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‘I didn’t want to spend thousands on a friend’s hen do and wedding – we don’t talk any more’ – The Telegraph

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A few years ago Pooja, 32, received invitations to nine weddings.

Faced with attending nine hen dos and nine weddings, all within the confines of her annual leave, she felt overwhelmed.

“I realised at some point that I just couldn’t do it all. It was mentally, physically and financially draining,” she says.

One of the brides was a close friend from her teenage years.

“It was the type of friendship where you talk to them almost every other day on the phone,” she says.

But the hen weekend cost around £600 for flights alone – plus accommodation and activities.

“Then there was an expectation to cover some part of her flight and Airbnb, as well as all of her meals and drinks when we were there.”

Pooja wasn’t close friends with anyone else attending the hen weekend and felt she was only saying yes out of obligation.

“That does matter at some point when you have multiple hen parties that you’re going to, where it’s the same thing over and over again.”

On top of the hen do, the wedding itself in India would have cost around £2,500 for flights and accommodation for her and her partner.

Pooja called her friend to explain that she couldn’t afford either event – both financially and in holiday time.

“She took it personally,” says Pooja. “We had a massive falling out. We don’t talk any more.”

Wedding season should be a time of joy and elation, but for many it provokes feelings of resentment and fear for your finances.

From buying a new colour co-ordinated wardrobe of themed outfits to shelling out for multiple pre-wedding events – such as the hen do, the bridal shower (an American import complete with gifts) and even the sten (a new hen/stag hybrid) – attendees’ finances and friendships are being stretched to breaking point.

According to research conducted by Aviva, the average hen do costs attendees £652 if they are in the UK, rising to £1,158 for a weekend away.

That’s before the cost of attending the wedding, which in 2023 cost on average £488 for a UK-based wedding and £978 if abroad.

A poll by Life insurance broker Reassured found that 42pc of people have felt pressured into attending the hen dos they were invited to, regardless of cost. 

Years later, when Pooja extended an invitation to her own wedding, her friend declined. Now, they exchange pleasantries occasionally, but their bond has never fully recovered. 

“It is sad that not attending her hen and wedding means that our years’ worth of friendship dwindled,” says Pooja.

“The biggest takeaway from this for me was when you are saying no, it is a massive decision.” One that can be friendship-ending. 

Sibling rivalry

While it’s difficult to decline a hen do invitation from a friend, from a sister it’s almost impossible. Molly*, 28, experienced this first-hand when her sister got engaged last year.

Struggling financially at the time, initially she suggested a UK-based event. However, her younger sister, the maid of honour, insisted on hosting it abroad. 

With fewer financial responsibilities, Molly’s younger sister didn’t consider money an issue. But for Molly, she had to set a precedent.

“I know that I’m going to have another four of these in the next two years,” she says. “I need to set a boundary, even if it is my sister, that I’m only going to spend this much.”

In the end, Molly’s younger sister planned the entire event without her input.

She found herself committed to a weekend in Barcelona with 15 of the bride’s closest friends which cost £500 for flights and accommodation. She was also forced to pay for matching swimsuits, gift bags, decorations and personalised t-shirts. 

“I was raging. The whole thing just made me so angry – how much money we were spending, the planning, the arguments, everything that went into it. It was just chaos,” says Molly.

As sisters, they also ended up covering the bride’s expenses, despite Molly having taken a massive pay cut that year while changing careers.

During a boat trip, another planned expense, Molly’s younger sister turned to her and asked: “So when are you planning the UK hen do?”

Great expectations

Friendships and family relationships often get complicated when money enters the equation. The intense competitiveness to prove one’s closeness to the bride can turn these celebrations into nightmares.

Chloe*, 31, was maid of honour for her best friend’s wedding. The pair had been friends since school and the bride was marrying her childhood sweetheart.

She says: “I felt the pressure to make sure she had the most amazing, memorable time because it was on me, it was on my shoulders.” Chloe was also feeling the pressure because she knew the bride’s sister-in-law had been vying for the role.

Chloe planned a lavish Ibiza do, no expense spared. She was worried other people, namely the bride’s sister-in-law, would judge her efforts. “I wanted to prove myself,” she explains. “I wanted money to not really be an object.”

However, her plan’s were quickly vetoed by the rest of the bridal party, who baulked at the costs: £250 flights, £4,000 accommodation split between the group, £60 club tickets, £60 boat hire and £60 quad biking experience. 

“A few people went to the bride and complained about the cost. She then got upset because she felt like nobody wanted to come,” says Chloe.

The main person pushing back against the cost was the bride’s sister-in-law. “Me and her had quite a few tense words,” says Chloe.

“I felt like she was basically trying to take over the hen do. She was going to the bride and saying my plans were insane, which they were insane, but that is what the bride wanted.” 

Chloe then planned trips to Malta and Budapest, before finally settling on Barcelona, estimating around £300 per person. But when the pandemic struck the trip was cancelled, leaving Chloe scrambling to organise a Covid-compliant hen party.

“Every single thing went wrong from start to finish,” she says.

Ultimately, the hen do was hosted in the sister-in-law’s garden with festival-style wristbands, stick-on tattoos of the bride’s face and balloon arches.

While Chloe was disappointed that she couldn’t do more for her friend, the bride was grateful and had a great time. “In the end, I think she was just happy to even have a hen do.”

*names have been changed

This post was originally published on this site

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