wedding guest holding money
Rachael Schirano Photography

When you receive a wedding invitation in the mail, you probably feel a wave of excitement, followed by a tiny bit of dread. Okay, how much is this going to cost me? Whether you’ve attended one wedding or what feels like a thousand, you’re probably well aware at how expensive being a wedding guest can be. From buying a gift to traveling to the venue and maybe even buying a new outfit to match the dress code, the costs can add up super-quickly. According to a new WeddingWire study, a guest will spend $430 on average to attend a wedding—but that cost can greatly increase or decrease depending on several factors.

Here, we’ll break down what goes into the cost of attending a wedding, and some insider tips to help you save when those invitations start coming in.

The wedding’s location plays a big role in how much you’ll spend.

The further you have to travel to attend a wedding, the more you’ll spend. According to the WeddingWire study, guests who had to fly to a wedding’s destination spent (on average) a whopping $1,320 on travel, accommodations, and food, whereas guests who simply drove to a wedding’s location spent $480. Those who attended a wedding in their own city or town spent just $65 on gas and food. So while destination weddings sound like a great excuse to take a vacation, they’re also pretty expensive to attend.     

How to save: While you can’t control where a wedding takes place, you can take certain steps to avoid overspending on travel. Find out if the couple booked room blocks at a discount, and if you can share a hotel room with others or split the cost of a rental car, go for it. Also, remember that if you’re not super-close with the couple and feel that the cost of attending the wedding is prohibitive, you can decline the invite.

The amount you’ll spend on a gift depends on your relationship with the couple.

According to the WeddingWire study, guests spend an average of $120 on a wedding gift. However, the study showed that the amount guests spent varied pretty widely, depending on their relationship with the couple. Close friends and family members spent an average of $130 on a gift, while members of the wedding party spent $115. And casual friends, not surprisingly, spent the least on a gift—$80. This only accounts for wedding gifts, thought nearly half of guests bought an additional for a pre-wedding event, like a shower.

How to save: Sorry, you can’t skip buying a wedding gift. However, it’s important to consider your relationship to the couple as you browse their registry or think about a cash gift. Yes, the average amount to spend may be $120, but you certainly don’t have to spend that much. A less-expensive, but meaningful gift will also be appreciated, and don’t rule out going with others on a group gift.

About half of guests purchase a new outfit to attend a wedding.

Yes, it can feel pretty special to get gussied up in a brand-new outfit to attend a wedding—but you certainly don’t have to buy something new to look amazing. According to the WeddingWire study, roughly half of guests purchased a new outfit for a wedding—and women were much more likely to do so than men. On average, guests spent $155 on attire, but as with gifts, the amount they spent depended on their relationship with the couple. Guests attending the wedding of a close friend spent $160 on attire, while those attending the wedding of a casual friend spent $95 on average.

How to save: Wearing attire already in your closet or borrowing an outfit from a loved one are definitely the easiest on your budget. You can also spruce up an outfit you already own (affordably!) by adding some new accessories. Renting attire is yet another option, which often costs less than buying something new. But if you really want to purchase a new outfit for a wedding, be sure that it’s versatile enough so you can wear it to other special occasions.