The Pink Tax & The Hidden Costs of Being a Bride

Risky Exposure Photography

June 18, 2024

The discovery of a Pink Tax – that is, additional and unnecessary costs specifically for women – or the very idea that being a woman is simply more expensive is not new. Anyone who has had the displeasure of purchasing sanitary items quadri-weekly for three decades at retail price will know the weight of that particular injustice.

But what does seem to be creeping to the surface in the UK’s billion-pound wedding industry is just how much more it costs to be a woman getting married rather than a man. And we’re not just talking dress-and-makeup over shirt-and-tie, either. Here are four expensive things you may not have thought of that disproportionally affect a bride.

Changing Your Name

A new UK passport, required because a name has changed, currently costs £88.50.

I know.

Take a moment and gather yourself.

This is not specific to marriage; this also applies to name changes due to adoption, gender transitioning, divorce, etc. But should a woman choose to alter her name in any way to reflect her recent marriage, as is tradition (and in some countries / cultures, the law), this is a non-negotiable cost from the UK Home Office. Changing a name on a driving licence is free, but some insurance providers will charge an administration fee for change of details – which includes name changes.

It’s not just a financial cost, either – changing your name and title, if you wish it, on everything from your driving licence and electricity bill to your Boots Advantage card takes time, so much time. It some cases it’s as simple as logging in and amending one’s Personal Details section, but in some cases, it takes emails, phone calls, two-factor authentication processes, sending in your one and only original marriage certificate by post, One-Time Passwords and a human sacrifice to Cthulhu. 

Some companies now exist that will manage your change of name for you – but of course, it’ll cost you. NameSwitch packages start at £29.95, but you still have to fill in all the forms yourself. Name change is of course a deeply personal choice, and not something you are legally obligated to do in this day and age – but the weight of social or perhaps familial pressure to do so can make it seem that way.

Dress Cleaning

If you thought taking a dress up at the hem was expensive, have you seen a quote to dry clean and box it?

Many brides wish to keep their wedding dress after the event, either for the memories and posterity alone or to potentially pass down to a future child or child-in-law. As such, many companies now offer a clean and box service, in which the dress is dry-cleaned (at a price befitting its stature as a wedding dress, of course!) and then carefully oil-free-paper-wrapped and secured in a loft-proof, life-proof box until such time as you wish to untie the ribbon and gaze upon it. This privilege can start from £79 just for the dry-clean if the dress in question is quite simple – double it for length, lace, appliqués, and for a train, double it again. Companies I looked at were charging £69.99 – £89 just for the keepsake box, with three cleaning packages ranging from £229 to £299, with additional add-ons for shoe cleaning and bridesmaids’ dresses to boot.

If you’re already thinking, a big fat I DON’T to that, consider trashing your dress for a fun, final farewell.

Wedding Night Lingerie

Something else marketed entirely to women is the need for yet another fashion statement besides The Dress itself – the wedding night. Babydolls, basques, stockings and suspenders, lacy teddies or just a good old-fashioned bra-and-knickers set, brides are then informed that a night-time outfit is necessary as well, when the groom will no doubt just drop the boxers he was wearing that day. They might be brand-new Calvin Kleins, maybe even matched to the colour scheme of the day, if you’re very lucky. But knowing some of the menfolk as I do, that enjoy a devoted, lifelong companionship with their socks and underwear, it’s not that likely.

A two-piece black lacy lingerie set from high street retailer Primark starts at a not-terrible £12, but the Boux Avenue Bridal Lingerie section sells the ‘Tara’ line individually as follows: a basque long-line bra for £58, corresponding suspender belt for a further £28, hold-up stockings for another £12 – and don’t forget the actual knickers themselves at £20. That’s over £100 to look good after midnight, if you can even be bothered to change into it after your reception at all.

Period Problems

Period sex is still a huge modern taboo, and it’s not even necessarily about that itself. Wearing any colour other than black or red (very cool by the way, and worth considering) leaves any menstruating human open to the can-you-check-the-back-of-my-skirt-if-I-walk-in-front fear, and the last thing you want is leaks on your wedding outfit, of all outfits. There’s period pain, cramping and bloating right out of the seamstress’s handiwork to consider, not to mention turning into Te Ka from Moana at the slightest inconvenience, and the dreaded Period Poo. No one wants to deal with any of that on their wedding day.

Luckily, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. High street pharmacies can provide a short course of progesterone that will delay your period for the wedding day and honeymoon, costing anywhere from £9.40 to £29.95, depending on how long you want it for. There is a caveat to this – if you already take the contraceptive combination pill, you don’t need to pay, you can just keep taking it instead of taking the break – same with the POP (progesterone-only) pill. Be mindful if you buy online, you will have to go to a pharmacy or a branch of Boots to collect it, as there will be medical questions.

The good thing about all this, however, is every single thing on this list is optional. If you’re looking to save money on the big day, these can be a good place to start – and it’s not that awkward to book a flight in your maiden name until your passport expires of its own accord, and we all know Te Ka was the real star of Moana. 

About Emma Marns

Emma Marns is a freelance journalist, wedding enthusiast, rock ’n’ roll fan and author of one novel, The Walk. She works at The University of Essex and lives in Hullbridge with her husband and daughter. You can find her on Instagram @emmamarns_author.