Saturday, 19 May 2012

Always a bridesmaid......and this might be why!

In my thirty odd years I think I’ve attended and organised more than my fair share of Hens parties. And let me tell you, I’ve attended the great (usually the ones I’ve organised…he he!), the good, and then just the outright bad. And even then I’ve been to worse where they have been so out rightly hideous that the cringe factor for the poor Hen was off the Richter scale!

I had the privilege about three years ago of organising my three best friends Hens parties all in the space of five months. One of them actually had two Hens parties (my idea), so technically I did four parties in five months. My whole life was consumed with Hens party themes, ideas, games and novelties, trying my best to outdo myself with each one and of course make each one different and unique to suit the personality of the Bride. So I thought I would share with you all my top six tips for organising the BEST Hens party ever. Every woman will have to organise or been involved in organising at least one Hens party in their lifetime and of course you will want it to be one that the Bride will remember forever (in a good way of course!). 
So here are my top six tips!

Tip 1# Always ask the Bride what SHE wants to do!
After all it is her day! It will be her last day/night of singledom and it needs to be a celebration that she feels comfortable with, with a group of Hens that she wants to celebrate with. There is no point inviting a whole heap of ladies that she doesn’t want there, nor feel comfortable enough around to let her hair down with. Now in saying that you should always honour what the Bride wants to a certain degree but there also should always be room too for an element of surprise! And you of course will know the Bride better than anyone and will know how far you can push the boundaries without going too far. But whatever you do though, make sure you plan for all the guests to pace themselves - you don't want everyone to get too drunk too soon, so make sure a meal is accounted for in your preparations. And lastly if you're inviting older friends or mums, choose a venue or activity that everyone feels comfortable with. And if in doubt, split the night into various stages, such as a meal for everyone and then on to the wild clubbing later for the younger ones!

Tip 2# Theme it up!
Every good party should have a theme or a concept and generally Hens will get into the spirit of the party more if there is dressing up involved or activities and games that follow a theme. 
To give you some ideas on what I’ve done in the past, I had a ‘Make the Bride Blush’ theme for my own Hens party (yes I themed my own party, sad I know….I’m a self-confessed control freak!) where everyone was made to wear a touch of pink. All the food and decorations were themed in pink and it was a simple yet fun theme that wasn’t too overbearing for all involved. And yes the girls did make me blush! 

For another girlfriend we did an ‘Oriental’ theme for her Oriental inspired wedding. We all dressed in Chinese silk dresses and themed the restaurant with oriental fans, lanterns and parasols. The guests received favours of oriental fans and chopsticks and we all enjoyed a dumpling feast. During the day we embarked upon a very tame activity of painting ceramic plates to accommodate the oldies, and then moved onto some more 'evening' activities later on to spice things up!

Another party I did we themed it with a 1950s housewife theme, where we all came dressed in our aprons and pearls, played the housewife Olympics of sewing buttons on shirts, peeling potatoes and darning socks which was a real laugh for everyone. At this particular party we surprised the Hen with a surprise 'male guest' which was a laugh.....even for the Hen's Mum! 

Then there was the Hens with the ‘Cops and Robbers’ theme where the bridesmaids dressed as the cops and the bride of course was placed under arrest as the hardened crim! She was then taken to places 'against' her will and made to do things under Police instruction! Needless to say we had a very accommodating Hen on our hands who was up for the fun and the challenge!

My favourite though was a joint Hens and Bucks party that I threw where we gave it a ‘Battle of the Sexes’ theme, making the Groom dress in the Bride’s old school uniform and the Bride dress in the Groom’s old school uniform! All the male guests came dressed as women and of course the women as men! Now this was a theme that everyone got in to with some really great ‘battle of the sexes’ games that followed suit.

Tip 3# Organise every detail, delegate with the other bridesmaids and ensure everything is accounted for well in advance

Depending on what activity you choose, whether it is a winery tour, a day at the spa, a dinner or even a night at the strippers, Hens parties are generally for larger groups of women and popular venues generally need to be booked well in advance, so be organised and plan ahead. Don’t leave your party planning to two weeks before the party as you will never pull it off! My general rule of thumb is to plan eight weeks out, with a save the dates to be sent out at the 7-8 week mark, followed by a formal invitation 5-6 weeks out. Always ensure you allow ample RSVP time too. 2 weeks should be sufficient and allow for those tardy stragglers. It is at that 8 week mark though that you need to make some critical decisions, especially around cost. This leads me to my next tip.

# Tip 4 Be mindful of costs to your guests
Now the initial meeting of the Bridesmaids to discuss ideas for the Hens party can often see lavish ideas being thrown around of hummers, topless waiters, fancy restaurants and the like. It is at this point you need to set your budget and set some ground rules. Will you be expecting your guests to pay entirely for themselves? Will the bridesmaids be covering part or all of the costs? And will you be expecting your guests to prepay in advance? These can all be sensitive questions that need to be detailed delicately on the invitations and in situations where you require prepayment prior to the party you need to make it as easy and as convenient for the guests as possible. You also need to keep in mind that not everyone is comfortable forking out huge amounts of money for lavish activities, so if it means getting a mini bus instead of a hummer, then be creative and theme that bus to within an inch of its life….it will be just as fun! Most guests feel comfortable enough to pay between $50-$100 for a Hens celebration, but remember guests will often want to get their monies worth. You must remember one thing however, no Bride should be paying for anything at her Hens party (unless the Bride of course is a control freak, as I was, organising the whole thing myself!) 

Tip 5# Always ensure you have ample activities or games to ensure good guest interaction!
Activities are always a great way to get the party started and also for girls to get to know each other especially when there is a mixed bunch of guests. But always make sure you chose something that everyone will actually want to participate in! There is nothing worse than attending a party and being forced to do something that is way out of your comfort zone. And additionally it wouldn’t be a Hens party without some games. Now the Internet is crawling with great Hens party games, but my biggest tip here is to ensure you chose ones that your Bride will be comfortable doing. Games and quizzes can always be a laugh, but make sure your Bride is laughing too and not just being laughed at! And finally on this point, don't make the whole event about games. 3-4 games at the very most is ok, but keep them to a minimum as although they may seem fun to you, to others they can seem tedious and somewhat boring.

Tip 6# Ensure you leave the Bride and the guests with some mementos from the night!
In all the Hens parties I have organised I have always arranged a photo book for the Bride in advance, collecting pictures of all those invited to the party and collating them together for all the ladies to write their own personal note to the Bride in on the night. This is always a nice keep sake for the Bride to look back on after the party.
Obviously there is also always the traditional garb that goes along with Hens parties too – the veil and obviously some of the crass Hens party novelties you can pick up in ‘those novelty sex shops’. Now depending on your Bride she may or may not want to go down that path. But generally if you chose a good enough theme you can create your own novelties that are a little more classy and creative but yet still make the bride stand out as the Hen! For example for my girlfriend’s oriental Hens I picked up a traditional Vietnamese hat and attached some sparkly red tulle from the tip which she wore all night – and boy oh boy did she stand out! 

Lastly, always ensure you have the all-important favour for your ladies to take home. Now if you’ve chosen the right theme this can be simple. A show bag handed out at the start of the day/night though can always be fun that can hold favours, lollies and essentials that might be required for games etc. Again, theme these up with a picture of the bride and make them as naughty or as classy as you like!

Anyway, I hope my six top tips have been helpful in organising your next Hens Celebration!

Cluck Cluck! x

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