels, and accommodations keep rising, it’s important to keep some padding in your wedding budget for travel costs,” Feinstein Gerstley adds. “Know that cost estimates based on weddings or travel in past years will probably be much too low.”

But, whether you’re turning a wedding into a longer getaway or keeping your travels to a minimum, spending $12,000 to be a wedding guest is by no means cheap. In fact, nearly two-thirds of participants feel financially stressed, while 37 percent of guests cannot afford a present or new outfit. As a result, over a third of participants said they had to decline being part of a wedding party due to the high costs associated with it.

So, the big question: is it possible to attend your loved ones’ special days without breaking your budget? According to this survey, yes. Approximately one-third of participants are prepared to use a pay-later program like Affirm. Additionally, Feinstein Gerstley recommends establishing a wedding guest fund and creating a line item for unexpected expenses. 

“While I share the sentiment of making up for lost time and wanting to celebrate with loved ones, it will be more important than ever to budget for these costs in order to avoid financial stress and not take away from other financial goals you may have,” she shares.

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