Sunday, April 28, 2013

How to Make a Hen Day a DO rather than a Don't

After being in a funk most of the week, and having worked most of my Sunday, I decided to down tools and share something I HAVE achieve this week with you. I have started to plan my personal Hen day for one of my best friends.
I should explain that I could have won the Worst Best Friend in the Whole Wide World award as I am not in the country for her 'official celebration'. Instead I'll be back in Germany or possibly still on holiday in Austria. I figured I'd end up spending some serious bucks on flying back for it, or let's face it the cost of a hen weekend, so it made sense that I did something for her. Especially as what she IS doing for her official hen party isn't really completely up her street.
I have never been a bride or even close to it, but I think I can appreciate that you spend an awful lot of time trying to please the people around you or doing things you think you should be in order to accommodate the expectations of your bridal party. Personally, I think this is nonsense - a hen do SHOULD be about doing what the bride wants, making her feel special, loved and respected.
You probably won't ever find me carrying around inflatable male parts through a city centre at 3pm hammered off my inadvisably high footwear. It's not because I can't appreciate the hilarity of this to some people...but it's just not for me. I would feel like a prize turkey doing this and any one of my friends who thought this would be an activity I'd rejoice in would probably not enjoy the hair-holding vomitathon which would undoubtedly happen after drink four.
To avoid an unhappy Hen:
1. DO arrange the day for her. There is nothing worse than being up to your neck in wedding arrangements and having to co-ordinate your own party. If you have signed-up to be a Matron of Honour or Bridesmaid, it's part of your job to take this out of her hands.
2. DO ask the hen lots of questions to work out what she would most like. Use this information to pull the other maids on board. Too many bridesmaids can spoil the broth and it can end up being more about them, than the bride. Useful questions include:
  • Who do you want to be there?
  • Luxury or budget?
  • Home or away?
  • Day or weekend?
  • Drink or dry?
  • Night or day?
  • Rude or reserved?
  • You get the idea.  I went simpler and just asked: what would be your ideal hen celebration?
3. DO talk budget. Weddings are expensive for the hosts and guests, so do not assume that everyone can afford that weekend away, three meals out, petrol, outfits, activities etc. Be sensitive to those on a tight budget and make it possible to opt in and out of activities at any point in the celebration.
4. DO negotiate with your vendors. If you are taking 20 people to a spa day, then see what discounts you can arrange. If necessary avoid using the words 'wedding' or 'hen party' as that can have the opposite effect and drive prices higher. Likewise negotiate with restaurants, hotels and activity providers. Just researching some potential activity classes for my friend I noticed that any aimed at the Hen market were significantly more expensive. Often people will offer you extras rather than discounts. If you are booking lunch, see if they can provide dessert for free....or a free treatment for the Hen if a certain number commit to paid services.
5. DO keep it a surprise. This will take a bit more arranging, but totally worth it. Ask her fiancé to pack any bags for the day/weekend so that she doesn't need to worry about anything. If she (like me) finds the idea of a surprise a complete nightmare, then give her a rough itinerary. What does a list saying: 'lunch, spa, activity, dinner, activity' tell her anyway?
Whatever you decide to do:
1. DON'T forget to communicate the bride's wishes with everyone involved. There's nothing more embarrassing than being the person to bring fluffy handcuffs and organise a stripper and find out that the hen weekend includes her incredibly sweet and catholic grandmother.
2. DON'T try and please everyone. Please the bride and any friends and family members will have a lovely time.
3. DON'T moan if you don't like what the bride/bridesmaids have arranged. Remember that as a guest your job is to join in with the 'fun'. If my friend wanted to spend the weekend at a yoga retreat, I'd do it despite the fact I'm as flexible as steel.
4. DON'T forget to make the dress code clear, particularly if it is fancy dress. People will feel comfortable if they can fit in with the group.
5. DON'T forget the morning after. Put together a recovery pack or create something that the bride can take away with her as one of the most memorable days of her life.  A photo-book, a craft made on the day, or just a collection of cards from her gals would be a super way to let her know you care.
What would be YOUR dream hen do?
Here are a couple of my faves:
As for the one for my bestie? Well, that's still top secret until June. I just know that she will have an amazing day, which is the perfect way for me to let her see just how much I love her.
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