Just like many other traditions, the idea of a hen party might scare the hell out of you, making you want to retreat into a hole, throw your phone in a lake á la Kate Bush, and not come out til the eve of your wedding. The image of strippers and penis-ifying everything is far from how most brides want to spend their Saturday, so why is it still considered the norm?
On top of that, they’re a whole load of planning, and things can get hella awkward with payments and expectations of people you don’t know, but don’t want to p off because they matter to the bride. Despite all this, they are unforgettable nights when you get them right.
Whether you’re a bride doing your own or you’re one of the team assigned Hen Party Planning Duty, here’s our Hen Commandments to help you plan a stress-free, tack-free hen do the bride is SURE to love:
1.Think about what the bride actually likes to do in her spare time. If she’s not a big drinker, don’t force her into a night out she’ll detest; if she’s a picky eater, don’t take her for a fancy meal. Don’t limit yourself to hen or wedding-specific ideas either: start with your bride’s interests and hobbies, and see what itinerary you can plan from there. CLUCK, the alternative hen party planners, have everything from bubble football and battle axe throwing (yes, really) to boozy brunch clubs and jewellery workshops on their roster, so you’ll find something, if not everything!
2. Curate the invite list carefully – think about who she actually likes to spend the above spare time with. Numbers can swell so easily that it becomes less of a party and more of a mini-wedding; if she wouldn’t go for brunch with them, don’t invite them on the hen do. If they really want to do something to mark the occasion, they can do a lil’ something themselves.
3. Cater for all budgets. There’s nothing worse than the dreaded Whatsapp Woe of plans you can’t afford being made without your permission, so ask hens to be clear and up front about what they can spend, and make sure you allow for it. CLUCK’s co-founder Chloe says this isn’t as impossible as you think: “The idea that you have to sink £££s to show your bride you care is so ridiculous – there’s so many fun budget options that you would never even know are budget. For example, one of our curated experiences is £66 a head – for which you get bottomless brunch in a private dining room in a super cool central London pub, and a nude life drawing workshop hosted by a talented art instructor. The average hen do costs £464 per head according to Refinery 29, so you’ve just saved yourself FOUR. HUNDRED. POUNDS.” – and probs had a damn better time too.
4. If you can, set up a payment plan. It’s not doable for everyone and that’s fine, but if you’re the one shelling out for everything, try and spread deposits and payments over time, and state clearly when you need the money from each hen. That way, you’re not stuck with awkward conversations. (Paypal have just set up Pools to essentially pay for things via paypal but with crowdfunded money that you don’t have to transfer to your account first).
5. Don’t buy crap. Don’t waste yours and other peoples’ money on genitalia glasses or vinyled tshirts; instead, choose something you’d actually be seen dead in. Your aim is to celebrate the bride’s upcoming marriage, not embarrass her so much she can never be seen again, married or otherwise. Why not go on a Jack Fleuriste flower crown workshop, then all wear them out later for cocktails?
6. Choose activities for all ages, so everyone from the hen’s niece to her nan can join in – ya can’t forget the mother hen. Have a varied itinerary so that they can get involved without having to get too raucous – although if your plan is to go large later, maybe that’s where the bride got it from…
7. Don’t get too wrapped up in it. It’s supposed to be fun, and most importantly light relief from wedding planning (although more of this guide in the upcoming weeks will mean wedding planning isn’t stressful at all – you’re WELCOME), so don’t get too bogged down in the kinda hellish nightmares that are just begging for a Twitter moment. Good people, good fun, good vibes – it’s all ya need.