It's always an honor to be invited to a friend's or family member's wedding, but we all know that the cost of attending a wedding—or multiple over the course of a year—can really add up. Guests have to consider buying a gift and booking travel/accommodations on top of other costs that come up (especially for those who are in the wedding party). But for those who are in the process of planning their wedding, there are things couples can do in order to make their wedding more affordable for guests in attendance. "In today's world and market, not everyone is able to take on the expenses of attending a wedding," says wedding planner Alicia Fritz of A Day in May Event Planning and Design. Whether or not there is travel involved, the cost of the attire, sending a gift, finding child care, etc. add up quickly these days."
If you're looking for ways to ensure your guests don't have to stretch their funds in order to attend your wedding, here is what Fritz recommends couples do to make their wedding more affordable for guests.
Subsidize Travel, Airfare, or Accommodations
If you're planning a destination wedding or a wedding in a remote or hard-to-reach location, Fritz recommends considering covering your guests' accommodations if possible, or in some cases, transportation as well. "Air travel subsidies can come in the form of a group reservation on a particular travel route where the couple buys a certain number of seats on an aircraft and can 'sell' them back to their guests at a lesser cost," she explains. "The monetary transaction can be a bit tricky, so we recommend the couples use a travel agent for the group reservation and guest ticket payment."
When it comes to accommodations, couples can book a hotel block to make the experience more accessible to guests. "Perhaps the couple desires all their guests to be in the same hotel and to make that hotel more appealing than others they can elect to pay a portion or all of the costs of the hotel. These arrangements can be made when contracting with the hotels for the room blocks and could also be managed through a travel agency as well," Fritz says.
Host Meals (Outside the Wedding)
If you're hosting a wedding weekend or a destination wedding, it's likely that guests will be around longer than just the wedding day. A great way to reduce costs is to host meals before or after the wedding—these small things will add up and can make a difference, especially for guests traveling from far away. "Perhaps there is a breakfast or hospitality room that is set up and always has grab-and-go fare or coffee/tea/soft drinks. These amenities may seem small but they can make a big impact, especially if the hotel has limited dining options or restricted meal service times," explains Fritz.
Consider Ride-Share or Car Service Options
The costs of getting from a hotel or rental to the wedding venue and back can definitely add up, too! Fritz recommends that couples look into setting up a coupon code for ride-share services: "Discounting a ride-share service is a great way to incentivize guests and make it easier for them to navigate the logistics of a new destination especially if the wedding requires travel," she says.
If you're not going the hotel block route, renting one (or several) large homes, or even a retreat or camp—and covering most or all of the cost of that rental—can bring expenses down significantly for guests. "Depending on the location and size of the guest list, there are opportunities where home shares are available where the couple has access to a number of residences, all in the same general location, and guests are able to stay all together in these homes," explains Fritz.
Interested in a summer camp-themed wedding? Renting out an entire camp is a perfect option, and you can easily subsidize the cost for guests if you go this route. "A more widely available option to these rare communities could be renting out a camp or retreat that includes the cost of accommodations and venue fees," Fritz says. "While this could drive the cost up for the couple, the return on their investment of spending the weekend with everyone they love all in one place is invaluable!"