How Guests are Prepping For One of the Busiest Wedding Years Ever

We surveyed over 2,500 wedding guests to find out how they’re getting ready for weddings this year.

By Emily Forrest

How Guests are Prepping for Weddings in 2022
Photo by Cleyder Duque

The First Look ✨

Zola’s First Look Report revealed all the trends making 2022 one of the biggest years ever for the wedding industry. With most couples’ guest lists this year including 100+ people, it’s safe to say it’ll be a major year for guests, too.

With so many weddings in store, Zola surveyed over 2,500 people attending weddings in 2022 to find out everything there is to know about being a wedding guest this year. The results: guests have a lot on their plates this wedding season, but they’re looking forward to every moment of it.

2022 wedding season will be busy, but guests are excited and ready to party!

Wedding guests this year are booked and busy. On average they have been invited to 5 weddings and plan to attend at least 4 of them (RSVPs in the mail - hopefully). That’s A LOT of weddings in one year. When asked about how they’re feeling about all the ceremonies they’re attending, it’s a cocktail of good vibes.

How guests are feeling about weddings this year:

  • Excited - 77%
  • Ready to party - 47%
  • Sentimental - 41%
  • Full of love - 40%
Xiaoqi Li Photography Photo Credit // Xiaoqi Li Photography

Along with the excitement, some are also feeling a bit anxious about attending so many gatherings and having so much on their calendars. No doubt it’s an honor to be invited to any. But for guests, attending those celebrations often come with a cost, whether that’s paying for travel around the country, using up vacation days, or generally going outside of their social comfort zones.

Even with so much excitement in the air , 28% of guests are also feeling another way: broke💸 On average, invitees are attending a total of 7 wedding-related events within the year, including engagement parties, wedding showers, bach parties–and just about any type of wedding brunch you can think of. All exciting events to add to the schedule, of course, but they are also factors guests are having to consider in their budgets for each wedding.

Guests spend on average $550+ on each wedding they attend, but that cost can greatly depend on how involved they are with the wedding planning..

There are a number of costs that come into play when attending a wedding. Guests are hoping to find the right outfits, looking for the perfect gifts from the registry, and working out prices for hotels. But first things first: how are they getting to these weddings?

The average cost to attend a wedding by car in 2022 is $593, while attending a wedding by plane can land guests around $1,314. What’s making up those costs? Things like:

  • Travel
  • Accomodations
  • Attire
  • Gifts
  • Activities
  • Additional events (Bach parties, Engagement parties, etc.)

Overall, each guest will spend $1,500+ to be a wedding guest in 2022. When it comes to where they’re spending most, booking travel and buying gifts take the cake with 29% of guest marking both as their top expenses. Accommodations are 3rd on the list, with 23% spending most on things like hotels and airbnbs.

Fox and Veil Photography Photo Credit // Fox and Veil Photography

But what about those guests that have more responsibilities than just attending the ceremony and reception? With weddings typically being a family affair, lots of family members may be more involved when it comes to wedding expenses. The average cost per wedding is surely different for a parent of the couple who may be covering part or all of the wedding costs versus a college roommate coming into town. It’s also bound to be different for guests playing a part in the ceremony, like members of the wedding party or even the officiant!

The bottom line: know your budget! Every wedding is unique, including the amount of money you need to spend on it. Just be sure you’re in the right place financially to enjoy your role in each one.

“Cocktail” attire is the most popular wedding dress code, and over ⅓ of wedding guests are buying or renting 3+ new outfits to match.

For today's guests, a new wedding = a new outfit. More than ⅓ of guests plan to buy or rent three or more new outfits for the weddings they’re attending this year. Guests and couples alike want to celebrate in style.

Sabina Procacci Photography Photo Credit // Sabina Procacci Photography

So, what type of outfit styles are guests looking for? #1 on the list for both most popular and most guest-preferred wedding dress code is “Cocktail” attire. Some couples this year are opting for more creative and specific recommendations – from “Summer Cocktail,” to “Sunday Dressy” and “Cocktail Casual.”

“Black-tie optional” is also a guest favorite, which goes to show more than anything guests are ready to dress their best for all their weddings this year.

When it comes to wedding travel, guests are willing to go the extra mile, taking anywhere from 1-5+ days off from work to attend wedding celebrations.

Whether by plane, train, or automobile, guests are attending weddings in 3 different cities this year on average. And with 37% of guests mostly attending weddings that require plane travel, it’s fair to say that the destination wedding is starting to make its comeback.

