Reduce the Cost of Attending an Out-Of-Town Wedding

by Debra Karplus
Reduce the Cost of Attending an Out of Town Wedding photo

Attending an out-of-town wedding does not have to put you in the poor house. Use these tips to share in the happy couple’s big day without big costs to you.

In 2019, back before COVID prevented couples from actually having wedding guests, reported that “The average guest spend for a wedding based in their hometown (that didn’t require travel or lodging) was $185. Those who drove out of town spent approximately $600, and guests who flew to a wedding reported an average spend of $1,440.” And yes, these figures included a wedding gift.

That’s a lot of money for just one person, not to mention a couple or family. So how can you reduce the cost of attending an out of town wedding?

How will you get to this wedding?

Making travel plans for the wedding is your first task. There are two variables to consider. First, determine how many people from your family, adults and children, will attend. Second, determine whether you’ll need a vehicle while there. For one person going alone, air travel is often your cheapest option.

Get online on sites like and type in different dates and nearby airports. Compare the fares. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are often days with the lowest prices for purchasing air tickets and also sometimes cheaper days for flying. If your work schedule is somewhat flexible, you may have some freedom to fly when fares are lowest. (See Savvy Ways to Save on Airfare.)

Amtrak trains often offer decent fares, especially if you’re eligible for a discount such as AAA or seniors over 62 years old. But be sure to figure out the cost of meals in route, and the number of hours involved in traveling; if your train involves an overnight, will you be able to sleep in a regular seat? If you purchase a sleeper car, then you’re probably smarter to fly. (See Get On Board With Affordable Train Travel.)

If you enjoy driving and think you may need a vehicle for the wedding weekend, then using your car or van may be a good way for you family to attend this out of town wedding. The Internal Revenue suggests that a car costs about 57 cents per mile driven. Depending on which type of vehicle you are driving, the current gasoline prices and the number of round trip miles you expect to drive, this may or may not be a good way to get to this out of town wedding. (See Ways to Reduce the Cost of Renting a Car.)

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Where will you stay during the wedding weekend?

Once you have your transportation in place, you need to arrange for your accommodations. Upscale weddings often reserve a limited number of hotel rooms at a discounted rate for wedding guests. This might be convenient, but often not the cheapest option. And if you are traveling with children, you will need a second room or at least a cot or crib in your room.

If you don’t have a friend or relative in the area who is offering you a stay at their home, you might want to search online for motels nearby that are more affordable. This is where having your own vehicle will come in handy, even if it is one that you rent in the town where the wedding is held. Be sure to ask the wedding hosts what they recommend before you book a room.

You will have meal expenses also. The wedding events will likely provide most of them but not all. Having a motel room with a small refrigerator could be cost effective, especially if there is a nearby grocery. Check it out.

Decide what you will wear for the wedding weekend.

The wedding hosts will inform you exactly how many events there will be and how fancy they are.

Before you panic at the thought of adding expensive clothing to your wardrobe, look in your closet. Accessorizing with scarves and jewelry can add mileage to clothing that has been worn to other fancy events. Even so, you may want to start with a visit to a nearby resale or consignment clothing store. You’d be surprised at the beautiful upscale garments you can find at these shops that have been worn to weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and other semi-formal celebrations.

You can give appropriate but affordable wedding gift.

If you have a talent, like quilting, you can personalize a very special handmade gift for cheap. The engaged couple will appreciate your special gift. If not, get to the wedding gift registry before others do to find the biggest selection (and less expensive) of gifts that the bride and groom want.

Attending an out of town wedding does not have to put you in the poor house. Make your plans early. Shop for bargains on travel, clothes, and a gift and reduce those costs.

Reviewed April 2022

About the Author

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on Amazon (Kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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