We’ve already talked about the angst involved in paring down the invitation list to a manageable number, and whether it’s in your best interest to let people know who aren’t being invited so they can make other plans for that Saturday a few months from now. That and the cost of your wedding are almost certainly the most intense contributors to your pre-nuptial stress. Everybody knows that weddings can be an expensive proposition, setting back those paying the bills an average of around $28K in the US. There’s the dress and the venue and the music and the food and the photography (sorry!) all adding to the price of entry. And according to The Knot, about a quarter of this year’s weddings will be of the destination type, requiring travel to exotic locales. But I have to admit I hadn’t given any thought to how expensive it is for those whose only responsibility is to show up and express their love and/or affection for the couple getting married. Maybe that’s because I get paid to go to almost every wedding I attend, rather than having to shell out a substantial part of my monthly take-home pay in order to enjoy a free dinner and some dancing. (And it could help explain why getting a plate of food from some caterers is like asking for their first born child; they know I got in for free!) But thanks to one of my favorite fellow bloggers, I now know it’s no small decision whether to accept an invitation when it means you might be eating ramen for the rest of the month as you pay off your bills.
According to a survey by American Express, 69 million of us will attend a wedding this year and the average guest (there must be a better way to phrase that) will need to part with $539 (up fifty percent over last year!) to say yes to that lovely engraved invitation. How can that be true, you might ask? The math is pretty simple, actually. About a third goes to travel, a third to something new to wear, and another third for the wedding gift. Now clearly you can cut some corners on this, but it’s still a considerable commitment when you consider that the average (ouch! there it is again) wedding guest is in their mid- to late twenties and not yet at the top of the earning pyramid. And if you have the (mis?)fortune to be tapped to be in the wedding party, you can rack up even more renting a tux or (in the case of bridesmaids) buying a dress you wouldn’t be caught dead in again at anything but a zombie costume party. More than two-thirds of bridesmaids say they will either give their dress to a thrift shop or family friend, and the other third probably lied to the person taking the survey. At least the guys get to take their outfits back so someone else can pay to wear it.
Which brings us to the curious case of Christopher Sledzik. Yes, THAT Christopher Sledzik (the guy on the right in the picture). The one who attended twelve weddings last year, three as a member of the bridal party, at a cost of somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000. Well you might ask if Chris sold his internet startup for a billion dollars or is the sole heir to a Saudi oil fortune, but no. He’s a 27-year-old guy with a good job who really wanted to be there for his friends, even if it meant putting that entire $10K on a credit card he’ll be paying off for years. If there were a poster child for Most Devoted Wedding Guest Ever, he would be found in that photo above.
So I promise I’ll be more understanding the next time a caterer seems a little reluctant to give food to me, one of the chosen few who will be better off financially when the last dance is over. And I’ll be sure to remember Chris Sledzik.
What do you think? Have you had to pay too much to attend a wedding? Is there any way around this, especially for the wedding party? And are you one of the few bridesmaids who has actually worn the dress another time? Once again, we’d love to hear.