SHIVERING as the rain pelted down on me, I breathed in the smell of sweaty plastic and felt nauseous.
Dressed in a giant, inflatable football and hungover from partying until 3am the night before, running around in the rain wasn’t at the top of my to-do list.
But on the hen do of my football-mad friend Anna there were no two ways about it – I was taking part in football zorbing, whether I liked it or not.
When I hit 30 in 2017, my friends started getting engaged in droves. Quickly, our summers changed from being filled with single girls’ nights out to being block-booked by weddings.
Watching your mates get married is great fun, but it gets expensive when you have to do it every other weekend. And even more annoying is the shelling out of vast sums of money on the accompanying hen dos.
Weddings were banned when lockdown hit in March, but last month the government published new guidelines as things eased up. Socially distanced weddings are now to be kept as short as possible, guest lists are capped at 30 and there’s no singing allowed. As a result, three-quarters of couples have postponed their big day – and their stag and hen dos.
'I got my weekends back'
Hen parties are big business – the industry is worth £1.25billion, while the average hen or stag party costs £471 to attend. In my experience, they can cost more, especially if you have to go abroad.
In my time, I’ve attended hen dos as close by as Brighton – and as far away as Barcelona. But in the age of coronavirus, the thought of catching a flight for the weekend now feels completely outlandish.
So I’ll be honest, I was overjoyed when the four dos I had coming up this year were cancelled and I got my weekends back.
Lockdown has been hideous in so many ways, but having a clear diary, free of pink, fluffy cowboy hats, warm prosecco and frantic WhatsApp group chat has felt very freeing.
My bank balance is also loving it – especially as I’m in the process of saving a deposit to buy my first flat – I reckon I’ve saved £1,500 this year from cancelled hen dos alone.
My friend Lara, 34, agrees: “Over the years the hen parties I’ve had to go on
have got more and more ostentatious,” she says.
“It feels like it’s rare to have a low-key night out in your hometown. Now, hen dos are a minimum of two nights away from home and sometimes longer.
"I had to go on a four-night trip to New York for one, which set me back £2,000 and included going to two Broadway shows. It was amazing, but ended up costing more than a family holiday!”
While I’ve had utter JOMO at my hen-party-free year, there was one that snuck in before the pandemic hit. Looking back now at photos and videos from my friend Anna’s hen do in Leeds in February, I so feel a huge wave of nostalgia.
We had a delicious curry and sang karaoke, and then went on a ridiculous drunken stretch- limo tour of the city where we went to uni. OK, we also had to do hungover football zorbing in the rain because she’s a sporty type, but the rest was brilliant.
The pictures are both joyous and bittersweet, as we had no idea of the life- changing lockdown that was about to hit us.
While Anna sadly had to postpone her big day until next summer, when it does happen, I know that it’ll be the best day ever.
Next year, I’ll also be a bridesmaid for my friend Sarah, and when we organise her hen do it’ll be with a renewed sense of enthusiasm after a break from the usual fatigue.
As long as I don’t have to go football zorbing again, that is.
For now, I’m going to enjoy my pleasingly empty diary for the rest of the year – and strap myself in for when 2021 hits.
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