One of the key and very vital roles of being a Maid of Honour, (especially when the bride is your younger sister)-is to plan and organise the hen-party. Personally I wonder if I should have gotten a degree in Event Management before I began planning my sister’s Hen Party. Between deciding to stay local or weekends away, must-have activities, blending a mix of friends, all while keeping the bride happy and making sure everyone is going to have the best time ever, you might agree that it can get a little overwhelming… However while it can seem like a humongous task to some, I actually really enjoyed it (aside from the never-ending Whatsapp chats at times)! and do secretly relish in planning events and organising people (yes even 13 girls). When searching online for some starting concepts and advice, I was a little disappointed to not really find that much, apart from the not so original L plates, blow-up willies (classy) , party-buses etc….I knew I wanted to create a fun, friendly, laid-back and sometimes glamorous affair, so I got brain-storming with the other lovely bridesmaids and began to think outside the box for all activities, decor, food, venues etc.
I thought it might be fun and useful to those of you with the responsibility of planning such a do, to see what I organised, where I sourced from, places we went etc…to hopefully give you some inspiration and advice. Planning is key to a stress-free hen party-So grab yourself a notebook ( a pretty one) and let’s begin!
When & Where
First things first, decide on a date with the bride. 6-8 weeks in advance of the big day is ideal, as it gives the guests time in between to be comfortable in the money department to cover both events. Also of course, the bride needs time to recover before the big day! With regards to the location, you need to be practical and realistic when picking a destination and venue. For example my sister is getting married abroad in France and is making a two day event of it with family and friends. Therefore myself and the three other bridesmaids thought it would be best to keep the hen-weekend within the UK and fairly local-ish to where we are based. We had to take into account the people attending also and what different stages they are all at in their lives. Some are desperately saving to buy their first home, others have very recently had babies and all were spending money to fly out to the wedding (which is so exciting for everyone)! I think it’s just important to bear such things as this in mind, so it’s hopefully as fair as it can be for everyone if not most. REMEMBER-You cannot keep everyone happy!! I learnt this through planning my sisters but thankfully, we got there in the end.
Putting a Guest List Together
Ask the bride to give you all names and all contact info (including email addresses and not just telephone numbers), for everyone she wishes to invite. I then entered this information straight away onto a spreadsheet I made, so I could then use this as a main database during the whole event planning. It made it so much easier to keep track on things such as who was able to attend and also it, came in very handy as a budget and money tracker for who had paid what (VERY important to do)!
Sending out Invites
Make sure to give the guests who have been invited plenty of notice, as people need to factor in if they need to book off any annual leave, budgeting etc. You can then decide if to send out printed invites or digital ones. I do a lot of graphic design, so really enjoyed designing the invitations and itinerary which was sent out to all the girls attending via email. See below an example of what I sent out (I don’t want to include it all as it had people’s private info and addresses on)
Understanding Your Audience
When planning a Hen Party remember that you may be catering for all age groups, and possibly/probably a diverse group from different parts of the bride’s life. Don’t plan something that may isolate people or make them feel uncomfortable. Plan an activity that will suit the entire group! I knew I wanted to do two activities for the Saturday, to A)-Fill the day with fun and B)-To allow guests to choose if they wanted to join us for both events of maybe just one out of the two, depending on their lifestyle and budget for the weekend.
Decorating Your Party Space
This had to be hands-down my favourite part of the whole planning process! I love nothing more than themes and decor and just adding those finishing little touches, to make people say ‘WOW’ and feel part of something lovely and fun. It’s a crucial part of planning any event, as it helps set the scene and create an atmosphere. I knew I wanted decorations and accessories which were themed around brides and hen-parties, but I also wanted to incorporate another theme which was more bold, fun, tropical…and something I know the bride (and most people to be fair), love-which is flamingos! Upon searching online, I came across an AMAZING website called ‘Party Pieces’ , which left me spoilt for choice on what I could order. The lovely team there (especially Jennifer), were so friendly and helpful and nothing was too much to ask. I was very kindly gifted some of the items you are about to see and I am sure you will agree they are perfect, fun and the ultimate girly decor for any hen-party!
Links to above products;
I also got some other Flamingo accessories which will be used in the second hen-party she is having in a couple of weeks time (lucky girl with more than one hen-party)-so if you love flamingos as much as me and are interested to see what else we are using, make sure to follow me on Instagram here.
