It’s one thing to throw a good birthday bash, but quite another to organise the last fling before the ring
Hitting your mid-20s means you’ve probably become accustomed to attending grown-up events. Student parties and birthdays are in the past and in their place, more and more, are hen and stag dos. The themed costumes and the inflatable, er, paraphernalia, are great but how do you go about planning one?
We’ve consulted some top hen and stag operators, party-friendly venues and a chief ‘bridesman’ to find out what it takes to put together an unforgettable weekend for a best pal who’s about to tie the knot. Where do you start? What is the best way to turn an old-fashioned ‘seeing out singledom’ party into an action-packed, fun-filled weekend that will be remembered for a lifetime? And how do you do it without falling out with at least half the group?
Start with your best friend’s hobbies and interests. If you’re the best man or the maid of honour, you’ll be well aware of what these are. If you’re really lucky, the bride or groom-to-be may have even given you a few hints about what they think makes a good party.
“It’s becoming increasingly common for the bride and groom to have a say in the planning their own party,” says Terri Callaghan, stag and hen specialist at Chillisauce. “So very often the best man and the maid of honour get a lot of help.” That’s what friends are for, right?
You may be feeling overwhelmed with responsibility but there are a few steps you can take to make the whole planning process run smoothly. “Being organised is absolutely vital,” says Mirriam Indries of The Stag Company. “If you don’t want to make all the decisions yourself, booking with a company that does it all for you can make the process a lot easier, because everything from accommodation to activities will be booked.”
And if you want to do it all yourself, Miriam’s top tip is to get your location nailed down as soon as possible. “Once you have decided where you want to go, you can check what sort of activities you can take part in,” she says. Sounds like a plan.
You may hear a few grumbles about your plans, but remember, you’re in charge. “It’s more than likely you won’t be able to please everyone, so just follow your gut instinct, make the final decision and stick to it,” advises Terri. And no matter how organised you are or how early you set plans in motion, be prepared for a few hiccups.
“We had big challenges trying to find a date that worked for everyone,” says bridesman Shaun Bell, who recently planned a hen party for our very own features writer Rosie Duncan. “I gave everyone three months’ notice and we still had scheduling problems! So get a date in the diary as early as possible.”
To keep the peace (and to make everyone feel involved), it might be worth delegating some planning tasks to other hen/stag guests who are keen to help. “Instead of one person taking on the task of organising everything, it’s a good idea to split tasks among the key wedding party,” agrees Terri. Anything to make life easier is worth a try!
But enough of the tough talk – what about the nicer parts of the planning process? “Choosing a theme was definitely the easiest part,” says Shaun. “We went with a Disney Princess theme. It’s broad enough that hens can go completely over the top with incredible costumes or opt for subtle Mini Mouse ears with a glam outfit.” A theme is also a great way to get everyone involved and chatting about their costumes.
Shaun recommends starting a Whatsapp or Facebook group chat as soon as you can: “You can share the important information and get everyone really excited about the party,” he says. Terri’s top tip is to think about money: “Probably the most important point to consider is the budget – keep in mind what people can afford or you’ll end up with a party full of grudges, worries and resentments.” No thanks!
Putting together the party of the century is a monumental effort – but is it worth it? As soon as your best mate arrives and works out what’s in store for them, you’ll know it was. Let’s get this party started!