|ALWAYS novelty drinks items, ALWAYS!|
There was an article in The Telegraph yesterday complaining about Henzilla madness, and hen nights that cost £200+. I laughed. Partly because Henzilla is a brilliant word, and suggestive of a giant chicken in a pink sash shooting down buildings with its booze-fuelled laser eyes, and partly because I've organised two now, a Weekend Away Hen (WAH, let's do some organisational acronyms here) and One Day Hen (ODH) and neither of them came anywhere near £200 a guest. Frankly, I would have shot myself if I'd managed to let it get that ridiculous, and I would have had some pretty stern glares from my fellow bridesmaids.
What to do?
You want to have a lovely time, with your friends, and a bunch of people you've never met and will probably never see again apart from at the wedding. So common denominator activities are a win - and let people opt out if it's really not up their street. Nobody wants to be manhandled into spending a ton of cash on something they would never dream of doing normally. And as well as forking out for things to do, think of ways to spend less money having more fun: dinner parties, games (I love games, so do forgive their prevalence here) and getting to know you activities.
If the bride says no, do not order a stripper. Ever. A straw shaped like a cock you can just about get away with. A stripper - not so much. Besides. It's more than likely that one of your party will end up doing that at some point.
|No strippers or straws, but plenty of pink drinks|
Organising a large group of people is probably only slightly worse than organising a large group of ducks. Use doodle.com to get everyone to agree on a date. A month or two before the wedding is fine, it'll get the bride all excited, and any lasting bruises will have faded before the big day.
Again, this is teaching you to suck eggs, really. You know about budgeting. You will always have guests who are swimming in dosh and ones who definitely weren't. I worked to those who weren't, and started organising it months ahead so people could save up. I found things that people would want to do themselves: people are infinitely happier if you treat a weekend away as a proper holiday, and not just a paean to the bride. The day hen was filled with things you could opt in and out of (some guests didn't drink alcohol, some would rather die than go dancing). There were three tiers of cost, one for all three activities, one for the end party and just one, and one just for the party, which covered the cost of food and drink.
If someone is really really skint, then you and your fellow bridesmaids might consider subbing them - although only if they're nice, the bride will appreciate it, and you can.
Craft and customise (and involve people who want to be involved)
You know this. You do this! You all know this backwards! This is our Sluttery bread and butter, but it needn't be terribly complicated. If you want complicated, head to Rock n Roll Bride and feast your eyes.
|I didn't do any of this! LUCKY ME!|
The Butterfly Ball, came about from a birthday idea the bride had wanted to do for her 25th but didn't manage to do. We put together a surprise 'Queen Bee' costume for her from Claire's Accessories, signed a copy of the book, everyone dressed up and it was AMAZING.
This is the bride's sister dressed as Magician Moth. Frankly, a winner.
|Part of the amazing personalised bride board game -wow!|
Find a brilliant venue
For the One Day Hen, I found the most reasonably priced cocktail lessons in London, at LVPO in Soho - £25 a head including cocktails, fizz and food, and the most amazingly fun cocktail competition ever - and for a dance class we went to Pineapple Dance Studios for a Dirty Dancing group lesson (£15 a head) because - well, it's Pineapple, how can you not go there for dancing!
For the party afterwards, we lucked out by simply using a flat that belonged to the bride and booting out her brother who was currently living there (cheers Matt).
For the Weekend Away Hen, I found The Mount which is just disgustingly beautiful, and reasonably priced for 11 people staying three nights. If you were at the Sluttery Hoxton Hotel event this week, *this* is the place I was on about! A stupendously beautiful ancient house a mile out of Rye, in East Guldeford, it has six bedrooms, two sitting rooms, a dining room, a big old kitchen and loads of space.There was even an outdoors games room, with ping pong, and a tiny tricycle which the bride cycled around on, laughing manically.
|Doors made for dwarves|
It was the perfect place for our hen: romantic, adventurous, and exactly right for a weekend of food, drink and good chat. And ridiculous fancy dress, obviously.
Cater it yourselves with the help of Asda or Tesco
Tesco's cava is the absolute bomb. And having everything you need delivered to your venue makes everything loads easier. Don't make this harder on yourself by having to buy everything on your way there. THIS IS A TERRIBLE PLAN.
THE COSTS AND SCHEDULES!
Excluding travel - most people carshared - but including food and drink
The Weekend Away Hen
- Friday to Monday in The Mount at Rye
- Dinner and welcome drinks on the first night (courtesy of an Asda delivery and prepped with friends)
- Vineyard tour at Biddenden Vineyards on Saturday with pre-booked minibus
- A lot of cooked breakfasts
- Fancy dress dinner party on Saturday night
- Intensive hangover nursing and a trip into Rye on Sunday
- Cars and trains home on Sunday and Monday
COST: £113 per person
The Pick 'N Mix One Day Hen
- Cocktail class at LVPO
- Dirty Dancing dance class with Dance Party Experience at Pineapple Dance Studios
- Games (pass the parcel, trivia, custom board game etc) karaoke and food at bride's flat
COST: £60 per person
Things not covered
Scandal usually occurs at a hen. If it's good scandal, it will entertain you for ages, and if it's bad scandal, it will drive you insane for a few months, before it's all passed over and will then entertain you for months. Ultimately, all you want is for a large gaggle of unconnected people to have a good time, and for the bride to have the best time possible with all her friends around her. And doing that well, however much effort, is a truly terrific feeling.
Whether you threw your friend a hen, or have had one yourself, we want to hear about your hen night! Share your tips with us and future Sluttery brides and maids of honour.