Prince William and fiancée Kate Middleton are about to kick off the wedding season worldwide and Americans are taking notice. According to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, more than three in five consumers are willing to pay $600 on average to attend the Royal Wedding if invitations were for sale.
Preparations for the fairytale wedding are underway with media reporting every detail, from who will design Kate’s gown to how the couple will arrive at their reception. When asked which Royal Wedding luxury they would incorporate into their special day, women surprisingly said the number one splurge would be for their guests instead of themselves. In fact, if money were no object, women said they would like to give a personalized gift to each wedding guest (29 percent), followed by riding in a horse-drawn carriage (22 percent) and wearing a couture wedding gown (17 percent) on the big day.
The latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker(1) explores consumers’ spending and saving behavior as it relates to weddings. The research sample of 2,020 adults included the general U.S. population, as well as two subgroups – the affluent(2) and young professionals(3).
“While very few will be able to see William and Kate tie the knot in person, millions of Americans are planning to splurge on weddings this year,” said Pamela Codispoti, executive vice president and general manager of Consumer Card Services, American Express. “Our data shows that Americans attend an average of two weddings per year and are spending nearly $1,000 on attire, transportation and other expenses – not including gifts.”
Wedding Spending Unveiled
In addition to buying gifts, survey respondents spend an average of $490 to attend a wedding as a guest. When participating in the wedding (as a bridesmaid for example) the average cost rises to $539, with attire being much more costly for the big day.
- Wedding expenses for guests and participants include:
- Dressing up ($113 when participating in wedding; $64 when attending as guest)
- Hotel ($106)
- Transportation ($96)
- Dining out ($70)
- Pre-wedding party, i.e., bachelor/bachelorette ($56)
- Jewelry ($47)
- Arrangements for children/pets ($26)
- Other expenses ($24)
Americans Say “I Do” to Cash
Prince William and Kate Middleton have asked guests to donate wedding gifts to a charitable gift fund. Only two percent of Americans surveyed indicated they would prefer to receive a donation to a charity as a wedding gift over cash or gifts from a registry. In fact, more than 50 percent of Americans said they would prefer to receive cash as a gift, followed by gifts purchased from gift registries (23 percent). But while most consumers said they would prefer to receive cash, not as many prefer to give cash (32 percent); instead, Americans (38 percent) said that when giving a wedding gift, they would prefer to give a gift from the couples’ registry.
On average, consumers splurge the most on weddings gifts for close family members, spending an average of $196. Those living in the Northeast and West are the most generous, spending an average of $233 and $228 respectively, followed by Southerners, who spend $211 on average per gift. Comparatively, those in the North Central region are the least generous – only doling out $126 per gift.
Couples’ Advice to Newlyweds: Save More, Spend Wisely
Wedding costs are just the beginning of money discussions for couples. The survey found that more than 50 percent of people in a relationship discuss money at least once a week. For the majority (61 percent) of married couples and those living together, these financial discussions often lead to arguments, an increase from 45 percent of respondents who were asked the same question last June. The top three causes of these disagreements are: spending on kids (15 percent), deciding on large purchases (14 percent) and setting household budgets (14 percent).
Newlyweds can learn from their married and co-habiting peers. Seventy-three percent of those in a relationship said they would do something different to better manage their financial situations, up from 50 percent in June 2010. Many wish they put more in savings and investments (48 percent), followed by spending more responsibly (30 percent) and discussing financial goals/expectations with their spouse or significant other (24 percent).
American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 2,020 consumers aged 18+. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between March 24 and March 28, 2011. Overall, the results have a margin of error of +/- 2.2 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. For access to previous American Express Spending & Saving Tracker results, please visit www.americanexpress.com/aboutus.
About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, twitter.com/americanexpress and youtube.com/americanexpress.
(1) The research was conducted online March 24-28, 2011 among a random sample of 2,020 adults aged 18 and older.
(2) Affluent - defined as having a minimum annual household income of $100,000.
(3) Young Professional - defined as less than 30 years of age, having a college degree, and a minimum annual household income of $50,000.