Wow. The only word fitting to describe my first experience as a hen party organiser for my friend. Yes I organise hen parties for a living, but this was the first one I had done for a bessy, and one on which I would actually be in attendance. The pressure was on. I'd be damned with a hideous bridesmaid dress if the weekend wasn't anything but brilliant.
And, I have to say, brilliant it friggin was. Nothing to do with the fact that it was the first time I'd left my five month old baby so could actually enjoy a glass of bubbles without it being hijacked by mini fingers... No, it was actually down to the bride to be having blimmin' great friends and their keenness to go along with my plan and part with their money without having ever met me. I simply emailed the plan and asked for the bucks.
I know as a recipient of this kind of behaviour, it can welcome negative responses. If you think of it from their point of view, they suddenly get an email from someone they've never met and are a) expected to be on board with the plan and b) stump up a few hundred quid for it months in advance. That's not easy. But the alternative, in my experience, is worse. You don't want too many chefs so I would advise making a plan with the other bridesmaids, getting it sorted as much as possible, and then emailing everyone with what is going to happen. Don't ask for suggestions or opinions, as that creates debate. People know that on a hen party you gotta suck it up and go along for the ride. Wholeheartedly or not at all.
And that's what my mate's gang did, which made it blimmin easy to organise everyone.
Having a lot of experience organising hen parties, I knew that the key to a good hen weekend is to eliminate any potential awkwardness before it arises. People can be weird around strangers and money, so it's good to deal with this ahead of time. My top tip for organising a DIY hen party is to add up every single cost (right down to the minutiae detail such as a five minute taxi fare or that 3am kebab) and include a decent kitty for drinks over the whole weekend. Don't scrimp on this. You can always refund afterwards. You want to have enough for that 1am round when the group start to flag, or that impromptu pub stop on a rainy afternoon. Get all the costs sorted upfront so that no one has to pay for a single thing all weekend. Everyone will be relaxed without having to think about money, I can guarantee it. We had a £600 kitty for the weekend and I was left with £7 on Sunday. It was a pretty good estimate for 22 people.
Another top tip of mine is to book a self catered house/flat/cottage. Even in a city this is a great option. Yes it can work out more expensive than a budget hotel, but only marginally. At a self catered place you can organise all food and drink in advance (which you would have budgeted into your price per head), and being able to have drinks in on the Friday night, plus breakfast, coffee and cake all in on Saturday and Sunday morning, drinks before you go out Saturday night... all of these additional expenses would work out more if you were at a hotel and had to go out for everything.
Staying at your own place also means it's more relaxed. You can 'hang out' and if people need a cat nap they can have a little time out. Never underestimate how much time girls can fill just drinking tea and chatting! This should be a hen activity all of its own!
Another way to eliminate awkwardness is to arrange who is sleeping where upon arrival. People won't know each other so you can confer with the bride to be about which beds/rooms people should take. Put a sign up on the wall so when people arrive they can go to their room and unpack. It's nerve racking hanging out with strangers all weekend so this simple tip will help them feel relaxed and you won't have the over polite yet awkward "Oh no, you have the master suite...".
So there you have it. My main tips for organising a smooth and successful DIY hen party. Just ensure you spreadsheet everything - the mind can get very jumbled amongst various quotes/emails/calls... Although maybe that was just my baby brain making everything difficult!
If you need any advice on organising a hen party simply get in touch. We offer lots of original, alternative and crafty hen party activities and we make the booking process as simple as possible. Have a look through our hen party packages and let us help you out!