Why You’re About to Spend $700 on Every Wedding This Season. Ouch.

Running out of room on your refrigerator for save the dates? While it’s super fun to celebrate with your friends and family as they exchange their ‘I dos,’ there’s one thing that getting invited to all of those nuptials isn’t so good for—your bank account!

cost to attend wedding

Photo by Gades Photography

So how much does it cost to attend a wedding?

According to the most recent American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, the average wedding guest is now spending $673 on each wedding he or she attends, which is up from last year’s figure of $592. Yikes.

What are we spending all of this dough on? Airfare is the biggest item ($225 on average), then hotel ($170), then dining out while we’re at our destinations ($170), and, finally, dressing up for the main event ($95). Numbers in all of these categories went up $30-$100+ from where they were just last year. And with destination weddings growing in popularity, whether you’re jetting off to Jamaica or taking the train to Vermont, we wouldn’t be surprised to see those numbers continue to rise…

So, what’s a (nearly broke) guest to do? As wedding season ramps up, remember these top money-saving tips:

1. For airfare: Shop around and set alerts well in advance so you can get the best possible price for your trip. (Sites like Kayak.com make this super easy.) Plus, signing up for airline rewards programs allows you to accrue miles and, eventually, score a free flight.

2. For lodging: If the wedding accommodations hotel is out of your budget, get together with some friends to score an Airbnb or HomeAway rental. You can also save by splitting rooms rather than getting your own if the hotel is the only option.

3. For attire: Instead of dropping major money a formal dress for a black tie affair, borrow a gown from a friend or rent one from a site like RentTheRunway for a fraction of the purchase price. And if you are going to buy, opt for a versatile dress you can easily re-wear.

4. For the shower: While members of the bridal party only spend $28 more on wedding expenses than the average guest (according to AmEx), they do have additional pre-wedding costs that others don’t. But celebrating the bride with a bridal shower and bachelorette party doesn’t need to put you into debt—work with your fellow maids to brainstorm ideas that won’t break the bank. Expensive doesn’t equal meaningful, after all!

5. For the gift: When you’re traveling from afar, you may not be able to afford a pricey present for the bride and groom—which is to be expected. Use the registry to choose a gift that’s in your budget (even if it’s a measuring cup!) and write a heartfelt card to go with it. Your kind words will be just as, if not more, appreciated as the gift itself.