But all of these things pale into significance when compared to another duty … throwing a fabulous hen’s party worthy of their best girl. It’s an event that sits close to the heart of Gail Konstanciak, whose own adventures in wedding planning led her to set up Whimsy Chuffed, an online store that specialises in classy products for life’s big moment.
She offered some gorgeous and elegant ideas on how to make it unforgettable.
Create an avenue for adventure
There’s something deliciously decadent about sitting on a lounge drinking champagne and cocktails. And if that’s the kind of celebration your bride likes best, then that’s exactly what you should do. But, with the addition of a little competitive spirit, you can transform the celebration from enjoyable to unforgettable – and help guests work up a thirst in the process.
One idea many brides currently love is a hen’s party treasure hunt, where you divide your guests into groups – with appropriate badges and insignia, of course – and then send them off to find and/or collect a wide range of essential items on a checklist. As per normal, the first team to tick all the boxes wins.
So what could you include? Well, the best advice is to think of things that are a bit quirky. Say the signature of a man with a 1960s moustache, a croissant from a bakery or even a photograph of someone walking their dog. In short, be challenging but not impossible – this is supposed to be fun, remember?
Put a new spin on games
We all know about the kind of games you traditionally find at a hen’s party. Pin the veil on the bride, making a wedding dress from toilet paper, bridal bingo … the list goes on. And the reason these activities have lasted through decades of weddings is because they’re appropriate, inclusive and fun. But who wouldn’t want to up the ante?
Gail certainly would. And she knows exactly how to do it – with a funky innovation called hen’s party scratch cards.
Sourced from America, these DIY kits feature ready made greeting-style cards that come with a purpose-built space in which to write a message. After this is done, the words are then covered by an accompanying golden sticker, which guests can then scratch away.
The idea with the cards is you can use them in a variety of ways, say handing one out to the winner of each game, the idea being that only one will emerge as the ‘golden ticket’ with a fantastic prize. And yes, it can be something a little cheeky.
Help her look the part
There’s a massive difference between a bride-to-be who enjoys a little special attention and one who wants to be at the centre of it. Sometimes it’s about age, sometimes it’s about personality, and sometimes it’s about venue. Fortunately, there’s plenty of ways to cater for both.
For girls who are a little bit shyer, you can skip the traditional veil adornment and instead mark them with a gorgeous rosette that defines their status as a VIP without screaming it to the world. Pop matching designs on the bridal party and, among other things, you have great readymade photo props.
Meanwhile, for engaged girls who are a little bit more comfortable in the spotlight, a bride to be sash always goes down a treat, and is an absolute magnet for a few free cocktails if you settle down at a bar. The trick is to think classy colours and patterns, such as the golden starburst or elegant floral pattern available on Whimsy Chuffed. You know, the kind that will enhance, rather than draw attention away from, the woman of the hour.
Live past the moment
In amidst all the fun and games, sentimentality absolutely has its place at a hen’s party. This can be via the sharing of stories about the bride or, even more meaningfully, a look forward to her new life. Gail says one lovely idea is to make use of an I Do kit, which has ready made ‘wishes’ cards that are carefully stored in a tin and then a cloth bag. These invite guests to leave predictions such as “I hope you always…” and “I hope you treasure…”
One charming approach is to make a ceremony of it – asking everyone to find a chair before you supply them with a glass of bubbles and encourage them to spend 10 minutes filling theirs out thoughtfully. Depending on guest numbers, you could even give people two cards each – one to fill out from a heartfelt perspective and the other a bit more fun. With this approach, a question such as “I hope you always…” could be answered in two ways. Firstly, with a traditional approach, such as “I hope you always… remember how excited you were to discover he loved all the same classic movies as you” and then, for something cheekier, go with this: “I hope you always… let him get the last words in an argument. As long as those words are ‘Yes dear’.
Make it worthy of an online swoon
There’s a reason social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram are so popular – and that’s the fact people LOVE to look at beautiful photos. In fact you’d probably be hard pressed to find a bride who hadn’t set up a board or two with inspirations for her own big day. With this in mind, take the lesson to heart that appearances matter and put in the time and effort to create a beautiful space with real wow factor.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to do this. In fact Gail says it’s all in the details big and small. One of her favourite touches is Party Picks, which are small messages attached to toothpicks that you can insert into everything from cupcakes to macarons. They’re exactly the sort of thing you would see in an editorial wedding shoot, and help to elevate a sense of style.
