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Wedding Season: What You'll Spend to Attend69 Million Americans to attend at least one wedding this year; Expect to spend $539 per wedding, up 59% from 2012
NEW YORK,  April 29, 2013 -- 

Sixty-nine million Americans will attend one or more weddings this year, and they expect to spend 59% more than last year, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Guests are anticipating a cost of $539 per wedding, and most of that budget will go towards travel ($167), treating themselves to some new apparel and accessories ($161), and the couple's wedding gift ($108).

Infographic: Average Cost of a Wedding

Gifting: Registry vs. Cash
Wedding guests say they'll spend an average of $108 on gifts, up 15% from 2012. Not all gifts are created equal, however, and consumers will weigh factors like relationship to the bride or groom (45%) and budget at the time of the wedding (33%) before deciding how much to spend. For close family members, the average cost for a gift shoots up to $179, while co-workers will only reap $66 on average.

Thirty-five percent of guests prefer to purchase gifts from the couple's registry, while another 32% will give cash, and 14% will give gift cards. Although most Americans prefer to choose a gift from the registry, the majority of consumers(52%) say they'd actually prefer to receive cash (52%) if receiving a wedding gift.

Shorten it and Wear it Again?
Following "will you marry me?," couples pop another important question – "will you be a bridesmaid/groomsmen?" For those who answer yes, they can expect to spend an average of $577, up from $377 in 2012, on everything from pre-wedding festivities to gifts and wedding party attire.

But what really happens to the bridesmaid gowns post-nuptials? Only about a third (34%)of former bridesmaids have or plan to wear the dress a second time. Slightly more (38%) have or plan to give away their dresses, either to a second hand store (31%) or to a friend or family member (7%).

Brides Simplify and DIY
When it comes to prioritizing the wedding budget, 67% of Americans agree the food, followed by the reception venue (56%), cake (55%), wedding dress (55%) and entertainment (55%) are most important to invest in to create the ultimate wedding experience.

With budgets in mind, 36% of married couples say they opted to pare down or even eliminate the reception itself. Others cut costs by foregoing a wedding planner (32%), selecting a less expensive venue (27%), cutting down the guest list (24%), selecting less expensive stationery (23%) or downgrading the décor (19%).

Seventy percent of married couples said they got crafty and opted for a DIY approach to save on wedding costs:

  • 24% assembled their own guest favors
  • 19% created their own centerpieces
  • 18% designed and printed their own invitations or save the date cards
  • 17% opted for a homemade wedding album
  • 12% ditched the DJ in favor of a homemade playlist

 A few brave brides made their own wedding dress (6%) or baked and decorated their own cake (6%).

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research on the average cost of a wedding was completed online among a random sample of 1,518 adults, including the general U.S. population, an affluent demographic, defined by a minimum annual household income of $100,000, and homeowners . Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between February 27 and March 1, 2013. These findings have a margin of error of ± 2.5 (total respondents) percentage points at the 95% level of confidence.

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 and connect with us on,,,, and

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