Authors: Carmen Cox
(NEW YORK) -- Wedding season will soon be in full bloom and with it, rapidly depleted back accounts, not just for the people paying for the events but also those invited to them.
But on the bright side, as a survey by American Express Spending and Saving Tracker discovered, guests will be spending quite a bit less on average this year than in 2011.
The price tag for gifts, travel, clothing and wedding preparations will amount to about $339 -- which sounds steep, but really isn’t given that the cost this time last year was a whopping $490.
In 2012, gifts alone for close family members averaged $196, but that's now down to $166. The amount spent for newlyweds considered close friends drops to $105, while co-workers who get married are only worth $56 on average per gift from guests.
About four in ten guests say they determine what to spend based on their relationship to the couple, while a third say their personal budgets will dictate how much the gift will cost.
Overall, guests are more inclined to purchase gifts from a registry -- probably because it requires less thought -- even as couples would really prefer cash instead.
As far as what they regard as the best part of the wedding, just over 60 percent of the 1,500 adults surveyed say food is what they look forward to the most, with the venue, entertainment and wedding cake following the meal in importance.
Guests also say that the happy couple could help themselves financially by eliminating things like "save the dates," transportation for the wedding party or guests and party favors.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio