How much does it cost to attend a wedding? Why 2022 is 'a very expensive year' for guests

·6 min read

Levon Myers thought last year was busy with six weddings to attend. This year, he’s been invited to twice as many – and it’s costing him thousands.

With 2.6 million weddings expected in the U.S. in 2022 according to wedding website The Knot, people like Myers and his fiancée have been inundated with invitations. The couple can’t make all of the events. But the eight or nine they are attending will take up about 84 hours of travel time in the car and cost them roughly $5,000 in gas, hotels, clothes and parties for bachelors and bachelorettes.

Their own wedding this September will cost another $40,000.

Chelsea Scruton, fourth from the right, at her brother's wedding on May 30, 2021 in Tahoe Vista, California.
Chelsea Scruton, fourth from the right, at her brother's wedding on May 30, 2021 in Tahoe Vista, California.

“I’ve been calling it the summer of love,” said Myers, who lives in Virginia. “Almost every weekend (is) being taken up by a wedding.”

Tall stacks of invitations and high inflation rates are making 2022 an expensive year for wedding guests, according to wedding website Zola. A recent survey from the site found that guests can expect to spend upwards of $1,300 to attend just one out-of-state wedding.

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Myers and his fiancée have been feeling the pinch. To reduce their spending, they'regoing out less and budgeting carefully. Myers, who works in graphic design, is also making personalized wedding gifts to save money.

“(We’re) very, very frugal with money,” he said. “But we’ve saved enough that that’ll work itself out. Once that first wedding hits and it’s starting to happen every weekend, there’s not going to be any stress. It’s just having fun with it.”

How much do you pay as a wedding guest?

The average wedding guest this year is invited to five weddings and attending four, according to a May report from Zola based on a survey of more than 2,500 people.

If a wedding is within driving distance, guests are paying an average of $593 to attend. If they fly, average costs are more than double at $1,314. That includes travel, gifts and accommodations.

Costs are “definitely a little up this year,”  according to Emily Forrest, director of communications for Zola.

Zola didn’t have a pre-pandemic survey to compare its 2022 findings to, but data show inflation – which remains near 40-year highs at 8.3% – is driving up basic expenses for wedding guests.

Graphic designer Levon Myers designed a logo for 2022, which he has dubbed the "Summer of Love" due to the large number of weddings he and friends are attending this year.
Graphic designer Levon Myers designed a logo for 2022, which he has dubbed the "Summer of Love" due to the large number of weddings he and friends are attending this year.

Food bought while traveling is up 14% between April 2019 and April 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Stationery and gift wrap are up 21% over that same period, driving up the cost of wedding gifts. And as of May 14, staying at a U.S. hotel cost about 11% more compared with 2019, according to hotel data firm STR.

Getting to the weddings is also more expensive. Prices for domestic flights in April jumped 27% from the same month in 2019, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index. Gas prices continue to hit records, and car and truck rental prices rose 70% between April 2019 and 2022, according to the BLS.

But the “number one driver” of cost is the sheer number of weddings that guests are attending, Forrest said.

Zola’s survey found the average guest is invited to seven wedding-related events this year, including engagement parties, wedding showers and bachelor or bachelorette parties, underscoring, Forrest said, that “2022 is absolutely the year of the wedding."

Despite the price tags, Zola found more than three-fourths of guests are excited to attend.

“For many, this is still going to be one of the first times that they see some of their friends or family members that they haven't seen for an extended period of time,” Forrest said.

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Weddings 'getting very expensive' to attend

Navjot Pal Kaur of New York City is planning to attend three to four Indian weddings this year. Between clothing, jewelry, travel and gifts, Kaur said the multiday affairs can be "very expensive."

"I think it becomes challenging to be able to stay on top of the latest trends in weddings where, like Indians or Punjabis, we wear very intricate clothing," she said. "Sometimes it has to come from India. That requires a lot of extra expense.”

Zola found over one-third of guests are buying or renting at least three new clothing items for weddings this year.

Kaur plans to reuse some of her clothing worn at 2019 weddings but still expects to spend at least $2,100 as a guest this year.

The cost is high enough to make her reconsider her own wedding plans down the road. She wants to have a small civil ceremony where guests “don't have to bankrupt themselves.”

Navjot Pal Kaur takes a selfie at a 2019 wedding.
Navjot Pal Kaur takes a selfie at a 2019 wedding.

“I feel like weddings have become so commercialized that it’s no longer about someone's happiness. It's about aesthetics more than being comfortable in your skin,” she said.

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Wedding costs add up fast

Ryan Anderson and her fiancée are drowning in wedding invitations.

The Baltimore couple has been invited to nine weddings this year and plans to attend six. The “barebones” estimated cost to travel and attend the celebrations: $5,000. And that doesn’t include the money they’ll spend to board their dog and purchase food while they’re out of the house.

It also doesn’t account for the $15,000 they’ve budgeted for their own wedding this year.

Juggling the costs of their own wedding and others' has required weekly meetings, where the two sit down and go over what plane tickets or outfits need to be purchased next.

"There are a few things we've cut or changed from (our wedding), either because we wanted the money for something else or we wanted the money for a different wedding," Anderson said. But “I’m really excited to go to (all the weddings) – there’s a ton of people we haven’t seen in two, three years.”

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Ryan Anderson, left, and  fiancée Adrienne Turner, right.
Ryan Anderson, left, and fiancée Adrienne Turner, right.

A 'rough' year for wedding guests

Chelsea Scruton, 25, of California, has four weddings this year and another two in 2023.

She said expenses are “going to be rough," and expects to spend at least $2,000 on the weddings this year alone.

“I’ve got a couple baby showers too that are in the mix,” she added. “I feel like all my friends are either pregnant or engaged, so it's going to be a very expensive year.”

Weekday weddings – which have become more popular as Saturdays book up fast – are driving up costs.

Scruton, a teacher, is taking off two days of work this August for a Thursday wedding. The four-day event will be pricy, but Scruton is carpooling and sharing an Airbnb with friends to help drive down costs.

She is also eating out less and skipping vacations with her boyfriend this summer to cut back on spending.

“I love my friends. I don't mind celebrating them and they deserve it. But it's definitely something where it's like, we don't have the time or the money (for a trip),” she said.

You can follow USA TODAY reporter Bailey Schulz on Twitter @bailey_schulz and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter here for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cost to attend a wedding? Why 2022 is an 'expensive year' for guests

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