Here Comes Wedding Season: How Consumers Will Pay for Others’ Big Day in 2016

Average cost to attend a wedding is $703; $893 for Millennials, up
27% from the general population

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Weddings are occasions to celebrate true love, but once you’ve opened up
that invitation, be prepared to also open up your wallet. According to
the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, Americans
will attend an average of three weddings this year and anticipate
spending an average of $703 per ‘big day,’ up 5% from last year ($673 in
2015). Millennials, as a generation, plan to spend the most on weddings
($893), significantly higher (by 27%) than the general population.

The Cost of True Friendship

Family and friends who make up a couple’s wedding party should expect to
shell out even more money come wedding season: Members of the wedding
party can expect to spend $743 (vs. $701 in 2015). Among the items
contributing to the totals are airfare ($205), dressing up when in the
wedding ($166), and childcare or pet care costs ($69). Similarly,
Millennials in a wedding party expect to spend a whopping $928, the
highest of any cohort.

the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

“While being part of a wedding party is an honor, the pre-events and
day-of costs can add up,” said Jed Scala, Senior Vice President,
Consumer Lending at American Express. “On the upside, the ‘big day’
itself can provide guests with a reason to indulge, enjoy a night out
and even travel if it’s a destination wedding.”

“I Do” … Expect a Gift from You

And whether the wedding locale is far or near this year, Americans
expect to spend an average of $127 on wedding gifts for relatives (vs.
$142 in 2015), while the average amount to spend on a friend’s wedding
is $99 (vs. $90 in 2015). Perhaps signaling the growing importance of
friendships, the gap between family and friend gift spend has narrowed
this year (58% vs. 28% in 2015). Popular wedding presents include
registry gifts (37% vs 32% in 2015), which beat out cash (31% vs. 33%
last year) for the number one preferred gift to give in 2016, and gift
cards (13% vs. 14% in 2015).

Behind the Veil – Who Pays for What, and How Much Does it Cost?

Weddings can be a painstaking process to plan, especially if you’re
footing the bill. Half of Americans (53%) are self-funding their
weddings either through cash or paying a majority of the costs with
credit and/or debit cards. On the other hand, a little more than
one-third of couples (35%) receive support from the parents of the bride
or groom.

Whether on a self-imposed budget or receiving parental funding, couples
are applying a variety of cost-saving measures to their wedding
planning. Top cost-cutting choices include:

  • Simplifying the entire wedding by going to the courthouse or holding
    an intimate ceremony and reception (30%)
  • Ditching the wedding planner (24%)
  • Selecting a less expensive venue (21%)

Recently, DIY wedding projects have also become an alternative way to
save money and add more of a personal touch to a wedding’s décor. The
majority of married couples (55%) have completed some type of DIY
wedding project such as making their own wedding album (22%), creating
centerpieces (21%) or assembling guest favors (20%).

About the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

The American
Express Spending & Saving Tracker
research was completed online
among a random sample of 1,803 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 between February 19 and 24, 2016. The results have an overall
margin of error of +/- 2.3 at the 95 percent level of confidence.

About American Express

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access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build
business success. Learn more at and
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About Ebiquity, Plc.

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American Express
Jane Di Leo, 212-640-8055