NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- One of your friends may be getting married this year. You can see the happy event in person, but you may be less than happy to hear it will cost you almost $600 to do so.
The American Express Spending & Savings Tracker monitors such things, and this year it shows the average price of attending a wedding in the U.S. at $592, a 10% increase over last year and well ahead of the rate of inflation (which is 1.5%.)
But 10% is nothing when you realize the cost of attending a wedding has grown a whopping 75% in the past two years, according to American Express.
Amex says the bulk of the costs are linked to travel and hotel stays, which are both up as the economy improves (and make up $308 of the wedding visit budget). The spending tracker also points to "special attire and accessories" such as new clothes for wedding attendees, which make up $164 of total wedding visits costs.
"Weddings can be expensive, whether you're tying the knot or attending as a guest," says David Rabkin, senior vice president of consumer lending products at American Express. "While careful spending continues to be the trend for 2014, consumers on both sides of the equation will shell out more, which bodes well for a variety of merchants in the service and retail sectors."
For guests, a 75% upward spike in spending on any commodity doesn't bode so well. Making matters worse for cash-strapped Americans, the $592 figure cited by Amex doesn't even include wedding gifts, which cost, on average, an extra $109. That figure is up 16% since 2012, the Amex tracker reports.
If you're standing up for the bride or groom as an attendant, the costs rise even further. Bridesmaids, for example, pay an average of $618 for a wedding in 2014, with 49% saying they will wind up giving their bridesmaid's dress to a friend or to a used clothing retailer.
It's tough to bash rising wedding attendance costs without looking like a spending and savings scold. But rather than spend up to $600 to attend a wedding this year, make sure the event is one that you really can't afford to miss.
It may turn out you can't afford it at all.