This is how much Americans spend to attend a wedding

Senior Writer
Yahoo Finance

It’s truly an honor to stand by your friend’s side as she exchanges vows with her beloved and takes her first steps toward marital bliss. If only those precious moments could make up for the exorbitant costs that come with being a part of her special day.

Members of the wedding party spend an average of $728 on gifts, travel and attire for the wedding, bachelor or bachelorette party and shower, according to a new Bankrate report.

The average price varies depending on where you live. Northeastern wedding party members should be prepared to shell out even more than that, with an average all-in cost of $1,070 to participate in all three events.

While those figures may be eye-boggling, it’s actually an extremely conservative estimate. According to figures from leading wedding website The Knot, a destination bachelorette party alone costs on average $1,106 ($1,532 for a bachelor). That typically includes all the costs for the bride- or groom-to-be, which, more often than not, partygoers tend to split.  

Pre-nuptial costs

In a 2017 report, Zillow calculated how much cash is needed for a 20% down payment on a home, and how much of that money is going toward bachelorette parties instead. If I attend just nine of these trips in a lifetime, I will have spent up to $9,954, or 24.8% percent of a down payment on the median U.S. home.

Of course, not everybody would necessarily save that money for a down payment if they didn’t spend it boozing with the bride-to-be. But they would be wise to do so.

With 80% of millennial renters wanting to purchase a home (and 69% say owning a home is necessary to live The American Dream), it’s not as if young adults don’t want to buy a home — they just don’t have the means to buy one.

Still, it’s tough for most young people to avoid pre-wedding celebrations just so they can save up for a down payment. Most of us live spread out from our friends from different eras of our lives — and even without making a trip to Las Vegas or Austin, the chances of us staying local to celebrate our friends’ engagements are highly unlikely. I personally find this extravagant spending untenable and have successfully convinced two friends to plan staycation weekends in Brooklyn instead.  

Average guest goers

Of course, guests who aren’t even part of the wedding party still dole out a lot of money to simply attend a wedding. Guests attending weddings for a close friend or family member spend an average of $628 on wedding festivities. If you’re attending weddings and related events for more distant friends or family members, you should expect to spend an average of $372, according to Bankrate, which surveyed 2,228 U.S. adults.

“Wedding season can be a stressful time, and not just for the bride and groom,” said Bankrate analyst Robert Barba. “While it’s fun to celebrate with friends and loved ones, the associated costs add up fast and can wreak havoc on your budget if you’re not prepared. It’s imperative to start planning early – open a dedicated savings account to start your own wedding fund.

“You shouldn’t go into debt to celebrate others. If you feel you can’t afford the financial burden of attending, think twice before RSVPing,” he added.

It should go without saying, but you shouldn’t be funding a friend’s happiness at the expense of your own financial health.

Melody Hahm is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance, covering entrepreneurship, technology and real estate. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm.

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