How Much Weddings Cost in 2014


One of the bonuses of writing a budget and tracking your spending is that, at the end of each year, you can add up the numbers and find out what your totals were for each category. This past weekend, I attended my final wedding of the year. Many of you (and family and friends) have commented that 2014 has been a busy year of weddings for me. I can’t deny that, but I think it’s seemed especially crazy because 4 of the 6 I attended took place in the past 6 weeks. Anyway, now that the last one is over, I decided to add up the numbers and see how much money weddings cost me in 2014. Are you ready for this…?

Bridesmaid x 1

In April, I was a bridesmaid in one of my girlfriend’ weddings. We’ve been friends since we were 11 years old, so there was no question of whether or not I’d accept her invitation to be in the bridal party – but it certainly wasn’t cheap. The bridal shower, bachelorette party + wedding were all in Victoria, so I had to make 3 separate trips to the island for those. As a member of the wedding party, I had to pitch in for the bridal shower + bachelorette party. Then I had to buy gifts for the bridal shower + wedding. I also had to pay for my dress + alterations, shoes and some other wedding-related expenses that I just labelled “wedding”. I took out and used cash for a bunch of purchases in Victoria, so there were some estimates in this budget, but I always overestimated and punched in a little more than I probably spent.

Here are the final numbers:


Altogether, it cost me $1,417.47 to be a bridesmaid in 1 wedding this year. Compared to other weddings I’ve been in / heard about, this actually seems somewhat cheap – especially considering that 30% of my budget was spent on travel. What do you think? Is this fairly average? What’s the most it has cost you to be in a wedding party?

Guest x 5

From September 6th – October 18th, I attended 4 other weddings as a guest. The first was my boss’. I decided to get my nails done (an “other” cost) when I was in Ontario, which lasted for both her wedding + Kathleen’s wedding in Portland. You may also remember that I bought a dress to wear. Surprisingly, though, I didn’t incur any travel costs for either of these 2 weddings. Work paid for my extended trip to Toronto in August/September, and I was already planning on going to Portland before Kathleen invited me to her wedding. No, the travel costs all came from my trips to Denver + Victoria, for the 2 weddings this month. There was also a fifth wedding I was invited to in the summer, which I couldn’t attend but still wanted to give the bride a gift for. So, I went to 4 weddings, but still felt like I was a “guest” at 5. Cool?

Here are the final numbers:


Altogether, it cost me $2,181.61 to attend 5 weddings this year. I know that sounds like a lot of money (and it is), but my trip to Denver accounts for almost 2/3 of that, because I had to pay for flights/hotel/rental car. Even with the discounts my Visa Infinite credit card got me, it was still an expensive trip. (Thank goodness for freelance income, which paid for most of it!)

In total, I spent $3,599.08 on weddings in 2014. YIKES, right!? That’s about 7% of my annual budget (including freelance income). When you break it down, the cost per wedding isn’t actually that high, but the grand total does give me something to think about. Considering that I don’t ever plan on having a big wedding myself, it feels a little crazy to think about the fact that I’ve spent so much money on other people’s big days – not that I regret any dollar spent, it’s just a little ironic. Fortunately, my 2015 wedding calendar is looking pretty empty, so I don’t think I’ll see a repeat of this anytime soon. But who knows – a few of this year’s weddings were a surprise to me…

Have you ever had a busy year of weddings? How much do you think they’ve cost you?

  • This was me last year too! We had 5 weddings to attend and I was a bridesmaid in three of them. It certainly got expensive, but, like you said, I wouldn’t have turned down any of the brides. I am thankful that the bridesmaid dresses were simple, knee-length cocktail dresses that I have been able to wear again–whew! We don’t have any weddings on the horizon for 2015 either, which I’m actually thankful for.

    • I was supposed to be a bridesmaid in 3 weddings last year! Yea – supposed to be. (Will discuss on Wednesday.) It was really expensive, and I didn’t even make it down 2 of the aisles, lol. Cheers to a quiet 2015 ;)

  • Whoa – and I felt like I had a lot of weddings to attend! (3) We’re just at that age where all of our friends are getting married. Luckily, most of them are having simple weddings, with one or two bridesmaids, so I don’t make the bridesmaid cut, but between a dress to wear to the wedding post-baby, a gift and a sitter for the kiddo, they can be really expensive!

