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Are weddings too expensive for guests?

By Sophia Carlini - 3 May 2015 52

The cost of attending someone else’s wedding quickly adds up. By the time you buy a gift, choose a dress, get your makeup done and travel to the wedding venue, it can be a pretty pricey day – and you’re not even the one getting married! Sophia Carlini has more.

Like most women, I love weddings. So when my partner Mike and I received a wedding invitation for the Easter long weekend I was pretty excited.

We opened the beautiful hand-made invitation to discover that our friends were asking guests to contribute towards their honeymoon in lieu of a gift.

I asked a number of friends as well as work colleagues for advice on the appropriate amount of money to contribute. In my mind, money is less subtle than a gift. If you buy someone a gift, they can guess how much it cost but they will actually never know for certain, whereas with $50, no amount of wrapping or bows disguises the fact that you’ve gifted a single $50 note.

I was really surprised that there wasn’t general a rule of thumb to follow. In the end we thought about how much it would cost for the bride and groom to have us at their wedding and put $300 into the invitation, leaving it on the kitchen bench for further consideration.

In the weeks leading up to the wedding I started booking myself in to get made-up. Ideally I would have liked to have gone to the one place, however, as it was the Easter long weekend I discovered that the majority of my usual options were closed. I spent a lot of time on Google searching for Canberra beauty bars and made a number of phone calls without any success.

I got my eyebrows waxed at Soma Day Spa in New Acton. This is my regular brow place and the ladies do such a fantastic job!

For my spray tan, I was recommended to a lady who works from home in Belconnen (I was desperate and my regular spray tan places were closed for the long weekend). On the day of my appointment, I spent an hour prepping myself for my tan (gosh it is hard being a woman) and drove out to Belconnen.

The lady was lovely but I had never been to her before or used the brand of tan she uses so I was a little nervous. I had told her at the time of booking that I wanted more of a glow, a light tan, as opposed to a full on tan. For anyone who’s not had a spray tan, they take time to develop so you can’t always tell how they are going to look straight away. After a couple of hours I showered and went to bed.

The day of the wedding arrived and my alarm did not go off for my 9am appointment with Napolean Perdis in the Canberra Centre. As I was rushing around to get out the door I noticed my tan – It was so far from a “glow” ….. and some parts of my tan were streaky, with my hands having  big dark streaks and the in betweens of my fingers being stark white. I attempted to wash my hands a number of times in order to fade the colour without any success. How was I going to hide this?!

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The wedding was at 12pm and I had timed my appointments to the minute. I arrived at Napoleon right on 9am where I was met by a staff member who informed me that the store could not be opened, as the girl who has the keys had had a car accident. Another staff member was on their way. I felt terrible for the girl (she’s ok by the way) but a part of me was flustered. I had already had a bit of bad luck and was feeling rushed. Was I going to miss my hair appointment?!

As the back-up Napoleon girl approached the store at 9:30am, I recognised her as my beautiful friend Laura. As soon as I saw her face I felt relieved and new she would be able to turn my day around. Laura was wonderful and I was made-up and out the door by 10:10am. The reason I love Napoleon is because you pay $85 for a make-over and receive $85 worth of make-up products of your choice – How can you go wrong?!

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I headed to down to Zaija for my hair appointment, just outside the Canberra Centre and was just on time for my 10:15am appointment. I explained to the girls that I was feeling flustered and needed them to do an amazing job that was quick …. but not too quick! I showed them a couple of pictures of what I had in mind and after a billion bobby pins and a tone of hair spray I was out the door.

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I rushed home to quickly throw on my dress and some jewellery and we were out the door and on our way to Gold Creek Chapel. We made it just on time!

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As much as I love weddings, they are expensive! Here’s what we ended up spending money on:

  • $300 for the wishing well ($150 each)
  • $150 for the dress
  • $20 for an eyebrow wax at Soma Day Spa
  • $25 for a spray tan
  • $85 for make up, plus the extra cash I spent on impulse purchases while in store
  • $110 for hair

All up the day cost roughly $700. It could have gone way over but Mike and I decided to help reduce our costs by using things we already owned, such as Mike’s suit. I also did a few things myself, like painting my own nails with my at-home shellac kit.

Although attending a wedding costs a bucket of money, I do think it’s all worth it!

Oh! And there was a photo booth!

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 Do you think the costs of attending weddings in Canberra are to expensive? Do you care? 

What’s Your opinion?


