As Hen Party Planners we are very used to calls from stressed-out maids of honour which start off as enquires and end up in more of a counselling session. Oh, those poor bridesmaids who happily accepted their role flattered and excited by the prospect of being chief hen party organiser. Then comes the actual task of trying to please both the bride-to-be and a brood of flapping hens. Swiftly their WhatsApp group chats regarding the big send-off deteriorate into disagreements about budgets, locations and activities and tension smother all the former enthusiasm.
Many times we have received tentative phone calls requesting quotes for our vintage, more glamorous party packages, from frustrated bridesmaids. They apologies, it might not result in a booking because half the party want cocktail classes and vintage styling, and half want paintballing. We always tell them not to worry, this is the reality of being the Hen Party Planner, and we always ask, what would the bride want?
So, we thought we’d try to help you out and create a guide for you with our top tips on how to plan the perfect hen party and get those hens in a row.
Let’s begin with the biggest trigger for communication breakdowns and squabbles – money! The mistake so many Maid of Honours make is assuming that the bride’s other family and friends are able and willing to spend as much as they are on the hen night/weekend. You are probably the bride’s best friend or sister, but not all those coming will be as close to her as you. Also, you are likely to all have varying incomes so be considerate and fair.
Look at what is important to spend money on and what isn’t. We recommend investing in the activities as that is what you will remember – not outfits, or locations but the actual time spent together. Think, what is most important to the bride generally and put the budget in those places.
Location, location, location! It’s said in many scenarios to be the most important thing, but in terms of hen parties, we don’t necessarily think that’s always the case.
Of course, if your budget allows then go abroad or to another city and book fancy accommodation. It’s always great to get away. But if your budgets don’t extend to this then consider there is usually a lot to do, especially for hen parties in tie local area or nearby. Besides, it’s no fun booking a fancy hotel in Vegas and having no cash left over to spend once you’re there.
You don’t usually want to make the hen do like every other night out, or it won’t be memorable. So have a think about what activities would be best for you all and don’t expect to agree. Again, it’s bride first – if she’s a pamper and cocktails girl then that’s the way to go. If she’s a sporty energetic type then maybe it’s an assault course and a knees-up in the evening?
The challenge here is there will always be people in your group who don’t like what’s being planned, but if you pick something the bride will love then they can’t really argue it. What many of our clients do it book activities in the daytime and then a night out. This generally means that they’ll be something for everyone and if some people can’t do your daytime activities then they can join you in the evening. This approach also helps with scheduling, particularly if you have older relatives joining or mums with young children who may not be able to commit to a whole weekend.
The point of the whole celebration – the whole point, no matter what you’ve planned and where is to make the bride-to-be feel special. Hen parties are not really ‘goodbye to single life’ nowadays. Most engaged couples have already been together for years. And we aren’t living in the 1950s so we don’t have to consider that when a friend gets married she will no longer be present on nights out or liquid lunches. So why is the hen party business thriving more than ever before?
We believe it’s because women have become far more creative in planning their parties and the industry has led the charge. Themes have become far more common which has lead to wonderful Hen Houses such as Brighton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland House’ and specialised party planners such as us, Betty Lou, who deliver vintage themed hen parties. Personalised take-aways too and party games tailoring themselves to the personality of the bride-to-be are almost standard. I myself attended a hen weekend last year in a field where we hired a number of Bell Tents, a silent disco, brought along a fancy dressing up box and created a festival themed weekend hen celebration for our festival-loving friend.
Today, hen parties have become so tailored to the individual that, although the choice can often be overwhelming, the event has become a more specific personal homage of the bride-to-be. So it’s more than a night out and more a testament of how well the Head Hen’s friends know her. No pressure!
On this, our advice is – don’t overthink it and trust your instincts. Listen to the others in the group and consider their opinions but trust yourself and how well you know your friend.
Unfortunately, this is often the thing missed of the planning stages and it is so very important. Hen parties stand out, especially when out in the evening and drinking. Please do have a discussion about how you will stay safe. We advice staying together, never leaving any drinks unattended, looking out for one another and resisting the classic cliches such as L plates which, although fun, can attract unwanted male attention. You don’t want to spend your evening being crowded by men – it’s a girls night after all. And you don’t want to be holding each other’s hair back in the club toilets when you could be on the dancefloor making better memories. Most of all, make sure everyone in the group gets home safe at the end of the night.
Any advice you have on planning your friend’s hen party? Please do comment below.
And don’t forget, you can make it easier on yourself by utilising a planner like Betty Lou who can take care of organising all of your activities and often food too. We are Vintage Hen Party specialists who offer vintage hair styling and make-up followed by activities such as a Charleston dance class, cocktail making class, burlesque lesson, afternoon tea, a pin-up photoshoot and other vintage themed activities. Don’t be fooled into thinking using a planner will cost more – often Hen Party Planners get the best prices and so can provide the services and take care of the organising for less than it would cost for you to do it yourself.
Mostly, just try to enjoy the process and remember, whenever you get confused or stuck, all you need ask is ‘what would the bride want?’