Cutting the cost as a wedding guest


Cutting the cost as a wedding guest

Some interesting facts found me this week and with a wedding to attend in just 2 weeks, it’s come at a great time. 

It’s not a close friend’s wedding although I do like the couple a great deal, but I’m not a ceremony guest.

I’ve had a few weddings recently and I often wonder about the protocol in gift buying, if it’s a close friend and you’re off to the whole shebang then you’ll be more likely to want to buy a great and possibly expensive gift but not so much when you’re a ‘periphery pal’. So what’s the protocol? You don’t want to come over as mean on the couple’s big day but it’s not your big day and when you’re on your 4th wedding of the summer, it becomes rather pricey, does it not?

So I was interested to read results of an Experian survey on exactly this which found that almost one in four couples in the UK (22%) have argued with their partner about the cost of witnessing another couple tie the knot. I’m not surprised at all! Being single, I just have myself to argue with but nevertheless the cost is a huge consideration. And I do know people who have declined an invitation because of the cost implications of gift buying, which rather takes away the true meaning of a wedding – it’s not all about the prezzies is it? I mean we’re not still 5 years old are we? Or are we?!

Check out these stats:

  • One in six people (17%) who are in a relationship are declining wedding invitations because they cannot afford to attend, double the number of single people (8%), who have declined invitations. Well they say you’ll meet your future partner at a wedding so no surprise there…
  • More than one in ten people in relationships (11%) have spent over £800 each attending weddings, compared to just 6% of single people.
  • One in 20 (5%) guests have had to borrow money in order to attend a wedding. And of those, 78% borrowed from credit cards, bank loans or extended an overdraft. What does that say about wedding gift protocol?

There’s a great infographic here: Wedding guest cost by Experian

Fear not, it’s not all doom and gloom, here’s some tips from the Money and Relationship Guide:


  1. Set the ground rules. Do you want a joint account for regular expenses and separate bank accounts for personal spending? Or do you want everything to go together?
  2. Work out who does what. The more frugal partner could look after the budget, while the more extravagant works out the ‘treats’, like meals out or trips away
  3. Agree on short and long-term goals and how you’re going to achieve them, and review regularly together
  4. Be honest about your past. If you have a less-than-perfect history of repaying money you owe, this could affect both of you in the long-term if your credit reports become linked
  5. Take time together to understand if you need to improve one or both of your credit reports. Do this well in advance of applying for credit together


  1. Spend all your time together talking about money
  2. Keep secrets. Research from Experian shows that 29% of people in the UK discovered that their partner was keeping credit card debt from them
  3. Dig yourself into a hole. If you find yourself in debt, don’t borrow more in the hope of putting things right. Ask for help and be open about it with your partner
  4. Talk about money issues when you are angry. Arguing about money is never going to be productive.
  5. Expect your partner to completely change. It’s unlikely an extravagant spender will do a complete about-turn and suddenly become frugal.

When you’re not in a relationship, the problem is still there but it is your decision that is final. So to survive a wedding invitation my advice is simple; do what you feel is right. A wedding should be a happy occasion and a day to look forward to, for both those getting wed and their guests. It’s a celebration and you shouldn’t have to worry about a present, just get what you feel is both appropriate to the couple and works with your budget. And remember this:

Those that matter won’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.

It’s a simple as that. If a couple have invited you it’s because the want you there, and if they haven’t invited you for that reason then it doesn’t matter what you do – or don’t get them as a gift. Or if you go at all…

More help:

Finances are a balancing act at the best of times but these many ‘one-off’ occasions do provide additional pressure to consider so to address these findings, Experian created a Money & Relationships Guide to help people understand what we know can be quite a complex series of topics – in jargon-free, easy-to-understand language. All of the guides are available online and can help us get our heads around how credit referencing works, and the good, the bad and the surprising when it comes to managing your finances.

Additionally I’ve actually found the solution to wedding gifts. But I am a little crafty and have some fabulous kit. Look out for my step by step guide to creating the perfect and cost effective gift your next wedding…

Have fun and happy nuptials!

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