This Is How Much It Costs to Attend a Wedding as a Guest Today

The price might surprise you.
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
by Sarah Hanlon
sarah hanlon associate editor the knot
Sarah Hanlon
Associate Editor
  • Sarah is an Associate Digital Editor for The Knot, with special focuses in fashion, pop culture and wedding trends.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Sarah was a contributing writer for Bravo at NBC Universal.
  • Sarah has a degree in journalism and resides in New York City.
Updated May 20, 2020
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If you've attended a wedding, you know the price of being a guest adds up over time. From choosing an outfit to buying a gift and making travel and lodging arrangements, attending a wedding can be expensive. And since the average cost of a wedding fluctuates year over year, it only makes sense that the price of being a wedding guest changes too. So, how much does it actually cost to attend a wedding today? We've got the answer.

How Much Does it Cost to Attend a Wedding? 

Based on an internal study of 1,000 guests who attended at least one wedding in the past year, the average cost of being a wedding guest in 2019 was $430. However, this number fluctuates based on factors like location and proximity, the type of wedding and the relation of the guest to the couple. The average guest spend for a wedding based in their hometown (that didn't require travel or lodging) was $185. Those who drove out of town spent approximately $600, and guests who flew to a wedding reported an average spend of $1,440. This grand total also includes the average spend on a wedding gift

Our research indicates that couples added about $155 to their total spend if they purchased a new wedding outfit. However, spend on clothing was generally higher if they attended the wedding as a close friend ($165) and lower if they attended as a casual friend ($95). 

The location has the greatest impact on the cost of attending a wedding. Guests who went to an out-of-town wedding spent up to six times more than those who did not travel. Transportation and lodging were cited as the two most expensive (and important) factors to out-of-town guests. Nearly half of all out-of-town guests use rental cars, while 23 percent opt for rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. 

When it came to finding accommodations, price and location were what guests prioritized, followed by where friends were staying, proximity to local attractions and whether the stay came with free breakfast. In 2019, 82 percent of out-of-town wedding guests stayed in a hotel, while 22 percent booked a vacation rental (like Airbnb or Vrbo). Just 10 percent chose to stay in a traditional bed and breakfast or inn. 

Despite these numbers, guests would choose to stay at home if it's a viable option. About 45 percent of all respondents did not get alternative accommodations in order to spend less money, while 34 percent stayed with friends and family. 

Ultimately, the cost of attending a wedding is important to guests. Over half of out-of-town guests who had to fly researched travel costs before RSVPing, while guests within driving distance looked into the venue location first. (About 45 percent of in-town guests didn't do any research at all before committing to attend.) 

Specifics aside, guests are likely to know whether they'll attend a wedding regardless of cost and before a formal invitation arrives in the mail. Roughly 60 percent of all respondents said they knew they'd attend the wedding before receiving any formal invitation, proving that their relationship with the to-be-weds far outweighs the cost of attending their wedding.

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