In a slight change of direction this month, I’m placing my focus not on the happy couple but the bridesmaids! Don’t worry, the bride is in for a great time with her closest friends and family. But she can sit back and let someone else organise this very special occasion.
Of course, I’m talking about the hen do; that rite of passage traditionally organised by the bridesmaids. As fun as the hen party is, it can be quite the job to arrange but it doesn’t have to be stressful.
If you’re in charge of the hen party, keep reading for a guide on how to plan a hassle-free hen party to remember!
1.Talk to the Bride-to-be.
First and foremost, talking to the bride will offer the perfect jumping off point for your prep. It will establish dates, budgets and themes. So, before you plan the hen party to end all hen parties, ask her the following questions:
- “When would you like to celebrate your hen do and what dates are you available?”
- “Are you thinking of a night out, one-night stay or a weekend away?”
- “Do you want to stay local or go further afield?”
- “Who do you want to invite?”
- “How much money do you want attendees to spend?”
- “Do you want to be involved in planning the hen do or would you prefer it to be kept a secret?”
- “Is there anyone else we should talk to before planning the hen do?”
2. Gather your planning committee
Whether it’s your fellow bridesmaids and/or members of the bride’s family, you will need to recruit some help. Keeping the group small will make everything more manageable and it will be easier to divide up the tasks. You won’t be on your own with this! Set up a hen-do planning committee text group so you can freely communicate your progress.
In my humble opinion, the best way to kick off the party prep is with a bottle or two of Prosecco and some posh crisps.
As things progress, don’t be tempted to drastically alter the original plan, particularly the budget. Be mindful of people’s spending power.
I would highly recommend working to the strengths of each committee member and delegate tasks accordingly. You never know, one of them may be an Excel ace and design a wonderful spreadsheet that will keep you super organised.
Once you’ve all done your homework and reconvened, clarify dates, potential locations and activities before you get in touch with your hen party guests. It’s an idea to offer only one or two potential hen do dates, as any more may lead to confusion. Guests need to be made aware from the outset that the choice of dates you’ve offered are fixed until an overall date is agreed upon.
3. Contact the guest list
You should have a solid guest list after your chat with the bride, so now’s the time to get in touch with guests and set the party mood! Most guests these days are invited to a WhatsApp group; it’s easy to manage and the most convenient means of gathering information and communicating to a large group. Be prepared for an influx of questions and requests; I would advise that your introductory message goes into as much detail as possible and that you set some ground rules for decision deadlines, payments etc. Once your guests have got back to you with their availability, you can solidify plans.
4. Request payment upfront
Asking guests for the full cost up front may not be easy but it’s crucial. Why? It’s more straightforward than asking for deposits, and an instalment payment plan is a guaranteed administrative nightmare for even the most laid back party planner. Give guests a decent amount of time to save and pay you and that’s another task you can tick off the list.
5. Confirm your bookings
After your party goers have signed up, get in touch with your chosen hotel, restaurant, activities etc and provisionally book. Then breathe a sigh of relief. Remember that spreadsheet? Make sure it’s updated! Let it do the hard work for you. Lastly, message your guests and let them know how plans are progressing.
6. Plan your theme
Now’s the time for you and your committee to get creative! You know the bride inside out, so use this information to dream up a theme she’ll love. This theme can be reflected in what you all wear, the food and drink you enjoy and the activities you plan, whether you book a cocktail-making class, a craft workshop or a private museum tour. You’ll know what makes your closest friend tick so really, the sky’s the limit.
Save money by making your own hen party accessories or splurge on some custom made fun pieces. If you give yourself enough time and a set budget, you can really go to town. A gentle word of advice: keep your bride’s preferences in mind at all times. You want her to be delighted, not horrified.
7. Finalise the details
You and your planning partners have booked the best hen party ever; now all you have to do is tell your guests (including the bride, if she isn’t expecting a surprise hen do). Jump into your WhatsApp group and give a detailed rundown of proceedings. Note that if it’s easier to email people the party particulars, then gather that information in the early stages so you can convey the specifics on a larger screen.
8. Get the party started!
It’s time to celebrate! On the big day, rally your committee together and dish out tasks to ensure things go as smoothly as possible. Once you’re all in the swing of things, you can relax and enjoy a cocktail or two.
The best part? The smile on your bride’s face.