Two things in life that most women love are shopping and having fun with the girls.
There’s one night out – the hen do – that’s seen as the ‘last night of freedom’ or rite of passage before getting hitched. Organising a hen party can be a minefield: there are so many different ideas that it’s difficult enough to decide on a theme, let alone a venue.
It requires being diplomatic, managing guests and attention to detail. It’s not an easy task but there are some steps needed to avoid pitfalls and produce that all-important successful, memorable party.
Give plenty of notice
Discuss the hen do with the bride in advance as it’s a celebration for her, after all. Some brides are comfortable knowing nothing about the do while others want to know exactly what’s planned, but either way, she must decide who is invited. If the bride gets involved in the organisation, it’s a lovely gesture to keep something secret and spring a surprise on her as part of the fun.
Decide on a date and give plenty of notice to the guests: a couple of weeks or more before the wedding is usual.
Research any ideas well in advance before putting the suggestions to the guests. Give them the dates, a rough idea of cost and the potential location.
Sort out deposits
Once you have all the relevant information and an idea of how many are coming, set a detailed budget and be very clear about what is and isn’t included. For example, if you’re going out for dinner, flag up if the cost of drinks is excluded.
It’s useful to set out the events of the hen do, the timings and who needs to be where and when and what guests need to bring regarding games, fancy dress etc. Get deposits from everyone well in advance to ensure commitment.
For the actual hen do, try not to plan too much otherwise people will barely have time to catch their breath and enjoy it! Make sure you build in a bit of ‘down time’ on any hen do that is longer than a day. If you are up until 3am partying on the Friday, tired guests aren’t going to thank you for being dragged out of bed at 8am to go paintballing.
After the hen do, email your guests to thank them for coming and prepare some sort of keepsake for the bride as a wedding gift from the hen do guests, including those who weren’t able to make it.
Gossip and a giggle
So what is on offer for hen dos? They are often an excuse for quality girl-bonding time and location can be the key. In recent years weekends in European cities have become more popular than staying in the UK.
For some brides there’s no better way to celebrate than a weekend of luxury with a group of girlfriends. Start off with a spa day: a gossip and giggle in the hot tub with a glass of champagne, pampering beauty treatments, afternoon tea followed by cocktails and dancing the night away. A brisk walk to clear the hangover the following day nicely finishes off the weekend.
For the adventurous the world’s your oyster: take your pick from rafting, clay pigeon shoots, quad trekking, high rope adventures, tackling an assault course, river kayaking, horse riding, a medieval fancy dress archery tournament, bushcraft and survival courses or, something a little bit different, experiencing the challenges of a boot camp.
Peckish hens can take their pick from vineyard tours, cookery classes, cocktail making, or, for diehard Mary Berry fans, cupcake baking. And for those who want to experience fine dining at home, you can organise a dinner party with a private chef – and at the end of the evening there’s no clearing away and washing up because it’s all done for you! Vintage themed afternoon teas are extremely popular and often combine vintage makeovers and dancing the Charleston in 1920s outfits!
Pace yourself in the evening
For the creative hens there are classes in how to make your own wedding bunting, knickers or garters, a friendship quilt or fascinators, just in case you haven’t sorted out what you are wearing on your head for the wedding.
Then there are the more bizarre activities for hen dos such as nude life drawing with a male model; hula hooping, great for the waistline; African drumming; or a beginner’s workshop in learning to play a simple melody on the harp. Those with a yearning for stage and screen can have a couple of hours in a studio recording a favourite hit or starring in your own music video and celeb-style magazine for the day.
Popular evening activities include comedy clubs, drag cabaret, strip shows and nightclubs. It’s best to pace yourself on hen dos by making sure there’s down time for eating and rehydrating with water. It’s not much fun if someone drinks too much by lunchtime and misses the evening’s shenanigans.
A good tip when out on the town is the importance of communication: too many rows happen at hen dos when big groups are drunk and get lost in a strange city. Make sure everyone knows when and where to meet on the day, check everyone has got each other’s mobile numbers and establish a meeting point in case someone gets lost or mobile batteries die.
Whatever you decide to do for the hen celebrations, there will be plenty of laughs and fun memories.