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Hen do, Shutterstock 2016

How to plan a hen party like a pro

Step away from the stripper! Our experts are on hand to help you plan the perfect hen party

By Kyra Hanson
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Your best mate has just announced that she’s getting hitched, so you’re all smiles and boozy congratulations, but then the conversation turns to hen party ideas and panic sets in. When it comes to planning the ultimate night out, pink sashes, male strippers and inflatable willies are most certainly not the only hen do options. If the idea of entertaining a group of ladies who may only have the bride in common gets you in a fluster, check out these tips from our favourite wedding bloggers for planning a smooth hen party from start to finish.

RECOMMENDED: Our guide to having the best hen party in London

Who are our hen experts?

Hen do experts: Erica Willoughby-Smith, Mr & Mrs Unique, 2016

Erica Willoughby-Smith

Erica is creative director and a blogger at Mr & Mrs Unique, an award-winning directory, blog and magazine that focuses on unusual and distinctive wedding and event suppliers.

Hen do experts: Kat Williams, founder of Rock n Roll Bride, 2016

Kat Williams

After becoming jaded by the limited offerings of the UK wedding industry, Kat launched Rock N Roll Bride, a magazine and website that attracts quirky, alternative and creative readers from all over.

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Hen do experts: Charley Beard, founder of London Bride, 2016

Charley Beard

London-based wedding planner and founder-blogger of London Bride, Charley was awarded ‘Best Wedding Planner in London and South East’ at the 2016 Wedding Industry Awards.

Hen do experts: Laura Dunstone, founder of Festival Brides, 2016

Laura Dunstone

Along with a passion for music, festivals, travelling and writing, Festival Brides founder Laura aims to provide her readers with unique and alternative festival style wedding inspiration with a modern bohemian edge.

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Hen do experts: Erin Balfour, founder of Way Out Wedding, 2016

Erin Balfour

The alternative wedding blog Way Out Wedding was founded by Erin as an inspirational lookbook for those in the midst of planning their big day.

How to plan your perfect hen party

Get coordinated

‘The logistics of organising a hen can be pretty tricky, especially trying to coordinate a large group of people when it comes to dates, availability and budget. I recommend using an online tool like Doodle or create a WhatsApp group to get everyone’s availability. It’ll save you hundreds of emails.’ – CB

No surprises

‘Surprises are risky (not everyone wants strippers). Try and keep the hen in mind when planning the party, the more personalised and tailored to her style, the more relaxed it will be. – EB Think about her hobbies: do they prefer pampering or working out? Are they a foodie or a cocktail connoisseur? Most hen parties will need some form of daytime activity to get the group bonding before the drinking begins.’ – CB

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Send invites early

‘As the bride, tell your maid of honour (or whoever is organising your hen do) early who you want to invite. People often need a bit of notice to arrange time off work/childcare and save up for a hen do, as they're getting more and more expensive.’ – KW

Budgeting for the bash

Have options

‘Make sure that your day is inclusive for everyone in terms of budget. There's no point jetting off to Spain for a weekend of spas and clubbing if most of your best girls can't afford it. It’s a good idea to stress that expensive bits are optional and your hens can come to whichever bits of your day they’d like to.’ – EB

Be upfront

‘The budget is normally the biggest area of friction, so try to be upfront with an estimated cost first. It’s a good idea to put forward a couple of budget options and ask the attendees what they would be happy to spend. One day or night will of course be more affordable than a weekend party, but with larger groups you can often get good discounts.’ – CB

Location location location

Easy access is key

‘Think carefully about your location and how accessible it is for everyone. The chances are the bride will have friends from all over the country, so you want to choose a place that’s easy for everyone to get to. It also needs to be relatively close to a town with some nightlife, as every hen weekend should involve a night out painting the town red.’ – LD

Getting ready

Make a party playlist

‘We all know the best bit about going out is getting ready beforehand, so make a playlist of your bride’s party tunes and get the booze in. But take it easy, you don't want to peak too soon! Alternatively, pamper your hen at a blow dry bar, such as Hershesons at Topshop, or enjoy a manicure and makeover at Cheeky in Holborn.’ – EB

