How to arrange a Hen Do
You have been bestowed with the ultimate honour of being named Chief Bridesmaid. There’ll be so much support that you’ll give to the bride, both emotional and practical, but none will be as public and experienced by as many people as the Hen Do.
You may love organising events, bringing everyone together and facilitating a great time for them, but, if you’re one of the 9 out 10 people that do not, being responsible for the event of the century likely fills you with mild discomfort at best, blind panic at worst!
This event needs to be talked about for years to come, along with the dress and the photographs it will be the legacy that lives on beyond the wedding day itself. I’m sure all of these things have crossed your mind and perhaps brought the odd sleepless night, but fear not, we’ve got you covered with our step by step guide to Hen Do planning.
In this blog we break down all of the elements that you need to think about and provide you with the simplest of solutions for sorting the money. Download the Collctiv app here to equip yourself with the quickest and easiest way for you and all the guests of the Hen Do to sort the finances.
Hen Do Ideas
Attendees and availability
So firstly, you need to start with who is invited and how best to contact them. Undoubtedly the easiest way to communicate with the majority of people will be a Whatsapp or Facebook group. BUT, remember that if there are older family members or friends of the bride, they may not have Whatsapp or Facebook, or indeed there’s an ever increasing population of people boycotting these platforms. For them, perhaps email, text or carrier pigeon is best!
Whatever the solution, get this foundation in first. Make sure you know who is invited and make it as easy as possible to contact them.
Next up, use a simple but effective life hack that we love. A doodle poll. Establish a range of viable dates for the do, add them to a doodle poll that you can set up for free here, send it to your hen-party-to-be and let them do the work. This way, you know what date is the most popular. IT IS NOT YOUR JOB to make sure everyone can attend. If you’re giving enough time and the event is important enough, people will find a way. Obviously you’ll need to prioritise dates that key people can make (e.g. the mother of the bride) but you’re unlikely to be able to please everyone so sadly if the hen’s family friend childhood babysitter can’t be there then so be it!
Now here’s the test. The world’s a big old place. A big old accessible place, so nowhere is technically off the cards.
However, there are things to be considered that may help inform your decision on ‘the where’.
Primary to this is cost. Invariably, hen parties abroad will be more expensive because of the flights and accommodation. That’s not to say a UK hen do is cheap, or needs to feel that way, but at least if the do is on the same island as most people, it is easier (and thus cheaper) to get to than on a boat or a plane!
Logistics is a key factor to think about too - consider your party size when trying to decide where to go. Getting 25 people onto the same flight, next to each other, to the Ibiza is going to be trickier than getting them to a farmhouse in Derbyshire. If the party is relatively small however, say 10 or less, this is less daunting.
Our advice would be to reflect on what the bride would like. Is there a place that holds meaning to her or you know they’ve always wanted to go to. Is this important to them or are they just looking for a good old knees up in party central? As Chief Bridemaid/Maid of Honour, you have been chosen for this task because of your close ties with the bride. You know her better than most, so maybe write down some key attributes a location needs to have to suit her the best. For example does she want pretty scenery or a city vibe, buzzing nightlife or loads of daytime activities? A place for you all to chill in each other’s company whilst being pampered or a never-ending party where your accommodation is simply a crash pad? This should help narrow down your global choices!
This element may seem daunting, but really it can be simplified down to whether the bride is going to want the group together at most times and whether you plan to eat a number of meals on site.
Get a hotel and you’ll be rooming separately and eating out.
Get a shared apartment or an ‘entire house’ type arrangement and whilst you may be sleeping in separate rooms, everything else is communal. You could also get creative here and look at a huge yurt or safari tent for a more natural twist?
Whatever you choose, this is likely to be the biggest cost and as Chief Bridesmaid, it’s you who will be ‘responsible’ for it. What does this mean? Ultimately, you may find yourself putting deposits and balances on your card and then spending most of the rest of your time chasing everyone for the money back. Alternatively, you’ll try and raise the money first through bank transfers and the like, only to find that by the time you’ve cajoled everyone into adding you to their internet banking, putting in their one time only password, going back and forth between screens to add the account details whilst being logged out if they don’t do this quick enough…. the solution you spent hours trawling google for has gone. Back to the drawing board.
We get it, it’s awkward. Very awkward. There’s only so many times you can hound the mother of the bride for the £150 she owes you. The Whatsapp group is full of fun and banter, and then here comes you, suddenly acting as an inadvertent fun sponge, the fun prevention officer, the debt collector. Often to no avail.
On one hand you want the hen do to be really well attended, it’s a reflection on the bride’s popularity and general calibre as a human, but on the other hand you can ill-afford your debit or credit card taking a hammering and sapping all of the joy and fun out of what should be a momentous occasion for the right reasons and not for being the cause of you defaulting on your mortgage!
‘What’s the solution’ I hear you scream! Easy. Collctiv. You download the app, create a pot for whatever you are collecting for (e.g Emily’s Hen Do accomodation) and then send the link that it generates to everyone who wants to come. You can set a deadline, add comments and you can have as many pots as you like, so as and when you establish a cost, simply paste the link in to the Whatsapp group and watch the money roll in.
