Forking Out For Hen, Stag or Hag Parties

A very good friend of mine is getting married in November, and another very good friend is planning the hag do.

I know I should be really excited about this: spending a weekend away with some of my closest friends, but I’m not.

All I can think about is how much it’s going to end up costing me.

Gay marriage might still be in its infancy, but ever since civil partnerships were legalised in 2005, gay people have embraced the hen and stag tradition with the same zealous abandon as their straight counterparts.

It’s been estimated that the average hen, stag or hag party now costs around £160 per person. Worse still, it’s often in the guise of organised fun. I'm of the opinion that if you have to organise fun, then maybe you shouldn’t be allowed to have it in the first place.

The hag do that I've been invited to is going to be in Blackpool. The shared hotel room, entry to a male strip show, a buffet "meal" with a cocktail and transfers there and back is going to be about £100 each

Only it won't just be £100. There'll be drinks to buy, clubs to get into, taxis back and food...

Anyway, Blackpool in November? Won't it be raining sideways? 

Asking someone to spend £160 for a night in Blackpool is absolutely fine so long as you understand that when they say no it isn't personal. 

Maybe it's selfish not to go. Certainly, the expectation is that I will. 

But it's awkward explaining why you don't want to go. Admitting that you earn less than your peers (in some cases considerably less) is never easy. To the person whose event you're ducking out of, how can it ever look anything other than personal? 

Of course, mostly they're all engaged, too. Quid pro quo, perhaps? I'll go to yours and you come to ours. There's the other problem: can I go to one but not another? 

I have 5 close friends all of whom are engaged and looking to marry in the next 18 months. If I were to go to each one and spend £160, then I'll be looking at a bill of £800. 


And this is all BEFORE the actual wedding. You know the important bit.

Traditionally, a hen or stag do was a few drinks down the local pub. Maybe the ladies would go to a local restaurant. Maybe the men would stagger into a gentlemen’s club. If it was a dead flash do then maybe there'd even be roe and chips at the chippie on the way home.

Hardly the way brides and grooms want to spend their final days of freedom now but at least it didn't cost £160.  

Even the hen and stag dos of the 1990s and 2000s were relatively minor: staggering pub-to-pub dressed in a thong or bunny ears with the odd inflatable penis, feather boa or sash. They weren't quite as glam as surfing lessons or a weekend in Marbella, but they did the job. They were inclusive. 

What boggles my head is how many of us actually hate organised days or weekends. We hate them before we’ve even paid our deposits. Women seem particularly hard done by when it comes to organised activities. Which makes me wonder how I might Derren Brown my own friends into coming on a holiday that I've chosen (one that wouldn't include an hour of pole or belly or burlesque dancing). 

Perhaps you’d like to spend an hour shaking a slippery nipple in a cocktail making class or, for the love of God, attending a life drawing class, but it isn't everyone's cup of tea. 

Furthermore, neither is afternoon tea. £20 a head for barely a slurp of champagne, a scone the size of a walnut and sandwiches assembled by ants is not how everyone envisages spending their lunch. 

Are we having fun yet, ladies and gents?

Of course, I’m being somewhat unfair. I’ll wager that plenty of people have had the night of their lives on pre-organised activity driven weekends. Plenty of people, too, probably think being clubbed over the head with an inflatable penis at a strip show in Blackpool is just about the best night ever, but the point is that not everyone does and not everyone wants to spend £160 doing it.

So, please, before you CC us all into the emails, before micromanaging every aspect of the weekend and before ignoring the fact that half your friends might be salaried below the living wage, remember that if you're asking people to spend more than they would on a normal night out, consider who it is you'll be costing out of the experience. And then don't be offended if they say they can't go. 

What's been your experience of hag, stag or hen parties? Do you think they're too expensive or shouldn't matter when you're doing it for your friends?

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