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52 Responses to
Are weddings too expensive for guests?
1
neanderthalsis 9:36 am
03 May 15
#

Weddings are about sharing joy with two people as they declare their love and commitment, not about a competition on who spent the most. And I hope your newly wed friends don’t read your whinge on here.

My views:

1. If you’re worried about the expense, you could just not go;

2. Don’t buy a new dress (why can’t many women wear the same dress twice), DIY hair, make up, go without a spray tan;

3. $300 seems a little over the top as a gift.

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2
fabforty 4:50 pm
03 May 15
#

Weddings are only too expensive for guests when those guests spend almost $400 on their own appearance.

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3
Alexandra Craig 5:44 pm
03 May 15
#

I would have only assumed that weddings are expensive for the guest if they have to travel a significant distance for it. But that’s because I always do my own hair and makeup. I usually buy a new dress but I try and recycle shoes and jewellery from past occasions. I’m with you on the wishing well thing, I hate wishing wells. Just everything about them, I hate it so much. If I ever get married, I won’t “need” gifts (I say “need” referring to the good old days when people used to get things they actually needed like home appliances etc) so I’m just going to select a couple of charities and ask people that they donate to them. :)

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4
Postalgeek 8:04 pm
03 May 15
#

haha. If that’s what you spend to attend other people’s weddings without even travel expenses I imagine you’re going to be taking out a mortgage for your own wedding.

What happened to a bit of lippy and what you already had in the closet? Sounds wholly self-inflicted.

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5
dungfungus 8:07 pm
03 May 15
#

What is “the wishing well”?
I am guessing it is a trendy way of the bride and groom saying “don’t give us a toaster; we want cash”.
I can’t believe any woman could pass up the opportunity to buy a new pair of shoes for a wedding, so what did you wear in the end?

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6
Tulip 8:25 pm
03 May 15
#

Phew! I thought it was just me that was rendered speechless (typeless perhaps?) and trying to find a polite way to say what others have said. My only additional comment is that it seems that your partner took one for the team by ‘recycling’ his suit. Well done, Mike.

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7
Masquara 8:43 pm
03 May 15
#

Wow – leaving aside the topic, for someone who reviews pancakes for part of her living you are remarkably slender! : )

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8
RB78 9:20 pm
03 May 15
#

We got married last year, and it cost us just shy of 10k – the reception was about half of that cost.

We had a wishing well (mainly to avoid getting a bunch of appliances and homeware that we didn’t need), which did help ‘recoup’ the costs, so to speak.

I’ve also had the pleasure of attending a handful of weddings for good friends over the last few years, and on each occasion the gift has been the most expensive outlay – they all had wishing wells too. My other half and I both tend to wear something we already own. It’s pretty easy to attend a wedding on a budget.

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9
pink little birdie 9:39 pm
03 May 15
#

I got married yesterday and spent less on hair makeup and apparently less time having it done than you did as a guest at a wedding. 90 minutes for hair and make up.
Just buy 3 or 4 quality dresses to cycle though it will get you each group of friends. And if the same friends are close enough to see you in the same dress multiple times they wont care. Buy good shoes that you can rewear. I have 2 pairs of shoes that go with most things (one$ 50 and one $160 both bm shoes). If you care that much about make up learn to do it well with good quality products not how cleo is selling this month. Quality not quanity.

People do wishing wells because they generally have a house with with everything they need already. We did a honeymoon registery because we have been living together for a long time and have a house already full of stuff. There were 3 items we wanted if we did a gift registery and one of those was a unnecessary puzzle board. We received many gifts in kind. Like a mate stated they couldn’t afford a gift but offered to assist us by helping with stuff we werent good at or needed we were super grateful. But mostly we wanted our friends to attend our wedding rather than give us gifts. People also want to give gifts so if you dont say what you get items anyway -gift registerys were designed to stop multiple gifts of the same thing.

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10
sportsmum 10:29 pm
03 May 15
#

That is a LOT of money to spend on attending a wedding if you are not a part of the bridal party. Can I suggest if you have $700 to spare you consider making regular donations to a charity?

On another note, I absolutely hate this idea that has taken hold that guests should pay the bride and groom for their seats at the wedding through the wishing well. The bride and groom should be having the wedding they can afford and not expecting guests to effectively pay for the reception for them. Guests are there to witness, spend time with and generally wish the happy couple well, not to pay for the reception.

If the bride and groom don’t need gifts then they most likely don’t need a wishing well either. How about just being grateful that all your friends and family made the effort to be with you on your day?

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11
carnardly 10:48 pm
03 May 15
#

goodness me. I have a couple of nice outfits and they get recycled depending on the event. If my best friend got married tomorrow I wouldn’t go out and buy a new frock.

