10 Top Tips For Planning A Hen Do

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Before the wedding arrives, there’s all the fun and high-jinx of the hen do to consider – generally a drink-sodden escapade of abandon, complete with the bride in veil, tiara and L-plates, carrying a wand and accompanied by a cocktail-quaffing, boisterous group of women.

Traditionally the hen do is planned and organised by the bridesmaids. The key to a successful hen party is knowing what the bride likes and trying to cater for her tastes as sensitively as possible – where one bride might want a full-on blow-out with a male stripper in tow, phallic-shaped confectionery and a pole-dancing class, another might want a sedate afternoon tea with champagne or even bungee-jumping before a relaxed barbecue.

Knowing how to plan the right kind of celebration for your friend means understanding her preferences.

Here are 10 top tips for planning a hen do:

hen do

1. Firstly you will want to decide on a date with the bride – four to six weeks in advance of the big day is ideal as it gives guests time to be comfortable financially and be able to cover both important events. The bride will also need lots of time to recover ahead of her wedding day – nobody wants to be hungover walking up the aisle.

2. Give people plenty of notice once the guest-list has been approved by the bride. Send out a ‘Save the Date’ so everyone can book the requisite time off work. Do this as early as possible to avoid diary conflicts.

3. Establish if the bride wants to be involved in any aspect of planning and organising the hen do – generally this is time for the bride to sit back and let the bridesmaids work their magic but some might prefer to have a say. A good idea before starting to plan your event is to ask your friend what she has most liked or disliked about previous hen dos – this way you will avoid planning something the bride will really not enjoy.

4. It’s important to know your audience – you might have a variety of age groups and people from different areas of the bride’s life. Don’t plan an event that will alienate the older generations – a 70-year-old grandmother won’t enjoy a three mile hike and a trip to Ann Summers. Ideally you want to be able to plan an activity that will be enjoyable for the entire group so find something that is inclusive.

5. Channel your inner Monica from Friends and get ready to plan the hen do meticulously, allowing for plenty of time between activities and giving everyone time to get glammed up before the evening begins. Remember to build in travel times and be realistic about how long activities will take. A day of watersports will need to be followed with some pampering time before your party heads out on the town.

6. Keep an eye on costs. Whether you stay local for a day of activities followed by dinner and drinks or head off on a weekend away, you need to keep costs in mind as not everybody will have the same disposable income. Going to the wedding will be expensive and there will likely be a limit to what everyone can afford for the hen do.

7. Most hen dos will include a variety of ladies of differing circumstances – not everyone will be single, young, free and loaded. You might have young mums, pregnant friends or ladies with less to spend, so a good idea is to offer some flexibility in terms of the activities on offer – you might give people the option of choosing which parts of the day they would like to participate in depending on what is suitable for them. If you’re planning a weekend away you might give guests the option of staying for just one night to ease the financial burden.

8. Sort out transport. Whether you’re ordering a stretch limo to take you all out on the town or need a mini-bus to ferry the group between activities, it’s important to plan and arrange transport in advance so that you don’t end up stranded in one location. Pre-book taxis and remember to budget for transport costs.

9. Account for contingencies. Add around £10 to everyone’s costs for unexpected extras like additional taxis or fancy dress items for the bride – if you don’t use the extra cash you can always buy everyone an extra round of drinks and it is better to be prepared for unforeseen extras.

10. Try to be as transparent as possible. Once you decide on the plan, email the full guest list with a breakdown of the costs. You can still keep some surprises but if people are handing over £150-£200 you want to be able to give them some idea of what their money is being spent on.

By Joanne Savage, Excalibur Press