5 Ways to plan the Best Hen Do
With so many of my friends now "growing up" - buying a home, settling down and getting engaged - it seems wedding season has well and truly begun. Having celebrated this special time myself, I thought I'd do a post on what made my hen-do/bachelorette or "hens" (for the Aussie chicks) one of the best weekends of my life.
Of course I didn't have much involvement (and that was an extremely painful part of being a "hen") and my team of besties, Harriet, Chelsea, Kia, Elvi and Jen planned the whole thing, I still feel I can share some of what made it so great - and hope it helps some struggling maid of honours out there, geeze the pressure is on these days!
1. FOCUS ON THOUGHTFUL
As a busy and stressed out bride making endless decisions on things you've never had the time, or frankly, the interest to think about - seat covers, place names, order of procession into the church, background music for the meal - having someone else pull together a holiday away before the wedding was truly a gift from above. But, on top of all that, for it to be your nearest and dearest organising meaningful and thoughtful little games and outfits to bring about sharing moments, memories and silly tales was really, really special. I never had any doubt that Harriet, Chelsea and crew could pull off a fun weekend but to have it all mapped out with such thoughtful care really was the best part of the weekend.
I had a custom tour t-shirt (that luckily wasn't some hideous bully-baiting onesie), matching pineapple sunglasses, a custom hen do tote bag and lovely tacky Bride-to-be sunglasses and accompanying shot glass. And that was just for the plane ride to Jamaica! I would have been chuffed with half of this but obviously we don't do things by half around here! My point is, all this effort is certainly not wasted on a bride-to-be. The weekend was littered with personalised fun. Harriet had asked Stefan questions and I had to guess the answers (some of his answers were flat out lies I tell you!), I had a private Batabano dance performed to me which the girls had been choreographing for weeks (and which the gardener really lucked out on!) and we all had customised "We 'B" Jammin'" one-piece swimsuits, even Elvi expecting a baby. It truly felt so special and touching to have all of these little surprises. I hope most of them were fairly affordable (but wouldn't be against the Bride contributing for these!) and all were certainly efforts hugely appreciated by a busy bride.
2. DON'T OVER PLAN
With all that being said, something I would strongly recommend is not to over plan the hen weekend. Given the excitement and celebration of the weekend, I think there is unnecessary pressure to plan something for every moment. And this is both tiring and expensive. I don't know about you but some of my best moments in life have been sat in someones living room dancing around til late in the morning, or um, possibly skinny-dipping (but that wouldn't have been me, surely). But I think when planning a once-in-a-lifetime hen weekend, the pressure can lead to your best friends being over ambitious and over-keen to plan the fun.
Staying at Serendipity, the most quaint villa in Half Moon Bay, Jamaica, we could have entertained ourselves with poolside silliness all weekend! But even still, the girls organised some fantastic outings (see below) but luckily also planned some valuable down-time for us to catch up and enjoy precious time together. When you're in a setting like this, you don't need to go anywhere!
3. SHARE SOMETHING WITH THE BRIDE
As a organising bride, and perhaps a Type 'A' personality, I found it particularly hard not being involved in the planning stage of a weekend away. That's the whole point, I hear you say. I know, I know. But for someone who plans the holidays, overdoes Christmas and lives for the weekends, staying out of the planning was really difficult. I've been on other hen dos where part of the banter is that the bride knows NOTHING and for some this is how it should be.
But for others this can be hard to feel a part of the fun when you're completely left out. I barely lasted and luckily Harriet gave me a few insights, namely my outfit the night before, to try and get me feeling included without ruining the surprises. And that just shows how well she knows me. It feels so much more exciting being able to have some idea of what is to come and I really appreciated being slightly included before the weekend. I know it sounds nuts to say you might not feel included in a weekend that's technically all about you. Perhaps its the fear of group "banter" where you have to stand on a table and sing whilst on a netball tour that haunts me but just bear in mind that complete and continual surprises might not be for everyone.
4. STAY IN BUDGET
If you are thinking of going abroad (or even if staycationing), don't forget the budget. Hen weekends away to Vegas or the like can really rack up the costs and for some that can ruin the sentiment of being on holiday with friends. Broke before a wedding may taint the experience and it's really not necessary to spend lots to have a special weekend.
Back in the day a hen do would only ever be a night out on the town with your crew - and perhaps there's something to be said for keeping it simple. More friends are likely to come, you can really go all out as it's one night of silliness and not a three night bender away, and you don't need to be somewhere special to have a great time if you have your nearest and dearest together. Just something to bear in mind when society is getting bigger and badder at spending money and "keeping up with the..." you know.
5. DO SOMETHING NEW
Possibly the best experience together was a new one - the Dunn's River Falls and Blue Hole. Frolicking around in our matching swimsuits and trainers (just go with it), whilst climbing the rocks and sliding down the waterfalls, swinging off ropes; it was such good fun. We had the best time with all the fuss and attention that goes with being on a hen do, let alone in coordinated swimwear; it was GREAT. Climbing the falls in rather chilly water and some very happy Jamaican tour guides gave us so many laughs - most unrepeatable but I'm sure you can imagine. Let's just say one of the group almost had a wedding proposal on her hands - now that would be an amazing 'how did you meet' story!
That's all I can share that's suitable for social media and I hope it helps those in the planning stages of hen do mania! Who's up next? I'm ready!