If you’ve just been given the task of organising your best mates hen weekend you may have a mixture of feelings from pure excitement to dread. Wanting to do a good job whilst pulling together a group of uni, school and work friends who don’t really know each other, can be daunting. With years of helping hen groups organise stress-free weekends which blow the bride-to-be’s mind, we’ve got lots of pearls of wisdom we’re happy to share. Start by getting to grips with 6 key questions as you’ll find making decisions later down the road so much easier…
1. Whose Invited?
This is totally the bride-to-be’s call. She’ll know if she wants just close girlfriends, family, the grooms family or some distant cousin to come. Arrange a good time to talk to her. Try and get more than just a list of names and emails. Ask her how she knows each hen, where they’re based, what they’re like, their dislikes etc. This will be invaluable for knowing who the bride-to-be wants to surround herself with, sleeping arrangements, if ice-breakers are needed, whether high-energy or chilling activities are best and even what budget to set.
We know hen group numbers can go up and down especially if you’ve booked well in advance of the weekend. So, try and book a cottage where the price per person doesn’t change too much if you add or lose a hen or two.
This is another question for the bride-to-be. Ask her if she has a specific date in mind. If she doesn’t, most hen groups plummet for a weekend about 1-2 months before the wedding. Check the bride-to-be’s availability first and foremost, then think about setting up a doodle poll for the rest of the group to work out when the majority of people are available.
It’s usually hard to get one date which suits all, so revert to your list to see how close the hens are to the bride-to-be. Try and find a few dates where key people are available. Keeping a few weekends in mind will also give you the best opportunity to get the cottage you want. Bank holidays and Summer weekends are always crazy busy so you’d need to book well in advance, whilst winter weekends offer greater availability and lower prices.
Again, start with the bride-to-be as she may want to revisit an old stomping ground or childhood city. If she doesn’t mind, consider the hen group. As a rule of thumb, most hen groups prefer to travel a maximum of 2 hours from where they live i.e if the majority of the group are coming from London, you could aim for Norfolk, Canterbury, Bath, Bristol or Oxford. If there are hens coming from abroad, consider cottages a short distance from regional airports, such as Bristol. If you have lots of hens coming from all directions it’s best to pinpoint a central location.
Activities tend to be chosen based on what the bride-to-be likes, hen group dynamics and budget. Do things you know the bride-to-be will like. She may have a childhood love for horse-riding or crave a bit of ‘me’ time with a pamper session. If the hen group is a mixture of school, uni and work friends, ice-breaking activities such as Cocktail Workshops or Organised Games are great for getting everyone to bond. If you have hens who are pregnant, consider their need for a good nights sleep so organise nights in the cottage or have taxi numbers available, in case they want to come home early. Budgets can constrain your choice so make sure you spend carefully to get the most from your money.
5. How much?
The budget can be a sticking point. There’s a balance between what the bride-to-be wants, the groups budget and what you’ll get for your money. You may have a group who are relaxed about the budget but in most cases, budget plays a key point.
Things to consider if you want a cottage…
- Should you book an all singing, all dancing cottage with numerous bedrooms, bathrooms, space and facilities like hot tubs, pools and games rooms? This enables you to max out on everything it has to offer over your weekend without needing to go anywhere or adding too many additional costs.
- Should you book a budget friendly cottage which is close to a City which may even come with facilities like a Hot Tub? This way, you can put more of the budget towards your activities and weekend expenses.
It’s crucial to communicate your budget thoughts with the hen group from the outset to get an idea of whether they are agreeable. In most cases, it’s more important for the bride-to-be to have as many people coming, than a hen weekend few can afford.
Booking in advance helps hens put money aside each month rather than taking a one-off hit. With Acacia’s on-line payment system each hen can pay as little or as much as they like up to about 12 weeks before you travel.
If the bride-to-be is adamant on a more costly weekend, don’t judge the hens who excuse themselves from the weekend. You could set-up a separate small gathering before the wedding for them to see the bride-to-be to toast her impending nuptials.
Lastly, hen weekends booked between October and February are always better priced as you can take advantage of low season prices putting more money into the fun stuff.
6. The Cottage Choice
Bedrooms and Bathrooms
How many beds do you need? Do people know each other well enough to share beds or would single beds be better? Can people sleep in adult bunk beds or on sofa beds, as these are brilliant for bringing costs down. If someone is pregnant or wants to be further away from the action, is there a break-away room or separate annex? Do hens need en-suites or are people happy to share bathrooms?
If you’re planning a group meal in the cottage, make sure the dining table can accommodate you all. This also applies to the activities such as Craft Workshops or Perfume Making. Tables in the kitchen are great for breakfast in your PJ’s.
Hot Tubs, Tennis Courts, Pools, Games Rooms, Swim Spa’s, Saunas, Gyms, gardens with dining, BBQ huts, pubs in walking distance, walks from the door… the list is endless. Work out what features are important to the bride-to-be for her weekend and try to factor them in. Of course, if you can’t find a cottage with a hot tub see if you can hire one or arrange a Spa visit.
Hen weekends are a brilliant way of celebrating the bride-to-be’s future wedding with the man of her dreams. Getting as much information up front makes your job of creating the hen weekend to remember so much easier.
We’re experts in making hen parties happen. After all, your weekend is more than just a beautiful cottage and activities. It’s about the experience; from your initial thoughts all the way through to coming home exhausted having had the best hen weekend EVER! With over 10 years of hen party organising know-how, sourcing beautiful cottages & activities, building supplier relations, developing easy to use payment systems and IPP protection to keep your money safe, we aim to give you the best hen weekend possible with the least amount of stress. Contact us and get the conversation started.