Wednesday 11 May 2011

I love you more than being seventeen.

This weekend I went to Jo's - my oldest friend - hen do. This marks the first post of several, I'm sure, about her wedding, seeing as we're all off to Tuscany for the ceremony next month (eeee exciting!!). Her future in-laws loaned us their huge house in Ipswich, and we had a grand time of cocktails, murder mysteries, dancing and hot tubs.

Anyway, so many of my friends have got married recently that I consider myself something of an expert on hen dos. If you’re planning one – and I know a few of my favourite blogging ladies are certainly planning weddings at the moment - here are my top ten tips:

1) Accommodation
All hen dos now seem to be full-weekend deals. I really recommend renting a cottage or house – when there are several of you, it works out much cheaper than a hotel. You can also get great deals online – I love this website. I’ve also stayed here and here in Bath – both of which were lovely.

A lovely farmhouse in Dawlish!

2) Ice Breakers
I’ve never been to a hen do where I knew everybody beforehand. It’s one reason why they’re nice, as it means you can meet each other before the wedding, particularly if you’re on the same table at dinner. You can do cheesy games and whatnot, and they’re always fun, but Jo’s option this weekend was probably my favourite – we all donned outfits and stupid accents for a Murder Mystery over dinner. It was a great way to get everyone talking, and such a giggle. Her bridesmaid just bought a kit in a box, which did everything for us, bar the costumes which we supplied. Loved it.

Meet Willie Wakeup, the German Hypnotist.

3) Budget
If you’re doing the organising, be open about what things are costing, and make sure it’s clear that if you’ve spent £90 on a food shop for the house, you want a contribution from everyone! If you’re planning to do cocktails, plan it beforehand and then assign everyone a spirit to buy – otherwise you may end up with ten bottles of Glenn’s Vodka. Nice. This weekend, we all suggested things for the person doing the shop to buy, and then all made up jugs on the Saturday to share around. It’s also a really good way to clear out the cupboards – get rid of that bottle of grenadine that’s been lurking on your bottom shelf for the last 6 months!

4) The Stripper Issue
Jokes aside, all bride-to-bes know whether or not they want a stripper. Ask the question. Every bride I know has said ‘No thank you’ quite firmly, but still. Check. If YOU really want to see abs, you’re the organiser, make it happen. But might I recommend a slightly more civilised Butler in the Buff? You can get them to make you cocktails! And do the washing up!

Classier than a stripper! Just.

5) Activities
Don’t do too many! It’s tempting, but it’s exhausting. It also always seems to mean you end up with half an hour to get ready for the night out, and no one likes to be rushed! This weekend, there were no set plans for Saturday, apart from hitting a club at 10pm, and it was lovely. We ate, we drank, we did our nails, we went for a walk, we went in the hot tub, and we chatted. Perfect. Other activities I’ve done in the past are cocktail classes (great fun, plus, drinking!), cookery classes (really interesting, but lengthy and tiring, and actually quite hard to find), karaoke (we brought along SingStar, so no public embarrassment – another great icebreaker too), poledancing (one word: ow), wine-tasting (again, drinking!), and scavenger hunts.

Unsurprisingly, I am much better at cocktail-making than pole-dancing.

6) Going Dancing
My friends and I ALWAYS want to go dancing, but we always schedule it for the Saturday. Often, not everyone can get there on the Friday night, and the M25 can be a cruel mistress. If you’re stuck in traffic until 9pm, the last thing you want to do is go out after that. Also, unless the bride and all her friends all met on the hardcore trance scene, do some research on nearby nightclubs beforehand, and find a cheesy music night. The club we went to on Saturday was a bit of a dive, it was full of lechy men and it was hotter than the sun, but played amazing 80s and 90s tunes all night, which kept everyone happy.

7) Organising

Not the maid of honour? Don’t be afraid to butt in. Some girls are organisers, some aren’t. Even control freaks like me will normally accept a helping hand! At one hen do, the whole thing pretty much was organised by a couple of my friends and I, even though none of us were bridesmaids. It honestly doesn’t matter – you’re all there for the bride, after all!

8) Surprises!
It’s always nice to do one thing that the bride doesn’t know about. Even if it’s just bringing along a batch of cupcakes. I got this cake made up in Tesco for Laura, complete with fancy candles that set off the fire alarm.


9) Make it easy on yourself

Consider the three Ps – paper, plastic and Poundland. These are your BEST FRIENDS. Disposable cutlery and crockery will make the clean-up a picnic. Don’t be snobby about it – unless you happen to be a massive fan of washing up.

