Average cost of attending a wedding is £800 a couple

  • £400 bill per person includes £153 on stag & hen party and £249 on ceremony
  • Quarter surveyed decline wedding invite because of the cost
  • Men spend most on pre-wedding jaunts, while women splash out on the big day
  • Northern Irish most generous when it comes to gifts, while Welsh spend the least

Couples face an average bill of £800 each time they attend a wedding, according to a survey on the wider costs associated with tying the knot.

The new Nationwide Current Accounts research1, which polled 2,000 adults who have attended a wedding, follows an inaugural survey in 20152. It shows that the average cost per person of attending a wedding - from the stag and hen party, buying gifts and clothes, and attending the ceremony – is just over £400. This represents a modest £23 increase since the 2015 survey.

But with many guests attending multiple ceremonies, saying yes could cost them much more. The significant financial outlay is given as the reason why a quarter of people (25%) have declined a wedding invitation, while around one in six (16%) have become overdrawn or borrowed money to be able to attend.

The survey shows male wedding guests spend £21 more than female wedding guests, £411 compared to £391. However, women are catching up, having increased their overall spend by £38 since Nationwide’s 2015 survey, while men spend only £8 more.

The cost of attending a wedding can be broken down into two elements – pre-wedding celebrations and the ceremony itself:

Pre-wedding celebrations
The poll shows those who take part in the stag or hen do spend an additional £153, with over a quarter (27%) spending more than £200 per occasion. However, stags still spend more than hens (£171 vs £134) partying, possibly as they tend to go further afield, with double the amount of men celebrating abroad compared to women (12% vs 6%). Although, the traditional local night out on the town (41%) remains the most popular choice.

Since 2015, those aged 25 to 34 have overtaken the 18 to 24 age group as spending the most, at £217 compared to £199 (£18 more), with the amount still steadily declining as people reach 55 and over, where it more than halves to an average of £104.

Breakdown of stag and hen party spend:
When it comes to what stag and hens spend on each element of the pre-wedding celebrations, hens only spend more than stags on the outfit, where stags spend more on all other elements.

  Combined Female Male
Outfit £20 £25 £15
Drink £44 £36 £52
Food £32 £30 £34
Travel £33 £30 £36
Spending Money £38 £34 £42
Activity £20 £20 £20
Hotel £29 £27 £31

The wedding ceremony
Nationwide’s research shows guests are spending an average of £249 on the wedding day itself - £28 more than in 2015. This includes paying for new outfits, gifts, travel, hotel stays and drinks. However, almost a quarter (22%) spend over £300. Since 2015, women have overtaken men as the biggest wedding day spenders, at £257 compared to £241 for men. Younger guests - those aged 18 to 24 - still spend the least (£141), while those aged over 55 spend the most on attending the wedding ceremony (£301).

When it comes to gifts, people in Northern Ireland are the most generous, spending £64, while people in Wales are the least generous spending £24 less (£40). The younger age groups are also less generous, spending £30 less than those aged over 55 (£29 compared to £59).

The cost of attending a typical wedding is broken down as follows:

  Combined Female Male
Outfit £40 £47 £33
Gift £47 £49 £45
Drink £31 £28 £34
Travel £29 £29 £29
Taxi £14 £14 £14
Hotel £33 £35 £32
Meals £21 £21 £22

Regions (total spend including stag/hen do and ceremony)
The North East (£486 in 2017 vs £399 in 2015) overtakes Northern Ireland (£455 in 2017 vs £476 in 2015) as the biggest overall spenders, while the South West still spends the least (£356 in 2017 vs £308 in 2015). This represents a £130 gap between the highest spending region and lowest.

Londoners (22%) are most likely to take on debt to attend a wedding, while East Anglians (8%) are the least likely.

Phil Smith, Nationwide’s Head of Current Accounts, said: "Sharing a loved one’s special day is a wonderful experience. But buying a gift, finding something to wear, travelling to the wedding and staying overnight can add up, especially if you’re going as a couple, or to more than one wedding in a short period. There are plenty of ways to cut costs though, such as buying a wedding gift in the sales, recycling your outfit and sharing travel costs. Also, putting a small amount of money away each week can help manage the overall cost.

"Nationwide current account members can manage their money easily while on the move with the Society’s banking app, which includes Quick Balance, allowing balances to be checked, and Impulse Saver, giving members the ability to save small amounts with a swipe of the finger."

Notes to Editors:

  • 1One Poll research: total sample size was 2,000 UK adults who have attended a wedding. The survey ran from the 20/04/2017 to 25/04/2017.
  • 2One Poll research: total sample size was 2,000 UK adults who have attended a wedding. The survey ran from the 08/05/2015 to 12/05/2015.

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