So, you're planning a hen party. Your bestie is getting married and, as maid of honour or an important bridesmaid, you've been entrusted to plan her girls' get-together ahead of her tying the knot. Before visions of cheap feather boas and greasy male strippers fill your mind, don't panic! Hen parties have, thankfully, come a long way from the pink sash stereotypes - with everything from pool parties to burlesque shows, gin tasting and adventure courses on offer for a bridal party.
Whatever the style, planning a day out or a weekend away for a group of girls can be a tricky task. There are logistics to consider, an endless stream of Whatsapp messages to keep up with and (need we say?) the dreaded budget to negotiate. For tips on how to make the process a whole lot easier and on how to have fun at the actual event, read on to find out the dos and don'ts of hen party planning.
Do think about the hen
This is Number One on the to-do list and the most important part of planning a hen party. Your first port of call is: ask the bride-to-be what she wants, whether a relaxing weekend abroad or a night of tequila shots and dancing 'til sunrise in London. "Find out what the bride-to-be wants to do and how she wants to celebrate," says Chloe Hepburn, a Hen expert at Red7. "She has to feel like a VIP, so if she's a girly girl, a luxe spa day might be better than going white water rafting…"
Don't ask for everyone's opinion
Once the bride has decided on her hen party style, it's important to stick to it, no matter what. Even if her cousin or work colleague complains about the plan. "Too many opinions muddy the waters," says Chloe. "It's the bride's party and she has to feel like a VIP, so keep it simple and just ask her."
Do choose your destination carefully
You know what they say: location, location, location! This also applies to hen parties. Do your research and opt for a place that is hen party friendly with plenty of activity options. The last thing you want to do is be stuck in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do.
"At Red7, we've launched some great new destinations this season, including Croatia's Obonjan Island, where everything is literally in one place," says Chloe. "Glamp it up in luxe bell tents, enjoy spa treatments, chill out at yoga classes and do watersports before listening to some of Europe's best DJs spin the decks."
Don't leave booking it until the last minute
If you've ever attended a hen party, you'll know that the cost of them can really add up, especially if it involves travelling somewhere for a weekend. "These days, hens are going away for 3 to 4 nights or sometimes longer," says Chloe. "My big advice is to book 10 to 12 months in advance. You'll get better deals, have the pick of where to stay and you can spread the cost monthly to include more friends."
Do have activities planned
No, this doesn't have to mean 'pin the penis on the hunk'. There are plenty of other hen party game ideas, as well as larger activities that the bride and whole group will enjoy. According to Chloe, activities like gin tasting, bottomless brunches and VIP days at beach clubs in places like Ibiza and Marbella are very popular right now. "They're a great way for a group to get glammed up, chill out by the pool and catch up over Champagne and cocktails," says Chloe. "Spa days are always great since the range of treatments on offer gets better each year. And for a team-bonding challenge, you can't beat an escape room experience, followed by a great meal out and VIP booth at a top club."
Don't forget about the logistics
Once you've booked the accommodation and activities, don't forget to plan for the logistics of the weekend too. "The other big mistake people make is concentrating on the big fun things but forgetting to organise crucial things like transport," says Chloe. "Imagine: the restaurant and VIP booth are booked, but you've forgotten the taxis for 12. Disaster!" Don't forget other things too like restaurant reservations, planning time for a grocery/drinks run and anything you might need to pack. Hen party bags are always appreciated, too."
Do set budget expectations
The cost of a hen party can be high (in 2017, Stylist reported the UK average spend to be £507 per person), so it's important to be upfront from the beginning. As soon as you've decided on the destination, accommodation and activities, set up a group chat with all of the details and a breakdown of the cost. By letting people know immediately how much they'll need to spend, it'll be easier to start collecting money closer to the date. The last thing people want is for you to ask them for money last minute when they haven't budgeted for it.
Don't forget to enjoy yourself too
As Maid of Honour, it's your job to be on hand throughout the day or weekend to help make sure the group stays together and on schedule. But once the squad is there and you're sipping cocktails by the pool or letting loose at a summer festival, be sure to relax, enjoy yourself and have a fantastic time with your bride-to-be bestie.