Updated: Jan 18, 2019
For years I have been helping bridesmaids plan the hens party. But with every bride wanting the picture-perfect Pinterest party, the role of the bridesmaid has all of a sudden become that of an highly experienced event coordinator/event stylist.
When I started Cocktail Queen in the early naughties girls were just happy to gather at the chief bridesmaids house and have some ‘fancy drinks’, and play some hilarious hens party games. But as we have progressed into a visually exciting and enticing age through the onset of apps such as Insta and Pinterest, it seems that the humble hens party has now become the ‘event to outdo the other’.
The purpose of a hen’s party is for a bride to SPEND quality time with friends and family who are involved in her wedding.
Whilst working in a bar in Adelaide in my early 20’s a customer made a statement to me that they would “love to have a hens party with cocktails for all their guests but it was simply too expensive”. That’s when I devised the ‘Hens Party Package’. The ‘Happy Meal’ of the Cocktail party world that included cocktails for 4 hours, finger food, hens party games, invitations and even FREE HENS PARTY GIFTS for all the girls at the end (because every girl likes a gift bag). I had packaged what every bridesmaid needed – a set package for a hens party that took all the stress out of organizing those ‘fancy drinks’ but allowed the girls a giggling good time.
Google had just appeared, and I started advertising on google when the key word “hens party” was only 2c per click. Adds were running, parties were happening and brides were happy….sharing their last night of single life with there closest friends and family.
Fast forward 2019.
Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are now the biggest billboards around… but held in our hands. The duties of a bridesmaid now revolve around pouring over vast images on those apps and ensuring that the hens party she is planning, matches the list of demands by the bride which includes getting the ‘most likes’ when those pictures finally make it to the app. It is the shift in demand by the bride herself that has morphed the common hens party into the “look at me hens party “.
Pictures cost a lot of money.
Balloon arches, grazing tables, donut walls, boho tables, and flower crowns all look amazing, especially with filters, but they come at a price.
I have had many conversations with bridesmaids with a list of demands from the bride of all the inclusions she would like at her hen’s party. By the time you add up all these inclusions the cost of the hen’s party can reach in excess of $3000.
Many bridesmaids choose the ‘DIY method’ undertaking event styling themselves. Whilst this may be a cheaper way, the time and energy spent in organizing all of this, normally falls squarely on the chief bridesmaid who ends up footing the bill independently for additional props and decorations.
"A picture is worth a thousand words", however the cost of that picture to reproduce “the look”, may just well end up costing the bridesmaid a thousand dollars!
Not all guests have the same earning capacity.
The price that you charge each person to attend the hens party will ultimately determine who attends.
And its imperative to remember that not everyone has the same income. Elder guests that don’t drink alcohol will always question why they have to pay the same amount as those that are drinking alcohol. I always charge my customers a ‘mocktailer’ rate for non-drinkers and pregnant ladies.
From my experience there is a magic number to charge guests to attend a hen’s party. Once you exceed the $90.00-mark guests will start questioning all the inclusions. The amount of RSVP's you have at a price point over $90 per person to attend will dramatically reduce in comparison to if you have a price point under the $90 mark.
Coordinating an event is not always fun
Everyone in the bridal party always has a different view on what should be occurring during the hen’s party. A clash of ideas will nearly always occur between the bridesmaids. The results can be devastating. I’ve had one bridesmaid ring and book a hen’s party package, only to have another call from another bridesmaid in the same bridal party a few weeks later to tell me she is taking over the organizing of the event because the ‘other girl’ is no longer a bridesmaid!
And if you have price pointed incorrectly by overcharging guests to attend, you may find the people you ‘expected’ to attend wont attend. It’s not uncommon for the mother of the groom and aunties not to attend a hen’s party because they don’t agree with the price being charged.
Imagine being the bridesmaid having to tell the bride her future mother in law is not attending.
Events don’t always go to plan
Even the most well organised finely detailed events can turn into a disaster. If you have given the chief bridesmaid free reign to organise the wildest or ultimate hens party, remember you allowed this. Don’t be disappointed when you arrive at the hen’s party and its nothing to what you expected. And if your one of those brides who detests any nude entertainment make sure you convey this well in advance to your bridesmaids.
I’ve seen many a semi naked man been turned away at the front door by the bride, because she simply didn’t want a stripper or topless waiter at her hen’s party.
If you have an expectation of how your hens party should be…don’t place that expectation on your bridesmaid. Your better of organizing the event yourself. This will minimize any friction between bridesmaids and guests. Bridesmaids are there to support you on your wedding day and the lead up to the wedding. They are your support personnel, not your event coordinator or stylist.
I think the best hens party are the ones organised from a traditional view point. Nothing beats a casual afternoon catch up with friends and family at ‘mums’ house. Everyone brings a plate of food, some ‘fancy drinks’ are being made, the bride is being ‘showered’ with some gorgeous gifts for her new life as ‘man and wife’ and EVERYONE is having a great time.
Quality time is being spent with friends and family…. That’s what counts.