The fake tan and eyebrows were for you. While you may have thought you looked good, nobody in their right mind is going to really care whether you’re ala natural or tandoori chicken coloured or somewhere in between. And aren’t you capable of globbing on a bit of your own make up? what’s the difference between a wedding and dolling yourself up for any other special event.

I would’ve chucked in $150 for the present and DIY presentation. And I bet I can looks as schmick as your $700. But each to their own.

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12
Kalliste 10:50 pm
03 May 15
#

neanderthalsis said :

Weddings are about sharing joy with two people as they declare their love and commitment, not about a competition on who spent the most.

Agreed. But weddings these days do seem to mostly be about how much you spent and what food you had and how that was better than your other friends wedding and then you spend the amount you could put down on a house just to say your wedding was so much ‘better’ than everyone else’s.

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13
Mysteryman 11:28 pm
03 May 15
#

fabforty said :

Weddings are only too expensive for guests when those guests spend almost $400 on their own appearance.

Postalgeek said :

haha. If that’s what you spend to attend other people’s weddings without even travel expenses I imagine you’re going to be taking out a mortgage for your own wedding.

What happened to a bit of lippy and what you already had in the closet? Sounds wholly self-inflicted.

Bingo.

$300 for the wishing well ($150 each)
$150 for the dress
$20 for an eyebrow wax at Soma Day Spa
$25 for a spray tan
$85 for make up, plus the extra cash I spent on impulse purchases while in store
$110 for hair

Honestly, none of those expenses were necessarily. I’m willing to bet you had dresses in your possession that you could have worn. I’m also willing to bet that you know how to do your own makeup and have your own makeup. And a spray tan? Hardly seems important.

You could have gone to the wedding without spending more than the cost of the gift and the petrol to get there. But you chose not to.

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14
watto23 1:02 am
04 May 15
#

dungfungus said :

What is “the wishing well”?
I am guessing it is a trendy way of the bride and groom saying “don’t give us a toaster; we want cash”.

Aah yes they have everything, the lucky buggers, but you know as we have everything cash would be handy so we can spend it on all the things we have already.

I find wishing wells incredibly rude and when I put money in one I do it in an anonymous envelope. I tell others to do the same. To make thing worse I have been asked in the past as to what I gave so they can customise my thank you letter……. or just find out how much I gave them, cause lets face it, a thank you letter with the value of the cash i gave you is less meaningful than a heartfelt thanks for making their wedding day special, unless the goal of the wedding was to gather as much cash as possible from everyone they knew….

But yeah $300 is way over the top IMO. I’ve also been asked to pay for the wedding to cover costs and they charged everyone the same amount and also said absolutely no gifts as well. I didn’t attend that one, but often that means people still give gifts on top.

People just want everything and I guess for many a wedding is once in a lifetime. So either save up for it or find affordable ways to make it memorable. Most memories I have of weddings regard the people and rarely ever the meal, sometimes the venue, but often the best venues are not the expensive ones.

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15
Mysteryman 7:44 am
04 May 15
#

watto23 said :

dungfungus said :

What is “the wishing well”?
I am guessing it is a trendy way of the bride and groom saying “don’t give us a toaster; we want cash”.

Aah yes they have everything, the lucky buggers, but you know as we have everything cash would be handy so we can spend it on all the things we have already.

I find wishing wells incredibly rude and when I put money in one I do it in an anonymous envelope. I tell others to do the same. .

Why is it so offensive to you? Do you have insecurities about money? Are you afraid the hosts will think you’re stingy?

I can understand newlyweds asking for money. Many of them have lived together before being married and have most of the items that would have been considered perfect wedding gifts 20 or 30 years ago. Do you feel they should just accept duplicates and triplicates of items they already have, rather than offend you by suggesting that you give them money instead (money that you would have just spent on a gift anyway)? Perhaps they are saving for a house deposit and intend to use the gifted money to pay for a honeymoon? Surely that’s more sensible then setting up a gift registry for items they don’t need. As a guest, I’d rather give money. It means they bride and groom get what they want (it’s their wedding anyway) and I don’t have to traipse around the mall for an hour or two trying to find something to buy them.

It’s standard practice in many Asian cultures that money is the only gift given at weddings. There’s even a registry at the front of the reception where guests drop their money off, and the amount is recorded next to their name. Nobody gets wound up about it. It’s just how it’s done. People give what they can afford or what they feel is appropriate, and move on to enjoying the feast. It’s no big deal. I don’t see what it should be a problem in our culture.

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