After the excitement of being asked to be your best friend’s maid of honour has passed, you’ll need to get down to the business of organising the bride-to-be’s hen party.
While hen dos are full of fun, planning them can be stressful business, with a mix of friends, budgeting, chasing payments and organising large groups just a few of the headaches that can cause bridesmaids to crumble.
SoBristolWeddings’ guide to planning a hen party will help you navigate the minefield of hen dos, with top tips to help you throw an unforgettable send-off for the future Mrs.
Before you get carried away with planning an action-packed weekend in the country or a mad night on the tiles dressed in L plate accessories, ask the bride what she would like to do for her hen.
Also, make sure you find out how much she wants to be involved. Does she want to choose the destination? Are there particular things she definitely doesn’t want to do? Or, is she happy for it to all be a surprise?
Drawing up numbers and deciding who to invite is key as it will often determine where you choose to go on the hen do. Trips abroad are more suited to smaller groups, while local celebrations are ideal for larger parties or those wanting to include older relatives in the festivities.
Getting the date nailed in everyone’s diaries as far as possible in advance is the easiest way to make sure people can attend, with summer season particular busy for weddings and family holidays, not to mention being more expensive if you’re planning on jetting off to Europe.
Bear in mind that not everyone will be able to make it, whether it’s due to family commitments, work, or financial constraints, but don’t be tempted to keep moving the date as it will just cause frustration for those who have already committed.
In your initial save the date email, it’s also worth giving the group a rough idea of costs, letting them know whether it’s likely they’ll need a passport and the length of the hen do so they can work out if it’s feasible for them to attend.
Deciding where to go is half the battle, but if the bride-to-be is dreaming of going abroad, consider looking at where you can fly from Bristol, Birmingham or Cardiff, with travel costs, accommodation options and affordability of the destination important factors to weigh up.
While it might be tempting to go for a plush boutique hotel, keeping accommodation costs to a minimum will ensure you have more money to spend on activities, food and drink.
Don’t rule out hostels as a budget option, with many European cities now offering stylish dorm rooms that are crying out for group bookings, while the cost of hiring a spacious country house can be surprisingly affordable if you get enough hens to split the rental fee.
Whether it’s cocktail making, cupcake decorating, abseiling, treasure hunting, Butlers in the Buff or life drawing, having activities to entertain the group are an integral part of any hen weekend.
But getting the balance right is key as having an itinerary that’s packed with too much organised fun will leave everyone exhausted, so make sure to factor in some chill-out time too.
There’s no denying that hen dos can be an expensive outlay so it’s important to be transparent with costs and let the group know exactly what their hard-earned cash is paying for.
Chasing payments is an inevitable chore for anyone organising a hen do but to keep it as simple as possible, compile a spreadsheet with costs so you know exactly who has paid and can then easily chase to avoid you being out of pocket.
Arranging transport in advance takes the headache away from last-minute stresses about whether to get a minibus to the airport, sorting train tickets or finding somewhere to park near the venue if you’re driving.
While it’s good to keep everyone in the loop, don’t be tempted to inundate the hen do group with constant emails as it’s likely to start to annoy people.
Setting up Facebook or Whatsapp groups to finalise travel plans and arrange meeting on the day are a good idea and are perfect for sharing pictures of the day, night or weekend after the event.
Trying to divide the cost of dinners, rounds of drinks and supermarket snack trips can be a nightmare, with a kitty the easiest way to pay for any added extras during the hen do without any squabbles.
Hen dos bring together friends from different aspects of your life, so make sure you have a few ideas for ice-breakers or fun games up your sleeve that will get everyone mingling and avoid any awkward silences.
Remember the weekend is all about the bride-to-be so make sure you have plenty to make her feel special, from personalised playlists to provide anthems for the weekend, goodie bags filled with inexpensive treats such as nail polishes, and accessories (as tasteful or as tacky as you think the bride will like) to show she’s the star of the show.
Wandering aimlessly round a city looking for somewhere a large group to eat or drink is the stuff of nightmares. Plan in advance and make sure you know where to find the best bars or are on the guest list for a club to avoid frustrations and divisions without the group.
Do you have any top tips for throwing a hen do to remember? Share your advice by commenting below.
By Anna McKittrick
Friday 23 September 2016
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