    • Even though 2015’s wedding calendar looks pretty empty, I still think I’ll be a bridesmaid at least… I don’t know, 3-5 more times!? *lists names in head* Yep, at least that. Most of my closest girlfriends aren’t married yet! A few are engaged, but some aren’t. And then if we assume Baby Sis asks me to stand up for her one day, I’d say I’ll def be closer to 5-7. Oh boy…

  • I was a bridesmaid in one wedding this year and I totally agree, it’s not cheap but I wouldn’t bow out over the cost. So worth it to be part of a loved one’s big day! Fingers crossed 2015 won’t be as nuts for you ;)

  • In 2013 my wife was a maid of honor, a bridesmaid, a guest and we also got married so you could say that we attended 4 weddings. With the exception of our wedding, all others were traditional, large and with certain levels of expectations. My wife ended up spending close to half of what our entire wedding cost on attending the other 3 weddings (around $4,000. Being a maid of honor is expensive!). Travel didn’t play a huge role in her attendance as all weddings were within 400 km of where we live and hotels cost us around $450.

    Our entire wedding cost a fraction of what each of the other weddings cost and the maid of honor and bridesmaids were asked to wear whatever made them comfortable. I am sure they spent a good deal of money trying to look nice, but we just wanted everyone to be comfortable and have fun.

  • I was a bridesmaid in a wedding 3 years ago. The bride was quite nice about the whole thing. We could wear whatever (black) shoes we wanted, but the dresses matched ($350+$50 for alterations). Then hair and makeup the day of was about $150 (!). Gifts and throwing the shower was another $300. The bachelorette was cancelled due to a death in the family, but it would have been another $200+. So that’s over $1,000… Yeesh, it ain’t cheap being a bridesmaid.

    • Whoaaa to hair and makeup. I’ve been lucky, so far, in that the two brides I’ve stood up for have either offered to pay for hair/makeup or the dress – so then we were only left with one cost. But yea, it still ain’t cheap!

  • Thank God most of our friends are married we’re waiting on 2 more whicb will likely be 2 years away at least. Can you imagine if you didn’t budget?

    • NO. I was stressed enough back in Feb/Mar/Apr WITH these amounts in my budget, haha… I can’t imagine just spending my money willy nilly.

  • Great post Cait.

    This is why as much as I love weddings…they can be a bit much.

    My sister is getting married next year so let the saving begin.

  • Wow that’s a lot of weddings! I only attended one wedding (besides my own) this year. I had three friends get married on the same exact day (this happened last year as well!) and that cut down on my costs. It did stink to miss two other weddings though.

  • Luckily the years of wedding insanity appear to be behind me as most of my friends married in 2010-2011. I’d say your costs are what I would anticipate for someone who is a generous gift giver.

    • I think I’ll have another busy year… maybe in 2016? We’ll see, I guess! Maybe I should start saving now, haha.

  • I was a bridesmaid in one wedding and invited to 3 others. I think I spent around $2,000 however; it would have been much more if I were attending one in the Dominician and if I had not purchased two flights through aeroplan. Not cheap but I’m happy I could attend 3/4!

    • That’s awesome! And way to use your Aeroplan Miles for something good. I hope you’ll have some time to relax during that trip :)

  • I’m in the thick of the wedding storm right now (late-twenties – yay!) and it’s causing me so much money stress! 10 upcoming weddings and the proposals keep on coming. I don’t even want to think about my own wedding. Maybe we’ll just elope and save us (and everyone else) the headache :)

    • TEN weddings!? Holy jeez, Christine. I’m sending all my good budgeting vibes your way! (And elope! Seriously. That’s my plan.)

  • My boyfriend and I were invited to three weddings this year and we went to two (two of them conflicted, so we had to pick). I wasn’t in the bridal party for either, but I went to the bridal shower and bachelorette party for one. We agreed that whoever’s friend it was paid for the gift, but we paid for our own travel.

    All in all, I spent $200 on wedding and bridal shower gifts, including cards.
    The out of town wedding cost about $980 in travel for my portion and my boyfriend spent a similar amount.
    The bachelorette party cost about $935, but its wedding was local and we took the bus there, so the only expense was a cab home that my boyfriend paid for.
    I spent about $2,115 with 2 weddings + 1 extra gift this year, which is a large sum of money.

