Wedding Guests Spend An Average Of $539 On Each Wedding They Attend

05/01/2013 06:57pm ET

It can be expensive to throw a wedding -- and as anyone who's been invited to a wedding knows, it can also be expensive to attend one.

An American Express survey revealed Monday that this year, guests expect to spend an average of $539 for each wedding they attend -- an increase of $200 from 2012. The survey also found that members of the bridal party estimate spending $577, though The Knot estimates that bridesmaids may spend as much as $1,385.

The cost of travel, gifts, new outfits, and a bachelor/ette party can add up quickly, causing some guests to feel as though they simply can't afford to attend. That's why budget-minded people who are invited weddings may opt to turn down the invitations, according to a Reuters article published Tuesday.

If you're in your late 20s, you may receive dozens of wedding invitations from friends all around the same time (the average marrying age is now 27 for women and 29 for men, according to a recent study by the National Marriage Project).

But is it bad etiquette to turn down a wedding invitation because you don't think you can afford to go? We asked celebrity wedding planner Sharon Sacks (who recently planned Michael Jordan's wedding) if finances are an acceptable reason to RSVP "not attending."

Sacks said she thinks this is a problem for a very specific demographic. The generation that is currently marrying is the same generation that was graduating college in the throes of the economic recession and have since been recovering from it.

As long as a guest alerts the couple in advance that they won't be attending, it is acceptable to turn down a wedding invitation because the guest can't afford it, Sacks said. Brides- and grooms-to-be shouldn't be offended if not everyone goes to their wedding -- Sacks said wedding planners usually expect 60 percent attendance.

If their finances are tight but they still want to attend, guests can save money by carpooling to the wedding, pooling in on a gift, or sacrificing a truly amazing dress for one that doesn’t break the bank.

"In any event, if you can’t attend, buying a budget-conscious gift from the couple’s registry will send the right message and illustrate that you care about their union and the celebration. It won’t be free, but you won’t be spending the kind of money that attending would have required," Sacks said.

For wedding gift ideas that don't break the bank, click here.

Click through the slideshow below to see which wedding etiquette rules are OK to break.

Wedding Etiquette Rules You Can Break

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