Why I spend £6,000 a year on bachelorette parties

I don’t mean to sound like an insufferable spoilsport, but when you attend so many bachelorette parties and weddings (and they seem to get more lavish by the minute) , the money begins to accumulate. I spend between £5,000 and £6,000 a year on other people’s big days. They’re (almost always) a lot of fun, I’m always grateful to have been invited, and I don’t claim it’s a big deal to spend the weekend getting drunk in a Travelodge just outside Bath. But when you board another train in Paddington at the end of a long week, armed with mini bottles of prosecco and bags of M&S crisps for the third Friday in a row, the whole ordeal and unnecessary cost of everything it’s starting to hit home.

I’m not alone – one in ten of us say we spend as much on a hen as on a summer vacation. The national average is around £250, according to a recent survey, although many find themselves shelling out significantly more. Add that to the money you’ll inevitably spend to attend the wedding (factoring in accommodation, travel, a gift, a panic-bought dress) and you’ll soon be racking up a big bill, especially if one (or both) is abroad. A day or two of annual leave is also often required, meaning you may end up wasting a week of your vacation allowance just to get to hen parties and people’s weddings.

Brides Magazine has predicted 1,100,000 bachelor and bachelorette parties will take place this year, with a double whammy of celebrations as so many celebrations finally take place after being postponed during lockdown. The problem is, somewhere in the last couple of years, chicken backs seem to have become a law unto themselves. Nothing is considered too much now. “We have people going to Vegas with us for around £800,” says Alicia Currie of hen and stag planning company Off Limits. And that doesn’t even include thefts or, presumably, any money you might leave on the blackjack table.

“They’re looking for bucket list opportunities — we’re in a different world now where people want this incredible image to show off on their social media,” Currie says. “People say, we want to do something better than the last hen, we want to make it memorable and do something different that we’ve never done before.”

Weekends abroad are popular (Barcelona and Marbella are current hit favorites, says Currie). A friend recalls a very expensive trip to Greece where everyone was forced to wear matching £150 swimsuits. But it’s the UK-based hens that can often be the more expensive option, thanks in part to this obsession with building a full roster of activities.

No longer content with a round of Mr. and Mrs. and a butler in the buff, bridesmaids are now expected to line up an array of entertainment. A theme is required – “festival” being among the most popular. A friend is currently in intense discussions on a WhatsApp group of bridesmaids about how to get a Glastonbury-style placard with the bride’s name delivered to a glamping site in Lincolnshire. Another has planned an entire Tudor-themed weekend, complete with (strangely) rented sumo suits for a fight game in the Airbnb garden.

Private chefs have fun, I am told, as does life drawing. A friend recalls being forced to learn a choreographed routine to a song by Cher which they were then filmed performing as if in a music video. Assault classes are popular (honestly, you couldn’t pay me to do a Tough Mudder any day of the week, let alone a hen weekend). In Newcastle, you can now make a Squid Game-style survival of the fittest game, which sounds pretty dreadful. Really, the sky is the limit. A friend’s bridesmaid had sent two Pomeranians from Essex for everyone to play with while they recovered from their Sunday morning hangovers. I prefer that to the obstacle course, but I still don’t know why I give 20 pounds to pet someone’s dog.

Lucy Gordon, a 33-year-old property consultant from London, remembers finding herself riding a horse on a bachelorette party, despite being terrified of it. “The bride and her classmates who organized it are really into riding. No one else was and in fact I’m terrified of horses. They sent the list saying that’s what we all do, let us know if there’s anything you don’t want to be part of. I said, I don’t want to do horse riding in particular, so how much should I pay if I don’t want to? “No no, that’s the price whether you do it or not.” So I did it because I thought, well, I paid for it.

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