Can you afford to be a Wedding Guest?

Can you afford to be a Wedding Guest?

We’ve all heard how costly it is to arrange a wedding. But what about being a wedding guest? That can be almost as dear!

Of course, it depends on expectations. If you’re invited to a destination wedding, how much money will you be asked to stump up? (Don’t forget that that would be in addition to the present.)

What if the wedding list the couple publish demands outlay approximating to the National Debt?

What if you’re genuinely struggling to make ends meet, but really want to support the couple?


One Solution

A very simple solution is to (politely) refuse the invitation or explain you have a prior commitment. That is probably not all that satisfactory (especially if you want to attend, but prefer to avoid embarrassment). If you do decide to give it a miss, don’t leave your response till the last moment. Do give maximum warning (so the couple has the option of inviting someone else in your stead). And leaving it too late can mean that the couple are charged for a meal you had no intention of attending, which is really inexcusable.

A  more comfortable solution

If you genuinely can’t afford the expense, you may have to come clean. Explain this to your friends/family. Perhaps you can attend the ceremony (after all, that is – or should be – the important bit) and then leave. You might still be able to offer a small gift.

If the couple really are your friends, they will understand and respect your decision.

[On another level, there might not be this dilemma, if the couple’s wedding list contains a few items that are, shall we say, more affordable anyway – but, of course, that is not something you can control.]

The best solution?

Another suggestion is to explain that your budget won’t stretch, but that you would like to take the couple out to a show/dinner/concert another time. That way you can have some valuable quality time together (which you can’t at the wedding, of course) and show that you value their friendship.

There’s nothing to stop you sending them a lovely, personal congratulatory good wishes card, which is a lovely touch.

Openness (and tact!) should allow you to suitably mark the occasion for your friends without breaking the bank or losing their friendship.

8 Ways To Save Your Guests Money

8 Ways To Save Your Guests Money

A wedding nowadays can cost £20,000 or even more. And that doesn’t take into account expenses for bridesmaids and guests. It’s quite an industry, and I, as a civil celebrant, clearly contribute towards this cost – although only in a very small way, I hasten to add!


Bridesmaids can spend as much as £1,000, if you factor in their dress, travel, accessories, and wedding present.



Attending a wedding as a guest, especially if that involves a hotel stay (and possibly, travel, professional child care, costume, wedding gift and stag/hen nights) can cost several hundred pounds. (And I’m not even talking about destination weddings.)
It’s therefore not so surprising that a number of people have to make personal sacrifices or even decline a wedding invitation for financial reasons.
If you are planning your wedding, there are some things you can easily do to make to save your guests money.

Money-saving tips

1. Keep engagement party/hen/stag nights modest in scale.
2. Assuming you use a department store for your gift list (or registry), it doesn’t have to be the priciest – or, if you’re absoultely set on a high-end list, do include some items that don’t cost too much. I’m talking about £30-£80. You could even register at Harrods as well as at John Lewis, say, to give guests a bit of choice.
3. If it’s feasible, offer the possibility to buy individual items, rather than a set.
4. You can give guests the option of a charitable donation, if you don’t really need gifts. Then people needn’t feel embarrassment, if they’re a bit constrained.
5. You may be able to use discount stores for your bridesmaids’ dresses. Or they can hire which should work out cheaper than buying new. If the colour scheme fits, they may even be able to use dresses they currently own.
6. Your ushers should be allowed to wear suits they already have, if they so wish.
7. Choose a venue that is accessible and within reach for most people. If it’s near public transport links, so much the better.
8. Don’t have a cash bar on the day (or not until you have provided a reasonable amount of drink first)!

None of these tips are particularly arduous, and following them may make a real difference to those you really want to attend your big day – and so ultimately to you yourselves.

Rules for Wedding Guests

Rules for Wedding Guests

With times and trends moving so fast, it’s not always clear what wedding guests should and should not do nowadays. Here are a few rules to think about.


Invitations may come by post or by e-mail these days, and it’s probably best to reply the same way. It is courtesy, to be frank, but it can also help the couple work out logistics, if all the replies come in the same form.

