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Weddings are expensive, and not just for the bride and groom.
As more couples choose to go all out for their wedding, the average guest will spend $611 on travel and accommodations, gifts and special occasion outfits and preparation this year, according to a recent Bankrate.com report. Wedding gifts alone cost an average of $180.
“Like just about everything else, inflation and rising interest rates are weighing heavily on wedding guests,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate.
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At a time when many households are already exhausted, every “yes” RSVP poses potential financial pressure.
About 21% of wedding guests feel pressured to spend more than they can comfortably afford, and 18% have to rely on credit cards just to attend, Bankrate found.
According to a separate survey by LendingTree40% of those who have attended a wedding in the past five years have gone into debt to cover the costs.
For members of the wedding party, it’s even more expensive: nearly two-thirds, or 62%, spent more than they could afford to celebrate with the bride and groom, and 32% spent at least $500. in the red, according to LendingTree.
According to Esther Lee, associate editor and wedding expert at The Knot, there’s no rule of thumb as to how much you should spend on someone else’s wedding.
The amount you donate should have less to do with the type of wedding you’re attending, and more with your own budget and feelings about the couple, she said.
“Determining how generous you choose to be often correlates with how close you are to the couple,” she said. If you’re best friends forever, you might want to give a big present; alternatively, make a contribution to their honeymoon fund, which will be meaningful, Lee advised.
“These are life moments and decision factors that no calculator can solve,” she said.
Either way, figure out how much you’re willing to spend and set limits to safeguard your financial goals. Here are Lee’s top tips for any wedding guest on a budget:
- Start a savings fund well in advance. “The more time everyone has to prepare, the better the outcome.”
- Track travel prices. Starting early also applies to booking hotels and airfare for destination weddings and bachelor or bachelorette parties. If the group is slow to get organized, “offer to take responsibility for monitoring accommodation options and flights”.
- Remember: Sometimes you have to say no. If the math just doesn’t add up, there are gracious ways to thank the couple and say no. “Consider hosting a celebratory brunch for the bride-to-be or your friend to convey your support.”