Sometimes, hen parties can lead to a few ruffled feathers – but it doesn’t have to be that way
On paper, hen parties should be exciting – they’re a real moment for celebration, something that can feel increasingly rare as family, career, and commitments fill up our calendars. The reality, however, can be very different – and a WhatsApp notification to join the group ‘Kate’s Hen Do 2024!’ can, in fact, make our hearts sink. Here are some tips to help keep the hen party stress to a minimum.
Be mindful of what you can commit to
Whether you have concerns about time away from work or home, be very clear about what you can commit to. “Of course, everyone wants to enjoy the occasion with the bride,” says Lauren Goodman, founder of wedding planning service Bluebird Creative. “But being honest from the outset, and laying out expectations of your availability early on can help avoid disagreements.”
Be very clear about money
Significant financial differences between friends can be tricky ground to navigate, and hen parties really can highlight any tension. Whether it’s a high-end dinner or a weekend away, if what’s being proposed is way out of your budget you need to address it as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the chief bridesmaid is looking into the flights and asking for deposits.
It’s easy for costs to rise quickly, too. “Keep details and costs all in one place in a shared spreadsheet,” suggests Lauren. Knowing where you stand will help keep that dreaded uncertainty at bay.
Make sure you are communicating
If you tend to let your WhatsApp messages pile up and leave people on read, try your best to tackle hen party admin head-on. If you can’t be prompt, be enthusiastic, helpful, and clear. A heart or thumbs up emoji in lieu of a reply will usually suffice during a busy work week, but be mindful that radio silence can cause a lot of anxiety for both parties.
Don’t get pushed into something you don’t want
“No one should put themselves into a position that makes them feel uncomfortable or out of their depth, while paying a large sum of money,” says Lauren.
Of course, there might be some group activities you’re not keen on (I once found myself axe-throwing while my arm was in a sling), but you need to be firm about your boundaries. If you really are scared of heights, sit out the abseiling and join everyone after lunch. If you’ve just had a baby and a party weekend in Paris is on the cards, you might prefer to arrange something one-on-one with the bride.
It’s also prudent to make your alcohol or diet restrictions very clear from the start – help people plan well in advance. You aren’t being difficult, the bridesmaids are asking for a reason.
But be flexible, too
There’s a difference between being truly uncomfortable, and being a little bit fussy. A bottomless brunch may not be your idea of a great time, but on the other end of the WhatsApp group is an exhausted bridesmaid trying their best to appeal to the masses. You’ll have more fun if you are flexible on the things that don’t really matter to you.
This doesn’t mean being a pushover, but rather going with the flow instead of fighting over the smallest details. You can, for example, nudge everyone towards sustainable alternatives for table decorations, but be willing to accept that things might not go your way, and plastic penis straws could still reign supreme.
Don’t get drawn into drama
Unfortunately, a few heated moments and sharp words are likely while planning any event. There are a lot of voices and different opinions to balance. If you can avoid adding to the drama by bonding over disagreements, or not taking sides, you’ll be more relaxed, and might even find that any tension subsides a lot quicker.
Remember the bride
The bride is often missing during hen party planning and, in many cases, they would be the glue holding a group together. It can be helpful to remember what they’ve asked for, and what they’re most excited about. Planning can be intense so if things do get fraught, help keep things in perspective by remembering why the planning means so much to people. Focus on the day itself, and remember the bride. When it’s all said and done, they’re always the most important part of the party.