Could dating Regency-style save you money?

4 min | 17 June 2024

The Chase team

In their songs of courtly love, medieval troubadours pined from afar, while Regency ladies and gentlemen took their first steps to romance at dances. London-based Nikki, of no-spend week fame, compares the costs of courtship rituals of the past with today’s dates.

Visions of dating in days gone by conjure up images of gowns and glamour, but how do the costs of olden-day courting compare with today? Here’s how it all added up for me and my boyfriend.

A date in 1819: quadrilles and cheap thrills

Despite the opulence and apparent cost of participating in the social season, the actual courtship activities of choice for Regency couples could be quite low-cost.

A focus on fast-tracking engagement and marriage, coupled with restrictive social mores, was far removed from my visions of letters on fine stationery and elaborate flower arrangements.

In actual fact, the era actually left couples few choices of pre-engagement activities beyond dances and going for walks.

An evening of Regency-style romance

In our best attempt to approximate the customs of the day, our evening begins with a picturesque walk around Regent’s Park. I charm him with sparkling witticisms; he retorts with wry asides.

While it may be considerably more difficult to dance the quadrille at Almack’s today (a social club of the era), we have nevertheless chosen to seek diversion at a fashionable club.

We arrive, present our tickets (£10 for two) and join the rest of our stylish set. We spend the evening dancing, enjoying light refreshments (£10.50) and sharing meaningful glances.

Club cover charge for two: £10

Refreshments: £10.50

Walk: £0

Total: £20.50

A date in 2024: rooftop romances, sky-high prices

Today’s dating etiquette is decidedly less prescribed. With more focus on getting to know someone than on the end goal, the whole ritual can get complicated – and expensive.

Wanting to impress a potential partner is natural, but choosing activities that fit their social media aesthetic is a uniquely modern concern.

Luckily, the internet offers a number of first-date ideas that address this directly.

A day of modern dating

Why not test potential partners’ problem-solving skills out in London at an escape room (£72 for two) or show off your strength at axe throwing (£64 for two, and an additional £9 to pre-order pizza)?

If you’d rather meet for drinks, a number of bars offer high-rise views – at high prices to match. A cocktail at one well-known venue will set you back at least £25.

A few affordable alternatives

Of course, there are other options. Choosing an activity that speaks to your interests (and budget) will not only help the other person get to know you better; it might genuinely impress them.

Here are some of my favourite lower-cost date ideas:

See a film: Major chains can be pricey, but whether you’re more rom-com or melodrama, repertory cinemas can offer more interesting fare at a far lower cost.

Go record shopping: The perfect opportunity to chat about music and see whether someone can stand you talking endlessly about music (n.b. depending on what you collect, this might end up being the most expensive suggestion in the article.)

Take a long walk: Plan a route around key examples of modernist architecture, musicians’ childhood homes or whatever else you’re into. The Regency may have had it right on this one.

Adding it all up

  • Pining from afar: £0
  • A Regency romance: £20.50 for two
  • A modern-day date: £70, approximately, for two
  • The difference: approximately £49.50

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