The Guest’s Guide to Gearing Up for a Hen Night

As your friend or relative’s wedding day draws closer, so too does the all-important hen night! With Hollywood blockbusters like the Hangover and Bridesmaids highlighting the important role a “bachelorette” party plays in the wedding process, it’s no wonder this party industry has grown and grown over the past few years. In spite of tough economic times, ladies across the country are still shelling out for festivities on the “last night of freedom.” According to a recent survey, the hen and stag industry in Great Britain is worth an estimated £500 million per year!

But while hen nights can be one of the most memorable (depending on alcohol consumption) events of the wedding, navigating the right etiquette and operating on a budget poses potential for some awkward moments. We take a look at some of the most frequently asked guest questions about Hen nights, and provide some helpful answers.

What is the average cost of a hen night?

Even in the face of a recession, the cost of a hen night is still substantial.

The cost of living just keeps getting higher and higher and, from what the HenStuff.co.uk team have seen and heard, hen night costs have more than doubled over the last decade. Recent stats put the cost of a hen do at £157 per person. There are lots of reasons why the cost of hen parties is rising. The number of hens heading overseas for their parties is on the rise and more and more people are getting increasingly extravagant in their tastes. Everyone wants a celebrity lifestyle these days and a swanky hen do is part of the fun!

When budgeting for a hen night, it’s a good idea to do so in advance, and to get as many details as possible to give you an accurate idea of how much money will be needed. You may want to ask:
  • If there is travel and accommodation involved
  • If there is a theme that may involve purchasing special clothing or accessories
  • And where the hen night will take place
The night may run through multiple venues, and if you’re able to find the exact name of each restaurant, club or bar, you can visit their website to see the menu and prices ahead of time, or read reviews online to get an idea of the average cost.

Do I bring my own hen night accessories to a hen night?

While the organiser may provide accessories for the party, there’s no harm in bringing some accessories of your own as well. Some games and accessories such as sweetie necklaces or naughty hats have become a staple of hen nights all over the world!

That said, be sure to use your discretion. If the bride-to-be favours a more tame night or is inviting her older family, you may want to check if bringing certain cheeky accessories along is a recipe for fun or disaster (and red faces!). You can always bring them with you and leave them in your suitcase if the occasion doesn’t feel appropriate.

What shall I pack to go to a hen night?

You should first think about how you’re travelling as this may impact the case you choose to take. If you’re flying within the UK, there are fewer luggage restrictions although some budget airlines charge for checked luggage and only allow one carry-on (this includes your handbag!). This can affect your budget by up to £40 each way.

When deciding what to take, you should consider what activities are planned. While your individual outfits will vary, here are some must-haves to take with you:
  • Foldable flats or a pair of cheap, ‘handbaggable’ flats for the end of the night. When it’s time to kick off your heels having a spare pair of flats can feel like absolute heaven and make all the difference to your dancing!
  • A mini first aid kit including plenty of plasters for sore feet and paracetamol for morning-after headaches.
  • Sun tan lotion (if you’re travelling abroad), as having a burn will feel sore, look awful in pictures and make your trip home uncomfortable and itchy.
  • Blotting papers are a must for makeup bags to get rid of sweat and shine when it comes to taking photos (yes, even incriminating ones!).

Is it polite to buy a hen night gift?

A gift generally isn’t expected, but there’s no harm in bringing one. As a hen night is a departure from the etiquette and pomp of the wedding, buying the bride a cheeky gift is a great way to make her feel special and have some fun! You may want to pick up something naughty for a laugh, or make something personal with arts and crafts.

That said, bringing a gift isn’t really required. Most brides are happy with a wedding gift, and others may have a bridal shower to which bringing a present is expected. The hen night is more about spending quality time with the girls before the big day, so buying a hen night drink or three is usually sufficient.

What is a good hen night present to buy?

If you are opting to bring a gift, these top five options always go down a treat:
  • Shot glasses can be personalised or bought from the host city for a memorable touch
  • A photo album or scrap book to store all evidence such as ticket stubs and entry bracelets
  • Friendship bracelets for the bride and bridal party
  • Personalised t-shirts are great on the night and an excellent memento (make sure the maid of honour hasn’t arranged t-shirts already though, you wouldn’t want to step on any toes!)
  • A photo frame to house her favourite picture taken that night

How many people usually go on a hen night?

Hen nights aren’t a popularity contest! It’s an opportunity for you to spend time with your nearest and dearest as your singledom officially draws to a close. Having more guests does not necessarily make for a better hen night, especially if they’re more acquaintances than friends. Opting for an intimate night with your girlfriends at a swanky restaurant or cocktail bar can be just as fun as piling into the back of a limo with Pam from Accounts. If you prefer the idea of a larger night, you may want to extend the invitations to other women attending the wedding, such as the women on your Groom’s side of the family. This way you get to know them a little better, plus you can create a larger party for your night.

I am going to a hen night away from home I am worried I might lose everyone and not know where I am, how do I prevent this?

If you’re travelling in a large group or are out in a new city, getting lost can be a real concern. It’s a good idea to have a meeting point in place before the night gets underway, especially if it’s in a resort or hotel. In addition to swapping numbers with other members of the party, you may want to set up a group message so you can easily keep in contact with each other (make sure you’ve fully charged your phone before heading out, too).

I am worried that I won’t know anyone except the bride on the hen night, is it ok to bring a friend?

This really depends on the plans of the organiser and the wishes of the bride. If you explain your situation, it may be ok to bring a friend along. Many brides adopt “the more the merrier!” approach as an attitude.

On the other hand, this is a prime opportunity to get to know the other members of the wedding party. Plus the organiser may have already booked things like travel, accommodation or activities for a set number of people, so bringing a guest may not be possible. Talk with your event organizer to discuss the options.

I want to wear something nice to the hen night I am going to but I don’t want to “out-dress” the bride, what do I do?

The bride normally has a special outfit or different accessory to set herself apart, such as a hen night sash, personalised hen night t-shirt or comedy veil. If you’re unsure about what to wear, try speaking to other members of the party to see what they’ll be in to make sure you feel great without causing any upset.

How much money should I bring out on a hen night?

Budgeting for a hen night can be tricky. Your best bet is to start by asking the organiser what has been paid for – some reservations will require a group booking and split payments, while others will operate on a cash and carry basis. You should also ask if entry into certain venues is covered, and if not, how much it will be.

Another factor to consider is the city in which the hen night will take place. The top destinations for hen dos in the UK are London, Brighton, Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham. Obviously geography plays a part in deciding how much money to bring – the cost of a Cosmo in London will be significantly higher than a girly cocktail in Manchester. You should also bear in mind that hen nights usually get rowdy, and you may want to reserve money for unexpected costs such as emergency cabs, replacement clothing or toiletries, or worse-case scenario, mobile phones!

Given that the average cost is around £157 per head, depending on what has been planned and where it is, you may want to budget anywhere between £165-£250 for your hen night to cover expenses and have some emergency cash left over.


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