Dig out an old dress and get a super-saver return ticket: How wedding guests are spending $150 less this year on clothing, transport and hotels
18:45 GMT, 30 April 2012
The price of attending a wedding can often eclipse the excitement of having an excuse to get dressed up and leave the children at home for a night.
With an invitation comes the inevitable cost of clothing, transportation, babysitters and pre-wedding parties and guests these days are reaching less deeply into their pockets to cover the expenses.
According to new research, the average amount a guest spends on going to a wedding has dropped significantly from 2011 with consumers prepared to pay $339 compared to $490 last year.
Not cheap: According to a study by Amex, wedding guests are spending less this year on clothing, hotels, transport and childcare
The survey taken by Echo Research for American Express, interviewed 1,500 consumers aged 18 and older, including a sub-group of 'affluents' whose household income exceeded $100,000.
The findings showed that guests were willing to pay on average just $48 on their wedding outfits compared to last year when their budgets allowed for a $113 ensemble.
Hotel budgets have also dropped from $106 last year to $69 in 2012 and cutting corners on travel has seen eager invitees getting to the destination for $40 less this year than the $96 in 2011.
Who knows whether parents are paying their babysitters less or going home early but the pleasure of a night without the little ones was expected to cost $17 this year, down from $26 .
In an interesting turn of events, those in the wedding party were expecting to spend more than in previous years perhaps because couples are cutting back on their own costs.
In America it is traditional for the bridesmaids and maids of honour to pay for their own dresses.
In fact, for wedding parties in general, costs nearly always exceed those of the regular guests thanks to the added expense of bridal showers and bachelorette parties and this year it seems, the inner circle have had enough.
In 2012, the 'privileged' few invited to make up the wedding party expect to spend $377 – more than the average guest but significantly less than the $539 they were reported to have spent in 2011.
The survey also looked at the way guests approached gift-buying, finding that most agreed that purchasing items from the registry was a preferable option.
34 per cent of those surveyed said they would always look to the couple's registry for gift ideas while 33 per cent admitted that cash was a suitable token of their support and love.
Just one in ten people opt for a gift card and a measly one per cent put their money towards a charity donation on behalf of the happy couple.
The relationship to the bride and groom played a significant role when it came to generosity with interviewees more likely to spend big on close family.
Of the total interviewees surveyed, 41 per cent prioritised this over their budget with a whopping 60 per cent of 'affluents' considering this a far more important factor when deciding on gift value.
Only 18 per cent thought about their budget first.
On average, close family members tying the not could expect to receive a gift of $166 value compared to last year when guests would have spent $199 on their nearest and dearest.
Co-workers however proved consistently conservative when it came to attending the nuptials of a colleague, spending the same $56 on average that they do every year.
Claire Bennett, Executive Vice President of Loyalty & Membership Benefits at American Express summed up the findings: 'Saying “I do,” isn't just an investment for those getting married, guests have to consider their costs as well, from the suit to the suite to the sitter, the expenses for attending a wedding add up and we're seeing consumers cutting back a bit this year to manage the cost.”