Very early on in my prolific career as a wedding guest I told my friends that I’d never go to an ‘abroad’ hen do – and I’d rather just say so now than come up with elaborate excuses whenever I received an email with the subject line ‘IBIZA CLUCK CLUCK!’
My frugal stance worked both ways: I wanted my hen to be a one-night-wonder in London – where we all lived – and felt it should cost £100 per head, all in.
To be clear, there is nothing I love more than a wedding and its related celebrations, but I have also always found them low-key stressful because of the inevitable expense involved (hen, travel, hotels, gifts), which is completely incompatible with my salary.
So I can relate to new research commissioned by SpareRoom, which reveals over a quarter of young people would rather miss out on a wedding, stag or hen do than face the financial anxiety caused by going.
This is thought to be down to the cost of living crisis, which in May saw some 88% of adults report an increase in their cost of living, with 44% admitting to buying less food than previously.
Pre-pandemic statistics found that guests paid an average of £391 each to attend a wedding.
Compounding the problem is that this summer is set to be wedding season on steroids as a backlog of couples can now marry without restrictions.
And now, if you believe everything you see online, you’ll know the norm is week-long benders in Las Vegas or Ibizan getaways involving private chefs. Some 25% of UK couples will pick an overseas wedding.
I binged on the social media coverage of the Dolce & Gabbana-sponsored nuptials of Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker earlier this year in Positano, Italy, knowing it would further a pervasive belief that weddings must be big, exotic and extremely post-worthy.
I’ve long felt a pressure to wear new clothes to weddings and if I sound miserly, I’m not alone. Mumsnet is a mouthpiece for many disgruntled by pressures to prove their support for a marriage by forking out.
Tales of people being demoted from bridesmaid duties because they couldn’t afford a spa weekend in a rural hotel or taking out credit cards to avoid admitting they don’t have the readies for a flight to Mykonos are rife.
I’m not suggesting it’s selfish to marry abroad. Two of my best friends had destination weddings and I was delighted to go – partly because I knew if I couldn’t have gone because of money, they would have understood.
But there are people who believe their pals should just suck up whatever costs are thrown at them. This reeks of entitled Main Character Energy.
However, if hosts are required to be understanding, guests have a duty to be honest. So if you can’t afford something say so immediately and firmly.
Perhaps these more financially restrictive times could bring about a renewed sense of perspective on what friendship and marriage is all about.
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