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We all love a good wedding – and it can be a huge compliment to be asked to celebrate a couple’s special day with them – but with the average cost of being a guest now standing at £432, you may well worry when yet another invite drops through the letterbox.
This £423 figure comes from new research from American Express which reveals that while almost a third of Brits will attend at least one wedding this year, many adults are planning to celebrate four weddings in 2017.
As this brings the total cost of being a guest this season to a whopping £1,728, this will certainly hit the pocket hard.
Further findings reveal that the largest expense for guests will be the wedding gift (£85), followed by hotel accommodation (£74), an outfit (£71), and travel to attend the special day (£64).
The good news is, being a wedding guest doesn’t have to cost the earth.
Here’s our guide to helping you keep costs under control.
1.How to save on accommodation
The key to saving on accommodation is booking well in advance. This means getting organised as soon as you get the “save the date” card – rather than waiting until the invitations come out, as you will then be competing with all the other guests for places to stay.
If the bride and groom have reserved rooms at the wedding venue – or recommended a hotel where guests can stay – check if they have negotiated a discount rate.
Equally, if you’re not attending with a “plus one,” see if you can save money by sharing a double or twin room with a friend – or a family room with a couple of friends.
Alternatively, see if there’s a cheaper budget chain hotel or B&B nearby on site like Hotels.com or Booking.com – or team up with friends and book an Airbnb. An Airbnb property could also double up as the perfect option for an extended weekend wedding vacation.
Potential saving of 50% on accommodation – in Europe, the average hotel cost can be as much as double the cost of an Airbnb booking, according to bus travel booking website, Busbud.*
You could also save yourself a packet on accommodation by getting the last train home rather than staying overnight.
2.How to save on transport
As with accommodation, the biggest savings on transport can be made by booking early.
Potential saving of 80% on train fares – if you book early, you can save up to 80% on normal day-of-departure tickets, according to Raileasy.co.uk.
If you need to get a taxi to or from the wedding, make use of apps, such as Uber, and be sure to share your cab with friends to split the cost.
If you are driving, why not car share with other guests? Alternatively, why not look into car-sharing with non-guests, via a car-sharing site, such as Liftshare.com/uk?
3.How to save on travel abroad
Potential saving of 28% – book your flight 56 days in advance to get the cheapest tickets. This can mean average savings of 28%, according to Momondo.co.uk.
Also bear in mind that departures between 6pm and midnight typically offer the cheapest fares, while Tuesday is generally the cheapest day to fly.
If the wedding is part of a package holiday, see if you can get a group rate if you all book together.
Note, though, that you may need at least 10 people to get a discounted rate, and you will probably need to put down a deposit in advance of your travel.
4.How to save on wedding gifts
An easy way to save on gifts is by getting to the gift list early before all the lower-priced items have been snapped up by other guests.
If you’re keen to buy something bigger, group together with some of your friends and split the cost. This will enable you to buy something memorable and impressive – without spending a fortune.
Equally, if you’re not buying from a set gift-list, you could make savings by shopping in the sales in advance of the wedding. Also remember to make use of rewards points you have stored up; you may well have enough to get a wedding gift with your points alone – meaning you don’t have to spend a penny.
Alternatively, you could give a “gift” for next to nothing by offering your services instead.
For example, budding photographers could offer to take pics throughout the event, while keen bakers could help out with the cake, and green-fingered guests could help out with the flowers. You could even offer to DJ.
Potential saving of £85 – if you use reward points, or offer a service instead of forking out for a gift, you could save yourself £85, based on the American Express spending figures.
5.How to save on your outfit
One of the simplest ways to save on your outfit is by rummaging through your wardrobe and recycling an old outfit. You can always give it a fresher look by teaming it with new jewellery, handbag and other accessories.
Better still, why not host a “wedding guest clothes swapping party” where you can swap and share hats and bags and other bits and pieces to save money on buying something new for each occasion.
Potential saving of £71 – if you recycle an outfit and swap and share accessories, you could save yourself £71 on the cost of an outfit, based on the American Express wedding guest spending figures.
If you are set on buying something new to wear, take advantage of the sales to bag a bargain – or visit an outlet village; it may be last season’s stock, but you can often pick up some great labels at low prices.
Once you’ve made your purchase, see if you can wear the same outfit to several weddings or other smart occasions to get the most value out of it.
This can work particularly well if the weddings and other events are for friends for different friendship groups.
6.How to save on hair and make-up
While you may be keen to pull all the stops out when it comes to your hair and make-up, splashing out on a spray tan and blow dry at the local salon can soon put a big hole in your wallet.
So instead of shelling out, do your own hair and make-up, or get a friend who you trust to do it for you.
If you want something a little different, book a trial at a local make-up counter.
Potential saving of £27 – by opting for the DIY route, you could save £27, based on the American Express figures for wedding guest spend on hair and beauty.
7.How to save on childcare costs
Save on the cost of a babysitter by asking a family member or friend to mind your little ones for you.
The earlier you ask, the more likely you are to get a positive response.
Potential saving of £50 – by getting a family member to help with childcare, you could save more than £50, based on paying a babysitter a rate of £10 an hour for five hours.
*The price of AirBnb bookings are based on the cost of a one-night stay, while the average prices for a hotel room were based on Hotel.com’s Hotel Price Index Report). http://uk.businessinsider.com/is-it-cheaper-to-airbnb-or-get-a-hotel-2016-2