So you have been asked to be Maid of Honour – what now? Planning a hen party or any group gathering can be pretty stressful, particularly if you have never done it before or don’t personally know all the people invited so here are our top tips on how to plan a brilliant hen party experience and stay sane while doing so!
1. Always speak to the bride when organising the hen party
It is important that whatever you plan that the bride is happy, so while you may want to keep the theme/activities/ location etc a surprise, understanding what the bride would like is essential. You don’t want to plan a 3-hour obstacle course run for a bride who was hoping for a chilled spa break. Some key questions here would be what type of hen she would like, time frame before the wedding, who she wants to invite and any definite no-nos.
2. Keep all hens in the loop
Once you know who the Bride would like to be there the best thing is to communicate with everyone, a WhatsApp group is ideal for this. From there you can discuss dates, budget, and any ideas and get a rough framework to plan with. Also, while the task of planning normally falls to the maid of honour don’t be afraid to ask the other bridesmaids/hens for help and play to people’s strengths
3. Find the right hen party location & accommodation
Once you have a rough idea of how many people are attending and the chosen date, it’s time to start searching for locations and accommodation. It helps here to give the accommodation providers as much information as possible, how many nights are you looking for, how many rooms, will guests be sharing or are you looking for single rooms?
4. Set the budget
Once you have the prices for the accommodation and activities it is time to factor in the rest such as food & beverage, transport if you are planning for everyone to travel together and any extras you are planning on. Don’t forget about table decorations, goodie bags, hen t-shirts, sashes, gifts for the bride etc, these bits soon all add up. Once you have the total price you can split this between the guests and get a rough cost per person. (Bear in mind that the cost per person will increase if your numbers reduce so make sure you state this when you communicate the details to the hens)
5. Create your hen party itinerary
Once you have a location booked it is time to start thinking of what activities theme you would like. Ideally, you should have 1-2 activities in the afternoon (like a class or afternoon tea) and then in the evening allow time for everyone to get glammed up for dinner, cocktails and dancing. It is worth considering the guest list here – do you have anyone with limitations or anyone within the group who is pregnant? Is the mother of the bride coming too? It may impact on the type of activities you choose to do.
6. Communicate the details and confirm the booking
Once you have a plan in place it’s time to communicate it out to the hens, be transparent and ensure that you breakdown the costs in full and tell them about anything else they might need to plan like if there is a dressing up theme. At this stage you might want to look for a deposit or payment in full from each of the hens. You might find that you get a few dropouts at this stage which is completely normal. Once you have confirmed numbers are booking on the basis that everyone who has said they will come are going to be there and if they cancel at this stage they will still have to pay.
7. Give yourself a pat on the back, the tough bit is over!
8. Party games and paraphernalia
Now that the big things are organised it is time to think about what other games and details you can add to the hen party to make it really special. Are you going to make hen party bags, plan hen party games, decorate the house or hotel room, organise t-shirts/ sashes or maybe even a special hen party playlist? These things could be divided out to the other hens too to take the pressure off you.
9. Confirm final numbers with your providers
Send out the party itinerary to the hens before you confirm final numbers. You will probably want to do this 2-4weeks prior to the hen party. This is also the best time to chase any outstanding payments.
Now the time is here and all your hard work has paid off. It is time to let your hair down and enjoy the party!
Looking for some inspiration?
At Clayton Whites, we offer a number of activities for our hens including afternoon tea, cocktail-making classes, spa packages and dinner. We are also located just a 5 minutes walk from the National Opera House so it is worth checking out if your dates line up with any shows that the bride may like. For more outdoorsy adventures we are located a short drive from Curracloe Surf Shack who offer private surf lessons. Thrill-seekers may be interested in The Irish Experience based at the Hook Peninsula (40-minute drive from the hotel) which offers bespoke experiences from sea cave kayaking to paddleboarding and coastal canyoneering.