First-Time Bridesmaid: How to Plan the Perfect Hen Party

If it’s your first time being a bridesmaid, that means you’ve got the special — if daunting — task of planning your BFF’s hen party. Organising a trip on this scale is a huge undertaking, and comes with a lot of responsibility, but it’s comforting to know you’ve been trusted with it. Besides, hen parties are a fun way for the bridal party to let their hair down before the big day, so while it may seem stressful as you’re prepping everything, it’ll all be worth it when you’re there, and there’s nothing a glass of wine can’t fix.

Before you start planning anything, ask the bride how involved she wants to be in the process. After all, she’ll most likely have her own ideas for the trip, from the location and who to invite. You could arrange every aspect yourself, which could take a fair amount of time, or get a company to do it for you. For example, hen do party organisers like Maximise can put your entire weekend together based around where you want  to go, and which activities you definitely want to get involved in, making everything a little more hassle-free for you. However you decide to organise your bestie’s hen do, this guide should help you get started.

Before you book

First things first, get the logistics out the way.

Before any real planning begins, confirm the guest list and the duration of the trip with the bride — at least four to six weeks before the event if you can. This lets people organise their calendars accordingly, and ensures you can make sure everyone’s available, like the bride’s oldest school friend who no one else has ever met.

Getting an idea of numbers and checking whether everyone can make the specified dates also allows for the hens to make arrangements around work or childcare. But don’t worry, this is the last time real life will get in the way of the fun!

Set a budget

Factoring in what your guests can afford to contribute to the trip is a key element of deciding how to plan a hen do. The costs should fit everyone’s financial situation, so consider how much everyone can afford and make it fair. Costs can easily spiral out of control if you don’t set a strict budget, so always remember that what might seem affordable to one guest might not be for another.

Your budget should be figured out before any research goes into the destination, accommodation or activities, as everything that happens on your trip will be dictated by how much money everyone can spend. The average cost of a hen do abroad, according to, is £998, while choosing a UK location will only cost £464.

Choosing a date and location

Make sure to pick a date that every invitee can attend — this might mean a bit of rearranging, so try to give everyone a shortlist of dates, as it’s likely at least one guest will be busy on any given weekend. Allow plenty of time for everyone to book time off work, and choose a date as close to payday as possible.

It’s best to have the hen party at least a month before the wedding to give everyone enough time to recover, and so that the bride can avoid being too far from home, should she need to make any last-minute wedding adjustments.

Once a date has been chosen, it’s time to pick a destination. See if the bride has any preferences when it comes to whether or not to stay in the UK or go abroad, though the latter will obviously require more time, planning and money. With so many hen party locations to choose from, the key is to pick somewhere that’s suitable for everyone. For instance, those with children, or on a limited budget, might prefer to stay somewhere closer to home. Wherever you choose, think about the weather, and look into whether your hen party will coincide with peak tourist season.

Picking activities 

A hen party isn’t complete without a full schedule of activities—although it’s a given that you’ll be drinking cocktails in the evening, it’s good to have some fun things organised during the day. Make sure to plan activities that will suit every party guest, especially if there’s a diverse group coming along. The bride most likely has friends from all walks of life, some of whom might prefer a more relaxed schedule to others, so pick activities that will keep everyone happy, otherwise you might have a split party.

Afternoon tea or a spa day might be more appropriate if the bride has older family members attending — a state of affairs which also saves her from worrying about the surprise arrival of a stripper. Meanwhile, for those seeking adventure and thrills, indoor skydiving, go-karting, or escape rooms will all fit the bill, and if you want to party hard, you’ll find plenty of boozy activities, like wine tasting, brewery tours or cocktail making, wherever you go.

When choosing activities, don’t go overboard. Be realistic about timings, avoid squeezing in too much, and give guests plenty of time in between to get ready and recover. And remember to check in with the bride as she might have some definite no-no’s for some activities, like quad-biking or strippers. Although, you may be able to convince her otherwise, as long as the quad bikes aren’t too muddy and the stripper is kept a secret. 

Where to stay and transport

If you’re out all day exploring and drinking, you’ll need somewhere suitable to recover afterwards. What kind of accommodation you go for depends on the kind of hen party you’re having. For instance, if you want a quiet, intimate affair with a few of the bride’s closest friends then a rented farmhouse in the countryside might be ideal, especially if you’re staying in the UK. However, if your itinerary is packed with exploring the city, meals out and activities, then a hotel or Airbnb will be a better option. If you’re heading abroad, try to shop around for a package deal that incorporates flights as well as a hotel.

You should also consider how you’re going to get around. If you’re going abroad, you’ll need to book a transfer to and from the airport, which should be done in advance so you don’t waste any valuable party time trying to find a taxi, and be sure to factor the costs into the budget. This equally applies to any transport you take during the trip, especially to get you to each activity. See what trains and buses are available, but remember to carry a little extra cash for a taxi with you, just in case you end up stranded with a dead phone battery.

Set up a group chat

Setting up a group chat with all the hens will ease the stresses of planning, giving you a simple way to arrange dates, budgets and activities, as well as get to know each other. Instead of having several conversations or sending mass emails, a group chat lets you organise everything with everyone in one place. It also lets everyone contribute their own ideas and suggestions for the trip, as well as giving you a place to share all the drunken photos and memories once the hen party is over.

Anabel Cooper

Anabel is a graduate of King’s College London and upon graduating, she set out on a journey to inspire and empower women through her words. Besides working as a digital marketing expert, Anabel is a freelance copywriter.