: Top Tips to organise a Fantastic Hen Weekend

Are you are planning your own or your best friends Hen Party?
If so, you may find a few of these tips handy to make organising your event to smoothly.

If it's for someone else, it's important to find out what kind of hen party the bride wants, even if she says she wants no fuss she may mean "please do something special" and be very disappointed if you just get a group of girls together to go for a drink. If you are not getting enough information from her, ask her mum / sister or other best friends to help you find out what she would like.

Every bride-to-be is different, and has different taste. Carrying a blow up naked man around from pub to pub wearing flashing boppers may be her idea of hell. If your bride is a non drinker and into sport a night in a boozy bar may not be suitable.  To make sure you plan the right kind of party ask the bride what she loved or hated about hen parties she has attended.

So how do you make it an unforgettable hen weekend of girls-only fun?
Get started early, people need a few months notice of the "hen party".  Discuss with the hen who she would like to invite. Does she want to invite her mum in law / female relations on the groom's side? Is the brides mum / aunties or even granny coming? You need to have a list of possible attendees before planning your hen activities then you can ensure whatever you plan would be suitable for the entire group. Get their e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

Create an excel sheet with the names of everyone invited, and their email / phone number, then mark them in red if not coming and yellow if they are. Set up a private face book page "E.g. Lisa's Hen where you can post ideas / information. Set up a web text group (usually free with your phone provider on your computer).

Ask the other bridesmaids to lend a hand and give you some ideas for the hen weekend and don't be afraid to delegate! Many hands make light work! You will not be able to do everything suggested but it will make everyone feel involved

Decide as early as possible what you are going to do? Things get booked up fast and if you think ahead it will make things much more relaxing.
Do you want:

A weekend away – if you are going far it may be better to go for a 2 night stay.
A night away – the next county (an hour down the road) – only 1 night required.
A Hen House Party – everyone comes to one house and the entertainment comes to you. Can be a hired house somewhere or your own (or hen's) house. Hire a professional caterer or drinks bar, mixologist. Book beauticians, entertainers, tarot readers, dance class or photographer to come to you.
A night / day out in your local town –A day of activities starting off at breakfast and ending up with a meal, drinks and reserved area in a club.

Don't think you have to stick to the traditional hen night out. I was recently on a combined stag and hen where we all met up at 10.00am in a local hotel for a champagne breakfast, then each group boarded different buses to go on a mystery tour to our activities and we all met up again later that evening for a booze cruise and BBQ on the river. We stayed local and it was a fantastic day out.

Look online for hen party ideas. There are many activities to choose from and fill your day and evening; a spa day, a trip to the hairdressers / make up, afternoon tea, dance class, life drawing, cocktail making, but don't overdo it, as its not a good idea to have a completely jam-packed day planned it's supposed to be a fun weekend not stressful. A more relaxed day is the one people will enjoy.

Try to cater for young and older alike. If the hen party has a diverse age group, bare this in mind when planning your activities. While drawing a naked man in a life drawing class may be suitable for all ages, doing an assailing or adventure activity may not be suitable for the bride's 70 year grandmother or elderly aunties.

There will always be someone who doesn't agree, but you can never please everyone, so go with what you feel the bride will want above all. Make sure to ask her what she has in mind, and what she doesn't want. It's her weekend so if there is an activity she really wants to do, include it and work from there.

Make sure you have plenty of time between activities as things don't usually go to plan. A 2 hour bus journey to your hen destination may require an additional hour to get through the Saturday afternoon traffic once you've arrived. So think it all through and build in travel time.

Shop around for the best deals, e.g. hotel with dinner included. Has the hotel got a night club? Does the hotel do triple rooms? Get confirmation in writing/email for everything you book, so you have some come back.
Make sure you set a budget and be realistic to everyone attending. Your married friend with children may not be able to afford a weekend in Spain as suggested by the single friend working in accounts.
Let the group know how much the package will cost; hotel, dinner, activities. Are you going to divide the hen's share into the cost? Perhaps add on a bit extra as there are usually drop outs at the last minute and the price may be fixed on some activities. If there is money left in the kitty, a few bottles of prosecco always go down well.

Is there a way that the group can pay it off gradually – collect the money for the hotel one month and the money for the bus / activity the next. Get a deposit as early as possible from everyone, and then you will actually have numbers to work with.

Set deadlines for everyone to respond by or make deposit payments then if they don't reply you can follow them up. Send out regular emails to the group so everyone is kept updated. Make a weekend agenda of activities and times to send out. But don't expect everyone to stick to the agenda on the weekend!

Check with the hotel what time can you check in at? You don't want to arrive at 1 to your destination hoping to freshen up before your evenings activities for the hotel to inform you that you can't check in till 3. Also how far is the hotel from the night life / town, do you have to factor in taxi's?

Make the weekend special for the bride with loads of personal touches, her favourite cocktail, masks of the groom. A slide show of the bride is a great idea, (get each of the group to email you a photo of the hen and themselves and what they were doing in the photo).

Cupcakes with an edible photo of the bride and groom on each one. A keepsake book that the entire group leaves a message in, giant selfie photo frames, night before and after photos, masks of the groom.
Perhaps set up an online photo sharing account like Flicker where everyone can upload their photos of the hen weekend as a memento for the bride. Check out my Pintrest Hen Party Board for many more great ideas www.pinterest.com/dancedivasgalwa/

A very American trend for Bachelorette parties is to give each hen a hen party survival kit. This could consist of; bottle of water, alkaseltzers, a re-hydrating drink, bar of chocolate, plasters, safety pins, vitamin C tablets. If you are doing a hen pack, perhaps put in a card with the name and address of the hotel, a local taxi number and several group contact numbers, in case someone get lost.

If you are arriving on the Friday for a 2 night stay, decide which night will be the "mad one". I have come across so many hens' turning up for their activities on the Saturday and they are just dying and would rather be in their bed as the whole hen party thought it was a good idea to buy her jager bombs the night before. The weekend is supposed to be fun, not an ordeal by the Saturday (the night most of the activities are planned for).

Pick at least one activity to keep the group entertained during the day. But maybe make it alcohol-free or at least low-alcohol for daytime activities. A glass or two of bubbly at a spa is fine but an afternoon of cocktails can be a recipe for disaster and there is the long night ahead.

Maybe stay in the hotel on the 1st night and get the activity to come to you. An activity on the Friday night, like a Dance Divas – Dress Up & Dance package which is an excellent ice breaker and a way for the group to get to know each other. Any activity that gets the group mixing as not everyone will know each other is a great start to the weekend.

The more popular activities like a Dance Divas class can often be completely booked up, so to ensure you get your full activity (and money's worth), if your class is booked for 3 o'clock tell everyone it is booked for 2.30

If you are having a theme to your night out find out are the pubs / clubs you are thinking of going to "hen friendly" and can you come in dress up? Not all brides want the complete focus to be on them, so if fancy dress is not her thing why not a few small props for the group that can be removed after some photos.

There is safety in numbers, but you cannot mind the entire group. Have a quick chat before you go out, e.g. a meeting point in case anyone is lost; ensure everyone has the hotel details. Hen parties get a lot of male attention, so keep an eye on anyone who may have a few too many drinks in the group. Watch out for drinks left unattended, purses / mobile phones left on tables when the girls are out dancing

Finally, enjoy yourself! After all, a hen party is about having fun with the bride's friends and family all celebrating her last days of single life.

Extra: Hen Weekend - Having a fantastic hen party