    We are already invited to one wedding in 2015 and possibly a second. My estimate for the two is about $1,825 since they’ll both require travel.

    I went to a wedding that required travel in 2013, but I used miles for the flights and I stayed with friends, so it only cost me about $400 – much better than these weddings have been costing me lately.

    • You’re a good friend to travel to the other parties leading up to the big day! I don’t know that I’d spend $935 on a bachelorette party. Well, maybe if it was a group of my really good girlfriends and we went on vacation. :)

      It’s also good you know about next year’s wedding(s) now, so you can start planning for it! I *might* be in a wedding next year, but it’s up in the air right now. I’ll likely still set aside a little money for it… just in case!

  • Wow! That’s a lot to spend on weddings! But I’m sure you enjoyed yourself, and you did go to a lot!
    Next year is our busy year for weddings – I’m in 2, and am getting married as well…trying to keep the costs down for everyone!

  • I’ve gone to weddings sporadically over the years. Thankfully I haven’t had a lot in the same year. I actually hate weddings. lol. I’ve lived in fear of someone asking me to stand for them. I managed to avoid it for many years. But I will be standing in my first wedding in Halifax in 2016. It’s going to be expensive because of the flight plus all the other expenses. But we because fast friends last year and I know that she thinks a lot of my friendship. I’ve been a bit of a mentor to her, an older sister perhaps. So I couldn’t say no. Not that she really gave me that choice. Ha ha.

    • 2016, eh? Lots of time to plan/save, at least! It’s nice you’ll stand up for her on her big day, Trista. :)

  • 2 years ago I was invited to 9 weddings between April and December – but I only attended 3. I couldn’t afford to travel which cut out 6 of the weddings (which were for friends from college and my boyfriend-at-the-times friends). Thankfully the 3 that were in town didn’t end up costing me much. After all is said and done, I’d imagine I spent about $500 total. Had I traveled it easily could have cost me $5000!

    • Whoaaaa, I can’t even imagine going to 9! I know you didn’t, but that’s a crazy amount of invitations to get.

  • Whoa.

    I’ve been to one wedding this calendar year.

    G and I had to turn down one invitation because it was taking place in Canmore, Alberta, about two weeks after we moved from Vancouver to Toronto. It would have cost us about $1,000 to get out there, plus hotel and car rental and gifts. It just wasn’t feasible.

    The other one was local, which was nice. So, it didn’t end up costing us too much other than a gift and a cab ride home.

    I’ve never been a bridesmaid, and now I feel kind of glad about that. I can’t image wanting to spend more than $300 on a dress someone chooses for me. Heh.

    • Yea, I wasn’t thrilled about the price of the dress (or alterations). But I’m going to try and sell it now. Could be a good grad dress for someone.

  • no, I did not go to any weddings but I moved and that costed me $850 for 1st month and deposit rent. I paid at least $600 to pay the individuals to help me move and clean my previous apartment to move. I also paid over $300 for storage items for the bathrooms and groceries. I am glad that you enjoyed the various weddings of your friends and employer and traveling. That is great. Have a great Halloween if you celebrate it in Canada.

  • I am so scared to tally how much I have spent on weddings the past year and a guest and a bridesmaid. It is expensive – but I would definitely do it over again for some of my friends ;)

  • I was the maid of honor for my best friend’s wedding. No WAY I was saying no to her. On the plus side because the wedding was in the city we both live in I didn’t have to pay for any travel or a hotel room so yay to that! Otherwise I did pay for my dress, shoes and alterations (285 altogether), hair, makeup and part of the bachelorette party. But then the bride gave everyone in her party $100 to help offset the costs so that was cool and the shoes I got I can wear with a ton of outfits so that’s also a bonus. I’m going to say I got lucky in terms of the cost I paid.

    • I’ve worn the shoes I got for the wedding in April many times too – usually to other weddings, haha. It’s nice when that kind of stuff works out.

  • Oh my goodness that’s a ton of money spent on weddings!!! I’ve only been in two weddings thus far in my life and spent close to $1500 on both. What’s funny is my husband and I eloped, spending $300 TOTAL on our wedding…so he always joked about how I spent more on my friends’ weddings than our own lol!

