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

Americans will attend an average of three weddings this year, and Millennials plan to spend the most on weddings ($893), significantly higher (by 27%) than the general population. (Graphic: Business Wire)

NEW YORK--()--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.

View/download 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

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at and connect with us on,,,, and

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About Ebiquity, Plc.

Ebiquity are independent marketing performance specialists. Ebiquity enables brands across the world to make better informed decisions to improve their brand and business performance across integrated communications channels. Learn more at


American Express
Jane Di Leo, 212-640-8055


American Express
Jane Di Leo, 212-640-8055