12/12/2013 02:10 pm ET Updated Feb 11, 2014

Are Weddings Getting Too Costly For Guests? Tips For Keeping Costs Low

Today the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. runs over $27,000. What about the costs for wedding guests and bridesmaids? Are weddings becoming expensive for them, too? You bet they are!

I was shocked to learn in a report that a bridesmaid typically spends over $1,600 per wedding, including the cost of the bridesmaid dress, accessories, travel to the wedding, engagement gift, bridal shower gift, and wedding gift.

What if you are a guest but not in the bridal party? According to a recent American Express survey, the average cost of attending a wedding, including expenses for hotel stays, bachelor and bachelorette parties, child care, and party attire reached roughly $539 in 2013. Surveyed wedding guests admitted to spending around $179 on gifts if they were a close family member, $66 if they were a coworker and $79 if they were a friend on the outside of the couple's close-knit group. Wow!

It's no surprise that an American Consumer Credit Counseling poll found that 43 percent of Americans said they declined to attend a wedding for financial reasons and that 36 percent said they went into debt to attend a friend's wedding. I know several people who have given up their own personal vacations due to the high costs of attending weddings. One of them had been invited to three weddings and was a bridesmaid in two of them. Another was a young man who had been invited to two weddings of close family members and had to travel over 1,000 miles for one of the weddings.

If you still want to have an expensive elaborate wedding -- who's not to say you should have the wedding of your dreams -- go ahead, but I do recommend you be sensitive to people's feelings and their pocketbooks. One of my cousins chose a china pattern so expensive, no one could afford to buy it from her registry. What happens when a wedding gets too expensive for the guests and it starts to impact their own family budgets? Is it okay to decline attending a destination wedding due to the high travel and lodging costs for the guests?

What do you think -- are bridal attendant and guest expenses getting out of control? If you are mother of the bride or mother of the groom, how do you feel about these costs for friends and family members? What would you do about it?

Here are some tips for keeping costs down for your guests:

  1. Have items in your gift registry that span across many price points with some starting at $15 or $25.
  2. Consider registering at both affordable and upscale stores.
  3. If you do pick out a china pattern, cookware or linens, make sure guests can buy individual items rather than a whole set to keep their gift costs low.
  4. Bridesmaid dresses can be quite costly. There are several possibilities to help keep costs for your bridesmaids lower. You can use a discount or low-cost source. Let your bridesmaids use dresses they currently own as long as they fit your wedding color theme.
  5. Don't have a big engagement party. Instead, keep it small with just close family and friends.
  6. Consider picking a wedding location that is easy for your guests to travel to.
  7. You can always specify 'no gifts' on your wedding invitation.
  8. Some bachelorette and bachelor parties have become quite elaborate with trips to Las Vegas or Miami South Beach. You can help your bridesmaids keep costs low by staying local.
  9. Groomsmen also can get hit with big wedding expenses. Help them out too by letting them wear suits they already own instead of renting or buying a new tuxedo.