The Average Cost Of Attending A Wedding Will Make You Want To Cry

I absolutely love a good wedding. I come from an unbelievably large, extended family, and have therefore been attending weddings practically since I was born. When I was about seven, I made a really memorable splash at my cousin's wedding — literally: I was dancing so hard that I accidentally tripped backwards and fell into a fountain — and I still had a blast. But it wasn't until I graduated from college and my friends started getting engaged that I realized that there's a big downside to these magical events: attending a wedding costs a lot of money, which as a young person living in New York City, I can barely afford.

According to a new report by personal finance company, members of a wedding party should expect to spend approximately $728 if they plan on attending the shower, bachelorette party, and wedding. This shocking amount takes into account many different aspects, from travel to attire.

And if you're not in the wedding party? You're also shelling out the big bucks in order to attend a family member or good friend's wedding, the survey found. Guests attending those weddings and associated pre-parties spend an average of $628.

"Wedding season can be a stressful time, and not just for the bride and groom,” Analyst Robert Barba said in a press release. “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."

Check out the following unexpected costs guests should anticipate spending, as well as expert tips on how to save, so that when wedding season rolls around, you, and your credit card statement, don't suffer.


The Engagement Party

Wedding guests usually look past the engagement party or shower as an added cost, because it's usually local and cocktail attire. But the truth is, this subtle pre-wedding festivity can include a lot of little costs, from small gifts to a brand new dress. Additionally, if the event isn't open bar, chances are that drink prices will skim your wallet as well.

"The first consideration is whether or not you truly wish to attend," Alison Norris, CFP at SoFi, tells Bustle. "An invitation is not an obligation. Unless your lifestyle is bankrolled by your engaged friend, it's your decision how to spend your hard-earned money." Watch out for sly expenses!


The Bachelorette Party

The bachelorette party can practically bankrupt you — and plenty of people who aren't in the wedding party get invited to these events. Unexpected costs can include everything from matching custom-made outfits, to car rental or even plane tickets. You'll also be expected to bankroll the bride-to-be's bar tab all night, not to mention the cost of splitting a hotel room.

"You don't have to say yes to every part of the wedding festivities," Norris says. "A good friend will understand when you say you're on a budget and can't afford to criss-cross the country multiple times over a few months. If the party is a destination event, instead offer to take the bride out for a celebratory dinner and drinks once she's back from her trip and have her tell you all about it!"


Travel To And From The Wedding

If your friend has decided to have a destination wedding, start saving as soon as you can.

"Set price alerts for the dates you'll want to travel as soon as you find out the wedding date," Norris says. " If you're able to, include flexible dates. You can buddy up to reduce costs further. If you don't know anyone, ask the bride and groom to hook you up with someone who would be interested in splitting rental car."


Attire For The Wedding

If you're a member of the wedding party, prepare yourself for an utterly overpriced matching garment that will probably need to be tailored to fit you, for another added cost. And if you're not, you may find yourself wanting to dropping stocks on a new gown and the perfect pair of matching stilettos. But remember, you really don't have to go all out.

"Unless you are wearing a white dress, no one will care what you wear," Norris says. " If you can't make use of what you already have on hand you, buy a new outfit which you can don to every wedding you attend to minimize your cost per use." If you are someone who attends a lot of weddings, try to don outfits twice or borrow from friends.


Wedding Gifts

I never know exactly how much is appropriate to spend on a wedding gift, but I definitely know that the amount is out of my price range. "When it comes to gift-giving, Millennial guests (ages 18-37) seem to be less generous than the national average," Barba said. "Young adults report spending an average of just $57 on wedding gifts when part of the wedding party, $47 for close friends/family when not in the wedding party and $48 for more distant relationships. The overall averages for people attending each type of wedding are $153, $116 and $63, respectively."

If you have a ton of weddings coming up this summer, don't panic. "If you have several weddings coming up and you see a wedding gift classic on sale, stock up," Norris says. "Add a line item to your budget for "friends and family" to help anticipate expenses tied to holidays and special events. You can then feel confident knowing that you are accounting for both what you plan to spend on yourself and on others."


Accommodations For The Wedding

Another strike against destination weddings: if your friend chooses to to get married somewhere far, you not only need to worry about the price of plane tickets, but also about accommodations. But remember that you can stay somewhere within your budget, even if it means not staying where everyone else is.

"Don't be afraid to break from the pack," Norris tells Bustle. "The bride and groom may arrange a room block at one or two hotels, but see if there are others in the area that offer lower pricing. As long as you're close by, it won't matter that you're sleeping just down the street." To avoid paying the price, perhaps consider staying at an Airbnb instead.


Glam At The Wedding

Finally, although this is in no way a requirement, many guests will go all out when it comes to getting ready for the wedding. But instead of getting makeup or hair done professionally, it'll save to look to your friends for help.

"Know that friend that can't stop watching makeup tutorials on makeup? Hit her up for the big day — buy her a coffee as a token of your thanks," Norris says. "You'll be on your way." These costs may appear small respectively, but they truly add up.

Weddings are wonderful occasions to bring people together: family, friends, co-workers, all celebrating in one room. But just remember: you don't have to break your own heart by breaking the bank.