When I announced my engagement, the first question on everyone’s lips was; “When are you getting married?” With the ring only being on my finger for 15 minutes, it was a little while before I could answer. Once we had a date, the next question was; “What are you doing for your hen party?”
Living in Brighton, I’ve seen plenty of hen parties out and about in the city. My two favourites so far have been a group of Smurfs (complete with blue make-up) and a large group of ladies dressed up as grannies. Their dedication to the cause was admirable. However, I knew early on I didn’t want my hen event to be one big raucous party. After all, the guest list included my mother-in-law and her sister – everyone needed to be on their best behaviour (for part of the evening anyway).
The what and the where
With a vague idea of what I didn’t want to do, I started to think about what I did – and where. With friends scattered across the South Coast and many more in the Midlands, picking the right location was a pain. However, many ladies were more than happy for an excuse to spend a day in Brighton. Getting the location decided early on made my search for the perfect hen party activity much more focussed.
Like any bride-to-be, I wanted my day to be a bit different. I’m no stranger to a crochet hook and love getting my hands covered in paint. As such, my first thought was to do a fun craft activity where we could all create a keepsake of the day. The trouble was I knew not everyone was comfortable in front of a sewing machine or would be happy getting paint down their party dresses.
When thinking about Hen Party Ideas, I stumbled on a company that ran treasure hunts for hen parties. Spying one that involved visiting sweet shops, I decided this was the ideal activity for my party. Sugary treats, my best friends in sunny Brighton – what could be better? Plus (unbeknown to me at the time), my sister was able to include photos and ‘fun’ facts about me to make it personal.
I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I have a bossy older sister. When I picked her as my maid-of-honour (not that I had much of a choice), I knew she would be able to whip everyone into shape and get my hen party organised. Less great was the fact she continuously pestered me to sort out the guest list, the date, how everyone was going to pay, where everyone was staying…
The first two were sorted by a group conversation on Facebook. However, although very useful, I’ve always felt Facebook was the lazy option when party planning. To make my hen do a bit more personal, I ordered some lovely personalised invitations from partyinvitationsuk.co.uk and popped them into the post.
The other headache was how to sort out paying the deposit and final balance. My rather inefficient system was a spreadsheet and giving out my bank details so people could pay me direct. With other wedding things to plan, this was a hassle I could have done without.
Alright on the night
Despite a few hiccups in the planning stages, my Hen Party went off without a hitch. To accommodate the in-laws and ladies having to leave early, I split the day into four parts. The afternoon was dedicated to stuffing our faces with sweets on the Treasure Hunt, then a delicious meal in my favourite Italian restaurant before heading to the Black Dove for decadent cocktails. Once my mum and soon to be mother-in-law had retired for the evening, a few of us finished the night in a club dancing our butts off to 80s tunes.
What I’d do differently
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. There are some things about my hen party I definitely wouldn’t change – like bumping into David Walliams in Pavilion Gardens. I also have a great bunch of friends who all got on really well, even though some were meeting each other for the first time.
However, if I could rewind the clock and do it all again, I confess there are a few things I would do differently. Trying to keep on top of who had paid and who hadn’t was a headache I could have done without. That’s why UKGirlThing’s payment tracker is such a good idea. It takes the stress out of hen party planning as members can log into a secure website and make payments themselves, when they want.
Of course, if I had won the lottery beforehand, I would have flown all my hen party guests out to Vegas for a week but you can’t have everything!