How to plan the perfect hen do
So, your dearest friend/family member has asked you to be their bridesmaid. Whether this is your first or fourteenth time, it can be a daunting task. There are so many fun parts to being a bridesmaid: you get to go to go along to wedding dress fittings, be a key part in your best bud’s special day, and drink lots of prosecco in the process.
Reaching hen do perfection
However, there are lots of stressful elements to being a bride’s ‘maid’. The hen do can be one of them, but we’ve got you covered with our top tips for planning the perfect hen do!
Bride comes first
This may seem obvious, but it is crazy how so many people seem to forget this. Try to get a good idea of what the bride’s idea of a perfect hen do would be and put that into action. There are certain clichés that most people expect from a hen do. However, you don’t have to apply them if that’s not what the bride wants. When planning my sister’s hen, she was very clear that she absolutely did not want to wear a sash or tacky accessories. As tempting as it is to completely stitch her up, we have arranged a really classy day with no strippers or penis straws in sight.
Pick a leader
Usually there will be more than one bridesmaid. This can pose particular difficulties for planning the hen party. As much as you want ideas from everyone, there needs to a dedicated person who will take control of sending e-mails, making bookings and collecting payments. Natural leaders may form; it helps if there is a chief bridesmaid or maid of honour. If not, decide who will take control.
This doesn’t mean that they should make all the decisions though – ideas and input from the other bridesmaids or guests is really useful – but it helps to have someone keeping a spreadsheet of payments, etc.
Money, money, money
This can be the most difficult part of arranging the hen do, especially if you have a large number of girls that need to pay up. My advice is to let people know the expected dates and amounts of payments as soon as possible and send regular reminders (just after pay day!) to give people the maximum amount of time to pay. Decide between the bridesmaids whose account will be used for payments and whether you’re going to divide payments up for different activities or one person will pay the full whack. There are also sites available where they deal with all the payments and the girls can just pay separately to that account.
Don’t overdo it
If you are organising a full day of activities, I’d suggest having no more than three activities throughout the day. It is tempting to cram in a load of activities – however, time will go really quickly and you’ll end up spending your day trying to round everyone up to move on to the next venue/activity.
For example, you could plan one physical activity – such as dancing, paintballing or zorbing – and then follow that up with an afternoon tea so that everyone can debrief and have a moment to relax and chat/bond. The evening could involve a sit down activity such as fascinator-making and then nibbles and cocktails to finish off.
If you have a large number of people attending the hen, or if it’s taking place abroad, make sure people know how to get in touch with each other in an emergency. Make sure everyone knows the name and location of the hotel and venue. If you’re feeling super organised you could print out and laminate a card with contact details and addresses on it just in case anyone gets separated from the group. Also, make sure people are aware of the timings for the day, so that they can catch up with you if they do get lost.
I’m a big fan of having some fun games at the ready if there’s a lull during the hen day/weekend. Try to create games that are personal to the hen and everyone can get involved with. A games that has gone down well in the past are ‘The Question Game’, it involves some groom involvement and preparation but it always goes downs a storm. The game involves asking the groom a set of questions and noting the answers or recording him giving his answers. During the hen party you then ask the bride-to-be the same questions and get her to guess what his answer was – let the hilarity ensue.
Memories and gifts
This depends on how much cash you have to spare, but I think creating gift bags for guests is a great way to say thank you for coming and is always appreciated by the hen. The gifts don’t have to be anything expensive – in the past I’ve created ‘hangover cure’ packs with essentials for any sore heads the next day, including paracetamol, Berocca and a face mask for re-hydrating the skin. One way to get great additions to the gift bags can be to ask for freebie samples from Boots or Superdrug, shop assistants are usually happy to offer some samples with your purchases, so you may as well ask and see what you get!
One of the bridesmaids at a past hen I attended was a whizz with a label maker so she was able to create personalised bags for everyone! Also, don’t forget a gift for the hen, something personal that she can cherish forever. A great idea is a memory book which has a picture from each guest and a little personal note.
You’ve worked hard to put together a great day for your loved one so you deserve to enjoy it. If you’ve planned everything well then the day should run smoothly and you will be able to sit back and have a great time!
So those are our top tips for planning a stress-free hen do. I also asked our editor, Becky who is getting married this year, to give us any additional tips on hen do planning from the bride-to-be’s perspective. Here’s what she had to say:
Top tips from a Bride-to-Be:
- As Rhian says, scope out a early list of absolute hen do’s and don’ts from your bride’s point of view – and stick to them! Hopefully it’ll be a nice short list so will make your job super easy.
- Get an early idea of roughly how many people your bride wants to invite so you make plans accordingly.
- Finally, try and keep a few things a surprise from your bride (unless she would rather know everything!). She’ll have a lot on with planning the wedding, so – speaking as a bride-to-be – it’s a treat to have something taken out of your hands and organised by your lovely mates to look forward to in the run up to the Big Day.
Are you planning a hen do this year? Share your tips with us – @tweetjanes.