When you think of celebrating your marriage—and all the expenses it entails—you might not consider what each wedding guest will shell out in order to attend or participate in your nuptials. While we've detailed some of the individual expenses your guests will have, it can be challenging to calculate exactly how much is spent overall.
Luckily, new survey data from BankRate.com gives us a breakdown of how much money each wedding guest will pay to be part of your big day in 2018. The averages might surprise you—unless you've been in your fair share of weddings.
As expected, the bridal party will pay the most of any wedding guest, looking at an average of $728 for all the wedding-related events (think: bachelor(ette) parties, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner). Unless, of course, the wedding is in the Northeast—there, members of the wedding party pay an average of $1,070 to be there with bells on. Destination weddings are also known for being a heavier financial burden for attendees.
Wedding guest expenses decrease as the connection to the couple becomes more distant: a non-wedding party guest pays an average of $628 for a close family member or friend's wedding. To celebrate with distant relatives and acquaintances, the number drops down to $372.
In addition to the cost of travel, lodging, outfits, and food not paid for by the couple, each wedding guest is expected to buy a gift. While the ideal wedding registry includes gifts with a range of values, it still presents an additional expense for guests. When added to shower gifts and unexpected expenses for other events (like buying a round of drinks at the bachelorette party), this adds up.
Although millennials are traditional in many ways when it comes to weddings, they're not afraid to skimp on a wedding present. The average amount they spend is $57 when they're part of the wedding party. If they're just a regular wedding guest, millennials spend about $47, whether they're close to the couple or not. The average for all ages is $153 when the guest is in the wedding party, $116 if they're close to the couple, and $63 if they're not.
“Wedding season can be a stressful time, and not just for the bride and groom,” says Bankrate.com analyst Robert Barba. “While it’s fun to celebrate with friends and loved ones, the associated costs add up fast and can wreak havoc on your budget if you’re not prepared. It’s imperative to start planning early—open a dedicated savings account to start your own wedding fund."
That's right, the smart wedding guest will set money aside (either in a separate account or through budgeting) that is only to be used for wedding expenses. This might seem like an overreaction until you see just how much these expenses add up.
If you're entering a stage of life where it seems like everyone you know is getting married, Barba has some sound advice: "You shouldn't go into debt to celebrate others. If you feel you can’t afford the financial burden of attending, think twice before RSVPing.” Consider only sending a gift or picking just a couple of weddings instead of breaking the bank to be at every single one.