I get really upset when I hear my friends lament having to go to wedding.
Having been on the other side as a bride, I know what a big deal it is to ask someone to share your day with you.
And that’s before you talk about the expense of their meal, drinks, the favours, place-settings, and everything else that goes up with every addition to your guest list. But the point is, you shouldn’t see your guests as walking dollar signs, either they’re important enough for you to share your day with, or they’re not, and if you want them at your wedding, you’ll make cutbacks in other areas to make it happen.
Which is why it irks me when someone sighs at the thought of another invitation landing in their letterbox (that probably cost 5 quid to send!).
But I get it, when your best friend or sibling is tying the knot, you’ve no problem at all taking a week off work, splashing out on a new suit or dress, and spending big on a meaningful gift. But when it’s your sixth wedding of the summer, and you’re really close to the bride, but you’ve only met the groom once or twice, it can be a little harder to take the hit.
I hate talking money, and I know you don’t need to spend on a new outfit or hairstyle for every wedding, but by the time you factor in travel, childcare, accommodation and gifts, it does add up, fast.
So, while I know you’re already raiding your savings for your wedding, there are a few little extras you can include that will make a big difference for your guests – not just to their bottom line, but to enhance their whole experience too.
This isn’t about making you feel guilty about having a wedding or requiring your guests to go to some expense – they’ll be glad to do it. It’s just a matter of, amid all your own budgeting and planning, being a bit more considerate to the efforts they’re taking to get to your day.
A little thoughtfulness goes a long way…
While I love a black or white tie dress code for a wedding (it’s so fancy!), if you’re trying to be considerate of expenses for your guests, a more casual dress code might be more accessible for your guests.
Lots of guests might need to buy or rent something new for a formal dress code if they don’t attend black tie occasions often – not to mention sourcing appropriate footwear or hair-styling to match.
I recently read a forum post where a guest was told it was insulting that she hadn’t bought a new outfit for a cousin’s wedding. So if you’re worried about your guests feeling pressured to buy something new regardless of your dress code, go one further and stress to your guests that they can wear anything they’re comfortable in, for your big day.
I know quite a few wedding guests who had to spend on room service or take-out after a wedding because they didn’t have enough to eat.
If your wedding is going late into the night, consider having some kind of carby snack to fill your guests for the journey home. This doesn’t have to be expensive, sandwiches, pizzas or party food platters will do the trick at midnight!
At the Bar
So I know US weddings tend to have open bars or a free drinks selection, but here in the UK we normally offer some drinks during the cocktail hour or dinner, then open up a cash bar for our guests – and that’s totally fine.
If you do have guests that are travelling a little bit further though, or some who are staying for several nights, do your best to get them a few extra drinks in, better still assign a bridal party member to do it, just to offset a little of the expense from their trip.
It’s totally up to you whether or not you have children at your wedding, but if you don’t, it’s important to remember that it may be an added expense for your guests who need to cover childcare.
Some guests will be delighted to have a weekend away from their kids, for others it’ll be a little tougher.
Whether you can organise for a group sitter to look after a bunch of kids in a single location or include children in any next-day brunches or BBQs to alleviate the expense of child-minding, any consideration at all for the parents among your guests will be greatly appreciated.
Taxis home or back to a hotel at the end of the night can be a big wedding expense for guests, particularly if your wedding is way out in the countryside.
Consider laying on buses for your guests to get to their beds, or between the ceremony and reception venues if they’re in different places.
Likewise try to choose a wedding venue with free parking, or negotiate a special rate for guests with your local taxi company or blag an Uber discount code – all gestures that won’t cost you a penny but will alleviate the expense for your guests.
Be considerate when you’re selecting the accommodation for guests, if you’re having an out-of-town wedding.
But if you’re having your reception at a pricey hotel, contact a few local hotels and B&Bs to offer your guests a more affordable option and include them with your information cards or on your wedding website.
If you choose a designated hotel for your guests to stay, try to find one as moderately priced as possible, ask about a group booking discount, or choose somewhere with an apartment option, so families or groups of friends can club together on the price of the room.
Even if you tell them not to, you guests will most likely want to give you a gift for your wedding.
If there are some guests who you’re worried won’t be able to attend your wedding because of the expense, whether they’re unemployed, studying, or just going through a tough time, you can make it clear (as tactfully as possible, without implying they can’t afford to come!) that their presence is the most important thing to you.
If you’re creating a wedding gift registry, include options for guests of all budgets, or options for group gifts, so your guests don’t think they need to spend big just to get in the door.
You should always get married on a day and month that suits you – it’s your wedding after all.
But if you have a choice of dates, and you are trying to be mindful of your guests, do try to think of a date that will be less expensive for them to travel or that will be easier for them to take time off.
Christmas for example is a pricey time to fly, but many of your guests will be taking vacation days anyway – it’s a matter of weighing up what will mean the least expense for the majority of your guests.
Pre & Post Wedding Events
Now I say this knowing I totally milked the whole ‘being a bride’ thing. I had about four different hen nights and bridal showers, but honestly they weren’t all my doing!
While it’s totally part of the fun and build-up of a wedding to have bachelorette parties and rehearsal dinners, do try to make them as informal as possible to keep the costs down for your guests.
Let them know while their attendance would be really appreciated, it’s totally fine if they can’t make it. Likewise, let your guests know they don’t need to buy you a shower gift, and keep the dress codes simple so they don’t need to buy anything specifically for your ‘ocean blue themed shower’.
If your parents, bridesmaids or groomsmen are organising these events for you, let them know that you want to keep the costs down as much as possible for anyone attending – hen and stag parties in particular can get really expensive.
A Destination Wedding
So a destination wedding is one kind of bash that is likely to get expensive for those attending, but so many guests love to make a holiday around a destination wedding, so they’ll most likely be excited to come.
When you’re inviting guests to a destination wedding, it’s important to let them know that as much as you want them there, you totally understand if, for whatever reason, they can’t attend.
Make the trip as cost effective as possible, putting everyone through a single travel agent and availing of group rates will certainly help.
Once they’re there, try to make room in your budget for a few extras, airport pick-up, a little welcome pack, or a group excursion are nice touches. Likewise cover as much of the food and drink expenses as possible, just to let your guests know you appreciate them making the trip.