Planning a hen do

Nowadays, the Hen Do often involves a weekend away rather than just a night out in a local town with friends. It is also a great way of getting to know everyone before the big day so that you can fulfil your other role, that of Wedding Guest Extraordinaire!

There is a huge industry in organising hen dos and some companies even collect payment and organise itineraries. However, if you want something that isn’t off-the-shelf, it’s DIY time. If this seems like an enormous task, don’t panic, here are our tips to help you pull it off without pulling your hair out.

The numbers game

I don’t think I’ve been on a hen do with less than 14 other people and organising large groups can be a bit like herding cats, even before any alcohol has been consumed. You’re going to need to be organised from the beginning otherwise the whole production can be like a school trip gone bad. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a big fan of the Excel spreadsheet (I even have a wedding budget one!) and this is my nerve-centre where all hen do-related information is kept. 

I also recommend putting everyone’s number in your ‘phone with the prefix ‘Hen Do’ as it makes it much easier to find names for block messages or to jog your memory when they ring the day before to ask a last-minute question.

What a girl wants

Whilst mild embarrassment is allowed, and even expected, leaving the Bride-To-Be tied to a lamp post on Blackpool promenade is not allowed. For one thing, she’ll probably get splashed with seawater and turn to an ice sculpture overnight, but the main thing is that she’s your friend and you want her to enjoy herself. This means you need to tailor any activities to her interests. If she’s adamant she doesn’t want to do karaoke, then you aren’t doing karaoke. Or, if you’re a wild party girl, but your friend want to have Afternoon Tea and an early night, then leave your comfort zone and go with it. The message here is:  It’s about her, not about you.  Which brings me on to my next point …

Channel your inner school teacher – Part 1

When you first contact your fellow hens, it’s a good idea to tell them what’s planned because in truth, no-one likes a nasty surprise. So if the hen wants to do an army assault course then let everyone know at the outset. That way, those who’d rather sit on a cactus all weekend can come up with an excuse and everyone is spared the embarrassment of 75-year old Great Aunt Ada gamely trying to clamber up a cargo net even though she and her new hip aren’t really up to it. I know I said to step out of your comfort zone, but if it’s too much you want people to bow out politely at the beginning. 

If you can, give everyone an estimate of how much the hen do is likely to cost so they can start budgeting. If you all know where you stand from the start it means you’re less likely to get cancellations and the financial risk that comes with that, particularly if you’ve had to pay for accommodation up front. 

Show me the money!

If you’re organising payments, I’d recommend asking for £10 extra per person. That way you can get some basic supplies in if you’re self-catering, and any leftover can be used to start a kitty. 

Channel your inner school teacher – Part 2

Now that you’ve decided what you’re doing, have a walk through the itinerary. This might seem unnecessary, but it’s worth trying to work out whether an 8pm departure time for the evening’s events is realistic (and by ‘realistic’, I mean, ‘have I got enough time to get ready?’). Don’t forget to include about 15 minutes ‘Faffing Time’ at regular intervals. Faffing Time is essential where groups are involved because getting side tracked seems to be the unwritten law, particularly as you move from one activity to the next. 

I’ve been known to do a timetable so everyone knows where they have to be and when. It might seem like overkill, but answering the same question 13 times does get a bit taxing and everyone having their own information avoids this. I learnt this lesson the hard way, having to hot-foot it down 3 corridors and 2 flights of stairs three times whilst half-dressed as Mr. T. 

And, they’re off!

Most hen dos involve some sort of evening entertainment including food and drink. Faffing Time tends to increase proportionally the more alcohol is involved and the later the hour. Bring yourself a spare purse for the kitty and suggest everyone puts in £20 before the evening starts.  This way you can take it in turns to order your 14 drinks. On one hen do, the club we were in didn’t have any trays but fortunately we were all dressed as old ladies, and old lady handbags are surprisingly roomy, fitting all 14 bottles of beer. 

And finally …

My last piece of advice is: be present.  Obviously take photos and videos, but don’t forget to actually be there, enjoying it all. Uploading pictures to Facebook and Twitter updates can wait. Enjoy the moment and the celebration that one of your friends is about to get married. Now, let’s have ourselves a celebratory glass of fizz.

Guest Blog contribution: Thanks go to Sarah Stephenson


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