Wedding guests – when does a cost become unreasonable?

A wedding is a big expense. It’s also a big expense for guests. And while I don’t think anyone who loves you will seriously begrudge a small cost towards a hen do, some travel costs and a night in a hotel (especially as they’ll have months of advance warning- I mean, you’re only doing this once, hopefully) I think there are some costs that you, as the bride, should be covering.

So, yet another disclaimer, this is just my opinion – I’m more than happy for you to disagree with me (politely please!) that’s what the comment box is for.

What’s a reasonable expense?

Now, you can’t cover everyone’s wedding travel and hotel costs. Unless you’re a millionaire. And I’m not. Those are expected costs that guests have known about months, years in advance. They’re unavoidable costs, and like I said, anyone who complains shouldn’t be coming to your wedding at all. Reasonable costs include (but are not limited to)

 Travel expenses (unless they’re also a supplier – or unless you’re having a very expensive destination wedding).

 Accommodation costs for no more than two nights (at a push – one night is to be expected, two nights is a bit much) with the option of staying in an inexpensive hotel.

 Any food costs incurred outside of the wedding.

♥ Money at the bar (if it’s a pay bar).

 A new outfit for the wedding should the guest choose to buy one. However, new clothes shouldn’t be mandatory.

 The cost of coming to your hen or stag do – think of it as a one-off birthday party. For example, my hen party will cost £60. That’s the estimate cost of a big night out in Brighton (say we went to dinner and then a club? That’s roughly how much I would expect to part with over the evening) I’ve given most people between 5 – 6 months’ warning, as am getting round to telling people this week, which means if they put just over £10 per month in a little box they’d be covered. Simples.

What’s an unreasonable expense?

I know I’m going to ruffle some feathers here – but, in my humble opinion, unreasonable expenses include (but are not limited to) the following:

 Insisting somebody buy something they didn’t already have and will never need again for the sake of the wedding. If you want someone to wear something new, pay for it.

 Even if your girls have offered to pay for their dresses, insisting that they pay a couple of hundred quid for a dress they hate (I’ve actually heard this story) isn’t cool.

 Asking your friends to buy expensive flights for a destination wedding. Well, it’s OK to ask, but just accept it if they say no. Not everyone has hundreds to pay for your wedding. People coming from abroad can’t be helped – and if they’re coming all that distance I suspect it’s because you’re very, very close, but if you’re making it difficult for everyone you know to attend, you have to expect that lots of people won’t be able to cover the costs.

 Asking your friends to stay in a hotel for more than a night or two. People have lives and can’t just drop everything or save up for your wedding for as long as you are.

 Gifts. Now while it’s good social protocol to give a gift, it’s terrible manners to expect one. Moreover, giving a gift list with only the most expensive items on there is going to put a lot of people out of the game. Make sure that your gift list is varied, from small, token presents to larger gifts that family might pool their resources to get you.

 Hair and make up. Again, this is a non-essential service. If you’re expecting your bridesmaids to be professionally made over, I’m afraid this is another one you should probably pay for.

I know this post will probably divide opinion. But my general rule is, if you’re asking anyone to do more than is expected of them, ie showing up  in a nice outfit that they already own or bought of their own accord and sorting out their own travel and accommodation, then it’s a cost you should either pay or let go of the idea.

What do you think? Are the above costs fair? Or do you think guests should accept that weddings can be very expensive to attend? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

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