The cost for wedding guests is on the rise
If you see your cash disappearing like confetti when you receive an invitation to a friend’s or relative’s happy occasion, you’re not alone.
Accommodation, travel, gifts, outfits – the cost for a wedding guest can really mount up. Add a stag or hen party, and it’s estimated that each invite can cost us between £504.01 and £811.02, according to figures revealed by event management company Chillisauce.
But the couple, who will have spent months or even years budgeting and planning their event, are well aware of the expense for guests, says Lynne Bothamley, co-owner of Bristol-based online gift service whatidlove.co.uk.
She said: “We have even had the wedding couples’ parents getting in touch to say there aren’t enough expensive items on the gift list, which is quite funny.”
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She said the growing trend was for people to use the site to ask for contributions towards their honeymoon or one big item, rather than the traditional list of items.
She added: “Our system does not show other people how much you have contributed so there’s no competition or pressure about how much you give.”
Contributing to an exotic honeymoon, such as paying for a meal or an experience, also had its benefits for guests, she said, as their pounds often went a lot further in some countries.
With people in the South West spending a below-average £38.71 on a wedding gift, according to figures from First Direct, which put the average at £51.01, it seems many are already careful about what they spend.
Some of the most memorable gifts are personal presents that have had thought, care and time put into them. Those with photography skills, for example, could take a collection of non-posed pictures on the day that the professionals won't have captured, and then put them into a beautiful album. Or you could record parts of the day such as the preparations and ceremony, and ask guests to say a personal message for the couple to the camera.
Perhaps you can find a painting of the wedding venue and have it framed as a reminder. If the bride has told you the tune to which she will be walking down the aisle, consider ordering the music score and having it framed.
You could also club together with a group of friends to get a present that you wouldn't otherwise be able to afford. Or buy the newlyweds something to enjoy when they get back from honeymoon such as an experience day or restaurant vouchers.
Advice from financial experts at MoneySupermarket is that planning ahead is the key to preventing the big day becoming a big expense. The good news is that most wedding invites or “save the date” cards tend to give some notice, so there is time to start saving.
A regular savings account will give you the best rates of interest, although in return you will have to commit to regularly monthly deposits and some accounts insist on you locking your cash away for a fixed term.
The West Brom Building Society Fixed Rate Regular Saver for example, pays a competitive rate of 4.10 per cent AER. You will need to pay in between £10 and £250 per month and, if you don't, the rate drops to 0.50 per cent. You'll also have to be prepared to lock your money away for a full year.
If you'd rather retain access to your cash, you'll need to opt for an easy access savings account. The Post Office Online Saver is the current market-leader, paying a variable rate of 3.17 per cent AER with a 1.52 per cent bonus which drops off after the first 12 months. Therefore if you wanted to continue saving you will need to move your money then to get the next best rate.
Hotels can be one of the biggest expenses to fork out for as a wedding guest. But think about where your priorities lie - if you are going to be getting in in the early hours and just need somewhere to sleep then consider going for a cheap and cheerful option.
Quite often the couple will have secured discounted rooms in the venue for the wedding party. However, this can still be a substantial cost. Make sure you shop around to see what is in the area and look at B&Bs or even consider camping if it's summer and there's a camp site nearby.
To get the lowest price on train tickets, book ahead. They are released 12 weeks in advance and being flexible with your travel times will also help to keep costs down. Look out for online ticket offers and don't always assume standard class is cheaper - sometimes you can get in first class for the same price or even less. To find the cheapest train tickets, look at TravelSupermarket's train tickets channel.
If you are jetting off to celebrate a friend's nuptials in the sun buying your flight early will be cheapest. And if you only going out for a couple of days, only taking hand luggage can really help to keep costs down.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.