Chief bridesmaid, who’d want to be one? There’s the responsibilities of the day to tangle with; the making up, the doing of hair, the helping with the dress, the organising of the basic bridesmaids…the list goes on and gets no less crucial. Then there’s all the introducing, ice breaking and mediating during the reception, and the huge task of offering unconditional moral support through it all. Plenty to contend with, then, and that’s just on the big day.
Perhaps an even bigger task precedes this; and that’s the organising of the hen do. Expectations of how lavish this should be, and how far flung, have increased in recent years, with the popularity of doing the whole thing on the continent (or even further) seemingly growing with each and every year. We’ve come up with a few pointers to help you get this right; our 5 IDEAL tips for throwing a hen do abroad.
FIND THE RIGHT BALANCE FINANCIALLY
Let’s get straight down to the point before we go any further; hen parties and weddings are expensive for both the bride and her hens. If you’ve never complained about the cost of a hen do, then you’re a better person than us. Recent research by Ocean Finance found that the average cost of joining a party is £250 with accommodation and meals out accounting for the biggest costs. Some people spent as much as £500 during a stag or hen event. That’s a lot of money, indeed, and likely to be far higher if the occasion is occuring abroad.
It’s vital, then, to find the right balance financially between organising a great event with lots of activities and entertainment, with managing not to isolate anyone who perhaps isn’t as ready to spend a fortune on what is basically a party. Pull this off by placing more emphasis on spending time, not money, together. You can do this by arranging a lot of the ‘hanging out’ on neutral territory like parks, beaches or at your accommodation; all more enjoyable abroad, we think.
Consider having only one ‘big night out’ and save the expense of those half-hearted, hungover nights out. Leave room for flexibility in the plans; if some of the girls want to opt out of an excursion or night out, then don’t put pressure on them. Their presence is more valuable than how much they’re spending, after all.
ACCOMMODATION OVER DESTINATION
Though you may automatically assume that a hen party abroad is going to cost more than one on home soil, this isn’t always the case. A big British night out (or two) can be seriously expensive, with accommodation, taxis, food, drinks and tickets for shows adding up to much more than almost anywhere on the continent. Instead, by focusing on organising a top drawer place to stay abroad, some of the pressure to go out and spend big once there is removed. Indeed, party houses which are a great place to spend time in represent an early investment which pays for itself by the end of the trip, as much of the socialising, dining and carousing can be done within their walls. And, while a night in might not count as the most crazy send-off before married life, the fun of staying in and a sleepover shouldn’t be knocked.
So choose your accommodation wisely and make sure its somewhere you don’t want to leave – think gorgeous villa with an infinity pool. The whole point of a hen do is for the bride-to-be to enjoy one last night of freedom with her friends. If you’re in a hotel scattered across separate floors (or worse in different hotels altogether) it’s hard to spend quality time together. However, with a house you’re not restricted to a single hotel room. You’ll have plenty of space to spread out and enjoy time with the other hens.
FORGO ENFORCED FUN
Bride-to-be badges, personalised t-shirts, penis balloons, drinking games; activities (mug painting anyone?) which you’d never normally spend an afternoon on, so why would you waste your holiday abroad doing so? Indeed, this type of ubiquitous, enforced fun is the kind of thing which should strike fear into any self respecting bride and bridesmaids to be. Instead, be flexible and fluid with the activities; don’t box yourself into a corner by having loads arranged for each day. The ‘bride squad’ whatsapp group for months in advance is totally unnecessary, so banish the distraction. Be spontaneous each morning and choose your day’s schedule as it unfolds; an exciting way to do things when you’re in a foreign country as the day’s timetable becomes more collaborative and diplomatic if the country is new to everyone.
BALANCE THE BOOZE WITH THE BROADENING
Part of the pleasure of having a hen party abroad is the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new country’s culture in a mature, malleable manner. Boozy and boisterous from the moment the continental sun is over the yard arm isn’t going to get your horizons broadened, only your hangovers. Of course, part of the hen party is about popping a few corks, but don’t make this the only thing on the agenda; it’s expensive and can lead to a fractious vibe with emotions running high and a competitive spirit in the air. Instead, balance the boozing with something more sedate and sophisticated like going to an art gallery or a museum.
THE BRIDE ALWAYS WINS
Sometimes a chief bridesmaid can get so engrossed in their role and so burdened with the responsibility of organising the hen party, that a certain amount of tunnel vision occurs. Suddenly, the priorities of the protagonist are pushed to one side in order to appease some of the other participants. This can be even truer when the party is happening abroad, and the unfamiliar and exciting culture presents more options than at home. Remember who the event is for, put allegiances to one side and the bride on a pedestal. Job done.