Forget wedding shaming, when are we going to talk about hen dos?

Are you feeling under pressure to commit to, or plan, the BEST HEN DO EVER (and bankrupt everyone in the process)? You’re not alone…

You can spot a slightly envious MOB a mile away. “There wasn’t all this in my day!” they pointedly exhale at wedding shows. These mums might have missed out on alpaca ringbearers or a string quartet playing Avicii, but there were definitely upsides to getting married in 19-something. And the biggest IMO? The hen do, or lack thereof.

In the good ol’ days before Instagram stories, the ‘last fling before the ring’ typically involved a lively night out in your local town or city on a Friday or Saturday night (yup, no annual leave involved). Everyone chose their own outfit, to be teamed with a joke shop veil for the bride and sparkly erogenous headbands for everyone else.

The hens wielded a bucket to encourage – ok, harass – members of the public to throw change into, and this greatly contributed towards the total expenditure for the night. You slumped into your own bed at the end of it, fuelled with Babysham and Lambrusco, and probably clutching a McDonalds you’d paid a taxi driver an extra £20 for (the guys that invented Uber Eats were probably still squeezing spots onto their mum’s bathroom mirror).

Flash forward to 2019 and we’ve gone way, way overboard. Hens come in geographical stages, the away one normally involving a passport, and the home one for everyone who couldn’t make the away part (but everyone on the away is still expected at the home). And there’s an unspoken agreement that all of these events come with lots of ‘things’ – decorations, outfits, activities.

I’ve been compiling anecdotes of the most extra hen behaviour I’ve heard, swearing my sources to secrecy. I’ve since discovered most of us can relate to at least one of the following:

  1. A home hen in Liverpool that cost £250 for two-nights’ accommodation and everyone was expected book into Peaches and Cream for hair and makeup (from £72).
  2. Away hens in Dubai existing at all.
  3. A bride that was having a home hen, an away hen, and still asked everyone to come to hers one Saturday night to get a takeaway so they could get to know each other beforehand.
  4. An away hen in Marbella where an itinerary of activities involved hiring a yacht.
  5. Another away hen where attendees received a spreadsheet containing a list of each day’s ‘outfit or theme’ with links to buy the items required (note: ‘we all need this specific black swimming costume so please don’t bring one you already have’)

Bonus round: A MOH asking for suggestions for ‘dress shopping goodie bags’. Already on the list: bottles of bubbles, signs that say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, tissues, lipgloss, snacks, sashes, confetti canon and pyjamas for a compulsory night in after.

brides toasting
This is probably not Lambrusco

Our fate was sealed when the first bridesmaid donned a personalised t-shirt in Glasgow airport. And the saddest part is the unquestioning pressure that we all feel to attend whatever is planned, no matter what the financial repercussions are on our own lives.

Has anyone else transferred money from a ‘house deposit savings’ account to the maid of honour because the Airbnb needed to be paid and you’d also had an MOT that month? How many of us have been pregnant and spent the price of a cot going away for the weekend, only to end up babysitting whoever was going through a mojito meltdown on a rotating hourly basis?

We forget one thing. Much like when a looky-looky man on the Magaluf strip offers you stimulants after clocking your ‘ON IT TIL WE VOMIT’ tops – just say no. Once we all agree that your love for your friends isn’t entirely dependent on buying £90 worth of decorations on your credit card at henpartysuperstore.co.uk, we’ll be free of the pink furry handcuffs we’ve metaphorically bound ourselves with.

If you have a pal that would fall out with you because you have too much going on in your own life to chip in for a VIP bed at Ocean Beach Club, guess what – that person is not a real pal.

Of course, I’m not slating going on fabulous girls’ holidays. I am extremely willing to fight for our right to party. If you throw a group text out saying ‘I know we always talked about Vegas, if anyone was in the position to do it next year we could use my impending wedding as an excuse?’, and you all decide #YOLO and start researching when Calvin Harris is playing Wet Republic then great! Why don’t you bring back the bucket?

At the end of the day, when someone makes the decision to get married, there’s a lot of buy-in from their friends and family. Attending a wedding can cost hundreds of pounds. This is now being matched, or overtaken, by celebrations in the run-up. If we don’t watch out, we’re going to end up in a situation where engagements won’t be something to celebrate anymore. We need to start the discussion about why our happiness suddenly got so expensive.

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