What does it take to plan a hen party?
Whether it’s your first time or you’re just after a little inspiration (sans strippers and raunchiness), there’s always that added pressure to throw an unforgettable hen party, but it’s not as simple as it looks.
Expectations are always high and whilst a few brides will choose to organize the hen party themselves, trust me, you are better off handing it over to your bestie or bridesmaids. You’re the doting bride-to-be after all, it’s your time to unwind and focus on that big wedding day.
Don’t fret, we’re going to help you get organised with these super easy hen party planning tips.
Questions to ask the bride-to-be
First and foremost, you need to ask yourself these 4 important questions:
- What do you want?
If you are the bride, you have to know what you want. Is it going to be traditional or out of the box? Will there be a theme or activity? Is it a hen day, weekend or holiday?
Everyone has different tastes, but in the end the decision comes from the bride. Perhaps you’re the clubbing type or you enjoy the traditional afternoon tea soirée. Do you want to have total control or are you happy to be surprised? Be upfront and don’t hesitate to list out a few options. Your friends or bridesmaids will love you for it and who knows, it could be a night to remember!
- Is there a guest list?
Will it be close friends or family? Is Mum invited? Maybe there’ll be a couple of pre-wedding parties e.g. bridal shower or dinner party?
Deciding on who to invite can be problematic. Don’t think that you are obligated to invite cousin Priya or Mum-in-law. This is a special day and if you’re going to get smashed on the day, then it probably wouldn’t be ideal to invite the extended family. This is supposed to be the ultimate hen party after all!
- When and where will it take place?
How much notice do the hens need? Are there any other weddings or parties taking place around the same time? Is it going to be abroad?
Take the time to organize calendars and set a date. A few weeks out from the wedding day is ideal, however if it’s a hen holiday, this may require loads of planning. You’ll want to ensure that accommodation, activities and flights are all booked well in advance. Remember, your hens will have to take the time off accordingly. Not everyone has the freedom over the weekends. Some of us have to work!
- What’s the budget?
How much does everything cost? Is there a fixed budget or will there be additional expenses such as hen party favours, décor and food and drink?
Budget is tricky to manage and while it’s fun being a bridesmaid, be realistic and don’t blow it for everyone else. We can’t all afford to spend $500 on a girls’ night out.
That being said though, it is possible to plan a great hen party within an acceptable budget. Ideas that won’t break the bank could include a cooking class, mani-pedi session, garden tea party or glamping. Some companies’ offer group booking discounts, so take the time to shop around for good deals.
Don’t forget that the bride doesn’t pay! So try anything within reason and help your friends out.
Hen party activities
Seriously, the list is endless for fun hen party activities.
A good idea is to have a brainstorming coffee session with the bride tribe and make a list all your favourite things. It may include a playlist of songs, favourite drink or food or a collection of photographs of all the girlfriends together.
These are the sort of personal touches that could make the hen party all the more special.
Perhaps you will want to keep the day low key and host the main event in a friend’s apartment. You could have your own cocktail master class and the bride-to-be will be the one to judge the winner.
How about including a game like “The Newlywed Game.” Ask the dashing groom to be a series of questions about him, the bride to be and their relationship. For example, “when was the first date?” At the hen party, you could ask the bride to answer the questions. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it’s also a party ice-breaker!
A hen party doesn’t always have to be raunchy. Keep the party tasteful and classy. Gone are the days of pole dancing and strippers.
If you absolutely have no idea where to start, make it simple and opt for a theme party. Believe it or not, Great Gatsby and Sex And The City theme parties are still trending. Create a lolly buffet, dress up, share some cocktails and then take the girls out to a classy bar. You could even personalise the party in the form of t-shirts and accessories.
How about Marie Antoinette? Anyone ready to indulge in some cake?
Invitations and guest lists
Send out a hen party save the date invites to guests as soon as you’ve done your research. It would be incredibly embarrassing if you send out an email with no specific details.
Highlight the following:
- Cost for each guest (including the bride-to-be’s cost)
- Overview of activities (if there are multiple events or days involved, break it down in point form)
- What’s included and what isn’t included (highlight unexpected extra costs such as transportation or service charges)
- Dietary requirements
- Dress code
- Bank account details (with the option of paying in instalments, but no “I’ll pay you later” option)
- RSVP (indicate that RSVP should be separate to group emails.. for common courtesy sake)
Most importantly, guests need to know what they are paying for.
Avoid snail mail. This is costly and time consuming. By all means though, if you have loads of time on your hands, opt for the always-popular Etsy or Vista for bespoke invites, or you could go down the e-invite route. Think free services such as Canva or Minted or the budget friendly, Paperless Post. These allow you to create custom designs or choose from a gorgeous template.
Always follow up with general, clear and concise emails. No one wants to read a 10 paragraph long email, so keep it simple. The other alternative is to start a WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or text message thread if people are too lazy to respond to emails.
Remember that you’ll want all the attendees contact details. Emergency contacts would be great too. Create a spreadsheet or keep a notebook on hand for easy reference.
When planning the ultimate hen party, it’s all about the logistics. Organisation is always the key to any successful event.
Keep these points in mind.
- The date of the event depends on several factors. Firstly, find out the wedding date and then work backwards. You will want to keep around 3 – 4 months out to prep and design a plan of action. Is it indoors or outdoors? Weather dependent? Do you have a back up plan if the dance class instructor doesn’t show up for the hip hop class? Everything must be planned down to the tee.
- Break down the costs for party members and the bride. Remember, the bridedoesn’t cover any cost unless she insists. Set the budget early and let all involved know. If everyone is happy, precede with making enquiries and reservations. Set up a spreadsheet and make it clear as to which account monies will be transferred to. Don’t forget to collect the money before the hen party.
- If there are multiple activities on the day, be realistic about the timeline. Give the girls ample time to glam up between events and do factor in travel time. Highlight all the activities and designate tasks if need be.
- Communication is incredibly important. The last thing you will want is a bunch of angry friends fussing over details or expenses.
If you want to plan the ultimate hen party, implement these steps and you’ll be on your way to hen party awesomeness. Above all of this though, don’t forget to relax and have the time of your lives!
Are you after more hen party inspiration? Follow our Pinterest board here.
Download our free hen party planning checklist. Print it out and refer to it whenever! You can download here or click on the image above. Happy planning!
Tell us in the comments below, what are your favourite hen party planning tips?
Poonam is the founder and director of The Maharani Diaries blog. She has a passion for South Asian fashion and weddings. Drinking coffee is one of her favourite pass times and she also enjoys giving up her time for charity. You’ll often find her volunteering on the side for various community events.