Going to a friend's wedding is sending us broke.

When you’re talking about your wedding, I’m smiling. I can genuinely picture the beach setting, the live quartet the table centre-pieces you can’t stop debating.

I’m smiling, but I’m not going to attend.

While you’re listing the flower options, your dress requirements and the plans for your honeymoon, I am mentally preparing my own list.

The dress I will have to purchase. The shoes I will need to match. The hair-cut I am desperately in need of. The makeup requirements. Not to mention travel /accommodation / a gift for you to say ‘thank you’, and ‘congratulations’ and ‘all my love’.

That’s where my mind is. That’s why I can’t attend. 

On average, Australians spend around $694 to go to a wedding as a guest. (Yes, almost $700 to be a guest). Most of us will actually consider paying up to $1,300 before deciding to skip it all together.

This is according to a recent survey, which found more than a quarter of Australians (26%) have not attended a wedding because it’s too expensive. (Count me in!)

The logistics of the day – travel, accommodation, etc. – are part of it.

Then there’s the wedding gift, for which we pay, on average, $127 a pop.

Then there’re the appearance factors.

Women spend approximately $139 on a new outfit, men spend only $20 less than that on a new suit (what suit can you get for that price?). There are shoes, handbags, jewellery, hair, makeup, manicures, pedicures, spray tans to consider… the list goes on. In fact, for presentation itself, women spend around $300 and men spend almost $200 sprucing themselves up for (someone else’s) big day.


Millennials (it’s always the millennials) are the highest spending group when it comes to celebrating weddings. But it’s usually to our own detriment.

“We all love a wedding and want the best for the bride and groom,” psychologist Amanda Gordon told ING Direct who did the survey. “We celebrate so well, and so expensively, that we risk reducing our own happiness in the future.”

“Australians’ generosity with gifts and the added pressure of high travel costs is causing stress which can manifest itself in other areas of our lives. Weddings should be a joyous occasion, so practicing ‘money mindfulness’ – being aware and in control of where your money is going – is the best way to ensure you enjoy yourself without the worry,” Gordon said.

Instead of flatly refusing the happiness (and the party) that comes with attending a wedding,  John Arnott from ING, says we need to practice “money mindfullness”.

“Gender, generation and geography all play a part. Regardless of these factors, the best way to avoid breaking the bank when attending your next celebration it to be very aware of your financials and cut unnecessary costs,” Arnott said.

Budgeting ahead of time and being selective in the weddings you agree to attend can help prevent excessive spending. Also, asking for group discounts in getting your hair, makeup or nails done, and hiring a designer dress or finding something second-hand, can help keep your stress levels (and credit card debt) down, while still doing your duty as a wedding guest.

Marriage should be about love, not money, after all.

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