Wedding Guests Will Spend $109 On Average On Wedding Gifts, But They'll Spend More Or Less Depending On How They Know The Couple. (Photo: Business Wire)

More than 67 million Americans plan to attend at least one wedding this year, and they expect to pony up more money to attend, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. This year, guests expect to spend an average of $592, up 10% from last year and a staggering 75% jump from 2012, with most of the budget going to travel & accommodations ($308) and special attire and accessories ($164). Guests are not the only ones splurging: although most couples still vie to keep wedding costs under control (72% vs. 74% in 2013), many will spend a little more to do a little less as the DIY trend declines, down 5 percentage points from last year.

View/Download the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

“Weddings can be expensive, whether you’re tying the knot or attending as a guest,” said David Rabkin, SVP of Consumer Lending Products for 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.”

From Attendees to Attendants: All Expect to Pay More

As the cost to attend weddings rises, spending on wedding gifts is also climbing. Most guests will spend an average of $109 per gift this year, on par with last year ($108) and up 16% since 2012 ($94). If the recipient is a close family member, the average cost of a gift doubles to $200, up 20% from 2012.

Similar to last year, a third of consumers (33%) will purchase these gifts from the couple’s registry, while another third (33%) will give money. Cash continues to be the preferred gift to receive for 55% of couples, up from 52% in 2013.

Wedding party attendants will spend even more, shelling out $618 on average, up 64% since 2012. For bridesmaids, 78% will purchase a new dress, though nearly three quarters (74%) say they won’t wear it again. Instead, nearly half (49%) will opt to give the dress to a second hand store or give away to a friend while just over one in five bridesmaids will allow the dress to take up space in their closets (23%).

Food: The Way to A Guest’s Heart

Wedding guests have high expectations for this year’s celebrations, agreeing that delicious food is the most important component to a great wedding (70%). This is an increasing trend over the last three years (67% in 2013, 62% in 2012).

Consistent with last year, guests agree that music & entertainment (56% vs. 55% in 2013), cake (56% vs. 55% in 2013), reception venue (56%, on par with 2013) and wedding dress (54% vs. 55% in 2013) round out the top five most important wedding investments.

Passing on DIY, While Minding the Bottom Line

For betrothed couples, saying “I Do” to DIY is on the decline from 2013, down to 65% from 70% last year as fewer couples have or will assemble guest favors (18% vs. 24%), create their own centerpieces (15% vs. 19%) or print their own invitations or save the dates (15% vs. 18%).

Though they weren’t keen to do it themselves, most couples (72% vs. 74% in 2013) did try to mind their wallets and save money in certain areas, including:
  • Simplified their entire wedding (34% vs. 36% in 2013)
  • Ditched their wedding planners (28% vs. 32% in 2013)
  • Pared down the guest list (27% vs. 24% in 2013)
  • Chose the buffet over a plated dinner (26% vs. 27% in 2013)
  • Selected a less expensive venue (25% vs. 27% in 2013)

Couples were less willing to compromise on a trip away after the big day, with only 14% of couples planned to push back or alter honeymoon plans, down from 18% in 2012.

About the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 1,503 adults, including the general U.S. population, as well as an Affluent demographic defined by a minimum annual household income of $100,000. Interviewing was conducted by Ebiquity, formerly Echo Research, between February 12 –14, 2014. The results reported in this release have an overall margin of error of +/- 2.5 (total) and +/- 3.3 (married couples) at the 95 percent 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

Key links to products and services: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, business travel, and corporate card.

About EbiquityPlc

Ebiquity provides independent data-driven insights to global media, marketing and communications professionals to continuously improve clients' business performance. This includes specialized services in research supporting creative testing, brand/advertising tracking, corporate reputation, brand image, research for public relations and thought leadership, global media/social media content analysis, and communications research. Ebiquity acquired Echo Research in May, 2011 and Echo officially started conducting business under the Ebiquity name on July 1, 2013. Learn more at

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Copyright Business Wire 2010

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