Organising a hen party requires a lot of attention to detail, managing guests, being diplomatic and staying on top of things. It is not an easy task and every party will be different, but there are some basic ‘musts’ that, if followed, will help with the smooth organisation, avoid any political minefields and create a very successful event!
Early on in the planning stages you should have a conversation with the bride-to-be to gather her thoughts on the hen party. How long should it be? A night, a whole day or a weekend? What about budget? The bride to be will be best placed to determine a reasonable budget with each of her proposed guests in mind. Who are the guests? Are family members being included in the main event or is/should something else be arranged for family? Ask the bride-to-be for a definitive guest list (with email contact details). Does the bride-to-be have any ideas of her own? Listen, note and appreciate these. Does the bride-to-be have any ‘musts’ or any ‘no ways’?! How much involvement in the planning does the bride-to-be want? None, a little or complete control?
Discuss dates with the bride-to-be. Her attendance and availability is vital! Plan a date well in advance of the event to give maximum notice, e.g. if you are likely to want the guests to keep a whole weekend free, aim to be asking them to save the date 6 months in advance. Remember to consider the date of the wedding when planning the hen party - how far in advance of this should the hen party be? Communicate the date to guests. A save the date/ save the weekend is fine if you do not yet know any more detail of the hen party.
A great way to start the research is to have a think about theme ideas, such as a pampering theme or an outdoor theme. Deciding on a theme can really help narrow down the options when it comes to hen party activities. You can then think about an activity to build the hen do around. Of course we recommend a Hen Party Pub Tour for your Hen. Once you’ve booked the tour, research into the other parts of the hen do such as restaurants for dinner, night life for evening entertainment, accommodation, a venue for your activity and catering options. We can also help you there, we can book your meals, VIP nightclub entry, personalised t-shirts, etc.
Send an initial communication to the guests (usually by email but you could also send a pretty handmade card by post!). This should set out the date and ask for commitment from guests. Having done your research, you will at this stage be in a position to give some basic details to allow the guests to make an informed decision and help to avoid drop outs or nasty surprises for the guests. This information should include: the estimated cost per person (a guide amount, e.g. £80-£100 each), an idea of potential location (at least an indication of whether passports will be required but ideally something along the lines of ‘no more than X miles from the Hen’s home town’) and the length of hen party (day, evening or weekend). Continually communicate important and relevant information, but do not inundate the guests with emails.
Budgeting for hen parties is often controversial, but it is important to keep track of the budget to ensure all guests know what is expected of them in terms of payment and to avoid any nasty surprises or disgruntled guests at the hen party, so be clear and open in your communications. What is and is not included? Try to give guests a breakdown of costs. Different parties will of course have different budgets and it is rare that a hen organiser can ever please everyone. It is not uncommon for the guests to pay the bride-to-be’s share of the cost of the hen do. Out of courtesy, let your guests know if they are being asked to contribute towards these costs and how much this is. It is normally minimal amounts when split between several people, so it is unlikely anyone will take issue with it.
Prepare a clear itinerary that you can send to the guests setting out timings, events, requirements and any other useful ‘need to knows’ of the hen party, such as locations (with directions), times of arrival and departure, attire (evening wear, swimwear, hen party fancy dress requirements), advance preparation needed for any games you have planned, the purchasing of gifts or rewards for the bride-to-be, and anything else that they need to bring, such as a bottle of wine, food contributions, cash to pay for dinner, towel, old clothes. Be sure to give the guests plenty of time to source any items that are needed, such as fancy dress or gifts/rewards for the bride-to-be.
Hen Dos are full of catching up, socialising, activities and games. They can be quite exhausting, so if you are opting for a longer hen party, make sure you build in a little bit of down time for the guests. Don’t make the mistake of feeling the need to fill every minute with activity and entertainment. A fair proportion of the time will be taken up enjoying the company of friends, old and new. A bit of down time will make for happy, vibrant guests!
As soon as you can after the event, communicate a huge thank you to the guests for their participation, good humour and all round fantastic contributions to the hen do. Pass on any lovely comments that the bride-to-be made to you. You can do this by email or even set up a private Facebook group to share photos and memories. Those with a crafty side (and with an ounce of energy still left) could send out home-made thank you cards with a group hen party photo! Whatever method you choose, be sure not to leave anyone out. This is a great way to move the focus forward to the wedding and seal the bond of new friends in advance of the big day.
No doubt, the bride-to-be will have had such a wonderful time on her hen do, that she would be absolutely delighted to receive something to remember it by. In the age of digital cameras and ease of photo sharing, make sure that you ask all your guests to share photos, so as a minimum you can pull these all together for the bride-to-be (she will have been far too busy enjoying herself to think about taking pictures). You could prepare a photo album of the best snaps from the event, gather together a selection of photos of the bride-to-be with each of her guests, together with a lovely handwritten piece of marital bliss advice from each of her guests or a DVD of photos and/ or video clips of the hen party put to music for the technical minded among us!
Quite simply, relax and enjoy every moment of it. Whether you are the bride-to-be, a bridesmaid, a relative or a friend, if you have been tasked with organising the hen party, you are an important person and the party will go off with a bang if you are enjoying yourself.
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