The high cost of attending weddings

Inspired by a post I saw recently, I thought I’d tally up how much I’ve spent attending weddings.


  • Friend Wedding: I learned the night before the wedding that you’re supposed to give presents. I clearly did not get them one and I found a friend as my plus one who had a car, lol.
  • Friend Wedding: Managed to swing it as a layover on a paid for flight. Stayed with friends. Looks like a $100 contribution to a present, $2 card, and $30 on food that weekend.


  • Cousin’s wedding: my parents paid my way.


  • Friend Wedding: Local-ish – they had a shuttle running, so I took that, which was pretty convenient. $75 cash gift.


  • Friend Wedding: $427.65 travel (bought flights with points, saving ~$600-800), $50 cash gift; $1 card (there was a dollar store right by where I was staying)


  • BF’s Friend Wedding: $978.87 travel (food/flights/rental car/one night lodging), no gift (BF paid for it and the card)
  • Mutual Friend Wedding: $75 cash gift (we couldn’t attend due to a conflict)
  • My Friend Wedding: $967.10 bachelorette party; $4 card x2 (one for bridal shower and one for wedding); $45 wedding gift; $50 bridal shower gift. It was local, so we took the bus there and a cab home that BF paid for. I think BF tipped someone too.
  • Total spent attending weddings: $2,123.97


  • My Friend Wedding: $1,099.59 travel (I paid for my flights, my half of the Airbnb, my half of the rental car, and BF covered most of the food and apparently the gas); $100 cash gift
  • $5 wedding cards (one for a reception we couldn’t attend)
  • Total spent attending weddings: $1,104.59


  • My Friend Wedding #1: ~$100 gift. Local-ish, but we may taxi there and back.
  • Mutual Friend Wedding #1: $75 cash gift. Local-ish, but it’s looking like we’ll drive there and back.
  • Mutual Friend Wedding #2 and My Friend Wedding #2: ~$1,300 travel combined for the two weddings (haven’t booked yet), $75 cash gift for each.
  • Total spent attending weddings: $1,625

Usually we can either make an adventure of a wedding location or we can visit with other friends and family (or both!), so the annual travel for weddings hasn’t been so bad. So far, I’m at $5,539.21 spent attending weddings and I’m only 28. Keep in mind that all of these are my costs – BF has contributed to some of the presents and paid his way on all of our wedding travels. All of our friends that are planning 2017 weddings are planning local ones, so maybe we’ll have a year off from summer wedding travel. (Hah, I shouldn’t jinx it.) We have three siblings remaining between the two of us who are unmarried and all of those weddings will be out of town, so each of those will probably have a minimum $1,000 price tag for each of us to attend. I would guess that the next five years will probably see about $1,000/year in average wedding spending. We do have enough miles built up that we could probably pay for some of these flights with miles, but we’d have to book the flights much further in advance for that to be useful.

Readers, how much have you spent attending friends’ and family members’ weddings?

14 thoughts on “The high cost of attending weddings

  1. $0.

    When people complain about this, i always immediately think first world problem.

    The bright side is that all these people apparently value you highly enough to invite you to their wedding.

    Supposedly the theory is that it should all even out when you have your own wedding, but I don’t know how one would recoup the four figure outflows..

    • That is a bit of a curmudgeonly attitude you have there. My whole blog is discussing problems of the 1%, not just the first world.

      I love supporting my friends in this special time for them. So long as we only have travel costs for one wedding per year, we’ll keep accepting out of town invitations, but if it gets to be more than that, then we’ll have to figure out what to do.

      They say you recoup the gift costs when you have your own wedding. I doubt we would recoup the travel costs, but that’s fine – we’ve always combined wedding travel with visiting friends, family, and/or seeing a new place, so it’s not the end of the world.

      • I didn’t mean to be a dick about it, I guess this topic is just not something I can personally relate to and might have some bitterness about. Sorry!

  2. I am currently writing a similar post about how expensive weddings are. I just finished wedding festivities for my best friend. While at first it pains me a little, he’s my best friend and hopefully getting married once. When all is said and done I probably spent over $1,500 on his wedding. But hey – it’s my choice so I can’t complain about it. I could always decline a wedding if I wanted to (which I might do this year since I have 6).