The Importance of Good Food
Food for any occasion plays a massive part I think. You could be at the fanciest or prettiest restaurant in the town, but if the food doesn’t get your taste-buds tantalising, then you are in for a disappointing night. With the sleepover food, we wanted it yummy but super simple and easy for everyone to just pick at and help themselves. We had an array of pizzas, salad, chips, pasta with homemade sauces…just really quick, simple but delicious flavours, which everyone could enjoy while they got to talk and know each other round the table. I was happy to bake and provide dessert, which I chose to present as a gluten-free, chocolate brownies tower! This was so quick and easy to bake the night before the sleepover and something everyone (including my sister who is gluten free), could enjoy after dinner in their PJs, with a hot drink or glass of bubbly. I decorated them with a cascading waterfall of strawberries, to add colour and a bit of healthiness to the pudding! When I posted the below images on the gram, I got so many DMs asking for the recipe, so look out for a blog-post on this coming soon!
Activities & Going ‘Out, out’
To me the main importance of any hen-party is the getting together, celebrating the bride and your relationship with her and building friendships and lasting memories as a group, with the help of activities and places to visit together. For our first activity on the itinerary we surprised Laura by heading to the iconic and rather fabulous Pineapple Dance Studios, for a 90minutes Spice Girls Dance Lesson Experience. Seeing as she was (and still is to some degree) a big Spice Girls fan, I thought it would be the perfect start to the day and get everyone warmed-up, have a giggle and take us back to the era of the 90’s. I couldn’t recommend this experience enough! The staff at Pineapple were so friendly and helpful through-out the whole booking process and the lesson once you were there. We were even allowed to bring in a couple of bottles of prosecco and some disposable champagne flutes, to enjoy during our little break. Here’s to ‘girl power’!
To find out more and book click here.
Show Dry-Notting Hill
After a quick freshen-up back at the house and meeting the other girls joining us for the hen-do, we had our next surprise for Laura to reveal. We all jumped in Ubers and headed to Notting Hill to the most beautiful and stylish blow bar –Show Dry. This place is incredibly Instagram worthy, with it’s over-sized floral displays, the most flattering mirror lighting, pretty sparkle on all their hair-care products…the place oozes luxury and grown-up girly heaven. We all got a wash and blow dry and could choose what style we’d like. I went for a more relaxed beachy waves look, with a boost of volume. Whilst we were getting truly pampered the incredibly friendly and professional staff there, treated us to popcorn, brownies and flowing prosecco. This was all included in the price and excellent value for money. This really is something I’d recommend for any occasion, be it a special birthday or a hen-do, as you get styled by the pros and then leave the blow bar looking and feeling ultra glam and ready for a night out in the beautiful and vibrant city of London.
100 Wardour Street
The final destination for the day leading into the evening, was another brilliant and perfect find from one of the other bridesmaids-100 Wardour Street. The beauty and practicality of this place was it was everything we were looking for under one roof, to help have the most fun and vibrant night out. We had dinner reservations at 8pm and chose from a delicious three course set-menu which was £45 per head (pretty good for central London on a Saturday night I thought)! The mozzarella and pesto risotto, followed by the the creme brûlée cookie for dessert were my absolute faves. Afterwards we then had the ease of staying there to dance the night away with the most fun and get the crowd going live band called, ‘We Are The Fellas’ . Think of their vibe as the perfect blend of soul, funk and a bit of hip-hop. They really got the place going and created such a fun and let go vibe-I actually wish I’d known about them for our wedding reception but hey ho, that was nearly three years ago!
The Day After The Night Before
Surprisingly enough the following morning, I was grateful to have no sore feet from all the dancing we did at Pineapple and then later at 100 Wardour St…but I won’t lie, I did have a rather sore head! It was worth it though of course.
On the final morning of the hen-weekend some of the girls headed back home as they had family commitments or work plans, whilst myself, the bride and two of her other lovely bridesmaids headed for a sunny walk along the embankment, to clear our fussy heads and find a nice spot for some brunch. We came across Browns Brasserie & Bar and sat outside to enjoy our last meal of the weekend together and reminisce on all the fun we’d had the ever-lasting memories that had been made.
London to me was the perfect host city for this hen-do and I knew it wouldn’t let us down. With the huge, endless variety it offers and the excitement and buzz of being the best city in the world, how could you not want a hen-weekend here? I hope this post has inspired those of you out there looking to plan a hen-party or just general weekend away and fellow Maid of Honours…I salute you!