Here’s how guests are traveling for 2022 weddings:

  • Mostly local weddings (<1 hour away) - 17%
  • Mostly drivable weddings (1+ hours away) - 46%
  • Mostly domestic weddings that require plane travel - 35%
  • Mostly international weddings - 2%

The rise of hybrid and work-from-home models has made attending destination weddings the perfect reason to take a vacation. Some guests are even using the added distance as an excuse to extend their wedding travels into longer vacations. In fact, ⅔ are taking time off work to attend weddings, anywhere from 2 days (18%) to 5+ days (14%). And who could really blame them when these are the top international destination wedding locations for 2022:

  • Italy
  • Mexico
  • Greece
  • France
  • Ireland

Guests are most excited about reconnecting with their loved ones at weddings this year, but they’re also looking forward to getting down on the dance floor.

Wonder why guests are excited about all the weddings they’re attending? Because there’s a whole lot to look forward to! After two years of delayed and downsized weddings, couples and guests alike can’t wait to be face-to-face with their loved ones again.

The top 5 things guests can’t wait to experience at weddings this year are:

  1. Seeing family & friends
  2. Watching two people who love each other get married
  3. The dance floor
  4. Dressing up
  5. The food

With 80% of guests definitely planning to drink at weddings this year, it’s safe to say wedding receptions in 2022 are going to be entertaining. Everyone's planning on looking and feeling good, and guests are expecting the music to carry the night.

Fox & Fig Photography Photo Credit // Fox & Fig Photography

Guests all agree they want to hear the songs that’ll get everyone out to the dance floor, whether it’s:

  • Classics like Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” and Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,”
  • Dance floor anthems like Lil John’s “Turn Down For What” and V.I.C.’s “Wobble,”
  • or TikTok-popular hits like Doja Cat’s “Kiss Me More” and Harry Styles’ “As It Was.”

If You Have to Say "No”...

Many people think that, as long as their schedule permits, they have to say “yes” to every wedding they’re invited to. But with the number of weddings dramatically increasing in 2022, you may have more wedding invitations that you (and your budget) can handle.

And in that situation, there’s one thing you’ll want to remember: that it’s ok to say “no.”

While being invited to a wedding is a privilege, it’s not only unnecessary to attend every wedding you’re invited to (particularly in an event-heavy year like 2022), it’s unrealistic. No one has the time, energy, or money to spend every weekend attending a different wedding ceremony.

So, again, it’s ok to politely decline a wedding invitation. But how do you prioritize which weddings you can say “no” to—and which you should plan on attending?

  • Consider your schedule...The easiest way to decide which wedding invitations to decline is to look at your schedule. If you have a conflict on your schedule that would make it hard for you to attend (whether that’s a personal commitment, a work conflict, or another wedding), feel free to say “no.”

  • ...and budget. Another surefire sign that you should consider a wedding invitation? If you can’t afford it. If a wedding doesn’t align with your budget (for example, in order to attend, you’d have to purchase an expensive plane ticket), the best thing you can do is say “no.”

  • Prioritize the people closest to you. If you technically have the flexibility and financial means to attend the weddings you’re invited to—but you’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of invitations—the best way to prioritize is by considering how close you are to the couple getting married. If your BFF since childhood is saying their “I do’s,” you should prioritize being there if you can—but if the invite is from a former colleague you haven’t seen or spoken to in years, that could be a good opportunity to cut down your list of 2022 weddings.

If you do end up attending a high volume of weddings, you can also say “no” to spending a fortune on each wedding gift. Instead of buying the most expensive item on the registry (which adds up quickly!), instead, look to purchase gifts that are unique and memorable—but still affordable.

Overall, a year full of weddings is one filled with something special that often only weddings can provide: a great sense of love & togetherness. Marriage encompasses more than just two people saying “I do”; it’s a union of lives and cultures, the gathering of family and friends, and most importantly, the sharing of unforgettable memories! 🥰

Up next for you

wedding guests laughing with bride at wedding receptions

Wedding Guest Attire: A Guide to Every Dress Code


Dress to impress! Your go-to guide for wedding guest attire, from formal to casual. Find the perfect look for every dress code and celebration.

what to write in a wedding card

What to Write in a Wedding Card: Funny, Thoughtful & Lovely Wishes Ideas


Seeking wedding wishes inspiration? Explore our ideas for messages and find the perfect words to convey your joy and blessings for the newlyweds.


Wedding Guest Etiquette 101: 20 Ways to Be an Exceptional Guest


While your main job is to show up and have fun, there are a few things to keep in mind as a guest at a wedding. Here’s what to do (and not do) at a wedding.

How to Write a Rehearsal Dinner Speech

How to Write a Rehearsal Dinner Speech


Here are some tips and advice on how to write a rehearsal dinner speech.

Build Your Zola Registry Today (It’s free!)

Find even more wedding ideas, inspo, tips, and tricks

We’ve got wedding planning advice on everything from save the dates to wedding cakes.