Big day, big money: Wedding guests spend $9 million in the region


Published: 2018-11-22 10:32

Last Updated: 2022-08-14 18:25

1,523 USD - The Cost of Accepting a Wedding Invite this year. (The Tempest)
1,523 USD - The Cost of Accepting a Wedding Invite this year. (The Tempest)

While it is a huge compliment to be invited to celebrate a couple’s special day, findings from a new study commissioned by American Express Middle East suggest that the costs can soon add up for guests in the region.

The online survey, which involved 1,655 individuals across Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and the UAE, showed that on average, a person is expected to attend four weddings this year - be it a local or at a special wedding destination - spending 5,500 USD in total.

1,523 USD - The Cost of Accepting a Wedding Invite this year

Whilst weddings can act as a boost for local economies; from hotels, restaurants, gift shops, and florists, attending the wedding party also comes with a cost for guests. Looking into the average 1,523 USD budget, the study revealed that around 330 USD is spent by guests on attending pre-wedding celebrations such as bridal showers and luncheons alone, while close to 223 USD is spent on gifts. The remaining costs are associated with attending destination weddings.

And although 48% consider the expenses of accepting a wedding invite, 38% would not turn down an invite solely for cost-associated reasons. But the stakes are higher for destination weddings, where 60% of guests would be unlikely to accept an invite due to costs, unless it's a close family member. This links back to the average spend on travelling expenses, which reached 408 USD, making it the biggest chunk of a wedding guest’s budget. Hotel stays, and accommodation came next at an average of 252 USD.

On the upside, if the happy couple chooses a destination that doubles as a mini-vacation for the guests, 57% are likely to show up.

A Big Gift for the Big Day

When looking for the perfect gift to make the couple’s big day extra special, 21% would pick up home items such as appliances, glasses and cutlery that the newlyweds could use in their new house. Nine percent would opt for gifts off the registry, while 6% would present gift vouchers. Funding honeymoon activities was favoured amongst 5% of respondents, closely followed by paying for wedding services such as the wedding cake, photography, DJ or wedding car.

Graziela Martins, VP Merchant Business at American Express Middle East, said that “being invited to celebrate someone’s wedding can be a great honor, but there are also many costs associated with attending such an event. One of the ways of helping manage these costs is to put your everyday spending on a credit card which offers payment flexibility as well as special offers and rewards points that can be redeemed for wedding-related expenses.”

Cutting Costs at No Loss

Being on the receiving end of an expensive invitation has caused some guests to make more conscious budget-friendly decisions.

The survey showed that 66% said they use offers from their card providers when attending a wedding to save money. Another 71% said they shop during sales for their outfits, and 51% save costs by clothes-swapping with other guests or mixing and matching new outfits rather than buying something new for each occasion.

More tips from American Express Middle East

Staying over – if you are needing to find accommodation to attend a wedding, check in with the bride and groom to see if they have negotiated any discount rates at neighboring hotels or are holding rooms for guests.

Get rewards on your spending – be savvy and put your wedding spend on a card that gives you rewards points to book your next holiday or treat yourself or a loved one at a later date.

Split the gift – buying the perfect gift doesn’t have to be an expensive process - you could consider splitting the price of a gift with a fellow guest meaning that you can still get something memorable and impressive, without breaking the bank.

Points make presents – check how many rewards points you have on your credit or charge card. You may well have enough to get a wedding gift with your points, which means you can give a gift without spending a penny.