You can see who has paid what and when, and the money all sits in the one pot, so you know exactly who is paying and for what. No perusing your bank statement with a highlighter and a fine-tooth comb identifying payments from people with names you don’t know whilst inputting it all on to a spreadsheet. It’s all there in your app!
Best still? It is the simplest thing for people to pay in, so you can get more payments, faster. Those paying in don’t need to download an app, create an account or verify an email. Great news for grandma, and great news for you. Start collecting money now.
The biggie - the make or break of the whole thing…..what will you be doing?
There are so many ways to go with this, but I think the most critical element to highlight is that the hen do is for…..THE HEN! This may sound obvious, but I think so many people are swayed by social pressure, pressure from within the group and even by their own preferences and biases.
Ask yourself what the hen would genuinely like to do, and then do lots of that! If she is having a good time, everyone else will, even if it may not be their thing. Everyone is there for the bride, so they will dive headlong into anything for her, so try not to stress about whether everyone would have chosen the activities. There are too many voice and opinions….sometimes, this being one, you just need to make an executive decision.
We’ll get on to activity specifics shortly but before that let’s talk about general itineraries.
A lot of hen dos have become a whole weekend (and a bit before) thing, rather than a iug night out and Maccies breakfast in the morning. So let me outline our recommended structure for a full weekend, and then you can remove and alter bits as appropriate:
Arrival at the accommodation. Perfect time for some easy-going drinks and communal food like pizza or buffet. Great for the group to get to know each other (as there will likely be a number of different friendship groups and family that haven’t met each other before) and bond ahead of the weekend's activities. This is an ideal time for a group activity like cocktail making, a quiz about the bride or a pamper evening to prepare bodies for a weekend of alcohol and limited sleep!
The core Hen Party! This is where the activities should take place that create memories that last a lifetime…..or at least until the wedding! We’ll cover this in more detail shortly.
This all depends on the Hen. Would they love a traditional night out in [add town or city name here] where they drink things not intended for human consumption, crack out their finest Beyonce moves and then proceed to sing Whitney Houston ballads at the top of their lungs until the wee small hours in a Karaoke bar OR would they much prefer a night in which can still be heavily alcohol-fuelled but full of fun like ping pong, dress-up karaoke, you could get a singer or a band in, an alcoholic ice cream van (yep, that’s a thing!), you could create a crystal maze experience in each room in the house (there are people that can do this for you) ], have a bouncy castle in the garden, a giant hot tub, a foam party….the list is almost endless! This way you have a great night without spending the whole time wondering where Auntie Joan has gone and the mile-long queue for a taxi!
The last hoorah. As everyone wakes in differing levels of health and wellbeing, this is the perfect opportunity to grab a final breakfast together, maybe some croissant, pain au chocolate and some strong coffee, and then head in to an easy-going finish to the weekend of fun. Think of a craft session, where maybe you make floral headbands to wear on the day. Or a pottery class where you could make something and have everyone on the Hen Do sign it as a memento. Perhaps you could have a crack at making chocolates that could then feature in the favours on the day?
Whatever you choose, we’re talking lots of money. On booze, on food, on entertainment, on activites….the last thing you want is to be playing accountant whilst making a pornstar martini, cracking out your best Celine Dion impression or enjoying the entertainment. No thank you!
So, collect the money ahead of time. If you are booking things in advance you know the cost - so share it amongst the group. For those costs not yet incurred make a shopping list and tot up the estimate. Share that amongst the group. In this way, you are not left picking up any bills, people have time to prepare and pay and the actual weekend, which invariably isn’t too far away from the wedding and its associated big costs, will be largely paid for in advance so people can just come and have a great time!
This goal is easy to achieve through Collctiv. Simply create pots for the various elements ‘food’, ‘booze’, ‘entertainment’ and then share the link. People tap to pay and voila, you’re sorted. You can get a full run down of who paid into what pot and regularly share with the group the totals and the costs paid out so that they can see specifically where their money is going.
We get that it’s a huge responsibility handling people’s money and we also know that you want that task to feel auditable, that you’re not some distant benefactor of everyone’s money that they don’t see where it’s going. With Collctiv, you have transparency and the confidence that comes with a separate app that doesn’t mix any of the money in with your own personal funds!
Now to the promised section on the Saturday activities of the hen party. There’s so much to choose from and you can use your knowledge of the bride to narrow this down to what she’d enjoy. We’ve split this into two main areas - Active Events and Experiential events.
Water assault course
Dryland assault course
White Water Rafting
Race car experience
Gin, wine and cheese tasting!
The Crystal Maze experience
Outdoor treasure hunt
Cookery Class/Great British Bake off
I sincerely hope that these ideas provide some inspiration to you.
This is where our good friend the Doodle poll makes a reappearance. Once you have decided on the details, you can send one out with all of the options so that individuals can choose the elements they want to partake in. Nights they are staying, meals they will be present for, activities they want to be involved in. This will make planning so much easier!
One thing is for certain - they will all cost, and every provider will want at least a deposit to hold the experience for you.
Don’t get stuck in the vicious circle of paying it all on your own card, then trying to claw it back from each of the 15 people on coming!
Nope - simply ping a link over to your group, they tap to pay and you have your deposit and experience sorted. No faffing with bank details, no ‘I’ll get you a cocktail or two’....just the money up front, allowing you to sort all of the other things that the best man has to deal with!
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