14 steps to plan the perfect Hen / Bachelorette weekend

Planning a Hen do (Bachelorette weekend) can be a tricky affair and if you’ve never done it before, it can be a daunting task. FEAR NOT! For I am the Fairy Hen mother here to break it down for you. I’m a great believer that we are all wonderfully unique as human beings, so a one – size fits all approach often wont suit everyone. However, for the purposes of this guide, I’m going to suggest 14 steps that will help … well, guide you, in your own planning journey. They are as follows:

 

1.  Ask the Bride 

The very first step in putting together your Bride to be (B2B)'s ideal weekend, is consulting with her about who she wants to be there. There's no point in you putting together an incredible weekend if she doesn't get to spend it with the people she cares about. While you want a lot of the weekend to be a surprise, there's nothing wrong with consulting with your B2B about some key points. Outside of your guest list, it's also a good idea for you to find out any strong rules she wants to outline, things she really does or really doesn't want to be a part of her big weekend. Unlike a lot of Stag dos, the goal of most Hen weekends is not to leave the bride mortified, miserable and scarred for life. So check in with her and if she says she really does not want a stripper (and means it) then maybe don't do the stripper? It's also a good idea to figure out a date that suits her. I recommend giving yourself as much time as you can for planning. 6 months + is a good ballpark. Obviously, if there is travel involved then you need to consider how close you want to be to the wedding date.

2. Create a Facebook Event 

Once you have a headcount and everyone's info, a Facebook event is usually the next best step. Now, hopefully, don't have any of those elusive souls who aren't on social media. However, if you do, then don't stress too much. Just make sure they are on an email/text list that's easy enough for you to copy and paste the FB posts into. Running the event page has a whole host of advantages that I plan on outlining in my next blog, but the main one is, of course, being able to get in touch with everyone at once. This is where you can get into the important questions, such as:

3. Figure out the Budget 

DEFINITELY the trickiest and most stress-inducing part of any Hen weekend. I do plan on writing a blog post in the future entirely dedicated to the subject but for now, the basic rule of thumb is to ask each person in private what their rough maximum budget would be (this includes accommodation, décor, food and games etc) and then try to work around that. To throwback to step 1 for a moment, do check in with the B2B about any guests you don't know personally. She might have a better idea about what people can afford and also if there is anyone likely to hold back and be a little stingy with their cash. Before you settle on a solid budget, you can take what you have found out so far and do some research on the next stage.

4. Decide on a location and venue

As part of your consult with the B2B, you should have asked her preferences about whether she wants to stay local or go further afield. She may argue that it depends on the budget of the guests, but you need to ask her whether her priority is everyone being there, or a fancier location? Is she willing to sacrifice one or the other if it comes down to it? Once you have this established, you can start your research. I am personally a big fan of using Airbnb. I will always vote for an apartment or house to yourselves over a hotel, as I think it's much more fun to have a shared communal space for games and activities. Depending on where you are though, there might be dedicated venues designed exactly for this purpose. So, make sure to look around.

Narrow your options down to roughly two. Ideally one at a slightly higher budget, and one a little more low-cost. If you are local and able to go and see the venue before you book that's great, but if not just make sure there are lots of photos and maybe even ask the owners for a video walk around.

Present the slightly more expensive version to the group via your Facebook event page and ask for opinions. Make sure you hype it up and make it sound great. It's also a good idea to have an over-budget accommodation you can share to make this one look more like a good deal. "Look what a bargain this one is compared to stuff like this" is a good way to persuade folk. However, if there are people in the group who are adamant that it's too expensive, you'll need that low-cost one I mentioned as a back-up plan. The difficulty of this part of the process will depend entirely on your group, but hopefully, you'll all manage to settle on a good location that suits most. Then it's onto the fun stuff!

5. Get your How to Hen subscription - for ideas on games, activities, themes, decor and more

So, I am obviously going to be plugging my own services here, duh. To be honest, though, the basic subscription for How to Hen is so affordable and easy to use that there's no reason not to buy it. When you are this stage of the planning, you are going to be looking at how to break the weekend down into a bunch of fun activities and what kind of cool themes and out of the box games etc you could put together. Rather than spend hours of your life you don't have on Pinterest and Instagram, just log in to How to Hen and browse all the ideas in one, easy-to-navigate place.

6. Collate all additional costs 

Once you have an outline of what you want your weekend to look like, including games and activities, decoration and food plans, then you can come back around to that big budget question. Make a long list of all the supplies you need and how much they cost. Be thorough. Include everything from paper plates to glue sticks, command hooks to fresh fruit for the cocktails. Price up everything you can think of, then add 10% extra and split that between your number of guests. It's always better to overestimate because if you end up with cash leftover (which hardly ever happens), you can use it to buy emergency supplies, create a drinks kitty, or even buy a wedding gift for the happy couple from all the Hen do crew.

