Planning a hen party is an honour, a privilege, a logistical nightmare, an exercise in diplomacy and a lot of fun, says ABTA's Daisy Parker
It starts when your friend is taken away for a surprise weekend and unsurprisingly sends the girls a picture of a big shiny diamond. Once congratulations and all the details (did he cry, what did he say etc etc) are out of the way, talk quickly turns to the hen and your screen fills up with dancing girl emojis. Your phone pings away as everyone has had their say on what the ideal hen party looks like: Cocktails! Hot tub! Beach party! Disneyland! Vegas! Marbs!
The ideas get pretty wild – because in recent years, ‘hen nights’ have morphed into something bigger, ‘hen weekend’ is more common and ‘hen week’ is not unheard of. And then the bride-to-be asks you to organise it. Yikes! You’re being trusted with one of the most important events in your friendship, you want everyone to have a good time and you want to make sure it’s memorable for the right reasons.
She asked you to plan it because she trusts you to know what she wants...
So these are my ten tips for organising a fabulous hen party whatever you do and wherever you go:
1. Make it about the bride
Everyone has different ideas about what makes a good hen but it is all about the bride and what she wants to do, so if she loves karaoke, who cares that you can’t hold a tune.
2. Trust your instincts
When the bride tells you she doesn’t want any fuss, is she saying she wants a quiet night in or does she really want as much L plate glitter as you can get your hands on? Remember that everyone will have an opinion about what you should and shouldn’t do but there are no rules. She asked you to plan it because she trusts you to know what she wants, stick to your guns.
3. Get organised
Do this from the start, put the date in people’s diaries and give them an indication on cost so they can budget and plan ahead. Book any travel and accommodation early for the best rates and availability – and do the same with activities… no one wants to get the 9am paintballing slot when you’re all tired from the night before.
4. Think about your guest list
Hens tend to have a more varied guest list than stags, and this is great as it gives you a chance to get to know everyone, but be wary of activities that may exclude certain people – such as the mother of the bride.
5. Keep in touch
So what if the other hens are sick of seeing your name in their inbox, remind them to get their insurance, to check their passports etc. to avoid any last minute panic.
6. Choose a tried and trusted provider
You’ve got enough on your plate organising the girls, ordering hen sashes and managing any last minute bridal wobbles. Use a reputable travel company to help you plan and organise everything.
7. Ask the experts
Talk to people about what’s worked on hens they’ve been on, look for ideas on wedding websites (try not to get sucked into the vortex) and speak to a travel agent or travel company for itineraries and packages that are achievable for your timescale and budget.
8. To be, or not to be social
Ask the bride if she’s happy for people to share or upload pictures and let the group know. If she is, create a hashtag you can all use, if she’s not make a secret whatsapp group or email chain for everyone to share their photos.
9. Have an itinerary but be flexible with it
You should have a rough idea of where you’ll be at any time throughout the hen party but make sure you build in time for people to chill and don’t get too caught up in rigid timings, if people are enjoying themselves just go with the flow.
10. Pack carefully
Especially if you’re heading abroad with just hand luggage. Nominate people to bring certain items to share, think carefully about what you need. ALWAYS check what can be brought on a plane – one of the more embarrassing/hilarious moments of my life occurred en route to a hen do when Gatwick airport confiscated the novelty handcuffs I’d packed as part of my sexy cop costume…
We’ve got more details on top destinations and activities for hen and stag dos, you can hear from a stag and if this has got you inspired you can find an ABTA Member and start booking.