Article courtesy of MarketWatch via “The Rundown”
Guests have yet another reason to tick the “I will not attend” box on gold-embossed wedding invitations as the cost of attending continues to soar, new research finds. But the bride and groom are also spending more on guests in an effort to avoid a sea of empty seats on their big day.
This year, guests are expected to spend an average of $592 per wedding, up 10% from $539 per wedding last year and a 75% jump in just two years, according to details of a new American Express survey of 1,500 Americans.
That includes the pre-wedding party, transportation, hotel, clothing, accessories, and personal grooming – but excludes the cost of gifts. “Americans are getting more comfortable with having an expensive wedding, which does put the onus on guests to spend more too,” says David Rabkin, senior vice president of consumer lending at American Express.
The good news for guests? Brides and grooms appear more willing to make it worth the trip. Couples throwing a wedding spent $220 per guest on food and entertainment in 2013, up nearly 8% on the $204 they spent in 2012 but up just 13% from the $194 they spent in 2009, according to wedding website TheKnot.com’s national survey of nearly 13,000 American brides. Last year, nearly one-third of couples provided additional guest entertainment, up from 11% in 2009. Brides and grooms are also doing more to interact with their guests on social media and creating websites to make travel plans run smoother, says Carley Roney, co-founder of The Knot.
Given the increased expense, guests are showing restraint when buying wedding gifts, which were categorized separately in the American Express survey. Guests will spend $109 per gift this year, effectively unchanged from the $108 they spent in 2013, but up 16% from $94 in 2012. If the recipient is a close family member, that doubles to $200, up 20% from 2012. And the happy couple’s No. 1 favorite gift? Cash. Some 55% of couples prefer money, Amex found. One-third of guests will purchase gifts from the couple’s registry, another third will give money and the rest choose their own gift.