Glam up

‘Look at different ways to dress up the hen party girls using websites such as Etsy, or creative accessory company Curious Fair. Floral crowns, feather headdresses or animal masks/ears will distinguish your hen group from the regular Saturday night crowd. Or why not exchange the hen’s pink sash for a bespoke bride-to-be necklace? A perfect keepsake from the awesome weekend you are about to have.’ – EWS

Hen do activities in London

For creative hens

Drink, Shop, Do in King's Cross has loads of offbeat things to do for alternative hens, such as designing your own (temporary) tattoo, or making an origami bouquet. They also host hen-appropriate events, such as learning the official dance for ‘Telephone’ by Lady Gaga and Beyoncé. If you're heading to a club afterwards (of course you are), you can show off your dance skills immediately. At my own hen do, we met up with the stags at the end of the day, which you can do if you want to – it's your hen do, don’t be afraid to break with tradition!’ – EB

For bling hens

‘What girl doesn’t love a bit of bespoke jewellery? Designing your own is much more fun than window shopping and it’s a lovely keepsake after the hen for both the bride and attendees. At the Workbench Studio in Hackney a small group can design their own silver rings using wax casts, which are then sent off to be made into silver (or gold/rose gold for an additional fee). If you’re watching the pennies, the bride attends for free.’ – CB

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For health-conscious hens

‘If your hen is into wellbeing, then a party at the pop-up Secret Yoga Club will be a fantastic daytime treat. Start the day with a yoga session at a unique venue accompanied by relaxing acoustic live music, followed by a three-course feast by top chefs (complete with organic bubbly and delicious cocktails).’ – CB

For artsy hens

‘Stationery boutique Quill London runs modern calligraphy workshops for beginners at their beautiful shop in Clerkenwell, which might come in handy for those wedding invites.’ – CB

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For green-fingered hens

‘For a boho bride, book a private flower crown party with The Flower Appreciation Society, where you’ll each create a bespoke fresh floral crown that you can proudly wear for the remainder of the hen night.’ – CB

For traditional hens

‘If you’re after something quaint and traditional, look no further than the B-Bakery Bus, which offers afternoon tea aboard a vintage Routemaster around central London. If you hire the whole bus they offer a personalised route, which you could accompany with various embarrassing or romantic tales as an alternative tour guide.’ – CB

Hen do escapes

Jet setting

‘If your hen enjoys the finer things in life, an indulgent visit to Reims in the Champagne region of France makes for a great weekend getaway. Start the trip with some fizz on the Eurostar and end it in a luxury Champagne house, or a family-run vineyard in Reims (trust me, you’ll get to taste more). Look up Veuve Clicquot, Pommery Champagne and Moet & Chandon, where you’ll learn about the Champagne making process and do the all-important tasting. Champagne Tours with Grape Escapes start from £91 per person.’ – CB

Campsite capers

‘If you are more of an outdoorsy type you can look into glamping weekends. Companies such as Bears and Butterflies or Funky Monkey Tents offer gorgeous bell tents with made-up beds that give you all the comfort of home. I can't think of anything more fun than exploring the countryside before sitting around a campfire with a glass of bubbly and my favourite girls.’ – EWS

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Countryside jaunts

‘Think about what you (or the bride if you're organising on her behalf) really likes to do when coming up with an idea. Lots of booze, strippers and plastic willies are definitely not the only option. For my sister's hen do this year we rented a big house through Airbnb in the middle of nowhere, hired a hot tub and did flower crown making, henna and llama walking.’ – KW

‘Indulge in the ultimate girlie weekend by booking a UK holiday home. Some are like five-star hotels set in beautiful countryside; some even have their own pools or hot tubs. When I had my hen do we hired a venue called Cliff Barns in Norfolk and had a cheeky Ann Summers party, enjoyed champagne in the hot tub, danced the night away at our own fancy dress silent disco, ordered in some beauty treatments and had a curry movie night. To save money we got together a kitty and pre-ordered a supermarket shop to arrive at the house just after we booked in, so we only spent £10 each on food and drink for the whole weekend.’ – EWS

Now plan the after party

The best clubs in London

Clubs

London is blessed with some of the finest clubs on the planet, from intimate spaces that host full-on techno parties to vast, globally acclaimed nightlife institutions. You’ll never be bored when partying in the city, particularly if you read our guide to the best venues.

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