    • The one that pains me the most was the expensive bachelorette party, especially since it turned out I did not get along with any of the bride’s other friends at all, especially the MOH. I’ve actually gotten closer to that friend since her wedding than I was before, so it was probably for the best that I went.

      Six weddings! We’re only at four this year. It probably helps reduce the wedding invitations that it’s mostly my friends getting married and not BF’s. On his own, he’d only have been invited to four weddings so far in his life, lol, and I’m up to twelve.

    • I’ve only listed my portion of the costs. BF paid out about half the travel costs for the ones in 2014 and on, except he obviously wasn’t at the bachelorette party. We are still under debates over how much to give at weddings. I think we should be giving $100 each and he isn’t quite ready to give $200 total. I think $100 each is the right amount.

  3. I have spent a ton on weddings, but have gone to realitively few. It’s sucks sometimes, but I will only travel out of state for very close friends weddings. I just don’t get that much time off work and don’t have a ton of extra money to spend on weddings. However, the ones that I do go to I spend a lot. Mostly on gifts, but also all the expenses of traveling add up-plane tickets, hotels, car rental.

    • The worst part is how much time off work some of these take! One of them, we took an entire week off work to attend the friends’ wedding! Thankfully we’ve only been invited to one out of town wedding per year, but each one has a $2,000 travel price tag for two, which is reasonably steep. Our new plan is to turn these into a trip that we had planned on taking at some point in the future, but just hadn’t yet. The plan for this summer’s wedding extravaganza trip is to check out two new to us cities, which should be fun!

  4. I haven’t spent any money on travel for a wedding since all have been local thus far, but I have spent around $500 on gifts.

    • Oh gosh that’s awesome! I was discussing this with coworkers and they thought I was crazy to drop this much on going to friends’ weddings. I can’t help it though that I have many friends who aren’t from the area we live now and they host their wedding in their hometown area to make it cheaper for their family to travel… Oh well, at least we always make a vacation out of it.

      • Yeah, it totally makes sense if you have friends out of town. Most of my cohort (my friends, rather than BF’s friends whose weddings I’ve mostly attended thus far) are far flung, but none of them have tied the knot yet. I expect when that happens, my wedding travel costs will jump tremendously.

  5. Luckily, I have many unattached nerds for friends, so I’ve had many years of no weddings to attend. Most weddings I’ve been to have been in the northeast, so aren’t far for me (Boston, Philly, NYC, Rochester). I would have to be really close to someone to fly across the country. We did fly to Annapolis for a wedding, free with Southwest points, and got a cheap hotel and rental car, so probably $200 for the weekend. The best wedding of my life was last year and that cost $150 a night to “glamp” on site at a farm.

    I did fly solo to Macedonia for a wedding in 2014, because when else would I have the opportunity to go there? I haven’t done a cost analysis of that trip, but after using points and miles I probably paid $150 or so for the flights (I added a three night layover in Vienna), $0 for one of the hotels, and $40 to stay two nights in a private home in Ohrid. I got my friend an inside joke gift for about $15, but aside from that, I didn’t get a gift because when I fly that far for a wedding, like Kanye West said, “My presence is a present / Kiss my ass.”

    One brilliant idea my wife had for saving on wedding gifts is to make the couple something. She does embroidery and has made a couple framed designs of the couple’s initials that she either creates or finds in old books. The time investment is substantial, but people really love getting them.

    • Hah, my boyfriend also has lots of unattached nerds for friends, though I have a feeling he may be a groomsman at a wedding next year for a spendy friend, so we’ll see how 2017 unfolds. I managed to get flights with points to that wedding back in 2013 and only spent about $400 on travel, which wasn’t too bad. It’s gotten much harder to coordinate points travel for weddings with two of us needing the points. One of the weddings this year is in a city that is low on our travel priority list, but it’ll be cool to check out! I keep hoping that we’ll go to a local wedding that we love the venue and then that’ll make wedding planning some day easy, but no dice yet – we keep going to too many out of town weddings! Unfortunately most of my close friends have moved away in the last few years, hence all the out of town weddings.

      Making something is a great idea!

Comments are closed.