So, your good friend tells you she’s getting married - her boyfriend or girlfriend has FINALLY proposed. This is the day you’ve all been waiting for. Wedding is ON! You ooh over the ring, you dab away a non-existent tear at the tale of the path of rose petals and candles/ring attached to the collar of a new puppy/helicopter proposal over the Mojave desert, and you exclaim loudly about how romantic it all is; yadda yadda, we’ve got it.
Cue the excited pause; what about the hen party?
Yes, hen party season is well and truly underway. Unless you yourself are the chosen maid of honour (or, in line with the modern times we live in, chief bridesmaid, because let’s face it - there ain’t many honourable maids left, hun) then this is the beginning of a long, drawn-out, rage-inducing process. To add insult to injury, it’ll likely cost you more than a deposit on a one-bed flat in Zone 2.
If you are the chief bridesmaid, congratulations - you’re the one lumped with planning the hen party, a task very few of us would gladly or willingly choose to take on. Why not? Because it involves shepherding, cajoling and manipulating a stubborn group of sassy women in to departing with vast sums of cash for an array of increasingly bizarre activities.
There’s something about a hen party that makes both the chief bridesmaid and the bride herself completely and totally lose all rational thought and sanity, no matter the pledges taken beforehand:
BRIDE: I won’t be Bridezilla! I just want my friends to all enjoy themselves and not be bankrupted for little old me! Something small, something local, something modest!
CHIEF BRIDESMAID: We’ll make this so lovely for you, it’ll be exactly as you want it to be and it’ll feel so personal and memorable! We’ll keep costs to a minimum, everyone knows expensive hen parties are the worst!
Yup, these platitudes go right out of the window. Chief bridesmaid immediately creates a WhatsApp group and a Pinterest board and experiences for the first time the soaring, giddying, Trump-esque power of being solely in charge of everything. You can see the mad glint in her eye in the group profile picture, a selfie of her in a chief bridesmaid t-shirt wearing a pink tiara. ‘This is it,’ she thinks, ‘My moment to shine! This will be THE hen party to end ALL hen parties - this will go down in HISTORY! People will be talking about this for YEARS!’
News of the rapidly escalating plans often reach the ears of the once-modest bride; does she do anything to save her friends from bankruptcy? Does she bollocks. “This is the PRE-WEDDING! All of these people focusing just on little old me! Forget the groom, this weekend is MINE!’ she thinks to herself as she closes her eyes and envisages being carried on a golden, bejewelled throne towards a palm tree-lined beach in some far-flung sun-kissed destination.
And thus, the modern-day hen party is upon us.
The first few days of the WhatsApp planning are all fun and games - ideas are bandied around, destinations suggested, opinions and half-formed plans flying everywhere. Chief bridesmaid starts to panic as the reality of the task starts to form, and the well-laid plans in her head are under immediate threat.
And oh, the plans. Lord, the plans. Dublin. Manchester. Benidorm. Edinburgh. The Cotswolds. A long weekend, a short weekend, a 4-day midweek mini break. Shit, wait, are any teachers coming? Probably. Has to be school holidays, then. Has to be. Does it, though? Fuck the teachers, we deserve a cheap holiday. No, wait, the bride is a teacher. Balls.
Remember your friend’s mate from uni, Sara? Really quiet and agreeable? Not anymore, pal, she has an opinion on everything from the size of the plastic willy straws to the Fruit of the Loom t-shirt someone suggests getting printed for the obligatory Team Bride get-up.
Meanwhile, chief bridesmaid is developing bald patches where she’s starting to pull her hair out in frustration, fielding queries and tackling challenges right, left and centre - Charlotte can only come for one night; Louise is, like, totally skint, and wants to bring her own bread and beans for the weekend; Amber wants to know if her boyfriend can come.
Half of the crowd want to know, “Why are we going on a big night out, shouldn’t we just stay in and make cocktails and whack a playlist on the Spotify?” Whilst the other half clamour, “Let’s make this an absolute BANGER, let’s go to that nightclub that’s open til 7am - they serve kebabs through a hatch straight on to the dancefloor, LET’S GO!” No wonder chief bridesmaid is spiralling in to her own personal hell.
I am sure, back in the day (by back in the day I’m referring, of course, to some point in the early 80s) that it used to be a hen night - emphasis on night. A cheery affair down the local nightclub, called Cameo or Envy or The Frontier, bedecked in L plates and scarily flammable veils, sugary luminous cocktails in hand, terrifying the local guys. And women. And pets. Now, if it’s any less than a full-blown fully Instagrammed wheelie-suitcase break, is it even a hen party? Are you even getting married?
All you want to do on a hen party is, for the most part, get pissed with your pals; everything else is a pre-cursor to doing just that. So why, then, are so many off-the-shelf activities targeted at hen parties so fucking insane? Do you want to crochet in a yurt whilst being serenaded by a folk singer with a guitar, being bitten to shit by midges? No. Do you want to be trudging around a northern city in the pissing rain trying to find a potato that looks like the groom? No. Do you want to make a penis out of plasticine? Well, actually, maybe, but you don’t need a three hour masterclass in doing so. Do you want to spend the national debt of Bolivia on afternoon tea at Harrods? Abso-fucking-lutely not.
Essentially, we want our friend, the bride, to have a great time. We want her to enjoy herself and have a truly memorable time with her nearest and dearest before the big day. Luckily, most petty grievances and spats work themselves out before everyone descends raucously on a Ryanair flight to the Costa del Cava, and the bride can relax knowing there’s an epic weekend in store for her. If this involves a life drawing of a naked, tubby man with a sad, wrinkled bit of tackle and uncontrollable pubic hair then so be it. Shelling out £500 each for the hen party is, at the end of the day, a small price to pay for your friend’s happiness...
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