7. Confirm total cost and set a payment schedule

Once you have this number, you can add it to the overall accommodation costs and present the final cost per person on the FB group. It's important that you say what this will include for people, to try and avoid the inevitable groaning you'll get from some folk. You don't have to give away any surprises. But if, for example, that includes all food for the weekend, then make sure you say that. If it doesn't include alcohol or maybe club entry for one night, then you need to explain that too. Nothing riles people up more than feeling that they are paying more than they agreed to. You will also need to set up a payment schedule, which depends a great deal on what you are booking and when deposits etc need to be paid. This is where relationships can break down a little but you have to stick to your guns to make sure you are not out of pocket. Check the dates that your deposits need to be paid for, then tell the group via the FB event that their deadline for paying is at least one month before your first deposit is due. This gives people a bit of time who will inevitably run late on payments. I will talk more about payment schedules in a future blog.

8. Create DIY timeline and sources list

How much DIY you have will depend entirely on your budget and how you've decided to decorate. I love a good craft session, but it's not to everyone's taste. Make a list of any and all DIY that you plan on doing to get your decorations etc done before the date of the weekend. Write how long you estimate each activity is going to take beside it (ALWAYS overestimate this, everything takes twice as long as you think in the world of DIY). Then add it all up and figure out how many weekends of your life you need to dedicate to this thing. Also, consider where you are sourcing your materials from because if you suddenly realise those artificial flowers on eBay are coming from China, you will regret waiting until 2 weeks before to order them. This plan obviously doesn't need to be too rigid, but it will keep you on track and help you prioritise.

9. Delegate and ask around 

When thinking about sourcing stuff, you really don't need to buy everything new. How does the saying go? Don't ask don't get? Well, this is very true when it comes to getting all those extra touches for your weekend. Some popular examples of stuff that your guests will probably have kicking about are; cocktail mixers and drinking accessories, mini-fridges, cool boxes, blankets, fairy lights, fancy dress for a photobooth and old board games. Make sure to think about your theme too. Want welly boot centrepieces for your festival theme? Ask your guests if they have any old pairs they would be willing to donate. Want an old video game set up for your 80's or 90's theme? I'd bet that you or one of your guests know someone who still has an old console or two tucked away in their attic. Making flower crowns? Message every single local florist you can find and ask if they would be willing to donate any scraps and unused bits and pieces. It's amazing what people are willing to do for you if you only ask nicely. You can also take cards from any local business that gives you things for free and make sure that all your guests take one away and tag them loads on Instagram.

10. Be realistic about money and time 

If you are anything like me, you might get a little carried away with your idea. Of course, you want to give your B2B an incredible weekend to remember. But you do need to try and keep your feet on the ground and be realistic. If you are working to a budget, you need to try and remember that before planning for her to arrive blindfolded on horseback to the sound of a live harpist. You can do some amazing things on a tight budget, so remind yourself of that regularly, because before you know it, you will end up paying double what all the other guests have paid. It's also important to be realistic with your timings. Yes, you might really want to set up an entire unicorn balloon sculpture, but will you have the time to do that on the morning you check-in? IMPORTANT: When you are booking, ask if you can get an early check-in time to come and decorate before the arrival of the B2B. Usually, this will depend on if there were guests there the night before. Even if there were, you can stress that you don't mind arriving while the cleaners etc are in, just you not the other guests. Just try to appeal to the owner's nature and explain that you need as much time as possible to get everything set up.

11. Increase your communication

People will undoubtedly have questions, but try to get people excited on the Facebook page on the week running up to the Hen and address any FAQ's with the whole group. Around a week before, remind everyone what, if anything, they have committed to bringing with them (things like those fairy lights and cocktail mixers I mentioned earlier). Remind them AGAIN the day before. Get them to confirm. Can't stress this enough, people will forget to bring the things you are depending on them bringing.

12. Double-check your bookings

On the same token, double-check any bookings or arrangements you've made that depend on other people. The last thing you want is to turn up for Saturday breakfast and the café has no record of your reservation, or the butlers in the buff go to the wrong location or have the wrong date. It doesn't hurt to chase up and confirm everything a day or two before to make sure everything runs smoothly.

13. Record Everything

Once the festivities have started, don't forget to photograph and video everything. If you are having an aftermovie made then you need to do this for it to turn out well. I'll be writing a blog post all about that too so check that out soon. However, even if they aren't meant to ever see the light of day, those photos and videos are hilarious for everyone to look back on and can be added to the private event page for a good laugh.

12. Enjoy yourself! Don't sweat the small stuff 

The most important step of all. Yes, when you have put your heart and soul into planning something, it can be really stressful and upsetting when things go wrong. Which they will. What you need to remember though, is that you did all this for the B2B and as long as she is having fun, it doesn't matter if things don't quite work out the way you envisioned. Try to have a few back-up games and activities you could do quickly if a plan falls through or something takes longer than anticipated (there's so many to choose from on How to Hen, you'll be spoilt for choice). Remember to breathe! You deserve to have fun and enjoy the event you worked so hard on.

In Short

Do: 

  • Consult the Bride
  • Have venue options for different budgets
  • Communicate clearly about budget from the outset
  • Plan ahead
  • Ask around
  • Check your bookings
  • Record Everything
  • Enjoy yourself 

Don't

  • Consult the Bride
  • Have venue options for different budgets
  • Communicate clearly about the budget from the outset
  • Plan ahead
  • Ask around
  • Check your bookings
  • Record Everything
  • Enjoy yourself

I hope this has been helpful! If you’d like a full consultation with me so I can help you out during this process, then you can purchase the Fairy Hen Mother package. But if you just have one or two quick questions, feel free to contact me anytime.

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