Published on Feb 25, 2010
Always the bridesmaid never the bride, is an adage that might make some girls feel uncomfortable but not me. At 31, I’m still happy to be an extra, part of the ensemble, I don’t need to be the star, well, not quite yet anyhow. And yes, while I like weddings (God, I’ve been to enough of them to be a fully paid-up member of the Wedding Planners Association), what I really enjoy is the build-up, with my absolute favourite being the Hen Night.
Between last Christmas and the one just gone, I have been to — wait for it — eight hen nights! I consider last year to be the apex of my hen night career, beating the year before by five weddings alone. This year though, I have my sister Loraine’s wedding in September in Barbados and that’s it. Quite simply, I’ve run out of marriageable friends but never one to be daunted, I can already see my new career as a Baby Shower supremo beckoning.
So, last year the wedding dates went like this: – May 2 (Amanda & David); May 30 (Caitlin & Henry); July 11 (Lesley & Phil); August 2 (Clare & Simon); August 15 (Gino & Gabriel); September 19 (Lisa and Ben); September 26 (Stella and Michael); December 12 (Rolf and William). The corresponding Hen dos (all held in the UK) went like this: – April 17 -19; May 15-17 ; June 20-21; June 26-28 (UK) ; August 8 (UK) ; September 5-6; September 20; December 4-6.
So what is it about Hen Parties that I adore? Well, I’m just sorting out my photo albums and I’m going to relive my ultimate year of hen nights just for you.
1.Amanda & David
Wedding May 2
Hen celebration: Friday April 17-19
I have known Amanda since we were at university as we shared a flat in the Halls of Residence, and it was at University that she met David. They both live and work in London but had their wedding back at Amanda’s parents home where she grew up in Kirby Lonsdale in the Lake District.
Of all my friends, Amanda is the most alternative. She is a non-fish eating vegetarian, is really fit and works as web-designer and a yoga teacher. She’s also a great cook and I have often spent long lazy Sunday afternoons eating fantastic food and drinking gorgeous wine at her and David’s flat.
I was the maid of honour at her wedding that meant that not only was I fully engaged in wedding preps but it was also my duty to organise the Hen Night!
Amanda’s is my most favourite Hen Weekend ever and from it I got the reputation as being the event organiser amongst my friends.
For Amanda’s Hen Weekend, 16 of us, including Amanda’s mum Janice and David’s step-mum Valerie, all wanted to do something different and memorable. While we wanted to wanted to eat great food and have maybe stylish cocktails, we wanted to do something more than just dressing-up and sitting down at a large table in a restaurant on a Saturday night. We wanted fun but do something that we could all enjoy and learn together.
In the end, after a great deal of research, and the help of a stag and hen specialist, we ended up booking a huge country house for the weekend down on the South Coast, enabling us all to arrive at various times from the afternoon onwards on Friday.
We all decided that we’d like to chill-out on the Friday night – and have a really great pyjama party! We designated cooks for the evening and everyone contributed food and drink. Then, on Saturday after lunch, two mini-buses came out to get us, and took us to a recording studio, where we dressed-up, danced and made our own absolutely brilliant pop video.
If you’ve never been to a pop-video party you don’t know what you’re missing! It was absolutely the best fun ever, and once everyone got into the spirit of it, helped by the champagne on arrival, it was amazing to see the hidden talent that lurked within – especially Amanda’s mum – who could do a really mean hand-jive. I don’t think any of us have ever laughed as much. The pop video party really bought us together as a group, as not everyone knew each other that well.
With this particular pop party, what we got with the package was the exclusive use of a studio, a camera man and sound engineer, a choreographer plus a professionally edited DVD that we got a couple of weeks after the party, which, I might add was played at the wedding much to the delight of everyone there (including David who until that moment hadn’t seen what we’d been up to during our hen celebrations).
Once we’d decided that we were going to book the pop-video experience, we then had to between us decide on the music we wanted to sing along to, and then what costumes we would use, as clients have to provide their own make-up and costumes. We decided that we’d like to do reinvent the musical Grease and dress up as the pink ladies that was pretty easy to do. All we needed was for everyone to dress-up in 1950s clothing, and we all wore pink cardigans that we had digitally printed with the Pink Ladies logo.
It was an absolute hoot, not least because the night before in our PJs, we all watched the movie together to prepare ourselves for the day ahead. So expectations were high as well as a fair amount of trepidation.
The whole hysterical experience lasted for just over two and a half hours which might not sound that long, but believe me, it’s absolutely sufficient. We were exhausted but elated, I just felt sorry for the mini-bus drivers who collected us afterwards who had to endure our collective singing/screeching all the way back to our country house in our pink lady outfits!
Back at base, we all settled into serious cake eating as we had all bought amazing home -made cakes to munch- mostly of the chocolate variety. Then much needed rest time, baths, showers and then dressed-up to the nines we were picked up again by our mini-buses at 7.30pm to be taken to a fantastic restaurant recommended to us by the stag and hen specialist, where in a lovely private dining room we ate really tasty modern European food and drank far too many delectable cocktails.
On the Sunday, we were all pretty exhausted, and so we were really thankful that we had booked a relaxing spa session. We had pre-booked Amanda a surprise Indian head massage and aromatherapy body treatment, but even if you hadn’t booked any specialist treatments just resting on recliners round the pool area, reading the glossies, visiting the Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna, and enjoying a lovely healthy light lunch was just what we all needed.
Some went straight on home from the spa, while some of us returned to the house, to pack and clear before we set off home, totally relaxed and delighted by such a fantastic weekend of friendship, fun and celebration, and excitement in the knowledge that within 14 days we’d see ourselves like never before, as bonafide pop stars!
Till next time…