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Wedding-Guest Spending: Up 13 Percent

Wedding guests plan to spend 13 percent more to see their friends and family say “I do” in 2015, according to a newly released American Express Spending & Saving Tracker survey.

Based on the survey of nearly 1,900 U.S. adults, about 79 million Americans are planning to attend a wedding this year — 18 percent more than in 2014. They’re planning to spend more too: an average of $673 per wedding, up from $592 in 2014 and $539 in 2013.

In significant part, that’s because of the increasing cost of travel. Average airfare to a wedding has more than doubled to $225 (up 125 percent from 2014), with hotel costs up 87 percent to $170, dining out up 90 percent to $116, and new apparel up 53 percent to $95 per wedding guest.

That could be a sign that Americans are finally beginning to loosen up about discretionary spending, even if that’s focused on an event instead of conventional retail spending, which has been sliding over the winter.

That shows up in another statistic from the survey: Expected spending on wedding gifts will actually be down 2.7 percent to $106 per gift this year. Family members will spend more, but even their gifts will average $142, down 5.3 percent from 2014. And 33 percent of guests plan to give cash as a gift — about the same as last year — which won’t have retailers celebrating either.

What else are wedding guests less likely to spend on? Destination weddings. Even if they’re in an exotic locale, with travel costs up 30 percent, 72 percent of Americans say that far-flung weddings are too expensive and 62 percent say they don’t like being forced to take a vacation for a wedding. Millennials are the group that’s the most destination-wedding positive at 64 percent, with 52 percent of Gen X guests positive about the idea and only 43 percent of baby boomers happy with the notion.

Along with the wedding itself, some guests will also spend for the showers and parties along the way — all up in cost by more than 20 percent. The average engagement party gift is expected to be $89, while bridal shower gifts are expected to cost $77 and bachelor or bachelorette party gifts are estimated to cost $86.

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