Whether you’re a chief bridesmaid charged with organising a fabulous hen’s night – or a generous girlfriend trying to ensure your favourite bride has a truly memorable final fling before her big day, holding a hen’s party is about so much more than hiring a stripper or ordering lots of cocktails.
In fact, pulling off a great hen’s night is something of an art, one that requires imagination, organisation and, most importantly, understanding that some brides-to-be don’t want strippers and cocktails.
“I’ve organised dozens of hen’s nights (and thousands of events) and can tell you that every bride – and every client – is different,’’ says Kara Fraser, co-founder of Secret Womens Business, a Melbourne-based events company specialising in creating hen’s nights that are as naughty or as nice as a bride wants.
“You can’t use a formula, certainly not for something as personal as a bride’s hen’s night. You must consider her personality, what she enjoys doing, the make-up of her guest list and, most importantly, what she wants from her hen’s night.
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“Do that and you’re guaranteed to pull off a fantastic hen’s night that the bride will remember for many years to come.”
Kara, who has worked in Australia’s events industry for more than 20 years, describes herself as someone “who is ridiculously organised but knows a thing or two about throwing a good party,” adding that it’s a perfect combination for her line of work.
She says that even if you’ve never organised an event before, by listening to the bride’s wishes, being organised and having a backup plan, you’ll inevitably run a fabulous hen’s party.
But, despite her advice, the thought of organising a hen’s night is, often, terrifying to so many, which is why, Kara says, she and three fellow hospitality veterans decided to pool their skills – and their more than half a century of shared experience – to set up Secret Womens Business.
The company, which kicked off last year, takes a different spin on hen’s nights, offering themed events, such as Arabian Nights, which offers a Moroccan themed evening (right down to the tarot reader and Moroccan martini handed to guests on arrival) and the Mat Hatter’s Tea Party package, which kicks off with a classic high tea, massages and a hat for each guest.
Of course, Secret Womens Business also offers ‘traditional’ hen’s nights, complete with strippers, topless waiters and cheeky hen’s games, “but that’s not for everyone,’’ says Kara.
Oh, and if your bride isn’t a girly girl, she might prefer the Paintballing Princess packages, which allows the bride and her maids to get down and dirty.
“The trick to organising the perfect hen’s party is to think about the bride and what she wants and likes,” says Kara who has run everything from small restaurants and bars to some of Australia’s best-known events, including Melbourne’s famed Desperate and Dateless balls, a well as music festivals hosting more than 10,000 patrons.
Kara says that among the most important skills required when organising a hen’s night is the ability to plan ahead and to be a little creative.
“Not every bride wants strippers, but lots of brides do, so there are plenty of choices when it comes to activities.
“Don’t worry about a theme, you could have a lawn bowls high tea, a murder mystery hen’s party, a day out with the girls at a spa or even a trip to the footy, if that’s what your bride likes,” adds Kara whose business also runs girl’s nights out for birthdays and work functions.
The person organising your hen’s night should also have some sort of structure or running order in mind because, though landing up at a bar and planning to dance the night way can be loads of fun, you want it to be truly special.
They also need to be flexible, someone who can roll with the punches when things go wrong or change, as they inevitably will.
“If you’re organising a hen’s party and, perhaps, the stripper doesn’t turn up, or the drinks run out, the you need to be able to deal with those situations as quickly as possible and solve them.
“Follow those simple steps,’’ says Kara “and your hen’s party will run beautifully – and memorably – and, if any little hiccups do occur, well, the bride will never even know!”
Kara’s top tips for organising a hen’s night
1) Send out Save the Dates or figure out how many people will be coming, as well as a date that suits best. This is crucial. Do this before you start looking at themes or venues.
2) Work out a basic structure but be sure to include a few surprises the bride doesn’t know about. Be sure to include a few fun things that will make her night.
3) There are no rules when it comes to organising a hen’s night. You can be as inventive as you want. There’s nothing you have to do! You’re never going to be able to please everybody so, when in doubt, go with a theme or celebration that the bride and her maids are going to think is awesome!
4) That said, do keep your guests in mind. too. If, for example, there will be a few older relatives attending but the bride wants a bit of a naughty hen’s party, too, hold something like a high tea in the afternoon and, once the older guests leave, the party can continue in the manner the bride wants. The bride doesn’t have to sacrifice her fun, she just needs to be a little flexible.
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