Guess How Much Being A Wedding Guest Will Cost You

Photographed by Winnie Au.
This should give you pause the next time you open up a vellum envelope packed with dried rose petals and custom-monogrammed confetti.

While anyone who has ever had the privilege of seeing their nearest and dearest commit themselves to each other for all eternity knows all too well the expenses involved, a new study has broken it down to the dollar.

New data from the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker shows that wedding guests spend, on average, $673 per wedding. That's up from $592 last year, and bad news for anyone who is staring down a pile of invites and save-the-dates as wedding season approaches. If you're a member of the wedding party, the cost rises to $701. But, at least you scored a new chartreuse, chiffon gown!

The $673 figure doesn't even include the cost of gifts for pre-wedding celebrations. If you're attending a bridal shower, tack on an extra $77. An engagement-party gift will run you $89, while the bachelor or bachelorette party present costs $86, on average. That expense might explain why guests are expected to spend less this year than last year on the actual wedding gift: $106 compared to $109, or $142 versus $150 for a family member.

What you're saving on gifts, you're spending on travel, hotels, meals, and new outfits. Spending is up this year across the board, with flights costing an average of $225, hotels $170, dining out $116, and apparel $95.

Meanwhile, knot-tying couples are abandoning cost-saving DIY methods. DIY weddings are down 12% from last year. Destination weddings, on the other hand, appear to be on the rise, resulting in a 33% increase in travel expenses for guests. Not surprisingly, some 72% of guests find them too expensive.

So, what's the answer? Boycott all weddings? Pester your pals to elope? Refuse the invite and spend the money on a pair of Jimmy Choos instead? Or, you could just suck it up and go, but bring along a big tote bag to smuggle crab puffs, floral centerpieces, and Champagne back to the room. We're down with the plan that includes crab puffs.