Woman admits she's spent £22,000 attending a decade long wedding season
It’s wedding season, so if you are on your fifth wedding of the year and at the point where you never want to see a piece of confetti again, spare a thought for this woman.
Jennie Thomson, 35, has had a decade long wedding season, attending 27 weddings and 14 hen dos, at an estimated cost of £22,000.
The social media executive, of Loughton, east London, says she feels honoured to have been involved so many times.
Jennie said: ‘I’ve worked out that I’ve spent about £500 per event – be that a hen do or wedding. Over 10 years, that’s added up to £22,000.
‘There were times when I thought to myself, “Oh God, I’m spending an awful lot on other people’s weddings.” But then I remember what an honour it is to be invited to someone’s special day, to catch up with old friends and celebrate.
‘Everyone has a period in their lives where it seems like all they do is go to weddings, and yes it’s busy, and yes it’s expensive – but it’s also important to enjoy it as you’ll never get it back.’
For Jennie the decade-long wedding season began back in 2009, with a hen do in Ibiza followed by the big day in Bedfordshire.
Since then, she’s attended another 13 hen dos, 26 weddings and has been bridesmaid seven times.
‘The most I attended in one year was about seven or eight, in around 2012,’ she laughed. ‘I am very lucky that I have a big circle of friends.
‘I’ve got girl friends from all times of my life – home, school, university and work. They quickly add up.
‘Other people would joke, saying I was constantly at weddings, and there were times when I just wanted a quiet weekend to myself, but on the other hand it’s so lovely to be invited that you never want to say no.’
Hen dos have included destinations like Amsterdam, Marbella, Dublin and Disneyland Paris
She continued: ‘I’ve done some great things on hen dos. The first one I went to was Ibiza, which was just epic.
‘Disneyland Paris was so fun, running around in fancy dress then having lunch in the Cinderella castle.
‘I honestly don’t begrudge the cost. It’s an honour to be asked, and the couple wants you there because you’re a significant part of their lives.
‘Plus, I love to travel – though you don’t always see all the cultural sights on a hen do.’
But, while Jennie is all too happy to shell out to celebrate other people tying the knot, not everybody agrees.
A survey of just over 2,000 people by travel company Culture Trip in June 2019 revealed that 38 per cent of respondents had turned down an invitation to a destination wedding, sacrificing their relationship with the bride and groom in the process.
Meanwhile, 21 per cent of people asked wished it was easier to turn down this kind of invite without offending the couple, according to the report, which found that Brits are spending an average of £1,463 per celebration – more than ever – on weddings, hens and stags abroad.
Jennie, who works for the company doing Culture Trip’s PR, continued: ‘It can be a really difficult conversation to have. I’ve never experienced this myself, but you do hear of people holding it against someone for not being able to afford to go to something.
‘Weddings do come with a certain amount of pressure, as it’s such a big day and such an honour to be asked.
‘At the end of the day you have to remain true to yourself. I am lucky that I earn well, but I’ve always lived within my means. It can be tough, but you just have to say no if you can’t afford something, then maybe look for another way to celebrate and spoil the bride and groom.
‘Once, I couldn’t go to a wedding as it clashed with another, so I made sure I took the couple out for dinner once they were back from honeymoon and made a fuss of them that way.’
Of course, it is not just the travel and accommodation that make weddings pricey – there are gifts and clothes too.
But, a dab-hand by now, Jennie recycles her outfits, making sure she rotates them around different groups of friends.
‘I try to make sure I wear something that particular group of people haven’t seen before,’ she added. ‘With gifts, I prefer to give something personal rather than cash in an envelope.
‘A lot of people do think it’s slightly cheeky to ask for money when you’ve paid to be there, but if that’s what they want, I don’t mind at all.
‘You never know somebody’s personal circumstances. They may be totally spent out funding the wedding themselves and just want money to go towards a bit of a break, rather than a physical object as a gift.’
Reflecting on the rising cost of being a wedding guest, Jennie, who has no upcoming nuptials in the diary, concluded: ‘I know £22,000 does sound like a lot to have spent and I can understand why some people may feel like, if they never get married, they may not get that back.
‘But at the end of the day, you don’t give to receive. I’m happy to spend this money to go and have a fantastic experience sharing a special day with somebody who means a lot to me.
‘I think it’s important not to get into the politics of weddings and to just focus on all the enjoyment you can get out of them.
‘Yes, the costs can be staggering, but staying in the UK doesn’t necessarily make things cheaper than if you go abroad.
‘Weddings are an expensive game, but I wouldn’t change the amount I’ve spent for the world.’
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