Wedding season is in full force as getting married during a pandemic was not appealing for many couples.
But with the average cost of accepting a wedding invitation now standing at £567, it it comes as no surprise that that people are having to turn down the big occasion when the cost of living is so high.
Research by Experian recently found that a quarter (24%) of guests cannot afford to attend all the weddings they have been invited to. The study revealed that the cost of living crisis meant a third of invitees had to decline a wedding, stag do or hen party this year.
With over one in five (21%) guests claiming they might stay awake all night to avoid paying for a hotel room and three in 10 (29%) only planning to attend if it doesn’t require an overnight stay
However, you can still say yes to the invite as there are ways to save money at the wedding. Here we share Which?’s top 10 tips.
1. Share a car and search for cheap petrol
According to Experian, on average, travel for a wedding costs £98.80.
If driving to the location, Which? suggests guests should check if there are other guests attending that they could car share with and therefore split the cost of petrol.
If there’s a long drive ahead, make sure you shop around for the cheapest fuel. Don’t waste the extra cost of premium fuel at the pumps — super unleaded fuel can cost as much as 10p to 15p extra per litre. Which? also found that fuel from supermarket forecourts is usually cheaper.
2. Book taxis ahead
If travelling to the venue by taxi, costs can soar if it's in a remote location. Which? suggests booking in advance as lots of rural locations don’t have Uber or Bolt.
Booking early also allows you to secure a good price for the journey and avoid late-night surges. Sharing a taxi with a group will also keep the cost down.
3. Book accommodation early
It’s worth booking or reserving a room as soon as you get an invite to save on costs.
Many hotels let guests reserve rooms at a cheaper price — sometimes with the option to cancel free of charge if needed — in advance.
Which? found that Travelodge had a number of "saver rates", which must be booked in advance — the earlier guests book, the better rate they get. Some saver rooms can be booked up to 12 months in advance.
Similarly, Premier Inn also had an advance rate, allowing guests to amend their booking on a like-for-like basis up to 1pm on arrival day, and offer a full refund if they cancel their stay at least 28 days before arrival.
4. Use price comparison websites but book with the hotel directly
Price comparison sites usually find the best deals for hotel rooms.
When Which? put them to the test, Trivago found the cheapest price most consistently. Meanwhile, Kayak, Skyscanner, TravelSupermarket and TripAdvisor all found the lowest price at least two out of five times.
Once you’ve chosen your hotel, it’s worth speaking to them directly to negotiate an even lower price. It’s often possible to get a cheaper deal directly as large booking sites charge a commission and rate-parity clauses prevent hotels from advertising lower rates on their website.
5. Consider camping
Especially handy for countryside weddings, it could be even cheaper to camp rather than staying at a hotel — especially for those who already own camping equipment or a campervan.
Check if there’s a local campsite nearby which will usually have toilet and washing facilities.
If the wedding is being held in a rural location on private land, you may be able to ask the organisers if there is any provision for camping at the location.
6. Book as a group
If attending a wedding with friends or family, it’s worth searching for family-sized accommodation where everyone could stay and split the cost.
This will vary depending on what's available in the area, and how far in advance you book, so it's worth checking several options on different booking sites.
7. Buy your outfit second-hand
According to Experian, the average cost of a wedding outfit is £113.20 — and if buying multiple outfits per year, costs could easily rack up.
Buying second-hand clothes and shoes is an easy way to save money and doesn’t cost the planet.
Expensive brands can often be found for a fraction of the price in charity shops, car boot sales, online marketplaces such as eBay (EBAY), or via apps such as Depop and Vinted.
A recent Which? survey placed Vinted on top for buying hand-me-downs with a customer satisfaction score of 75%.
8. Rent an outfit
Apps such as By Rotation, My Wardrobe HQ and Hurr will let users rent clothes for a wedding for a fraction of the cost of buying a new outfit, although prices vary. Most apps add a small usage fee, so be sure to check the terms and conditions.
9. Contribute towards a group gift or honeymoon
With wedding gifts costing £115.10 on average, guests could link up with others attending the wedding to provide a bigger, more expensive gift, while spending less money per person.
Apps such as Splitwise can help track who owes what.
Guests could also donate towards the couple’s honeymoon instead of buying a gift.
10. Use cashback sites
When buying wedding gifts, check if you can get rewarded for your spending. For instance, cashback sites give cash rewards when users click through from them to make a purchase.
Quidco and TopCashback offer cashback on a variety of goods and services, and experience days. When Which? checked in June, shoppers could claim 16.5% on Moonpig at TopCashback for any wedding cards, and up to 10% cashback on Bloom and Wild flowers.