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So your best friend is getting married and it’s your job to throw her the best hen party ever! At first it’s exciting, dreaming about what you’re going to do and how much fun you’ll have. Then reality hits: you’re going to have to organise a group of ladies who might not know each other, juggling dates and tastes and budgets, all whilst trying to keep everyone (most importantly the bride) happy! Phew, we think you need a sit down and a glass of something cold. Now take a deep breath, have a sip of that G&T and read on for you guide to Hen Party Planning: The Basics.

Who Throws It?

Traditionally you think of it being the Maid of Honour’s responsibility, but in reality it can be anyone close to the bride. Often it’s the bridesmaids (who are usually her closest friends anyway), but any friend, relative or colleague can plan this last night of freedom! Work out who’s planning it and if there are several of you who’s responsible for what. Set up a Facebook chat or email thread and prepare for an inbox flooded with party prep!

Who’s Coming?

This really is up to the bride. Ask her who she’d like to invite, and whether everyone should be included in all activities (for example, if the mothers are coming should they be invited to just the dinner, or the after party as well?). Can you include people who aren’t invited to the wedding? Definitely! The hen party is about the bride spending time with her favourite ladies, and that might include colleagues and neighbours who didn’t make the wedding cut. That’s absolutely fine, but make sure that you are upfront (and nice) about it.

How Many?

The usual hen party group is between 8 and 16, and will depend on what you’re actually doing. A meal out and clubbing can incorporate a larger number of people than, say, an activity packed weekend away. Also be prepared for some people not being able to attend, as well as last minute cancellations.

When to have it?

This mainly comes down to the guests’ schedules, and the date of the actual wedding. This is pretty obvious, but don’t have it the night before the wedding!! No one wants to be hungover at the altar. If the wedding is out of town, plan it for a few days before leaving. Alternatively if the hen party is further away, leave a gap of several days between getting back and the wedding day itself.

Who Pays?

Usually the guests all chip in to pay for the bride, so long as everyone agrees! The idea is that her closest friends are treating her to a big night out to celebrate. Work out a reasonable budget, then divide the bride’s cost up between everyone. If the bride says she wants to pay her way (or is insisting on a week long holiday in the south of France), then by all means let her!

How to Invite Everyone?

Again, this will depend on the type of hen party. However, it’s good to check dates with everyone well in advance (before booking anything), probably just with a simple email. Then you can decide later whether to send out fancy paper invites, emails or simply ring everyone up. A physical invite is a nice touch and will get everyone excited, but are undoubtedly expensive and a bit of a faff. If the party is a casual affair then a phonecall is fine. Just make sure that if you have to make bookings for anything you make it clear you’ll need an RSVP.

We hope your head’s spinning a little less now! Go forth and get planning!

Hen Party Planning: The Basics