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The wedding season is rapidly approaching – and for some it's already started – yet while many focus on the cost to the bride and groom, few think about the cost to the guests. Given that many people could have several weddings to attend over the course of a season, those costs could quickly escalate, as research from American Express shows.
The survey found that some 31% of Brits will attend at least one wedding this year, and they'll spend an average of £432 in the process. This means that, with typical respondents set to celebrate an average of four nuptials over the season, the cost of being a wedding guest could escalate to a whopping £1,728.
This is more than the average bride spends on her dress – which according to Brides magazine clocks in at an impressive £1,378 – and means that the total guest bill for 2017 adds up to £27.5bn. The average per-wedding expenditure may have nudged down from last year, when guests spent an average of £479 attending each wedding, but it's still a significant sum. So just where is all the money going?
Well, the largest expense for guests will be the wedding gift, where there'll spend an average of £85 (down from £102 last year), followed by hotel accommodation (£74, unchanged from a year ago), the all-important outfit (£71, down from £75) and travel to the big day (£64 instead of £94).
Then there are stag and hen dos (£57), drinks (£54) and hair and beauty expenditure (£27) – all of which remain broadly unchanged from last year's wedding season – and that's before we get to the additional costs for bridesmaids and groomsmen.
Bridesmaids will spend more than £650 for each wedding, with the hen do being the costliest outlay (£140), followed by travel (£115) and hotel accommodation (£111). Ushers, meanwhile, will spend nearly £900 to attend each wedding, largely thanks to pricey pre-ceremony celebrations which clock in at £253 – and that's before the stag do is taken into account (£124) – but they'll also be twice as generous as bridesmaids when it comes to a gift for the happy couple (£198 versus £90).
However, despite the extra expense, 77% of bridesmaids and ushers say they're excited to be part of the wedding day, and 69% are happy to spend the money taking on the special role, so hopefully it'll be money well spent.
"It is a huge compliment to be asked to celebrate a couple's special day but the costs can soon add up," said Jenny Cheung, director at American Express. "With this in mind, it's important to get your finances in order so you can focus on having fun on the big day, rather than worrying about the cost of attending a ceremony."
The research found that 18% of wedding guests put related expenditure on a credit card, so why not make those purchases work harder for you? Using one that earns cashback, for example, can be a great way to get something back from your spending, and means you can treat yourself once the celebrations are over.
If you've already got such a card, take a look at your account to see if you've racked up enough cashback or reward points to help cover the cost of a wedding gift or new outfit, which would mean you can splash out without spending a thing.
As luck would have it, we've just outlined the top six cashback credit cards currently available, which you can check out here. Alternatively, head to our Best Buys or use our credit card search tool for a complete overview of the market, and see what extra rewards you can uncover.
Or, you may want to put your wedding-related expenditure on a credit card that will allow you to pay it off in instalments, without needing to worry about interest adding to the bill. That's where 0% purchase credit cards can come in – check your credit report to make sure you'd be eligible for such a card, then compare the top interest-free deals available.
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