Organising a hen weekend can be really stressful! Hopefully our 7 steps below will help you create a great weekend everyone remembers for the right reasons! Here are our thoughts x
STEP 1 – CONSULT THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON – THE BRIDE-TO BE!
Find out what she really wants, and more importantly what she doesn’t want! Some brides are up for anything, but others aren’t. Let your birthday girl/guy or bride-to-be guide your decision-making, and make sure everything you do will make them happy. Do some research and send links of web sites you think meet the brief. You can still surprise them, if you want to, just make sure you’re getting the tone right and the activities spot on.
Good questions to get a feel for the type of hen do they want would be: “Tell me what your perfect hen do would be like?”, “What would we do, where would we go?”, “What would your worst nightmare hen or birthday do be like?”
Establish if they want just a day activity and night out locally, or a whole weekend away. Do they want to be in the city or out in the country, or the best of both worlds with a country accommodation and city night out? Increasingly we are finding brides-to-be have 2 hen do’s – one locally, maybe just a night out or daytime activity for all their friends, and then coming away for a cottage or glamping weekend with friends & family.
If staying away for the weekend, do they want to be in a cottage, glamping or a hotel? Is a spa or hot tub important to them? Where’s a good location for everyone to get to?
Discuss with your bride-to-be what they feel is a reasonable budget for family & friends. They will know, better than anyone, how much family and mates can afford. How many people do they want to invite? How many do they think will actually come? This will give you a rough idea of numbers. They might invite 18 people but be fairly sure only 12 will actually come, for example.
Get a couple of potential dates that are suitable. If a hen do, ideally at least 2 weeks before the wedding, and up to 3 months beforehand. If a big birthday, either as close as possible to the birthday OR a big change – a lot of winter birthdays prefer to celebrate in the summer, away from Christmas and New Year.
STEP 2 – RESEARCH
Start researching as early as possible, particularly if you are going to book accommodation as this often fills up well in advance. Contact a few companies to get an idea of prices and availability. If booking a cottage or glamping make sure you check if there is a minimum charge, and if the price will increase if your numbers drop. If you are booking a hotel, this is usually more flexible, but make sure you have a room for private dining so you can play party games or have a dance.
Check out potential companies on Facebook. Look in detail on their web sites for information about the accommodation &/or activities you are considering.
If there are any particular activities you fancy, make sure they are available at your accommodation or nearby. If you’ve all travelled for a couple of hours to get to your venue on a Friday night, you won’t want to be driving far again on Saturday. Check pricing and availability of activities for your potential dates.
STEP 2 – CONFIRMING NUMBERS & GETTING COMMITMENT
Get the guest contact details as soon as possible. You might want to ask your bride-to-be to highlight which of their guests are important family & / or besties so that you make sure these can attend.
Send out an initial communication to check who’s available for your proposed dates, a rough idea of what you’re proposing (based on your initial research) and a price estimate.
STEP 3 – GETTING COMMITMENT
Once you have firm numbers for a given date, confirm date is best. Once you’ve decided the date, stick to it.
Communicate with the guests. Tell them if it’s a local hen do, or if you are planning a weekend away. They need to know if it’s a night out, a day & night, 2 nights, etc so they can check their diaries. Give them an estimate of cost and what will be included. You can work out rough costs with a quick bit of internet research. Ask guests to give you a deposit to ensure their commitment, by a certain date, ideally just after pay day. This will help you quickly firm up who’s serious, and give you the funds to pay your deposit/s.
STEP 4 – BOOKING
Once you have numbers confirmed, and deposits in hand, you can book up your preferred activities, accommodation, etc. Don’t delay, particularly in booking accommodation as it does fill up quickly – many groups book cottages or glamping sites for hen do’s over a year ahead as they know these properties book well in advance! Key dates such as the May bank holidays, the first couple of weeks of June will be in higher demand so you need to get in quickly. Expect to pay a deposit of around £50 per person and the final balance normally around 8 weeks before arrival.
For every element you book, expect a confirmation in writing, detailing exactly what you have booked, the dates, and any outstanding payments and when they are due.
STEP 5 – COMMUNICATION & MANAGING YOUR GROUP
Put together a detailed itinerary and budget and send it to all your group members. Include timings, activities, prices and what is and isn’t included. For example, if a meal is included in the basic budget but drinks are on top, detail this. If fancy dress, gifts, etc, are expected, mention this. If you are going out, what’s the dress code? Are you going to have a theme? If you are doing activities, what should guests bring to wear? If there’s a spa or hot tub, swimsuits, flip-flops, extra towels, etc.
Let everyone know about travel – are you arranging transport to the venue or do they have to get themselves to the venue or accommodation independently? Be aware that some people may be on lower budgets. Once there, will there be any additional costs such as transport for a night out, taxis, etc, and can this be paid by card or will some cash be needed?
STEP 6 – TROUBLESHOOTING
So, here are the two main problems for group leaders.
Firstly, numbers dropping. Make sure you get some money out of people before you book. If you don’t, there’s no commitment, and the closer you get to a payment being due, the more stressful it can get. If a payment is due, tell the group to pay you say 2 weeks earlier than you need the money, so there’s a bit of flexibility if some people pay late.
Second, interfering group members! We have lost count of the times a group member has rung to change something, without consulting the group leader. We never allow anyone other than ‘the boss’ to make a change to a booking. Make sure whoever you book with does the same. If someone in your group decides they want to do things differently, it’s amazing how they can wind others up and cause problems. Be really firm. Don’t allow negotiation. If you have a few strong characters in the group, give them a job they can be responsible for, so they feel involved, but set specific boundaries – examples could be:
- Sourcing party bags & goodies to a set price with suggested contents
- Researching party games
- Making a shopping list for the weekend to your set menus
- Designing and printing something for the weekend – an example would be our ‘henfest’ weekends, where the groups will often buy lanyards and make festival style VIP badges which are personalised for the bride-to-be and the name of each guest
STEP 7 – FINAL PREPARATIONS
Send out your final itinerary a few weeks before the event and include any final details.
If you are in a cottage or glamping site, do a supermarket order for the weekend so you don’t have to travel with a carload of food and drink. Check with the property what time you can arrive and arrange the delivery at least an hour after your arrival time in case you are delayed.
Allow an extra hour travelling in case of traffic – Fridays are always busy on the roads. Try to get people to car share if you can.
Many groups will include friends from work, friends from childhood, family and friends from school, college or Uni. Use Friday night to get everyone together, a bit of bonding goes a long way.
Have a great time!