'And then, she had the audacity to ask me for extra money to pay for the activity that nobody actually wants to do!'
My friend is having a rant. A justified rant, mind. And one that I recognise, only with different names and places. My friends and I seem to be caught in a period of hen do horror.
I am all for having a great time with your girlfriends before one of you becomes 'Mrs'. But pink L-plate sashes and those awful willy straws from Ann Summers don't seem to be enough anymore. The dirty kebab on the side of the road has been traded in for luxurious three-course fine dining in Europe. Suddenly country houses in the middle of British nowhere have become hen do de rigeur. Basically, the traditional hen party has been replaced with things we'd love to do, but can't afford or make time for on any occasion, let alone for a mate's hen do.
This overzealous planning isn't down to the bride. No, the one causing mass money panics, inbox combustions and pangs of guilt? The Maid of Honour.
Of course, I can't speak for all MoHs. The task can fall onto any of our mortal shoulders and most of us would consider ourselves reasonable and rational. We would want to give the bride a good time but would also understand sad wages and strict bosses. But my friends and I have witnessed even the most nice, most normal of women suddenly transforming into a kind of 'henzilla' with a predilection for unnecessary rigmarole when presented with the task of organising the party.
Our complaints aren't just an evidence-less moan. Even though we've been in the recession for about five years now (only five? Feels like forever), the average cost of a hen or stag party has risen year-on-year since 2008. For a hen do, you're looking at around £157 each. That's almost the same price as a Glasto ticket and there's a reason I never sign up when the time comes (and it's not the loos).
My friend, the one who is being suitably forced to pay extra for the activity that nobody wants to do (pottery), goes on to say that she's being dragged to Bristol on a WEEK NIGHT to look at 'pubs and places that we can go'.
'What about Google?!' she cries.
What about rational women? I wonder.
We know that the MoH, and presumably, best friend, wants the bride to have the best time, no holds barred. But in a lot of circumstances, what they're choosing for her, and the circumstance they're putting her pals in, is not what she herself would class as a 'best time'. It's presumed that most brides wouldn't want to put people out if they can't afford it, or make it complicated (15 email threads, discussing different aspects of the party is most definitely complicated). They wouldn't want their shy friend from yesteryear to be forced to come to a stripper party with all of her friends, who already know each other. Which is why some brides these days are arranging their own hen parties. Forget extra-curricular activities and inappropriate cakes, they're looking at easy spa days for their friends and family (Gran in a strip club doesn't end well), asking their friends what they think.
Are we being selfish? With the cost of attending a wedding as depressing as ever (in the US, 10% of guests go into debt just to attend), I'd say we aren't. Especially if you're a bridesmaid, too (although 9% of women are rejecting the offer now due to the cost, and potentially the fights. 73% of Brit brides fell out with their bridesmaids in the lead up to the wedding - and 11% claimed it was for money reasons). We love the bride, and want to be there for her, whether it's celebrating her last week as an unmarried lady, or celebrating her new life with her new husband. But money and time are factors that we, especially twenty-somethings, just can't ignore.