How I Spent My Salary this Summer

by Staff - Original publish date: December 5, 2011

In Sex and City, Carrie Bradshaw lamented the cost of attending the weddings and baby showers of her married friends. Bridget Jones bemoaned her lot as she charted a life of dinner parties and family gatherings as the only singleton surrounded by smug-marrieds.

Were Bridget and Carrie right? Is it less expensive to attend these events as half of a pair than on one’s own? surveyed over 1,000 professionals to look at the cost of attending weddings, showers, christenings and other celebrations. How do these costs vary between single and married attendees? Do the smug-marrieds have a reason to be so smug?

Twice as Nice

A look at the data says they just might. The cost of weddings is high. High for everyone, but couples are spending less to attend these milestone events. To attend an out of town wedding our respondents were asked what they spent on transportation, lodging, meals, and entertainment expenses. Singletons spent an average of $489.07 and married couples spent $322.51 per person. Married guests are paying 35% less than their single counterparts—and they aren’t waiting for the bride’s creepy cousin to ask them to dance.

Additionally, couples spend less per person on gifts for new arrivals. On average, single guests spend $46.59 on baby shower presents and couples spend $52.59, or $26.30 per person. Once again, it’s significantly cheaper to bring a significant other to the party.

Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number (Unless You’re Going to a Wedding)

Marital status isn’t the only factor that plays a role in how much individuals spend at weddings. also looked into how age affects wedding costs and what percentage of a person’s salary is being spent on these events. According the U.S. Census Bureau, the average age at first marriage is 25 for women and 27 for men. The wedding boom begins when professionals are still in the beginning stages of their careers and lower salary brackets.

Of our respondents, 34% of 25-34 year-olds earn between $40,000 and $59,999. In this age range, those surveyed spent $445.66 to attend a single wedding as a member of the wedding party—just shy of 1% of their yearly salary.

The situation improves with age, however: 30% of our respondents over age 35 earned salaries of $100,000 or more and spent $464.49 as a member of the wedding party. At the low end of this range they were spending 0.5% of their salary per wedding.

Happy is the bride the Sun Shines On, And So Are the Guests

Summer is undeniably wedding season. With warm weather comes a surge in weddings. Emily, a 24-year old marketing and development manager for a small non-profit, has been invited to four weddings this summer. For one, she'll be traveling 3,000 miles to attend.

Unmarried and young, this is an expensive venture; but Emily is taking some cues from the married playbook—she's splitting the cost of both her hotel room and gift with another friend. And celebrating this important day is worth it; she says, “There is nothing I would rather spend money on.”