With the bride to be – Georgie!
Recently I’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid twice, once for my great friend Georgie, who is having a traditional countryside wedding, and the second time for my wonderful friend (and ex roomy!) Stephy who is having a contemporary city wedding in London.
Being asked to be a bridesmaid is such an honour – when each of them asked I had an ear to ear grin for days.
That is not a figure of speech, I mean it, I was BEAMING.
And OK I might have burst in to tears too . . . ????
Being a bridesmaid entails lots of pretty things, and you know I’ve been enjoying perusing Pinterest
and adding to my secret boards for wedding inspo. Being a bridesmaid also entails responsibility, one of the biggest tasks for which is organising your bestie’s hen do/bachelorette.
A couple of weekends ago I embarked on my first bridesmaid-organised hen do, and today I am sharing 7 essential tips for organising a hen do for your bestie I learnt from the occasion.
I hope today’s article will help fellow bridesmaids, brides-to-be and even hen do attendees.
7 ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR ORGANISING A HEN DO FOR YOUR BESTIE
A snapshot of our floral crown workshop with Caroline Clements Flowers
1 – Ask the bride what she wants.
This is number one priority. Whilst some elements of the hen do can remain a secret, the bride is the reason this whole shenanigan is happening, so you better put something together which she is going to love.
Georgie told us early on that she would like a weekend away in a country house with all of her closest friends and family. The criteria Georgie set informed everything we did from that point onwards. If you are unsure as to what the bride would like – just ask. The likelihood is that she has very distinct ideas on what her hen do will look like, for her.
Furthermore, once you have an idea of the type of hen do, you can begin to roughly cost it up.
2 – Determine a guest list & start an email thread/Facebook group.
Following a close second to gauging the bride’s vibe, you’ll need to get a guest list from the bride as soon as possible. The moment you know how may people, and who exactly (friends, family, grandparents . . . !) are coming, you can start putting your plans in place for where and what you are going to do. Again – this is useful for costs too!
An email thread or Facebook group will become your port of contact for the hen do group, if you do not have everyone’s contact details, you can ask the bride to initially set up this group.
If you wish to keep elements of the hen do secret, you can always ask the bride to remove herself from the group/take her off of the email thread later on.
3 – Set a date & book a venue.
People’s diaries get booked up quickly, as do venues.
You’ll want to gauge what dates people can make as soon as possible and lock it in.
It took us quite some time to find a rental house which could accommodate our party, and when we did find the perfect one, we were glad we booked it early as demand is high in the lead up to summer when many people get married. Air BnB is a great resource for properties for small hen do parties, as our group was quite large (16+ people) we found that we were better off simply googling large rental properties, which led us to more niche sites dedicated to large rentals.
4 – Cost everything up & be transparent.
From the initial conversation with Georgie, we knew what type of hen do we were looking at – a weekend away in a rented country house, with some sort of activity and an evening out.
As bridesmaids we set to work costing every element out, and Georgie’s maid of honour – Sarah – kept an accurate spreadsheet of costings.
The moment we knew how much everything would cost, we relayed this to the hen do party. We decided to provide a breakdown of every cost – accommodation, food, activities etc. so that every one knew exactly what they were paying for. We then set payment deadlines, and sent reminders a few days before to jog peoples’ memories. It helped to spread the costs over two – three payments too, that way people didn’t feel particularly out of pocket one month, and by the time the hen do came round almost everything which involved the group, had been paid for in advance.
It can be tricky to navigate payments from a large group of people, staying in constant contact is critical, and you may wish to discuss with the bride a backup option in case people are late paying. For us we had a ‘backup credit card’ allocated so we could pay any upfront invoices we needed to.
5 – Develop & Share An Itinerary
I was really struggling to piece together every element of Georgie’s hen do in my mind until I put my imaginary PR hat on – and suddenly everything clicked!
Thank you wonderful PR friends for the inspiration!
Over the years I’ve been invited on some incredible press trips, and I realised that the most enjoyable ones shared a number of common elements. Over-archingly they were all SUPER organised, and kept attendees in the loop at every step. For me, I believe the below elements piece together to create a well-organised trip:
– Contact details, venue information and timings are all clearly accessible. For Georgie’s hen do we created a one page PDF document, nicely laid out, which detailed everything the hen do attendees would need to know. We sent this PDF via email which meant people could access it easily from their phones or print it out.
Further to this our venue had an information pack readily available when we arrived, which detailed things like the wifi password. If such a pack isn’t available, it’s the bridesmaids’ duty to track this information down and pass it on to others. Even a piece of paper blue-tacked to a fridge with the wifi password will do – you just want all information to be accessible.
– There is a plan for transport. How are people getting to the venue, and how are you going to travel somewhere, if you choose to do so?
As a group, the bridesmaids for Georgie’s hen do organised taxis for everyone for an evening out we took. One of us took responsibility for being the point of contact for the taxi company. If you have a large group of people headed somewhere, it is advisable to book well in advance and compare quotes from various places. Also – it may be cheaper to book a minibus, as we did, for a large party.
