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Why do weddings cost so much to attend?

Scripps News producer and avid wedding attendee Simon Kaufman looked into just how much it costs to be a wedding guest.
Why do weddings cost so much to attend?
Posted at 6:56 PM, May 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-20 20:57:27-04

The wedding season is in full swing.

Having a wedding is an expensive undertaking, but so is going to one.

Until I was 23, I'd only been to one wedding — my uncle’s when I was three years old.

I admit that while I probably pulled off the tux better back then, I didn’t get that many invitations to weddings then.

But now that I'm in my late 20s, wedding invitations flood my mailbox like political flyers during an election year.

Now, I'm not complaining. I love celebrating love, and I'm beyond lucky to know a few folks who put up with me enough to include me in their special day.

One friend even let me officiate!

"Let us hope that me being in this position between the two of you is the greatest mistake that you make as a couple," were some of the words I said during the officiation.

While the whole process is fun, celebrating love ain't free.

"When your friends and family get married, it's a happy occasion, but it can be an expensive one as well. We found that the average cost to attend a wedding is $611, and these costs are definitely stressing a lot of people out, especially Gen-Zers and millennials," said Ted Rossman.

Rossman is a senior industry analyst with Bankrate.com, and yes, he’s right.

The average guest will spend $611 per wedding this year, according to a Bankrate survey.

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Here's the breakdown:

$287 on travel and accommodations, $180 on gifts, and $144 on attire and grooming.

Bankrate surveyed almost 1,000 adults and found guests' wedding costs vary based on their region, gender, and age.

Gen-Z guests are set to spend more than $1,200 attending nuptials this year, just a bit more than millennials and almost twice as much as baby boomer attendees.

Younger adults spend more, in part because more of their peers are getting married.

"Gen-Zers and younger millennials tend to be attending the most weddings. And that does make sense, you know, given their age. We're talking 20 and 30-somethings," said Rossman.

Where you live also determines the size of the hole in your wallet when attending your friend's holy matrimony.

Guests in the Northeast spend an average of $774 per wedding, compared to $605 among Midwesterners, about $570 for Southeners, and $531 for wedding guests out West.

And, gentlemen, weddings tend to set you back more.

Men are spending almost $700 per wedding, compared to $530 for women.

The report from Bankrate doesn't even include costs for other wedding celebrations.

"No doubt the cost can go way up from here. Like we didn't even get into the bachelor or bachelorette party or the bridal shower or, you know, all these things that can raise costs, a destination wedding," said Rossman.

That said, it's still a lot more expensive to have a wedding than to go to one.

The average U.S. wedding cost $30,000 last year, according to wedding planning company The Knot.

But going to enough wedding ceremonies can take a serious toll on your bank account.

62% of attendees said they have at least one financial concern, and 21% believe wedding attendance expenses will strain their budgets.

Remember that the next time you get an invitation to your third cousin’s wedding.

Sometimes the best response to their "I dos" is "I don't think I can make it."


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