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The Hen Do Planner’s Survival Guide

So it’s finally arrived. One of your best friend’s is about to tie the knot and has asked you to be a bridesmaid. Most of the time your duties are going to be focused on offering support or doling out the prosecco when the wedding stress gets a bit too much, but there’s one area where you can really go to town – the Hen Do.

Unfortunately, this isn’t Hollywood, it’s Ireland. Your biggest problem isn’t going to be contending with your growing feelings for Matthew McConaughey or getting your wedding planner back off James Marsden, but making sure no one forgets their passports and the Bride’s Aunty Kath doesn’t get so legless she’s not allowed on the plane.

But whether you’re ditching the traditional sashes and opting for a classier affair, or fully embracing the long, or not so long, legacy of phallic straws and inflatables, we’ve got a few tried and tested strategies to help you plan the best Hen Do for the bride to be.

Our Step by Step Guide to Planning the Perfect Hen-Do

1. Talk to the Bride

Hen Party Planning

In an ideal world, you want to keep the Hen Do a total surprise from the bride to be, but it’s important to talk to the bride to find out what’s most important to her for her Hen. The last thing you want to do is organise a boozy weekend away to Liverpool, just to find she’d rather keep it low key and close to home.

PRO Tip

Keep in mind the following questions to ask her:

  • Who do you want to invite?
  • Is there a budget we should work to?
  • Do you want to go abroad?
  • Do you have any dates we should avoid?
  • Do you have any definite no-nos?
  • Do you want to be involved in the planning?

2. Create an Invite List

Create an invite list for the hen party

Once you’ve got an idea from the bride, it’s time to create a list of invitees to get an idea of the scale of the party you’re planning. This is also a good time to get to know your audience. It might be an idea to work out who would prefer the Afternoon Tea to the After Party and see if you can split off the PG-rated events into one afternoon, so the less alcohol-inclined can make a graceful exit before the fun begins.

PRO Tip

Make sure you definitely get an input from the bride so you don’t miss out on anyone vital.

3. Save the Date

Ideally, you’ll be planning your Hen Do a good few months in advance, and keeping the date at least a few weeks before the big day itself, so guests have enough opportunity to book time off work and save money.

Get a few date ideas from the bride and offer a few options to the other hens, so you can decide on a date that the majority will be able to make. Rather than going the traditional email route and getting lost on who’s mother-in-law’s, cousin’s birthday is on October 3rd, try using a Doodle Poll. Stick up a few dates, get everyone to choose which dates they can do and Doodle will count up the majority winner.

PRO Tip

Make a list of VIP guests from the bride, that the hen party wouldn’t be the same without, so you can prioritise a date that best suits them all.

4. Set a Budget

Without any checks and balances, Hen Dos can become a bit spenny. Obviously, the budget for each Hen Do is going to be drastically different, from hometown heroes to blowouts in Vegas, but it’s essential that all hens are on the same page and a realistic budget is set from the outset.

Maintaining a balance between affordability and a special weekend can be a bit tricky, and it may have an effect on the attendees and the location, but communicating and keeping transparent about costing with your hen party should enable you to strike a happy medium between the two.

5. Set up a Group Chat

Whether it’s a secret group on Facebook or a group WhatsApp, get the other hens involved! This is a vital opportunity to let them know about the potential dates and what kind of budget they’re looking to be working with, so they can decide whether they can make it.

It’s also a good opportunity to get ideas and feedback about what you’ve planned so far, including finding out if any of the party have been banned from Carrick for life for bad behaviour on the last Hen Do.

6. Find a Location and Accommodation

Using the info from your bride and the responses from the hen party, you should start looking for locations and accommodation. Popular destinations like Carrick-on-Shannon get booked up early, so try and get this locked down as soon as possible.

Booking self-catering accommodation, or renting out a private Air BnB, might be a cheaper idea for larger parties.

7. Plan Activities

Now comes the exciting bit, the activities. Dependent on the bride, hen parties can range from the relaxing afternoon tea and spa days, to a boozy weekend on the town in Dublin. If you find the idea of booking separate activities overwhelming, you can choose from one of the many hen party activity packages out there – which more often than not include food, drink and nightclub entry when relevant.

But be careful not to overbook your weekend. Ultimately, all of the party is just there to have a good time and spend a weekend with the bride to be; hustling along your hens to back to back events with military precision is one of the quickest ways to kill a good time.

PRO Tip

Remember you’re never going to please everyone in the bridal party, so focus on what you feel would be in the bride’s best interest.

8. Transport

If the hen party is far away you don’t have to book the transport right away, but it’s always wise, especially if you’re flying to another country, to start getting approximate prices for any transport needed for the hens. Especially if some have to fly in from other countries for the occasion.

9. Become Monica

Channel your inner Monica

Even if you were more of a Rachael than a Monica, it’s time to embrace the inner colour coder and let your Monica freak flag fly. After you’ve finished finessing the larger details of the hen party and are ready to lock in things like the accommodation, it’s time to get organised.

Make sure all the hens are emailed out a breakdown of the final plans, including where their money is going, and that they all respond with confirmation. Keep notes on when deposits need to be paid and who they need to be paid by, and ensure you’re keeping the hen party up to date with any changes or advances in the planning.

PRO Tip

It might be a good idea here to offer some flexibility in the events to those who have expressed worry over the cost, or suitability of the events. If you’ve planned a weekend away but one of the hens can only make the Saturday, send her the details of those day specific activities so she can still be involved.

10. Show Me the Money, Honey

Money can always be a tricky subject to bring up, but if you’re clear on what your hens have to pay, by when, and where the money is going, you should be able to avoid the hassle of awkward conversations. Let the hens know as far in advance as possible and give them a clear indication of a payment timeline over the coming months, so they know how much to save and when by.

Late payments are inevitable, but booking with a credit card and giving hens an earlier deadline than necessary can mitigate the stress of chasing people down for the funds to pay on time.

11. The Finer Details

Wedding sashes

How fine your details are, are going to depend on the type of party you’re throwing. But after you’ve secured all the major priorities, you can focus on getting together all the little things that’ll make the hen party a hen party.

Team Bride swimsuits for spa days, decorations for the hotel room, sashes for the bride and accessories for games are good things to keep an eye out for and can be easily delegated out amongst the rest of the hen party.

PRO Tip

Surprise the Bride with a scrapbook of memories celebrating all your friendships, made up from photos contributed from the group.

12. Communicate

In the lead up to the weekend, make sure to keep in contact with the hen party and update them with any contact details, travel plans and necessary information, for example, bringing a swimsuit.

If you’re going abroad it might be wise to collect and share out a little travel pack, including information on the local area, language and customs, as well as a scheduled text for the night before reminding everyone to, please, remember their passport.

PRO Tip

Remember to have fun! Fingers crossed, this is your friend’s first and last hen party, so take some time and enjoy everything you’ve put together.