Half of British millennials can't afford to attend weddings — here's how guests can keep costs down


Wedding season is in full swing — but with the average cost of attending a wedding this year hitting £391 ($477), many British millennials are opting to turn down invitations.

According to research from apartment share website SpareRoom, one in three U.K. adults have turned down wedding invitations because it was too expensive to attend. Among millennials — those aged between 25 and 34 — that number increased to almost half.

SpareRoom surveyed 1,000 British renters throughout August.

Its findings also showed that a third of millennials were falling into debt to attend their friends' weddings, with one in six having had to move out of their homes after spending too much and being unable to pay their rent.

But for many young people, there was an element of social pressure when it came to attending — 62% of millennials had lost friendships after saying no to a wedding for financial reasons, according to the study.

Most people agreed that an outfit for the event was the costliest part of being a wedding guest, followed by accommodation. Pre-wedding festivities like attending bachelor and bachelorette parties were named the third biggest expense for wedding guests.

In May, research published by American Express showed that Brits spent an average of £391 to attend a wedding in 2019, a third more than they spent last year.

The study showed that the average Brit would spend £68 on an outfit for a wedding this year, up from £50 in 2018.

As a nation, the U.K. would spend an estimated £5.5 billion attending weddings in 2019, according to American Express.

The financial effects of going to weddings are also being felt across the Atlantic. According to an April study by Bankrate, a fifth of Americans have declined a wedding invitation because they couldn't afford to go.

How to reduce costs when attending a wedding

  1. Avoid the gift registry

    Bankrate advised people attending weddings this year to consider giving the couple cash or a check instead of purchasing an expensive gift. If guests were comfortable giving money, it would help them stay in control of exactly how much they were giving to the newlyweds.
  2. Explore alternative accommodation options

    Wedding guests traveling to the event could save money by checking if the couple had reserved a hotel block with discounted rates. But don't feel obliged to stay at the venue — Bankrate suggested sharing an Airbnb rental with other attendees, which could slash costs and reduce taxi fares to and from the venue.
  3. Make an annual budget

    In a blog post, Spanish bank Santander and money advice site MoneyNing suggested making a yearly budget for attending weddings and other events, like birthday parties, and sticking to it — even if that means declining an invite.

    "If your entire budget for the whole year is $600, then realistically, you may only be able to attend one or two weddings for the year, while still having money left over for other events," author Ashley Eneriz said.
  4. Split the cost of gifts

    If attending a wedding where you know other guests, splitting the cost of a gift with friends could help keep costs down, Bankrate suggested. This idea was also encouraged by Eneriz, who pointed out that it could help fund a gift the couple really wants.
  5. Earn on your wedding expenses

    Savvy spenders were finding ways to reward themselves for the expenses they incurred as wedding guests, according to American Express.

    "Just under half of guests put related expenditure on a card that earns rewards and loyalty points," Stephen Steinhardt, director of American Express, said in a press release in May. "These wedding guests are ensuring they get something back for their spending and will be able to treat themselves once the celebrations are over."
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