So your best friend’s getting married. You’re the maid of honour and you’ve been entrusted with planning the hen do. You want to make it a weekend to remember. But organising a large group trip can be a headache. We’ve all heard horror stories of hen weekends abroad gone awry – missing brides, tantrums, run-ins with foreign police – but with a little careful planning, a hen do abroad can be the ultimate way to give the bride a send-off she’ll never forget. Follow these tips for stress-free trip planning and you’ll be well on the way to hen weekend success.
Ask the bride for the guest list well in advance, and make sure you have everyone’s phone numbers and email or Facebook contacts. Discuss a few potential dates with the bride, then send round a group message to scope out everyone’s availability. Give the guests plenty of notice so they can plan around work or family commitments. Select the date that works for most people, and make sure all the bride’s closest friends and family can make it. And don’t forget to leave enough recovery time before the wedding!
This can be a sensitive topic, and squabbles over money can cause rifts if not handled carefully. Avoid this by consulting with the bride and taking all the guests into consideration – you don’t want to price anyone out, especially not the most important hens. Make sure everyone is aware of the budget in advance to give people time to save if necessary and to avoid any nasty surprises further down the line.
Now for the fun part – choosing the destination! There are countless hen weekend destinations to choose from, so at first glance it can be a little overwhelming. As always, the most important thing to consider is what the bride wants. What sort of trip would she enjoy the most? A relaxing spa weekend or an action-packed adventure trip? A cultural city break or a sun-soaked beach getaway? Maybe even a European music festival? Talk over some ideas, then get online and do some research. If your budget is tight, search around for cheap flights and package deals – you can find some great bargains if you look far enough in advance.
Again, consider what the bride wants when planning activities. Is her idea of hen weekend heaven lying on a beach and being pampered? Or would she prefer to rent bikes and go on a cycling pub crawl? You know her best, so plan the activities around her. If some of the guests don’t know each other, it’s a good idea to organise an ice breaker to get people talking. This could be as simple as a silly game when you get to the hotel, or something more structured like a life drawing class – there’s nothing like a bit of nudity to get people chatting, after all! Research restaurants and plan dinner destinations in advance to avoid disagreements and keep things running smoothly. And don’t forget to factor in some down time – especially after big nights out.
Create an itinerary and circulate it to the guests in advance. Include details of meeting points, flights and accommodation as well as everyone’s contact details – this should prevent anyone from going missing while you’re away! Keep everyone in the loop in the lead up to the do to make sure all the hens know what’s going on and so that you can answer any questions.
It may sound obvious, but send round a message to make sure everyone’s passport will be in date when you travel. You don’t want to get to the airport and realise you have to leave one of the girls behind! Check your destination’s visa requirements well in advance – UK citizens don’t need visas for EU destinations, but if you’re heading somewhere far-flung and exotic you may have to get visas before you travel.
Encourage all the hens to take out a travel insurance policy before you go. This will protect you against missed or cancelled flights as well as lost baggage. If you’re planning any high-risk activities (apart from heavy drinking), make sure your policy covers this.
Check over your itinerary a few weeks before the hen weekend to see if any of your planned activities need particular equipment or clothing, or if anywhere you’re going has a dress code. Send round a message to let the hens know what they need to bring. If you’ve planned any fancy dress nights or games that require any bits and bobs to be brought along don’t forget to include this in the message!
Check exchange rates in advance and consider exchanging a stock of cash before you leave – you’ll usually get a better exchange rate than you would at the airport, and there are often extra fees involved if you draw money out from ATMs abroad. Remember that credit card companies often charge extra fees for using your card overseas, and credit card payments to overseas suppliers may not be protected.
So the big day’s arrived. Your bikini, high heels, and hilarious personalised T-shirts are all packed. The bride is tipsy already and you’re all jetting off to your perfect hen weekend destination. If you’ve followed our tips for fuss-free hen do organisation, the hard work should be out of the way – and now all that remains is for you and the girls to have as much fun as possible! That shouldn’t be difficult, but there are a few things to consider while you’re away. Be a responsible traveller – do a bit of research into local customs and traditions to make sure you don’t offend anyone, and learn a few words of the local language. Even if it’s just ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you’, the locals will appreciate you making a bit of effort and may be much friendlier!
Wherever you go and whatever you do, a hen do abroad is sure to be super special. With a bit of careful organisation the weekend should go off without a hitch – just remember to take lots of photos to embarrass the bride with afterwards!