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I Went to 10 Weddings in One Year, Here's What I Learnt

I Attended 10 Weddings and 6 Hen Dos Last Year – Here's What I Learnt

In 2023, "Barbie"s Ken declared his job was just "beach". Well, my job last year felt very much like "wedding". With 10 weekends blocked out on the calendar, and 6 hen dos taking up more, it was a year to celebrate love and commiserate my bank balance. While I love nothing more than seeing my friends and family say "I do", there's no denying that each invite comes with a substantial cost.

According to a survey by American Express, the average wedding guest spends £1,045 per wedding. Per. Wedding. Presents for the bride and groom, accommodation, travel expenses, and outfits make up a lot of this cost. So if you have more than one wedding, it's likely you might need to sell your kidney to attend. I joke, but it is a lot.

There's also the sheer logistics of weddings and hens, and how they fit around work and other commitments. Having got married myself in 2021, I am under no illusion as to the cost of a guest list, so I am always so grateful to be invited. And, of course, many of the couples weren't to know they were one of ten for me. Yet weddings are full-on, long days. They also often involve travelling, meaning that working a full time job only for the whole weekend to be taken up with celebrating, saw my social battery running on empty with little time to recharge.

Don't get me wrong, I had a wonderful time at all of the weddings. I was a bridesmaid three times, went abroad for two weddings, and have memories to last a lifetime. But it took its toll. I even considered becoming a celebrant mid-summer as I can almost roll off the nuptials by heart. 2023 will forever be etched in my brain as the year I danced to "Wonderwall" by Oasis more times than I ever thought possible.

So for anyone who has a social diary full of weddings and hen dos this year, here's my tips on how to survive financially and mentally.

Rent a Wedding Guest Outfit

I love shopping, but sourcing a new outfit for every occasion is expensive. Plus, how often are you likely to pull out a wedding guest dress for a catch-up in Nandos? For the three weddings I was a bridesmaid for, my dresses were chosen and bought for me (and one I will definitely be wearing again so a bonus!) I wore a couple of dresses I already had in my wardrobe, borrowed one outfit from my very stylish mum for another, and bought a couple of new ones as well. But I also rented. Not only is the rental revolution a great way to find designer dresses that you would never normally be able to afford, it's a sustainable option. I felt super stylish for the day and knew the look wouldn't be cluttering my wardrobe.

Be Mindful of Accommodation

I made the mistake early of immediately assuming that a UK wedding that wasn't local to me would need me to stay in a hotel for two nights; the night before and the night of the wedding. Surely it would save stress if I just got to the venue early to settle in. However, on both occasions I did this, I was left £150 down for the privilege of staying the night before and hours to kill the morning of the wedding. I would rather have got up early and made the drive in the morning. Of course, there's the risk of traffic, but if you leave enough time, you should be fine. And you'll save some all-important money, too.

Also, book early. Don't leave it until the last minute, only to find the cheaper hotel option is sold out and you are forced to book the room that is essentially the bridal suite without the wedding discount.

Pace Yourself

I speak from experience: weddings are marathons, not sprints. There is no need to drink 6 glasses of Prosecco straight after the ceremony in excitement. There are hours left. So pace yourself and take snacks. I'm not even kidding. It can be a long time before you eat so sneaking a cereal bar in your clutch bag is always a good idea.

Photo Booths Are Never Not Fun

Who knew something as simple as a photo booth could equate to hours of fun? If only we were allowed props for passport photos. . . Seven of the ten weddings I went to had a photo booth and the queue never let up all night. Not only do they provide some much needed respite from the dancefloor and bar, they give guests an immediate souvenir and opportunity to return with various groups of people. And who doesn't love oversized sunglasses and a top hat?

Wedding Favours Are a Waste of Time

This is one for all the brides-to-be out there. I'm sorry to be so blunt, but ultimately, they are a big expense and I barely remember any of them. The best favours I've seen are charity donations in the guest's name or personalised poems as place cards. They gave a thoughtful touch, got all the guests talking and comparing, and felt truly special. It's the physical favours that generally miss the mark for me. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but I'm pretty sure every single packet of love hearts at my place setting, I have ended up unintentionally leaving on the table. Sorry!

Think Thoughtful Wedding Gifts

When it comes to wedding gifts, things get a little sticky. A large number of couples now ask for money towards their honeymoon, which then of course becomes a larger issue of how much should you give. I genuinely think it's best to give what you can afford and what you think is right. It depends how close you are to the couple, the expense you've paid to be a wedding guest, and your personal circumstances. Thoughtful gifts are always appreciated as well so you could always give less money and a cute print to go with it of a phrase that reminds you of them, for example.

It's OK to Say No

I have organised many hen dos in my time, and they are tricky business. Trying to keep everyone happy, costs down, but make it the most magical time for the bride is not easy. Due to my past hen successes, I was asked to organise a few hen dos last year and, let me tell the hen virgins amongst you, it's a full time job. I found myself swimming in spreadsheets, group WhatsApp chats, and internet tabs full of game ideas. Cue: late night tears. Ultimately, I should have asked for help or, for some parts, told the bride I couldn't quite do it all. I ended up resenting parts of the weekend and that is not nice. So remember, it's ok to push back a little. I wish I did.

Remember to Rest

While weddings and hens are lots of fun, they can take it out of you. I was often exhausted from 12 hour days, plus travelling, before heading straight back into a week of work and social engagements. Perhaps I'm just getting older, but I should have given myself some time to recuperate. I should have booked the odd Monday off work, or blanked out the weeknights from social events immediately following a wedding-related weekend. Sure, this might sound dramatic, but when your social calendar is full, it's easy to forget you need some time out, too. If your summer is looking to be full of festivals, weddings, barbecues, and days out, factor in some down time just to get yourself back on track. Trust me, you need it.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Joely Chilcott
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