For me, the earlier you can start planning the bachelorette party the better. Planning for the hen that started it all for me, began 8 months before the actual weekend. But I am probably an extreme example. In truth, the answer to this question is actually really subjective. But don’t fret, your Fairy Hen Mother is here to talk you through some of the things you should consider.
Who is planning it?
If you are the Bride and you are planning it yourself, you need to think about what you really want. The following questions will help you clarify this but overall, imagine what kind of weekend you would like, then think about trying to plan all of this alongside wedding planning (which can be stressful enough as it is). So, if you really want to take it on yourself, start the hen prep EARLY. This means you can get everything arranged and then forget about it while you focus on the wedding.
However, to avoid the stress, most Brides delegate to their Bridesmaids/Maids of Honour. If you want a fully comprehensive weekend with lots of elements like booked activities, DIY décor and games, etc, then PLEASE give that person plenty of notice and time to organise something awesome. You can’t expect a totally custom, kick-ass weekend if you only give them 2 weeks to pull it together (unless they hire a pro planner)
If you are said Bridesmaid/MOH, then you in turn need to ask the bride what she wants and get a rough idea in your head of what you want the weekend to look like. Then, you can figure out how much time you need to bring it together and set a date that helps you get it done in a reasonable time frame.
How long is it going to be?
Bachelorette parties have morphed over the years. What used to be a single night is now quite often a weekend or even a week in an exotic destination (Covid notwithstanding). The longer the event itself, the more time in advance you will need to plan. A night out requires significantly less prep and organization than a weeklong extravaganza.
If you want to include personal elements, pre-made games, and memorable activities (which I highly recommend) then here’s a very rough guide.
1 night: - minimum 2 weeks prep
Weekend: - minimum 3 months prep
Week: minimum 6 months prep
These will still vary depending on the answers to the next questions.
How much DIY is involved?
This is arguably the MOST important question on this list but the one that is most often forgotten about. If you are a crafty person then you will know that any piece of DIY always takes twice as long as you think it will. If you are trying to create a beautifully decorated venue on a budget, then a bit of DIY is usually required. This is why, in my toolkit, I provide a DIY checklist where I ask you to estimate the time every single piece of DIY will take you. When you add these numbers up, I usually advise that you quite literally double it and then you will have a rough idea of how much time you physically NEED before the weekend can become a reality. Then you can add your answers to the other questions on this list.
If it’s going to take you 16 hours of cutting, hot gluing, pom-pom fluffing, spray painting, and photo gathering, and you can only spare 2 hours a week then that’s already 8 weeks. Boom. So, think carefully and don’t bite off more than you can chew. There’s nothing sadder than a half-empty balloon arch or a plain cardboard photo booth frame that was meant to be floral.
Who is invited?
This is a bit political but also something that you need to consider. In an ideal world, my personal recommendation would be that honestly, you could start planning the bachelorette a YEAR in advance. This would avoid lots of stress near the time and let you enjoy the process. However, when looking that far ahead, the guest list can become an issue. Brides, you will be familiar with the stress of putting your guest list together when your wedding is still 12 months away. The same rules apply to your hen weekend.
If the plan is only to include family members and very close, lifelong friends, then you can rest a little easier knowing that these people are highly likely to still be in your life a year from now. However, quite often Brides will want to include work friends, recent university friends, etc. If she changes her job, graduates, etc then there’s a decent chance that those friends might not actually be around after a few months. The last thing you want is people to get super excited and commit early and then drop out later on when the friendship dwindles, leaving you in the red.
As a rule, if you have a solid, intimate group of guests then you can plan way ahead of time.
If you have a bigger “more the merrier’ group of people with more recent connections, you might have to hold off on any concrete plans until closer to the rough date. (see the above DIY guide for minimum references).
How much notice do guests need?
This is another important issue pertaining to the guestlist. Once you have established who the Bride wants to be there, you need to know how much notice they need in order to commit. If it’s just an evening party, then there’s much less pressure and most people should be able to make it if it’s on a weekend. However, if you are asking people to give up 2+ days of their time, you need to give them more of a head’s up than just the week before.
This is especially important if any of the guests are going to have to book time off work. Depending on the job, some people will need to request leave months before they are granted it. So, keep this in mind and check with everyone well ahead of time what kind of notice they need. Likewise, people might not be told whether that time off is approved until much nearer the time. So, what you might find is that while you start the early planning stages 6 months out, you can’t actually start confirming things and getting details until 6 weeks before.
How long in advance do you need to book activities?
The last key component of the equation is dictated by what activities you decide to do for the bachelorette. Each element that requires booking and organizing with a third party, will have guidelines and restrictions on when you can book. Even if it’s just one night.
Let’s say there’s a restaurant in town that your Bride has always wanted to eat in, but the place is constantly fully booked. You will need to call potentially months ahead of time just to get a table. Or maybe you are going to that Magic Mike Show you know she’d love. That probably requires pretty advance booking as I imagine it gets pretty popular…
Whatever you are booking, whenever you send your initial inquiry make sure you ask when the booking would need to be confirmed.
The above might not answer the exact question “When do I need to start planning the Hen?” But hopefully, they give you some clarity and help you figure out what the answer is for your specific situation.
With these in mind, here are my top tips:
- Have the Bachelorette plenty of time before the wedding day in case of any mishaps. Also, the Bride will have more and more to do (so will you probably) on the run-up to the big day. So, I think it’s nice to do this before you are buried in wedding prep. Usually, a month or two is enough unless you have weather concerns.
- The above tip is the opposite if it’s a destination wedding. Sometimes it’s better to do something when everyone is together especially if there are friends and family traveling from all over.
- As a general rule of thumb, I usually advise around 6 months of planning for a weekend trip. This is not 6 constant months of doing things daily. This is more feeling out an idea, adding details as you go, and still living your life in between. That’s why I provide 6 months of unlocked access to the full version of this site with every toolkit.
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Hi! My name is Sherrie and I am the Fairy Hen Mother behind How to Hen. I started this site because I wanted to create a space where bridesmaids and maids of honor could get inspired and feel confident in their ability to plan a kick-ass bachelorette (hen) party for their bestie.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or lost on how to create a perfectly personal, unique bachelorette weekend for your bride, then you need the How to Hen Toolkit. it’s the roadmap that guides you through every part of the process and gives you everything you need.