There's a dismal irony that the Hen Do - a supposedly spontaneous event, which celebrates a young woman's life in all its lewd and laudable glory - too often becomes a blueprint for the contrived and competitive adult life women are about to embark open.
Instead of saluting female youth with a night on the town that cements female relationships forever, as the storm clouds of responsibility rush in, 30-something women now choose to take a depressingly expensive, neurotically over-complicated, mind-bogglingly well organised, gender-based minibreak.
Pass through any remote, rural train station of a Friday night and you'll see at least one lone woman, with a wheelie weekend suitcase, and frightened look on her face, searching the middle distance anxiously for a taxi.
Hours later, she won't be downing shots and dressing the bride in toilet paper. Rather she'll be sipping mint tea in a cottage within walking distance of a spa and a lovely place in the Good Food Guide, over an M&S buffet, talking about 'no longer being able to handle hangovers'.
For those involved, the Hen Do has become a helpful illustration of what subsequent years of married life could be like. Here are the main take-home points...
1: You'll be obliged to take part in 'forced fun'
Yes, you've spent your 20s basically doing exactly as you like, but as the age of marriage appears, so come demands to take part in social activities, such as dull dinner parties, that you are utterly powerless to refuse, or face excommunication.
In the lead-up to the Hen Do, a woman you've often never met, will ask in breezy, passive aggressive tones, if you're In Or Out? And if you're in, to please send £200 by Friday. Otherwise there's no way she can confirm your place on the chocolate-making-mug-painting-pole-dancing lessons from 9am-5pm.
2: Your money will no longer be your own
You may whisper the chief bridesmaid's name with hatred whenever you look at your bank balance, but what till you enter adulthood proper. ALL your money will go to the God of Social Norms to go in the kitty of 'What Everyone Else Does'.
This is just basic training for the big league.
3: You'll always need scissors and glue in the house
Just as you'd assumed, you'd never become the kind of person who would visit Paperchase for anything other than hilarious cards, suddenly you're standing in the craft department, wondering how to best illustrate your DIY collage of your BFFs favourite moments.
Not only has the Hen Do forced you to enter grown-up land, magically it's also delivered a three-year-old daughter and she's demanding glitter.
4: Real adults are afraid of getting drunk
You might be spending the Hen Do weekend with women who have scaled lampposts at dawn, while totally battered, but suddenly, nothing will be as scary to these ladies as having a hangover.
Forget shots. You'll be lucky if you can get them to choke back an Irish coffee, after the seabass.
5: You'll be forced to socialise with people you don't know, or like.
If you're lucky enough to attend the Hen Do with a happy gang of friends, don't expect to stick together.
Early on, a hesitant newly-formed gang, who don't know you, or your little gaggle of school buddies, will attempt to stamp on your fun and assert the morbid mood of the office they've just escaped from - and in which they met your best mate.
They resent you, and you resent them. And you'll fill the awkward silences with discussions about how late in the day you can drink caffeine.
6: Your real friends will become strangers
You might expect to find solace from the mind-numbing 'What do you do?' conversations in your best friends. But they'll be so busy attempting to maintain the charade that their lives are mostly spent doing yoga, that all connections will be lost.
Suddenly, it's obvious that these special women, whom you utterly admire, are no stronger than the rest to resist the oppressive force of 'chit chat'.
7: You feel horribly guilty the whole time
The key to grown-up life is that no one is allowed to admit how much they hate it. Instead, we hide our boredom with social convention behind gritted smiles.
Get used to this feeling.
8: Men will always do what they want
Have you ever met a group of men who went 'chocolate making' for a stag do?
If you're finding Hen Dos are becomingly increasingly stiflingly, just say 'No'. That way, you'll still adore the bride on her special day, and you can down the free champagne and go mad for the disco, without worrying about what her work friends might think.
Weddings should be the beginning of something beautiful, romantic and hilarious. Avoid any situations that try and convince you otherwise.
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