Money Talks, So Should You

The cost of attending a wedding is on the rise

The 69 million Americans attending a wedding this year can each expect to spend 59 percent more than they would have last year.

Brian O'Connell
by Brian O'Connell, MainStreet contributor

With the average price of attending a wedding on a steep uphill climb, there’s no guarantee nuptial attendees will have enough money left in their bank account to make it home from chapel, let alone the reception hall.

The latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, released Monday, has some news on wedding invites that might induce sticker shock up and down a loving couple’s guest list.

The tracker shows that 69 million Americans will attend a wedding this year, and that each can expect to spend 59 percent more doing so than they did last year.

SLIDESHOW: Five easy ways to cut wedding costs

The average wedding guest will pay $539 for the occasion, with the top three expenditures being:

  • $167 toward travel
  • $161 for clothes and accessories
  • $108 for the newlyweds’ gift

What’s more, the closer you are to the bride or groom, the more you’ll spend. Family members can expect to pay $179 on average for a wedding gift, while co-workers will shell out only $66.

While most married couples want to get cash as a wedding gift (52 percent, according to Amex), 35 percent of guests will buy a gift from the newlywed’s registry.

If you’re actually supporting the newlyweds as a bridesmaid or best man, expect to pay about $577 to attend the ceremony — that’s way up from $377 last year. For bridesmaids, that’s bad news financially. American Express says that 38 percent of bridesmaids plan to never wear their dress again, with 31 percent giving it away to a secondhand store and 7 percent foisting it upon a friend or family member.

INFOGRAPHIC: The cost of a date across the U.S.

According to the website, the groom’s men-in-waiting take it in the chops too. The average cost of a decent tuxedo rental this year is $150, with quality rentals shooting up to $200 per outfit.

If you’re in the camp that says you can’t put a price on a friend or family member’s wedding day, good for you.

But if you’re with the rest of the planet in these harsh economic times, you may want to check your bank account before you check the “attending” box on that wedding invite you just got.


Brian O’Connell has 15 years of experience covering business news and trends, particularly in the financial, health care and career management sectors. He has written 14 books and appeared on CNN, Fox News, CNBC, C-Span, Bloomberg, CBS Radio and other media outlets and in such publications as The Wall Street Journal and The He is a former Wall Street bond trader.