Us ladies have it tough when it comes to arranging a hen party. If you are lucky enough to be given the responsibility, there can be a lot of pressure. Has it been something that the bride-to-be has dreamt of since she was a little girl? And how do you accommodate different personal budgets, their time and worst of all, expectations?
I have been in the wedding industry for a long time and have heard all manner of adventures and incidents from brides and grooms. I have also been to my fair share of hen parties – I am sure I have seen more willy-straws than you have had hot dinners. I have put together my top tips on getting organised, keeping calm and pulling off a kick-ass event.
This will need to be the top priority. Even though you are planning behind the scenes, and are aware of the rough plans, the rest of the hens aren’t. The chances are you are not going to know everyone, so the easiest way to keep the different personalities involved is with regular updates, even if it is just a ‘no additional news’ message.
Set up a Facebook, What’s App or email group – but just one – so you do not get swamped with phone calls and voicemails. You can very quickly lose track of who knows what otherwise. It is also a good way of getting to know each other and break the ice before the big night out or weekend away.
Think about what the hen wants
Your idea of a fantastic hen party may be a different idea to what the hen is expecting. You do not have to stick to the clique rule book about stereotypical hen parties, think about the bride-to-be. Does she want a classier affair with an afternoon tea, a spa day, or dinner and dancing? Or want to be a bit wilder with a ladies night with a stripper, cocktail making or an escape room?
Experiment and explore
There are so many ideas and options now. Spend some time searching for something different, and if you can, visit beforehand. You could consider archery, life drawing, a vintage style photoshoot, pamper packages, or even a yoga retreat. Also, consider activities which may be seen as typically male, but brilliant fun – quad biking, paintballing and surfing.
Money, money, money
The source of all evil, arguments and hen party related stress – cash is the trickiest party of the hen weekend. You will not know what the rest of the party can afford, so be mindful. If you are using step one – communication – you will be able to set a budget or rough costs early on. The earlier you can tell the group the more time those with a smaller limit will have more time to save. Stick to this limit as tightly as you can. It will be tempting to get carried away, but it will help you prioritise.
As for collecting the money, I would recommend being friendly but fair. So many hen party organisers end up dipping into their pocket because they have been let down by another in the group. Give people a reasonable deadline, again giving as much notice as possible, for when you need the deposit and final payment. If they do not meet it, they may not be able to attend.
Just like a wedding day, you do not want the hen do to be the same as all the others. You might have nailed the location, food, drink and activities, but sometimes it is the little things that count. Can you gather stories to tell about the hen or embarrassing photographs? Does she have a signature style? One hen I want on, we all wore bright pink lipstick, which is what she is known for.
It is also an excellent way to get to know everyone. Chances are you will be in a new place with new people, so it is always a good idea to have some things lined up to break the ice. If you are going to be playing rude or silly games, consider whether the hen will want to admit some facts in front of their mum or mother in law, and also consider cultural differences too.
Tasteful or tacky
You will need to take charge of this department. Do you need to accessorise the group? Are you going to purchase personalised items, or is there a clothing or costume theme to unite the group? Again, this will need to be taken into consideration when setting the budget.
You will also need to consider whether or not to get L-plates, sashes, tiaras or an inflatable boyfriend. The night is all about focusing on the hen, so go for some extra accessories for the bride-to-be. It does not have to be off the wall, and could just be a traditional veil.
Even the rowdiest hen party weekend needs some careful planning and research. Going to a new city? Check all the little details, how are you going to get around, are the bars and restaurants within walking distance and what time are they open until? Are taxis easy to get at the end of the night, or do they need to be pre-ordered?
If you have booked a spa day or spa weekend, do they include towels and slippers, or do the girls need to bring their own? Is anyone pregnant? Until you have had the first scan, you are unable to have a spa treatment, or there may be specific treatments that will be ruled out. If it is early days, they may not want to announce this to the rest of the group. A quick message in the group chat, with the details of who to speak to at the spa, will elevate this tension.
Food is another one to consider. From fussy eaters to food snobs, everyone will have an opinion. Ask the group if they are a vegetarian, vegan, or have any allergies that need to be considered. This will make it easy to check out menus beforehand, and the information can be passed over to the restaurant. It will also mean that there will be no delays on the day.
The morning after the night before
If you are going away, make sure you have something planned for the morning after. Many plan activities up until the big night out. You may feel a bit ropey and not up for much action, but it can be an anti-climax if you are at a loose end in the morning. Organise to meet for breakfast or brunch, or meet around the pool or beach. Use it to recall the night before, and hand out fun awards for ‘the best dancer’, ‘best costume’, ‘most embarrassing moment’, etc. It might be useful to plan a recovery pack too with paracetamol, orange juice or coffee, chocolate, mints, sunglasses, or my favourite pads to reduce puffy eyes.
Remember, you can do this!
Organising a hen party can be pretty stressful, it is not always going to be a walk in the park. Before taking on the challenge, make sure you have enough time to dedicate to the task and be prepared for a few bumps in the road. Ultimately, it should be a fun experience and everyone, including you, and you should have good memories to look back on.