Younger Generations Say the Cost of Attending Weddings Has Stopped Them from Achieving Financial Goals

According to a new study, over 46% of people in the millennial and Gen Z demographics are feeling burdened by the high cost of being an attendee.

wedding ceremony location with arch and floral-lined aisle

Photo by Corbin Gurkin

Getting an invitation to a wedding is undoubtably exciting, but it also means you need to consider your financial position. If you decide to join in on wedding festivities for a friend or family member, you are committing to any necessary travel in order to get to the location, potentially paying for an overnight stay at a hotel, purchase a wedding gift, and maybe even buying new outfits for the celebration. And if it's a destination wedding weekend, those expenses just go up. As people are getting married more than ever and inflation is driving up prices of just about everything in 2022, the financial burden of being a wedding guest is felt more than ever before.

According to a new study by Prudential, the 2022 wedding boom is attributing to the growing generational wealth gap. In a study conducted of 4,796 adults—including 477 Gen Z, 1,458 millennials, 1,223 Gen X, and 1,430 baby boomers—the millennial and Gen Z demographics are feeling the financial toll more than anyone else. "Younger generations feel acute challenges—and anxiety—about managing money, struggling to balance 'living in the now' with saving for the long term," Prudential reports. One large expense that comes with "living in the now?" Weddings. The results indicate that 46 percent of millennials and 48 percent of Gen Z believe they would be able to spend more on personal goals if they did not have to spend on friends’ and family members’ life milestones like wedding gifts.

“Without keeping an eye on finances, it can be easy for good spending and savings habits to slip. As a millennial myself, I know how tough it can be to balance financial responsibility with having a social life,” said Brandon Goldstein, ChFC®, Financial Planner with Prudential Financial. “I attended a handful of weddings this year—and the expenses for gifts and travel really added up. That’s why it’s imperative to assess and prioritize what’s critical, so you can stick within your budget and not lose sight of your long-term financial goals, too.”

It's not just weddings alone that are contributing to this growing divide. Getting asked to be a part of a wedding party is also another financial commitment that many people in the Gen Z and millennial demographics are experiencing. Bridesmaids and groomsmen have to attend more wedding events, purchase outfits designated by couples, and potentially pay for services like hair and makeup. Those pre-wedding celebrations, particularly bachelor and bachelorette parties, can be large investments on their own. Another recent study by, showed that the average celebration has cost attendees $1,500 in 2022, with travel costs being the biggest contributor to the price tag.

Engaged couples should still plan the wedding of their dreams, but there are some ways that they can lessen the financial commitments that they are asking of guests. If you want to make your celebrations more affordable for your attendees, consider hosting your events close to home or in a domestic location close to a major airport. You can also alleviate the financial burden for those in your wedding party by giving guidelines for attire (i.e. wear a long black dress) versus asking everyone to purchase a style that might be out of everyone's price range, or hosting your bachelor and bachelorette parties locally.

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