Next week I will embark on a rite of passage known to almost all women in these parts as ‘The Hen Party’. I’m nervous.
Part of me can’t believe I’m old enough to be having my own hen party. When I was younger I looked at hens as something that happened to crazy older women with peroxide hair and leopard skin dresses. And bad pink lipstick.
When I think of hen parties I see raucous women, filled with tart fuel, falling over cobbles and kissing strippers. I see learner signs and veils and willy straws and limousines and nightclubs and shots and ass pinching and heads flying back with cackled laughter. It’s a bloody nightmare. And I can’t wait.
Of course, mine will be a classy affair. That’s what all hens say these days. ‘I’m not wearing any tack.’ Yeah right. Once you get on that hen train, there’s no going back. More tack, more craic. And you WILL drink through a willy straw.
In the lead up to the hen, there has been much planning and organising, mainly thanks to my super chief organiser bridesmaid, who has the authority and intelligence to herd a group of clucking hens together in a nice way.
First you pick the destination. In a year of many friends’ weddings, this has to be different to all the other hen parties you’ve been to in recent times and a place where as a group of friends you haven’t been already. In Ireland, that rules out most of the major cities and commutable destinations.
Next, you pick a time frame. Avoiding major events like weddings, other hen parties and significant birthdays results in the date.
Then, the list. Ooooo the list. Worst than the wedding list is the hen list. Asking a line of females to come away with you for the guts of three days seems more of a commitment than the actual wedding itself. Do they like me enough to do that? Surprisingly, I found a rake of women, who do!
Relief sets in when the list is confirmed. And then you ask for the money. Hens are expensive business. Hotels, booked meals, private buses, strippers. It all adds up. Since when has a knees up to wish your good girlfriend well on her married life become a mini holiday with a flight to Majorca price tag?
References to hen parties have been traced back to the late 19th century (according to Wikipedia anyway, obviously I haven’t done any REAL research). On 18 December 1897 The Deseret News, a newspaper based in Utah, US, refers to the ‘time honoured idea that tea and chit chat, gossip and smart hats constitute the necessary adjuncts to these particular gatherings.’ Tea, chit chat, gossip and hats; my favourite!
Can you imagine a gaggle of 19th century ladies attending a modern day hen party? I know for sure, that some of my friends would far rather attend a 19th century afternoon tea than the nightclub leg of my hen party. And for this reason, we have introduced afternoon tea to my celebratory affair. I told you I was classy.
And so as I write, I look at the clock and realise that in one exact week from now, I will be slap bang in the middle of said hen party. I will report and offer my goddess advice as always on return. For the meantime, here are my tips for planning the hen, from the bride’s point of view:
1) PR dahling
Ensure your chief organiser is a trained PR events person. If she isn’t, immediately down grade her and find someone who is. There’s loads of them around these days!
2) Handy is not dandy!
Pick a destination you would like to have your hen party in. Don’t be swayed by urges to stay at home and go to your local nightclub
3) We are family
Invite your family and get them involved. If you’re lucky enough to have your Mum around, they LOVE this kind of thing
4) My dog ate my invitation
Be clear from the start about what the costs and timeframe will be. Let people know it’s ok not to come to the hen party. The last thing you want to do is force people to celebrate
5) Planned fun, no thanks hun
Introduce an element of fun but try not to be too restrictive. If you are doing fancy dress (like me) don’t have a theme; that way people can wear costumes they may already have, without having to go to expense
6) Pack painkillers. That is all.
Cluck cluck for now!