Mention a hen party and certain images spring straight to mind. And its not a pretty picture. Typically it involves the following: tacky t-shirts, inflatable willies, serious alcoholic over-consumption and raucous behaviour. Then you imagine most of the general public trying to avoid these groups whilst the party tries to show the world it is having the most fun ever.
The scene is pretty similar for stag dos of course. But it seems the tide is turning. Ahead of wedding season earlier this year, a bride-to-be and her party were thrown off their flight for their offensive t-shirts alone, despite protesting their ‘respectable’ status and before any shenanigans had begun. These days people are more likely to dread attending these dos and even to decline to go. And as more younger generations are drinking less, the taste for these ‘traditional’ pre-wedding parties is waning.
What’s changed? Modern hen becomes post modern…
The concept of the modern hen associated with these hen parties is a mid-70s creation, but times have changed. People are getting married older. Attitudes to equality, gender and what it means to be married are more open and therefore the purpose of the hen party has evolved. Hen parties are moving towards being a start of the wedding celebrations and a simple chance for close friends to take quality time together and chill. So ladies, we can now relax and take part in some genuinely enjoyable activities.
The trend is for hen experiences that are more personalised and activity companies like Fizzbox are responding to this by providing loads of choice and things to do. Popular options include taking a cocktail-making masterclass with your friends, a step away from simply seeing how many shots can you down in a row. Generally today’s hens are becoming more interested in spa breaks or enjoying private celebrations in a country house weekend, or experiences that are different and memorable such as an indulgent afternoon tea, luxury chocolate truffle making and the like.
So if you are looking for something different and vomiting in a veil isn’t your thing, here is a range of diverse activities you could consider.
Make your own jewellery
It’s a chance to learn a new skill and be creative, with a shiny outcome you can wear! During the session you can sit around with your great friends in a relaxed environment sharing ideas and helping each other out. There’s a real sense of achievement from designing, cutting, shaping and soldering to make your own finished piece. Typically this will be a charm, ring or similar made from silver or possibly copper, gold or beaded crystals. The London Jewellery Workshop is a good option in the capital, but if you don’t fancy London, there are many in other towns and cities.
Join the circus – for a day
You may not quite make it to the crew of Cirque du Soleil, but this is an active option that will be a first for most people. Listed in The Times top trends, you can usually tailor the session to your group’s ability and level of fitness. It’s great for team spirit and plenty of giggles as you learn aerial skills and poses with slings, silks, hoops and trapezes. Flying Fantastic is based in London, but there are places opening up in Brighton and other cities.
Roller your way to a blast from the past
If you still fancy a bit of night life, but with a bit of a challenge and more memorable, then try Roller Nation and do it all with wheels on your feet. This North London venue opened its doors early this year offering a purpose designed space for roller heaven. 80s gear is optional but the glitter balls will be spinning overhead. If you are based in London you can even sign up for roller classes in advance.
Experience a Japanese ceremony
This is for those who fancy a calm experience whilst immersing themselves in a very different culture. At a Japanese Kimono party, you’ll all dress in the elegant traditional outfits along with kanzashi (traditional antique hair ornaments specific to kimono), you’ll practice a bit of calligraphy and learn your name in Kanji. You can also opt for a Japanese tea ceremony, Geisha dancing or sushi making extras. Takayo is a popular option based in London.
A yoga retreat is pretty much the antithesis of the traditional hen, and for precisely this reason it will appeal to some. It’s healthy, spiritual, energising and often in a beautiful location. There are plenty of options to suit all tastes and budgets. Yoga Brunch Club run fun sessions that start with a yoga session and end with a feast. Or you could head away for a few nights utter tranquility with a retreat from the likes of Ottilie Wellness.
The hen and stag parties of old are still around and can be seen in cities around the world on Saturday nights. But its happily true that a hen party today does not have to be all learner signs and pink tutus.