Again, in terms of people getting to your base point – for us our rented house – you will want to include the exact address in your information PDF, so people can use their sat navs to drive there, or inform a taxi of the location.
– Invitees have plenty of spare time to get to know one another. We organised time slots where people could just hang out at the house we rented. These relaxed hours were some of the best times for people, especially of different friendship groups, to get to know one another.
On press trips, I always appreciate thoughtful time slots of ‘nothing to do’ which always end up as either a quiet moment of time out, or a great opportunity to get to know new people.
– There is an activity. For Georgie’s hen do we organised a floral crown workshop with a local florist – Caroline Clements Flowers. If you are organising a hen do in an area which is new to you (as Gloucester was to us), you can use Instagram as your search tool for local businesses – I used the hashtag #GloucestershireFlorist to find Louise’s business and we couldn’t have been more thrilled with the event Louise and her team put together.
The floral crown workshop worked perfectly for Georgie as she adores floral arranging. There are a tone of other ideas you could look in to as an activity including – cocktail making classes, an assault course (I did this on another hen do and it was so fun!), a spa afternoon . . . anything that gets people doing something in a united way – again it’s great for people getting to know one another.
– There’s delicious food and snacks available at all times. Whenever any one is away from home, it’s a little unsettling – no matter how seasoned a traveller you are. When organising the food and drink for the weekend, we really tried to think about each and every meal we’d be preparing at the house, and cater for snacks and hangover food too. We ended up doing a big online order, which we had delivered directly to the venue – a total LIFE SAVER.
By delivering straight to our rental, there was so little fuss and we could cost up exactly what we’d need for every meal. We asked all attendees about dietary requirements ahead of time too.
Having planned all the meals ahead of time, we were never short of inspiration as to what to make for everyone. We made sure that everyone knew where essentials like tea and coffee were too, and had biscuits, fruit and other picky foods stashed in a central location.
A note on alcohol – part 1. Stock up! We bought plenty of fizz for the hen do weekend and it made the biggest difference to have bottles constantly chilled. Every activity became an opportunity for a toast and it was so fun to let loose for a weekend and just keep the fizz coming! We asked all hen do attendees to bring a bottle of something too, which helped spread the cost. Between a large order made ahead of time, and a bottle brought per person we had plenty of drinks for the weekend.
A note on alcohol – part 2! Whilst most of the girls on our weekend away did drink, I am always conscious that some people don’t drink, or may have a reason not to – in fact one of our attendees has a little baby and is currently breastfeeding. In this instance, it’s always nice to have soft drinks on hand, which don’t make the non-drinking attendees feel left out. I go through phases of drinking and not drinking, and one of my personal favourite non alcoholic drinks is cold sparkling water with fresh lime, a cold ginger drink or tonic water. When you are doing your shop, be sure to buy some yummy soft drinks too.
6 – Decor.
Here is where all of your hours on Pinterest can be put to good use! There are so many sweet ideas for hen dos and bachelorettes, we tried to strike a balance between classic hen do decor – ahem, penis-themed paraphernalia – with tasteful paper decorations, and colourful balloons.
Peach Blossom does the most amazing decorations – we stocked up on these gorgeous ‘LOVE’ balloons, paper balls in Georgie’s favourite colours, napkins, straws, a personalised glitter garland and more.
We also tried a glitter DIY for champagne glasses which worked a treat! We simply put some lemon juice on a little plate, turned the champagne flutes over and pressed the rims in to the lemon juice, we then had a separate plate of edible glitter and pressed the rim in to the glitter afterwards – it sticks perfectly and is really easy to clean off too. It added a sweet fun element to otherwise plain glasses.
7 – Start a hashtag and takes tones of photos!
This is an occasion which both the hen, and hen do attendees are really going to want to remember! The lead up to a wedding is such a special time. Social media is 100% your friend in the case of a hen do, so take advantage of the pooling properties of a hashtag and start one for the hen weekend.
As for photos, some people take lots and others take few – either way, it’s always really nice for everyone to be able to access them. We asked everyone who was taking photos to share them in a group WhatsApp, you can do the same or use a photo sharing service like Dropbox, or even Facebook to pull all of the images together.
Also – I got in to Boomerang for the first time on the hen do and it was SO much fun!
Overall, when organising a hen do for your bestie, you will want to take care of the bride and attendees as best you can. Aim to develop a hen do which ticks off as many of the bride’s wish list as possible, be organised and be mindful of creating an environment which will help people who don’t necessarily know one another, to get to know one another in a fun way.
In my mind, a great hen do sets the precedent for an awesome reunion of friends – old and new – at the wedding, and will share everyone’s love of the bride in a really lovely, genuine way.
What do you guys think? Are you currently organising a hen do? Or are attending one yourself soon? Do you have any tips you can share, or any questions?
Love, Monica x