Your bestie has asked you to stand by her side on her special day and your mind has raced ahead to throwing her the perfect send off! Of course, the hens party is the most fun part of being a bridesmaid and an amazing way to show your best girl just how much you care.
But planning a hens party can be a daunting task, especially if you’ve never planned one before. There are activities, décor and catering to plan; you need keep all of the girls invited happy and not blow the budget. But most importantly, you want to give the bride-to-be the ultimate girly get-together before she makes her way down the aisle.
Keep the overwhelm at bay by following these ten steps to planning the perfect hens party.
Talk to the bride
The bride-to-be may be a super relaxed anything goes kinda bride or she could have a few ideas up her sleeve. Never assume you know what she wants. The best place to start is by checking in with her regarding any hens party preferences she may have. Pick up the phone, flick her through a series of questions via email, or take her out for a glass of wine to run through the details.
Most importantly, you need to know who she would like to invite. Who is invited will dictate the kind of event you plan. She may want to include mums, grandmothers and even younger family members. Or she may just want to celebrate with the girl gang. Perhaps she would like two celebrations: a kitchen tea or bridal shower as well as a hens party.
Ask her when she would like her hens party. Does she want a daytime, night time or overnight event? Would she like to stay local or would she prefer a destination hens?
Check whether there are any activities she would love to do and equally, whether there is anything on her ‘don’t-go-there’ list!
And then there is the money talk. Ugh. The bride may be able to give you a guide of how much she would expect her guests to contribute financially. Be sure to have this before you start planning that amazing destination hens to a tropical beachside villa with your matching bathers and your own private bartender!
To make it super easy for you, we have put together a questionnaire of everything you need to ask the bride-to-be in order to get planning her hens underway. You can download this handy resource here.
Save the date
Now that you have the invite list, it’s time to send out a save the date for the hens party so that you can get an idea of numbers attending and start planning. You can do this in a few different ways. You can send an electronic save the date or a beautifully designed paper version. Either have a designer create one, purchase an editable template online, or have a go yourself if you’re handy with a design program such as Canva. Creating a Facebook group is another way to ask guests to save the date. It is also a great way to stay in touch with everyone, keep them updated, and answer any questions.
Research & plan
Right, now to start planning the fun stuff! You will now likely have an idea of what she wants and doesn’t want. And after that money talk with the bride, you may have an idea of a budget you need to stick to. Although sometimes it is hard to set a budget without knowing how much things cost. With these factors in mind, now is the time to research, research, research!
When researching hens party activities make sure you take into consideration the ages and abilities of all guests particularly if mums and grandmothers are invited. There are so many places you can find fun hens activity providers, event vendors and party products to help bring your event together. You can stalk your socials (Instagram is a great source of party inspo), a good ol’ Google search, make a Pinterest board of the vibe you’d like to create, and search the Pretty Zen Hen directory for hens party experiences and providers in your area. At this point you can also pick a theme if you’d like to have one.
It’s a great idea to offer flexibility by having different stages to the event so that the guests can choose to attend the whole shebang or just part of the day. If moving from location to location, keep transportation in mind and leave a little room in the schedule for a relaxed day. No one wants to be rushing around from one place to the next.
Check the budget & book vendors
After some research you will have an idea of how much various activities cost and what works within your budget. With your budget in mind you can create a plan for the event and book all activities and venues. Remember to factor in the cost of food and drink for various parts of the event, and transportation if it is required between locations.
Fill in the girls
Yay, you now have a plan of attack! It’s time to confirm with all the girls invited a rough outline of the event, what activities they’ll be doing, and how much they need to pay. Give them the bank account details and a due date for their payment, giving yourself a bit of extra time in case you need to chase late payments (and you always do!)
It’s best not to go to the group for opinions before this point. Have you heard the saying, ‘too many cooks in the kitchen…’? Too many opinions will just confuse you and make your task of planning difficult. Keep the bride in mind always, consider the group, but never involve more than a few people in the planning process.
Check your catering plan
Make sure you have enough food and drink (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) to last the entire hens party, even if you have booked a restaurant for a portion of the event. The last thing you want is to be attempting to organise a bunch of girls who’ve had too much to drink and too little to eat. Remember to check dietary requirements of guests and bear in mind any pregnant ladies.
Décor, styling & favours
Time to revert back to that Pinterest board and think about prettying the place up. If you’re starting at someone’s home or celebrating at a restaurant, consider décor such as flowers, balloons and a photo backdrop. Now is also the time to order any bits and pieces you’d like to make the hen’s day extra special, such as a beautiful floral crown for the bride-to-be, sashes and accessories, or party favours for the guests. If you want to play a few games throughout the event, do a little research and pick a couple you think the bride would like.
Create a run sheet
Boring but crucial! Please, don’t just wing it on the day! Write up a run sheet outlining all the important details like where you have to be at what time, how you are getting from one place to the next, contact details of activity vendors and venues, and which guests are attending which parts of the day. Your run sheet doesn’t need to be complicated. If you’re familiar with Excel or Google spreadsheets, use that. If you use Asana or Trello for project management, whip up a list or board there. Use the notes app on your phone, or there is nothing wrong with old fashioned pen and paper. Remember to bring this with you on the day, either on your phone or a printed version.
While you are confirming the plan for the day, delegate various tasks out to the bridesmaids or sisters of the bride ensuring the set-up of the hens party and the day itself runs smoothly.
Confirm guests & vendors
A few weeks ahead of the hens party, confirm with guests an overview of how the day will run, where to meet, what to bring, and your contact details should they need to get in touch. A week or so prior, re-confirm all of your hens party bookings with vendors, ensuring the date, time, guest number and any other important details are correct. Make sure all your guests are paid up and pay your vendors.
It’s party time!
The big day is here! Well, the second biggest day… Enjoy the amazing event you and your superstar organisational skills have pulled off! More importantly ensure the bride-to-be has the time of her life before she heads down the aisle.
Check out the Posh Palais bridal range here.
About the author
Written by Brooke Ristovichis, the owner and founder of Pretty Zen Hen. The Pretty Zen Hen website offers a directory of Australian hens party experiences, event vendors and products to celebrate the bride-to-be. You will also find a blog full of inspiring hens party ideas and planning tips, as well as an online store of printable hens party games and signs.