Tips for the Perfect Hen Party • Wonderful Wedding Wednesday
I have just been invited on a lovely hen weekend next March (I am counting down to a spa day and massage) and it got me thinking about my sister's hen weekend back in 2010.
We had an absolute ball down at my family flat in Southbourne and were so lucky with the English weather!
There are so many things for the Maid of Honour or bridesmaids to think of when planning a hen party and I thought sharing some of my tips might be useful if ever you are planning a hen event in the future!
Guest List • Only invite the people the Bride really wants! It's so easy to fall into the trap of feeling you have to invite everyone from work, friends she may not have seen for years, friends of friends and people whose hen parties you all have been invited to in the past. BUT there is enough people pleasing when it comes to wedding guest lists that I believe it's important that on the special party weekend or day, the Bride should have those people she actually wants to share it with!
Failing that why not have 2?! One for family and one for friends?!
Budget • Once you have an agreed guest list, plan the budget for the whole event, be it a day and evening, a weekend or a night that involves particular activities. Natalie only wanted one hen party and really wanted a weekend away, so we set about working to a budget that we knew absolutely everyone could afford.
One of the most horrible things is to have to say I can't afford to come, I know, I've said it myself, and even though you shouldn't feel bad at all, I felt really disappointed. I missed the days activities for a friend's hen party because I just couldn't afford to do all 3 planned events, plus dinner, plus a hotel, plus travel.
We are so lucky to have Southbourne and we all chipped in for the food and drinks (bar the evening meal on the Saturday). People shared lifts and we all had a kitty for bits and bobs for the Bride.
Food • Eating out is expensive. Especially if you are away for a weekend. We put a set amount each into a kitty (I think it was about £20) and I did all the food and drink shopping for the weekend. It's a great idea for one person to buy it all because you then don't run the risk of duplicates - think 4 loaves of bread but no milk and butter, and you can email round a plan for meals so everyone likes what will be on the menu. We made a big lasagne on the Friday night and then made packed lunches in kid's party boxes for the beach on Saturday. We ate out on the Saturday night and then had a big cooked brunch before everyone left Sunday lunchtime.
Drink • Drinking out is even more expensive! Instead of staying out dancing until the early hours in a nightclub we had a pyjama disco and after a great meal and games on Saturday evening, we headed back to the flat for drinks and dancing. Everyone was together, we had a great laugh, and we didn't have to wear uncomfortable shoes til our feet ached! Have you ever been out and felt like you were staying out for the sake of it? I find traipsing from one bar to another really tough when you are in a big group, people get lost, you have to make sure you all get into a club together and the bar prices are sky high. It might sound boring to some but after a boat ride, (I brought drinks and snacks on board) cocktails at The Captain's Club Hotel and a meal at a local restaurant, midnight was perfect to head back for the after party!
Activities • I see lots of party packages available on the internet with 3, 4 or more activities squeezed into one hen party. This often makes the party rushed, pricey and you are so busy moving from one thing to the next the guests don't get much chance to socialise. It's quite rare for everyone at the hen party to know each other really well. Usually there are people from different social circles so whilst you don't want lots of time for awkward silences, some time for everyone to get to know each other is good!
Accommodation • If we didn't have Southbourne I would have still tried to research a house for us all to stay in rather than hotel rooms. I love the lazy time in the mornings when you all might feel a little delicate and just want to chill out on a sofa, instead of having to be up and meeting for breakfast. When you work out the cost of budget hotels across a hen party it is actually a lot of money, so have a look at what is available online before booking up a whole stack of hotel rooms. Plus hotels are generally less lenient on after parties than if you were in a private house. You can make as much noise as you want then!
Theme • Regular readers will know I love a good theme! It ties the group together and you can make it as simple or as outrageous as you like. My sister wasn't keen on matching t-shirts and traditional hen party wear so we opted for the colour of the wedding to be the theme. She didn't want people spending lots of money on fancy dress costumes so everyone was asked on the Saturday night to wear something purple. Anything! You didn't have to be top to toe purple - but actually we all looked like a box of quality street purple ones!
No one felt embarrassed and I gave out little tiaras and plastic engagement rings at the restaurant which after a few drinks no one minded wearing!
Money • It's just not natural to us Brits to discuss money very well, don't you think?! It's a horrible job being the organiser and having to chase people too, so I suggest collecting little amounts over a few months (if you have time) rather than 2 big lumps. And never ask for money at the end of a month!
Photos • Make sure someone brings a camera. Yes we all have our phones but what seems like a fab picture at the time, when you are laughing and dancing with a drink in your hand is actually a blurry mess in the morning. We got some fab pictures of my sister and her friends and I am so glad I took a camera with me.
Enjoy it! • Make sure you actually have time to enjoy it all. Don't try and squeeze in too many games (we did one in between each course at dinner and that worked great) so that you are more stressed about what you need to do next rather than joining in.
My favourites were the DIY Family Fortunes with home printed face masks on chop sticks and the Price is Right Pants game. We lined up different facts about weddings and Natalie had to guess if the next answer was higher or lower than the former. If she got it right, she won a pair of pants for her honeymoon from the nice box (I asked all the girls to buy one pair) and if she got it wrong, she had to put on a pair of granny pants I bought as a set of 5 in the pound shop!
I had a bbq and a sleepover for my best friends at home for mine! What did you do for your hen or what would you do?
I think if I had my time again, I'd have my same girls and would head to Southbourne exactly like we did for Natalie's.
What would be your top hen party planning tip?!
All the Wonderful Wedding Wednesday posts end the same way. With me asking you to take a moment to click through and read about the work of The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation.
They organise and fund weddings for terminally ill people and it would be lovely if you could spare £1, even though everyone has lots of bills at Christmas time, to help give a Bride a wonderful wedding. Not everyone has the luxury of good health and a care free hen party.
It only takes a minute to donate and £1 makes such a difference.
Make it your good deed of the festive season!