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Young Lady's Season

Details on the cost of a Lady's Season

What’s a Regency-era historical romance without a young lady’s Season? Let’s put the cost of a modest Season into perspective, keeping in mind the costs vary wildly depending on if it’s her come-out Season, if she’ll be taking her curtsy before the queen, and her family’s circumstances (do they own their own London home; are they living in a fashionable area, etc.)

The minimum cost for a lady’s Season is around £900, Georgian era pricing, and that is seriously frugal living on the part of the family and the young lady’s wardrobe. A more well-off family could spend around £40,000 (or more--Georgian era pricing) on one young lady for a single Season.

More perspective: The average annual income for a peer or well-off gentlemen was £10,000. The Bennet’s income in Pride and Prejudice was £2000. The Dashwoods’ income in Sense and Sensibility was £500. A labourer’s income was about £15 on average.

Ready for how those numbers look today?

900 is equivalent to £92,965.00 today

40,000 is equivalent to £4,131,777.91 today

Something important to take note of is who would have had a Season, who wouldn't, and how many Seasons a young lady would realistically have had. Having a come-out Season in London was not as popular in the Georgian era as historical romances make them out to be.

Most families of gentry would not have been in London for the Parliamentary session, would not have wanted to spend the money, and would more than likely have arranged marriages with their daughters to someone local, such as a neighbour, or a friend of the family.

Aristocratic families would most likely be in London for the Parliamentary session, and a come-out Season would be the perfect way to get the eldest daughter in front of eligible bachelors amongst the peerage and their family. It would be of the utmost importance for the eldest daughter to marry well. If the eldest daughter has a successful come-out Season, the younger daughters, should be assured successful matches without needing a come-out Season themselves. After the expense of the eldest, it's not likely the younger ones would have the chance anyway. Many aristocrat families would not need to display their daughters, though, as they would have arranged the marriage without needing a come-out Season, but the timing, the company, and the cost would be more likely amongst the aristocracy than the genry.

The most likely young ladies to have a come-out Season would be those of wealthy merchants hoping to show their daughters to eligible aristocratic families. Wealthy merchants would be the most likely to afford a Season and the most in need of introducing their daughters since they would not have the social connections for an arranged marriage. Securing invitations would be their challenge, however.

A young lady would more than likely only have one come-out Season. If she did not secure a match after her first Season, it would be beyond humiliating, not to mention beyond even the wealthiest of families' means, to support a second Season. A young lady would have one chance to secure a good marriage, after which she should hope whatever social networking she and her family had done would help her in the future.

There is a difference between women, married or unmarried, participating in the Season and having a Season. Daughters and wives of aristocratic families would likely all participate in the Season, which meant little more than being in London while their husbands/fathers took their seats for the Parliamentary session, calling on and receiving calls from neighbours, attending a handful of social engagements. Having a full blown Season in which a young lady is in search of a husband would involve having a sponsor, a full wardrobe, attending as many social engagements as possible, calling on as many people as possible to be seen and make connections, and more, all of which would be far more expensive, showy, and involved than simply participating in a Season as a family member of an aristocrat.

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