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The image shows a wedding ceremony room set up with white chivari chairs and every other chair has a white chiffon drape tied to it. The room also has a white aisle carpet over pine wood floor. The ceiling is low and painted white and has 3 small crystal

I can't afford your wedding - a guests perspective

If you've had someone turn down your wedding invite have you thought about why? Have you ever wondered if your guests can afford to attend your wedding? According to a recent poll, millennials especially are finding it difficult to afford to attend their friends' weddings or other big events. If you've no idea why someone wouldn't attend your wedding, read on.

Ok, let's break it down. Sure, you may be paying for their meal/s as part of your wedding plans and you've included a few free drinks, but what about your friends and family's costs for travel, hotel, gift, and outfits? It all starts to stack up.

There's a lot of pressure on guests to make sure they're wearing a brand-new outfit; you've got to be Instagram ready so can't be seen wearing something you've worn before. And that means cost. Plus weddings are often held at out-of-town locations so that means travel at the very least - sure your guests could drive if they can afford to run a car, but maybe you're planning on everyone staying in the one hotel so that everyone can get together for brekkie in the morning - more cost. And of course, if you're expecting your guests to be at the same hotel as you, you've basically dictated what kind of hotel that is. Did you look at nearby cheaper alternatives? Or were you focussed on the five-star exclusive hotel with its high-priced rooms?

TOP TIP: did you know that many hotels will allow you to just book breakfast so actually you don't necessarily need to be staying at that hotel! Budget conscious and local guests can still join you the morning after! Yay.

Then there's the gift. Some couples expect the equivalent value of what they've paid for their guests menu, so with an average two/three course meal starting at £50 per head, is that what you're hoping your guests will gift you? Obviously, some venues charge considerably more for a sit-down meal but what's your expectation? How would you feel if they gave you less than that ie what they can actually afford? I recently saw an informal survey of reception attendees who were asked how much they give 'per family' ie in total whether they are a singleton or a family, and many responded that £50 was their max, to them £100 seemed super generous, and yet you see some of the 'bridezilla' posts about how they demanded a minimum contribution of £200 +. Personally, I don't think it's reasonable for a couple to specify how much anyone should give them, and it's understandable when guests refuse to attend those weddings on that basis.

The good old-fashioned gift list was great because however much your guests spent, you knew you were getting what you want. We've moved away from that now and more couples are specifying cash, gift cards or something towards their honeymoon, which is fine, but some guests feel uncomfortable about how much they've given you being so obvious. Plus, I think it's a bit sad when you don't have something to unwrap after your wedding or party, but that's just me. I often rebel and give the couple a small gift as well as the requested cash.

So, what can you do if a guest says they'd love to come but are concerned about the money?

Firstly, please don't pressure your family and friends into spending more than they are comfortable with. Let them know you understand. Show that you've thought about options like alternate hotels in the area or put on taxis or lifts between them. Maybe consider having gift list options that allow for traditional gifts. You can't do anything about what the bulk of your guests decide to do about outfits, but if you're expecting bridesmaids or groomsmen to stump up for their own outfits and shoes, try to go for reasonably priced ideas.

Another tip: you could give bridesmaids a colour palette and let them chose their own outfit within that, I'm sorry but you cannot dictate that your bridesmaids spend hundreds on a one-use outfit in your choice of colour unless they are happy to do so

The short version for avoiding any of your guests declining you wedding invitation based purely on the cost, is to think as your guests will. Before you send out your invitations, have a think about what might help them; bear the above in mind and you'll know that you've done everything you can to show you care about more than just their attendance. Having ready answers to their potential questions will also save you time and stress later.

Happy Planning x