Hi! I'm Helen Crockett, welcome to my blog. As Brides' commissioning editor, I get an insight into the wedding world and what brides really want: a wedding that's stylish and affordable. So over the next few months, I'll be bringing you my budget bride's guide to weddings, with savvy money-saving tips on everything from venues and flowers to cakes and entertainment.
I thought I'd start with the hen do - the one area the bride has no control over, which is stressful. There are often concerns about how much it will cost, and can everyone afford it, especially if it's abroad. If it's between going away and having all her close friends present, most brides I know would choose the latter. So what to do if your maid of honour has planned an all-singing, all-dancing affair that involves flights and accommodation, not to mention expensive meals out and all the hen games? I've been invited to a hen do in Stockholm which will set me back about £500. I'm happy to go, but it's caused unease among some of her friends who simply can't afford it but don't want to disappoint her. So what to do in this situation? You are well within your rights to ask the maid of honour to change her plans to a UK-based party. If some have already booked flights, then why not throw two parties? One abroad, and one more affordable event here.
Still not sure where to go? Here are my top five fab hen dos on a purse-string:
1. Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley, London, for canapés, fashion-fabulous cakes and fizz, followed by Lucky Voice karaoke - always good for a laugh. The damage? £60-odd. www.the-berkeley.co.uk; www.luckyvoice.com
2. A cycle and spa break at Careys Manor Hotel in the New Forest is my idea of healthy hen-do heaven - pampering one day, cycling round the New Forest the next. Bliss. £190. www.careysmanor.com
3. I love the idea of a sporty/girly combo in Liverpool, and clay-pigeon shooting followed by a night on the town sounds perfect. £165. www.wowweekends.com
4. One of the best - and cheapest - weekends I've had was surfing in Newquay. It's a total steal - camping and lessons start at £45. www.fistralsurfschool.co.uk
5. If only overseas will do, Slovenia gets my vote for hens on a budget - you can get a two-night break in the capital Ljubljana from £120 plus flights. www.sloveniabreak.com
Happy hen do-ing!