10) Outfits
A friend of mine went to a hen do where the bride insisted on them all buying their outfits from Anne Summers, and wearing a different one out for every one of the three nights they were staying. At £20-£30 a pop, that’s close to £100 a person. JUST ON CLOTHES. I was appalled! What a waste of money. Fancy dress is fine, but keep it cheap, and flexible. Alternatively, just give everyone an accessory to wear, and dress the bride up a little more – sashes are great if she doesn’t want to wear L plates!

At my friend Laura’s hen – a civilised affair – I dyed these little butterflies from Paperchase with green food colouring to match the wedding colour scheme, and attached them to clips for everyone to wear.

At Fiona’s, we went all out – pink cowboy hats and phallic bubble charms. Don’t knock the tacky hen do – it was SO MUCH FUN. And at Marika’s, we all wore tiaras. Pretty, but don’t buy them from the kid’s section like we did – they left DENTS in our heads.

And at Jo’s, we wore these little pink crowns from Poundland. £1 each! And they looked really cute.

Have you got any hen dos planned this summer? What are your top tips?


  1. Ah you always make me laugh so much. I love the way you write! I wish I knew someone who was getting married :( x

  2. Excellent post, thanks for the tips!

    Sarah xx

  3. I love this! I had a great time on a hen do last summer. bride banned activities, and we all went out in fancy dress rather than just her.

    I had to organise a couple of hen dos for my friend last year and they ended up great! I'd definitely say don't be afraid to offer the maid of honour some help! Also, if the maid of honour pays for stuff for the group I'm sure she'd appreciate everyone paying their share promptly - it's no fun chasing nine people round for their hotel cash!

    I think the main thing is just to go all in, and don't worry about looking stupid/doing something you'd never choose... whether that means going to your first drum and bass night, or pretending to enjoy the fourth bloody Black Eyed Peas track of the evening...

  4. I have only ever been to one hen do. SAD TIMES. It was the weirdest thing ever, half of us thought it was a fancy vintage dress cocktails affair and her work lot had done the whole penis lollipops (I'm afraid I'm a terrible snob, as is well documentated, and hate that stuff) and got her so drunk she cried because she was sick and she wanted to go home. We went to a really nice Indian and one of her work friends kept saying she didn't like Chinese food and didn't understand that China and India were separate and then loads of them asked for their money back because their kormas were too spicy. And then one of her really weird colleagues forced my poor friend into a conversation for hours and it was unintentionally hillarious. 'I've never been to another country, ever. Not at all. Oh wait no I got married in Germany. Is Germany a different country? I feel like I might be German. I'm not German' ETC.

    In the future, I will send any hens to this blog post and ask them not to invite MENTAL COLLEAGUES.

  5. I've never been to a hen do either and now I really want to go to one! Can we have a pretend blogger hen night in a big posh house with lots of cocktails? YES?

  6. Haha, what a fab post!

    I've only been to one hen-do and it was a much simpler affair than these all-weekend crazy things. We got dressed up, went to the races, had a meal and then danced till about 4am. Had a fab time!

    Mind you, I don't want to sound like I'm anti-girly weekends because they are much fun. I just don't really like the way that what used to be a simple night out has become a hugely expensive thing. My cousin has about 8 weddings to go to this summer and she can't afford 8 hen do's! People doing the organising can be so vile when you say that perhaps £200 might be a tad expensive...

  7. This all sounds so much fun! I've only ever been to one hen do - we went to laser quest and out for a curry though, it was awesome!

  8. This post is going in my saved items because it is AMAZING! You make me chuckle so much. x

  9. This post was brilliant! Love the photos! Im trying to plan a hen do for someone and it is SO hard because she doesnt drink, doesnt enjoy eating, doesnt want tack, doesnt like baking, doesnt want a stripper, doesnt like dancing etc etc. Think im gonna settle on a comedy night! xxx

  10. 'phallic bubble charms'

    that's a gas, sarah. haha this is wonderful. <3

  11. wow this looks like thee best fun.

    Helen, X

  12. the idea of a hen do is honestly the scariest thing that I think could ever possibly happen to a person. terrifying!

    though I do like the drinking part.

  13. Sarah this is such a fab post!! If ever I have to organise a hen do, I'mma be searching your archives for this. I don't think i've even attended one yet, why has this epic night of drunken antics not appeared in my life?! xx

  14. LOVE this! I have a feeling I may be needing to use it for a friend soon :) xxx

  15. I went to my first hen this year, was my step mum and dad who were getting married. WISH i'd known all this before hand and could have helped them plan it! Really useful/fun tips here girlie :) xx


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