Regardless of your personal tastes and preferences, you probably picture something very specific when you hear the phrase ‘hen party’. Phallic objects, sparkly sashes, male strippers...these things have coloured our expectations of bachelorette parties, even though it’s entirely possible to have fun at a hen do without any of them.
It seems strange that the hen industry should consider risqué party favours and garish pink to be ‘traditional’ while vintage themes and stripper-free activities are seen as ‘alternative’. In recent years, however, there has been a dramatic increase in women looking to depart from the long-established hen party norms and try some new, more tasteful ideas. Most brides, when planning their last night of singledom, will fall into one of two camps: those who fully embrace the usual whistles ‘n’ willies fare, and those who do everything they can to avoid that stuff.
While there is nothing wrong with either approach, we thought it would be interesting to weigh up the pros and cons of both options, and ask whether or not it’s possible to enjoy the best of both worlds.
The ‘Traditional’ Hen Do
One benefit of having a more ‘traditional’ hen night is that it’s easy and affordable to shop for. Thanks to years of L-plates, wands and willies, there are thousands of hen party products on the market; these range from the recognizable veil and tiara combo, to everything penis-shaped you could possibly think of, from whistles to shot glasses. Standard-issue hot pink partywear also makes it easy for you and the girls to spot one another in a crowded nightclub after a few drinks.
Some consider the ‘traditional’ hen party to be something of a rite of passage: taking part in embarrassing dare games and spending an evening covered in cheap plastic accessories is, for many people, just another part of the whole ‘getting married’ package. And, hey, after all the stress of organising a wedding, you might find it surprisingly enjoyable to let loose and be a bit silly for once.
Some dislike the typical hen party items and activities for the simple reason that they are not personal to them. A lot of people don’t want to waste such an important milestone (and a fun evening with close friends) doing what’s expected instead of what they actually enjoy. Social media hasn’t really helped the case for these sorts of parties either, as it’s rather unlikely that you’ll want pictures of you posing with a blow-up penis available for all your friends and relations to see!
On the subject of family members and phallic objects (yes, we really did just say that), another problem with the classic hen party is that it’s rarely ‘mum-friendly’. This can be an issue for people who want to invite older female relatives along.
The ‘Alternative’ Hen Party
Unlike a by-the-numbers hen night, opting for an ‘alternative’ event will give you the chance to put together a hen experience that is totally unique to you. Whether you have a particular interest in a certain style of décor or a passion for vintage fashion, you can use these themes and ideas to create a hen do that reflects your own personality and tastes. Although alternative hens are becoming increasingly popular, it will also still give you a chance to stand out amongst your friendship group or social circle. Not only will you have a great selection of activities and themes to choose from, there is also the potential for adding bespoke elements in order to make your night even more individual.
In terms of your guests, an ‘alternative’ bash is also great for alcohol-free hens, or members of your group who wouldn’t feel very comfortable in a club or with a stripper gyrating in front of them.
One drawback of having a less conventional, more bespoke hen party is the amount of time you’ll need to plan it. You can’t simply pick up a few sashes and call a cab; by making your event more unique, you’ll deny yourself the option to just grab all the usual essentials and make it easy on yourself. You’ll also need to look into the type of activities available, research themes, and find out whether or not everyone is willing to travel in order to reach your desired destination and take part in the activities you’ve planned.
Also, while the hen party should cater first and foremost to the bride herself, the organiser(s) should always be sure to consider the opinions and ideas of everyone attending. While it would be silly to alter the entire party to suit one or two differences of opinion, it’s always great if you can offer something for everyone. Your idea of a great day out may not perfectly match the tastes of your closest friends!
Combining the Two?
The final question to ask is whether or not it’s possible to reconcile the two different types of hen party. Can you blend ‘traditional’ elements with an ‘alternative’ bachelorette party (or vice versa) and still show everyone a fab time?
We think the answer is yes, of course you can! While you may lean more towards one end of the spectrum than the other, this doesn’t mean that you can’t pick and choose the best bits of both options. For example, a burlesque class isn’t exactly ‘vanilla’, but it’s something that everyone can enjoy and have a giggle over without crossing the boundaries of good taste. There’s also nothing wrong with adding one or two classic hen items to a classy affair like afternoon tea; after all, not all sashes are hot pink and covered in sequins!
Another great way to combine these two extremes is to split your celebration into a ‘by day’ and ‘by night’ affair. This approach is easier if you’ve planned a whole weekend away, but it can be achievable in just one day; whether you wish to spend the daytime pampering yourself, crafting, or exploring the local culture, you can always spend the night trying out silly dare games and maybe even donning a pair of devil horns. If the issue of older/younger relatives is still a problem, you can always allow them to do their own thing later on, while you take the keener members of your group out for a night on the town (make sure no one feels left out or excluded!)
Whichever way you decide to go, you should know that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to planning your hen night. You make the rules, and you have total control of how the celebrations play out. There’s no harm in enjoying a classy workshop by day before playing messy drinking games by night; the most important thing is that you don’t feel pressured into leaning too much in one direction, and that you are able to enjoy yourself fully without any regrets.
This article was written by the team at HenStuff.co.uk; if you do want to go down the more ‘traditional’ route for your hen do, you’ll find a huge range of hen night essentials on their website. Why not combine the two on a vintage hen party done your way. Email us to arrange your perfect party.