    • YOU HAD MY DREAM WEDDING, Sarah! I just wanna say the words, kiss and be done with it. So I’ll likely make the same jokes about myself one day :)

  • There were a few years when we knew a lot of people getting married and a lot of the weddings were halfway or all the way accross the country. So, the most expensive part of going to weddings is the travel (flights/hotel/car/tax/etc). The other expenses I’d incur besides travel is the gift, and sometimes a new dress (often because I looked at weddings a chance for me to get another cute dress!) but I never spent a ton on dresses ($50 or less).

    But I wouldn’t skip those weddings! Definitely wanted to go to all of them :)

    I wrote a blog post a few years ago about how much weddings cost for guests, because travel for weddings was becoming such a big part of my spending! Though, this did help me understand when wedding guests from far away weren’t able to make it to my wedding…and also make it even more heartwarming when they did come, because I knew how much effort had to be made for them to get to our wedding!

    • Totally. I’ve only had to decline one wedding because it required travel. At the time, I was 22, the trip would’ve been $2,000+ (destination wedding in the Dominican) and I had a ton of credit card debt. Had I not been in that situation, I would’ve gone. (Still regret it, but what can ya do?)

  • Hubby and I have been lucky and the weddings in our lives were spread out. The last wedding we attended was my sister’s, where of course I was in the wedding party. I think the estimated costs were:
    Bachelor party $400
    Bachelorette party $100 (girls stayed in, boys went out, overnight)
    Dress and shoes: $400
    Travel – 2 nights in the hotel was about $300
    Gift: $100
    Dog boarding – $200
    Total (I am sure I am missing some meals while we were away for the weekend) – $1500 (which by the way is half of what we spent on our entire wedding).

    My sister was kind enough to pay for our hair, and a cousin of the groom is a make up artist who volunteered to do all our make up.

    It is amazing how quickly the costs for one day add up!

      • Ok – in fairness this was just over 18 years ago, we got married at 21, as students with no $. I would assume it would be a little bit more now!

        I bought $100 dress, he bought a suit (which was his suit for a few years).
        We got married in a church.
        We had a buffet lunch for our 27 guests, followed by a tea for more friends.
        3 weeks after the wedding we had a night reception with a dj and snacks in my home town.

        I did my own hair and make up. I wore shoes I already owned. We didn’t have a photographer (maybe the only thing I might change). Our cake was a wedding gift. Our flowers were very simple (I carried 3 salmon roses like my mom had). We bought cash and carry flowers for our tables.

        It was very simple. It was more than I needed (I would have been happy going to city hall). We started our lives with no wedding debt, just student debt.

        Even if I were to do it again now, with an actual income, I wouldn’t spend $ on one day.

  • This is such an important blog! Many of the people who come and see me are stressed so much because of all (one person had 9!!!) the weddings they are invited to, including destinations. A couple recently came to see me and they had committed to taking their family of 4 (including 2 young children) to a destination wedding with a cost of $5,300. They had no money saved up and would have had to finance it. After a long discussion they decided only he would go (it is his sister) which they could manage. I know it’s important to be a part of weddings but not at the risk of getting into debt and spending months or years to pay it off.

    • You’re right, Judith – weddings are fun, but they are definitely not something we should go into debt for. (Neither should the happy couple, for that matter!)

  • I’ve attended four weddings each year for the past three years. Luckily they were all as a guest and not bridal entourage. That still racked up about $500-$2,000 per wedding, so ouch!

    I do not regret it at all and loved celebrating with friends and loved ones, and at least 2015 is looking pretty quiet for weddings… but then again, I realize now I have to go to a TON of baby showers! ;)

    • Whoa, those are some expensive weddings! Is that because you had to travel for some?

      And yes: first comes love, next comes marriage, then comes a baby in the baby carriage, lol.