Oversized balloons are also on trend right now, as are gorgeous tassels in hues ranging from pastel to metallic. Brides are also loving handmade celebration flags, which are attached to retro stripe and polka dot straws and have messages such as “hooray” and “hen’s party”. They look especially appealing sitting in a mini milk bottle full of Pimms or punch, again enhancing the idea that little touches can have a big impact.
Something else you can also never go wrong with is bunting, especially if it pays tribute to the woman of the hour. Other great decorative ideas include massive paper flowers in vases, mason jars filled with biscuits and candy and, of course, as many awesome but slightly embarrassing photos of the hen as you can find.
Send guests home with more than just their memories
Even more than at a wedding, where she shares the guest list with her groom, the hen’s party is the bride’s chance to celebrate with her very nearest and dearest. So take the opportunity to get photos galore.
One lovely idea would be to snap a bunch of images at the start of the fun, duck down to an office supply store and have copies printed on the spot to share with people as they leave. Another nice way to cap off the celebration in style would be with a beautiful favour – presented in exquisite packaging. You could opt for a gorgeous stiff paper bag tied with ribbon or even an elegant little cardboard box that’s just the right size for a treat such as a ripe pear, peanut brittle or the bride’s favourite chewy lolly.
Gail, whose online plans extend to a blog and beyond, explains she started Whimsy Chuffed with a small and carefully curated product list, which she intends to build up quickly such that she can become a one-stop shop for planning hen’s parties.
With her next big arrival to be photo booth props, she says she identified her niche in the market when planning her own wedding last year.
“We struggled to find the kind of nicer party accessories we wanted in Australia, and could see you really had to look to the UK and US, so we ended up ordering online,” she says. “This included a bride to be rosette (which is now in my store), but it didn’t arrive in time.
“And, when I thought about it afterwards, I realised that turnaround time was probably a pretty common issue.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Working in close cooperation with elegant handpicked suppliers such as Inklings Paperie (paper products), Wedding Banner Love (bunting) and Oh Squirrel (sashes) – most of whom have an Etsy store – Gail serves as an Australian stockist, where she’s able to offer a quick turnaround time on their beautiful wares because she keeps them in stock.
She says the lack of shipping delay allows for greater spontaneity.
“What you tend to find is that most people organising hen’s parties don’t even think about ordering accessories until 2-3 weeks out, which is usually too short when dealing with overseas suppliers. But because we have the products here, we can service them,” she says.
And, with some further opportunities for customisation, she says response has been positive about her upmarket approach, where a beautiful muted palette is driven by demand and availability, rather than any decision to avoid the bold and the beautiful.
“I think the age of the bride can certainly come into play with planning a hen’s party,” says Gail, noting two approaches. One, often targeted towards a younger bride, involves traditions such as risqué accessories, strippers and a wild night of drinking.
But for older women, she finds they’re often looking for something a bit more polished, such as a cooking class, a high tea, a day spa celebration or a degustation dinner with friends.
The most important thing is for the bridal party to remember who the day is really about.
“I think the secret to throwing a great hen’s party is to keep it true to the bride,” Gail says. “It’s about making sure the celebration is a reflection of her personality and interests and that it focuses on what she enjoys doing, rather than what the attendants may enjoy doing.”
It’s about creating a celebration that will long linger in her memories – for all the right reasons.
Here are five other great ideas for hen’s parties…
- A horseback adventure through the hinterland, complete with picnic lunch.
- A crafty DIY class – whether it’s making scrapbooks or even creating a photo board.
- A one-off book club meeting where everyone is asked to discuss their favourite romance novel, be it Mills & Boon or Mr Darcy.
- An aquatic adventure that involves dunking your head under, be it a snorkeling safari or even just a day waterskiing at a lake.
- A day at a spa that goes beyond massage to incorporate something you’ve never tried before, such as steaming or cupping.