I don’t recommend giving an oral response (if you happen to meet the bride/groom out somewhere), as that can easily get overlooked.

It may be that only you are invited, but you have a plus-one. You may have to accept that the couple are limited for space/budget etc. And don’t assume your children are invited if they are not specifically mentioned. However, if you are engaged or married, then it’s fair enough to query it.

Social Media & photography

There will be differing views about photographing the wedding ceremony. (I have written on this subject before.) The first basic rule, in my view, is that unless you are actively encouraged by the couple (eg offering a hashtag to use on all wedding photos), don’t post anything. You certainly should not be posting before the couple themselves have done so.

There may well be a professional photographer present. He will have been paid specifically by the bride and groom to do a job, and it’s unfair if guests get in his way and even spoil shots for the couple.


There’s still a lot to be said about a John Lewis list or registry, for example. It makes perfect sense that the couple receive what they actually want – and not in multiple quantities. If the gifts on the list are too dear, then I’d say it’s acceptable to give a cheque or gift vouchers.

If you insist on giving an unasked-for present, then include the receipt so it can be changed, if necessary.


One thing that has become acceptable as a guest is to wear white to a wedding. But not all-white. Something with white in it is fine, but it’s really not the thing to steal the bride’s thunder. You can even wear black these days, but ensure it doesn’t look too funereal. (Jewellery and choice of shoes can lighten the effect.)

Ceremony and reception

Unless specifically stated otherwise, the invitation will be for the ceremony and reception (and not one or the other). You may not like church weddings, say, but that’s not an excuse to miss it. The couple will want you for the whole experience, so it would be rude to duck out. If it is important for the couple, it should be worth putting up with on your part.

Don’t think nobody will notice, either!



Whatever your views about wedding traditions, if the couple want to include some, respect this. It is their big day, after all, rather than yours. Excuse yourself quietly, if you really can’t stomach it.

Of course, if the wedding is civil celebrant-led, then don’t expect the orthodox, but have an open mind and enjoy!

There’s no reason why you can’t appreciate the wedding ceremony and reception as a guest. Most guests do so without the need to offend anybody. The key thing, whatever your feelings, is to remember whose day it really is.

Wedding Guest Woes

Wedding Guest Woes

An innocent invitation

My wife and I were invited to a wedding recently – I am more used to being the Civil Celebrant than a wedding guest, so the boot was on the other foot this time! The couple were starting a new home together and had a Wedding List from John Lewis.

So we had a look to see what we could get them.

I had dire images in my mind of ridiculous, extravagant presents that we could never afford to buy, but fortunately they were requesting a range of items varying from about £25 to a couple of hundred pounds. As long as you got in fairly quickly, you could buy what you wanted without necessarily bankrupting yourself.

A more demanding invitation

But what if they had been requesting the contents of the Bank of England vaults (assuming anything is there)?

What if they had been having the wedding in some tropical paradise?

Would it have had to come down to deciding whether or not to attend because the demands on our pockets were too great ?

We would have been really sorry to have missed that wedding (on a number of counts). Marriage was important to them (as it is to us). Also, our friendship presumably was too.

In this instance, as I’ve have said, we weren’t placed in the dilemma of having to decide whether to attend or not. But what if we had been?

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

If your emotions tell you one thing, but your head tells you another, can there be a compromise? Well, I’d say so.

Of course, you could make some excuse about unavailability, which would avoid embarrassing yourself by giving the real reason. That doesn’t help, though, if your heart is set on attending. (Incidentally, if you’re not going to show up, give maximum warning so that someone else could possibly be invited in your stead. And certainly ensure that you don’t leave it so late that the couple are charged for the meal you’ll not be consuming.)

But how about being up front? “I’d love to come to your wedding, but my budget doesn’t stretch that far at the moment. But maybe we can take you out for a lovely dinner [or a show or something equivalent that is affordable] at another date?”

That way, at least you show that you do value their friendship.

Moreover, send them a lovely, personal congratulatory good wishes card, which is a lovely touch.

And going out with them for that meal or show means you’ll be spending quality time with your friends. Not something you can do at a wedding, of course.

So perhaps there is a viable alternative to breaking the bank when it comes to being a wedding guest.