      • Yep, travel was the culprit. In fact, this year I had to fly back to Asia for a wedding and the ticket alone cost $1,400… sooo yeah. Ouchies. :P

  • Was sooooo lucky to have zero weddings this year as the last 7 years there’s been at least 1 each year and most required travel of some sort. I wasn’t in the wedding party of any of those so they weren’t quite as expensive. I know of one next year but not much travel (in Ontario) and again not in the wedding party. I think what you spent was mostly reasonable and if you feel that you could afford to do so, then it doesn’t really matter :)

    • Thanks, Morgaine. Yep, I’m comfortable with the amount I spent – especially considering I travelled to the US for two of them. I’d still be happy to never have another year that included 6+ weddings though, haha. One/year sounds nice ;)

  • Great summary of your costs ~ I don’t think the couple really think about what it will cost others to attend. I tried to do what I could for my guests and bridal party but I guess it still costs money.
    I have been to 2 weddings this year. Costs approaching $6,000. One was a destination wedding that I couldn’t avoid without being disowned.

  • Our friends got married years ago, but we did have to go to their weddings and it was pretty costly. You did great though, I don’t think it cost you that much and it’s because you did some smart budgeting, that’s for sure ;)

    • Yes, despite the large total at the bottom, I actually feel good about what each individual wedding cost. The bridesmaid costs were fairly standard, as was the solo trip to Denver. I’d do them all again. :)

  • While I understand the frustration of having to go to (and therefore spend money on) so many weddings, I wish that the dialogue of weddings as an “extra expense” and therefore an expensive annoyance would change. Weddings – expensive, not expensive, free – are important life events, and I think they should be budgeted as such. When people say “the couple really didn’t think about OUR perspective,” it raises my hackles. Of course they did! I lost so much sleep over how much people were spending to come to my wedding (which, if you were from out of town, was quite a bit!).

    However, at the end of the day, it meant so much to me to have those people there, and I try to put being a guest at weddings in that perspective. This time of our lives is important, and I should earmark money for these special events – in the same way I earmark money for the other necessities in my life.

    Of course, if you can’t afford the weddings you are invited to, you shouldn’t go. I’m not saying that you should go into debt! And there are very real situations where it is not feasible for many people to place that financial burden on themselves. Nevertheless, I do think that people don’t give weddings their proper due diligence in their budgets. Reframing why you are spending that money is an important exercise for those of us in the “prime wedding attendee age.”

    That said, Cait, I appreciate your perspective on the money you spent on weddings this year. You acknowledge that it was a fair amount of money, and we SHOULD open that dialogue so people know what they may end up spending while being a guest. However, I think you ALSO wisely prioritize saving this money and the reasons behind saving it. In doing so, I think you’re (implicitly) telling your loved ones that their seminal life events are worth saving for and spending money on.

    • I totally see your point, Annie, and would probably feel the same if I were ever a bride. I think if people only had 1 wedding to go to each year, it probably wouldn’t feel like a financial burden; it’s the years where there are multiple weddings where it just does start to take up a larger portion of your budget and, therefore, can’t help but feel like an expense. When you have to plan your budget around the costs of multiple weddings, I think it’s a normal reaction for people to feel some stress about the financial side of it. (For example, I could barely save in Feb-Apr, because of my bridesmaid costs.) Of course, I would do it all again and spend all the money again, on each of the weddings above + others in years before. Like you said, it was important for me to be there – and I accepted each invitation without hesitation. But it still took good financial planning to make it happen! This post was definitely meant to serve as a reminder of that.

    • Hi Cait. I have not gone to a wedding in a long time. The last time was for a former roommate when we both lived in the Marshall Islands. She had a more formal gown and I just wore a more casual dress instead of shorts like we usually did to go to work since it was so hot. She looked beautiful and we all had a wonderful time. Her daughter flew to the island and I think was her bridesmaid but the rest was open to all of her and his friends on island. I do believe that the meal and party afterwards was catered but we had a great time for all.

      I do believe that if a love one or friend is getting married and you want to be part of the ceremony then talk with them about the costs to have the cost of the gowns more simple and less. The day is for the bride to be over the top so if anyone is in financial bind, speak to your friends or love one about the costs. You never know what you might come up with a more simple idea for their wedding and have more fun.

  • Holy crap, that is expensive! Luckily I haven’t had any weddings to attend this year. I was a bridesmaid once and the bride kindly covered the dress and shoes. Plus, she had a local wedding so I really didn’t have to spend much at all, except for the gift.

    • The total seems high, but I knew being a bridesmaid in one wedding + travelling to Denver for another wouldn’t be cheap, so I budgeted/planned for it. And I’m glad I did.

Comments are closed.