How to organise a hen weekend – Part 1
I’m coming into my 9th year of organising hen weekends. Between myself and the rest of the team we have so much experience we thought we would sit down and put together our own guide on how to organise a hen weekend.
This blog is our ramblings and advice about how to best organise a hen weekend. You might know some of the pitfalls, you might have fallen down some of them in the past, and it is very likely that not all of them are avoidable but here are our views on how to make it run as smoothly as possible.
You may be the hen or a bridesmaid and our advice covers both situations. They are different approaches with different pressures.
We tend to find with Hen weekends there are two different starting points and you may be one of these.
1. You are the bride, and you want to make sure you get the sort of send off you want. Leave nothing to chance and take control.
2. You are the bridesmaid/friend given the task of organising the event. No pressure!
The Brides Approach
So, if you are the hen there are also two different positions people come to us.
- You have been very organised, and have a clear idea of budget, group size and plan for the weekend.
- No one’s done anything and you are taking control.
Either way it’s often a good idea to start the ball rolling yourself. It’s not the traditional approach but there are several reasons why it’s a good idea as you are potentially the only person in the group who knows everyone and you will be best placed to come up with ideas and gauge what the group will like. Normally everyone will respond to you as it’s your hen, so your word should be final.
You will need to think about how to get the weekend to the position where you can hand it over. You are the key decision maker so you are in control.
So, we suggest the a planning session (obviously over a glass of wine) and in this session you need to work out the following:
- List of invitees
- How much people will want to spend
- Dates for the weekend
- Where you might want to go
- What you might like to do
- What you 100% don’t want to do
- Work out if you want to book it all direct or use a company to help
Your friends will know you well but having this knowledge will give them a good platform to start from and confidence you will be happy with the weekend. Once you have the answers to the above you can start looking into options.
This risk of not knowing all this information is you might start looking at packages which are £300 – £400 a head and no one in the group wants to spend more than £200. This is very common and causes a lot of problems further down the line. Also consider one night stays. If some of the girls have young children they might not be able to come for two nights so consider have a one and two night option.
Often the time of year or destination might determine the sort of things you do over the weekend. Outdoor activities like horse ridging or ‘It’s a knockout’ can be pretty miserable in December, but we get asked for them all the time.
Looking into options
So, the starting point for most people is the internet. The problem with this is there are so many companies out there who offer this sort of service. There are lots of good companies out there, unfortunately there are also a few that are not so great. Remembering the pressure you are under and that you are spending your friends money means you should do some due diligence on any company you speak to. Put in the time at this stage.
How to pick a company to work with.
The company website can be a really good indication of what sort of company they are. Pick one who has the right feel for you. If their site fills you with dread don’t contact them.
Also look for some sort of reassurance that they are trading legally. I know it’s boring and grown up but lots of companies don’t and your money may be at risk. Ask them when you speak to them if your money is safe, no company will mind this as they have to jump through a lot of hoops to become legal. If they can’t give you reassurance, or alarm bells start ringing don’t use them.
I personally believe that customer service is key. You want them to make your life easier, not harder. Ask them about their processes and terms & conditions. “what happens after booking?” and “What if someone in my group drops out?” are good questions. You don’t want to be tied into a company; you want to work with someone. Also, ask how much they know about the destinations and packages they offer. A company with good customer service should be able to advise you not just sell you a package.
Don’t assume that a package with one company is going to be the same experience as with another. There are lots of ways of cutting the costs out of a weekend like hotels being out of town and cheap suppliers. Unfortunately you tend to get what you pay for. Make sure you get all the information you can so you can check out the different suppliers online before booking anything.
Here is our list of things to check with the company before you book.
Flexibility – Can I change things after booking?
Deposits – How much and what happens if my group size changes?
Changes – Can I make them and is there a charge?
Experience – Have they been to the different destinations?
Knowledge – Does the person you are speaking to know about the packages?
Almost the most important question is – Do you like them or trust them? You have to trust them as they are going to be sorting out this weekend for you.
Use the company, that’s why they are there.
If you are going to use an organising company make sure you get a good deal. Ask for the deal at the start of the process. It’s amazing what might get included in the package for no extra charge.
Get their advice. Ask what the best options are. Every destination has some specific activities or hotels which make it special and they should be able to guide you to this packages.
Get as many options as you like. Don’t feel embarrassed about getting lots of quotes. Look until you find the right thing.
Remember you may need to compromise. If you don’t have the budget for exactly what you want you may have to cut back on some elements. Any good company will be able to advise you on this.
Always think of the company as a partner not a supplier. If you are engaged with someone and work through ideas you are much more likely to get exactly what you want. Be nice to them! I know you might be stressed but being nice will get you a lot further. Nice people normally get better packages, it’s true!!
In part 2 we cover what happens if you are the bridesmaid or maid of honour. We will also be running through and how to approach organising the weekend not using a company like Orchid City & Spa, and doing it all direct, and some of the pitfalls!