Money

This Wedding Tradition Is Draining Your Bank Account

October 2nd 2015

By:
Laura Donovan

It's well known that weddings are financially burdensome for the people getting married: a 2013 survey from the Knot found that the average wedding cost is $31,213 and an even more recent Knot survey found that nearly 70 percent of brides spend all of their time thinking about ceremony finances. ATTN: recently wrote about a woman who received an invoice after canceling on a wedding last minute because her babysitting arrangements fell through. As much of a financial nightmare as weddings can be for couples, however, they've also become exorbitantly expensive for guests. This year's American Express Spending & Tracker Survey found that guests spend an average of $673 per wedding, a 14 percent increase from 2014 and nearly double the 2012 average.

With fall wedding season in full swing, couples everywhere should consider liberating their guests from the expectation of buying a wedding gift—or at least be flexible about the type of gift they receive.

 
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What wedding guests have to buy.

According to the American Express survey results, the bulk of a guest's expenses goes toward airfare: the average wedding goer spends $225 on air travel. They also spend around $170 on hotel reservations, $116 for food, and $100 on wedding attire. Americans also spend an average of $106 on a wedding gift for the couple, a slight decrease of the 2014 average of $109 per gift.

What people think about the no wedding gift approach.

Though many couples understand their guests spend a lot of money to attend their weddings, some expect gifts within a year of their wedding ceremony nonetheless—especially from those closest to them. The Knot recommends spending $50 minimum on a wedding gift, as the couple is likely giving each guest a free meal, open bar access, and a fun night of dancing.

Certain couples take this side of the deal very seriously. Over the summer, an anonymous newly married woman asked the advice columnist at A Practical Wedding how to confront a bridesmaid who didn't buy her a wedding gift. With the rising cost of attending weddings, many called the bride insensitive for being angry about this, especially since wedding party members pay even more than the average guest to partake in the couple's special day.

Expenses coupled with wedding drama can seem so daunting that people skip the gathering altogether. In 2013, the American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) found nearly 45 percent of Americans had turned down a wedding invitation because of the cost. That said, weddings are often framed as the most important day of the couple's lives, so there is a lot of pressure to show up to the ceremony and deal with the costs later on down the road.

Tahlia Bragg, a 29-year-old from Oklahoma City, usually chooses not to bring gifts to weddings because of all of the other expenses associated with going to the event.

"Often times I don't give gifts because I have to pay for travel and accommodations to attend the wedding," she said. "This didn't include if I'm in the wedding which incurs more of an expense. It usually takes everything I have to attend someone's wedding but I know how much it means to them so I make the sacrifice."

ATTN: has previously reported that the U.S. is the only developed nation that doesn't guarantee paid vacation to employees, so some guests might potentially take unpaid days off just for a couple's special day. While most employers provide some sort of paid vacation time to full-time staffers, paid vacation is at the discretion of managers.

Useful wedding gift options for 2015.

With more couples choosing to cohabitate before marriage, many partners have all the household appliances and items they need prior to tying the knot. Some couples will do a mixed wedding registry to diversify their wish list, and others will merely ask guests to donate money to their honeymoon fund.

Though useful to the bride and groom, these newer contributions might still be a lot for guests to pull off on top of high wedding attendance costs. Steven Kwan, a 32-year-old in Tucson, Arizona planning his own wedding, says he does not have a problem with people deciding not to buy wedding gifts because having guests at the wedding alone is enough of a treat.

"I would be understanding of a guest not bringing something, because airfare can sometimes be as expensive as any gift on a registry," he told ATTN:. "I'm fine with a guest just showing up, because he or she will likely be someone I haven't seen in years and having them there for such a special event will be enough of a gift."