Saturday, 9 April 2011

H is for hen nights (hilarious, humiliating or heart-warming?)

I don’t think there’s enough of the ‘heart-warming’ in hen nights these days. 

Last night I went on a mammoth 3-hen ‘bride off’ and had the most hilarious night. Beautifully organised with plenty of competitive games, decorative costumes and generous prizes for the winning team; the Chief Hen. Brilliant. 

However, I felt like there was something poignant and powerful missing. We didn’t spend any time listening to their stories, hearing about the men involved or painting a picture of what’s to come. 

So it got me thinking about what a hen night is all about. And what it should be. 

It strikes me that this occasion is the one opportunity to show your friend, the bride-to-be, how much you think of her, how much you’ll miss her when things change in her life and wish her luck for the adventures ahead. 

So how can you do that? And how can you do it in a way that uplifts the bride, leaving her feeling proud, loved and excited rather than hung-over with deep regrets?

There’s a fine line between hen night hilarity and hen night humiliation. When I see gaggles of girls out forcing the bride-to-be into situations they’re obviously uncomfortable with, I feel a sense of shame. Yes, let’s go out and have a brilliant night, a crazy night, a lot of laughs and fun. But no, let’s not use it as an excuse to force punishments onto the hen that we ourselves would hate to suffer. 

Perhaps I’m too reflective. But for me, I believe hen dos should be about the celebration of friendship and looking forward to a new chapter in life. 

I don’t believe that has to end with tacky costumes, crude jokes or male strippers. However, if that’s what the hen enjoys, then of course that can be completely appropriate and lots of fun. 

On the other hand what about a day of cake-making, a spa holiday, dancing lessons, or a home-cooked meal with all the friends around the table having good conversation; what about a theatre trip, a Red Letter day, an action assault course or museum visits?

One thing’s certain, pre-wedding celebrations should be completely tailored for the bride in question. And perhaps it doesn’t matter where you go as much as how you spend the time with the people you love.

What does a hen night mean to you? And what would you plan for your best friend?

Final thought: I think we need a new name. ‘Hen’ versus ‘Stag’ parties certainly seems stuck in social stereotypes. How else could we celebrate this momentous occasion and refer to our brides?
Ideas please!

  • Blog challenge status: 9 days in, 8 posts down; 18 to go!
  • People watch status:  Still feeling completely inspired by the challenge, by all the positive comments and about the great community out there. Finding the every day blog challenging, but enjoying exploring what works/ what doesn't/ and developing techniques to complete the challenge successfully.


  1. I agree with the blog challenge status. It is really nice to have a project, a starting point for inspiration. Around here 'Hen Nights' are called Bachelorette Party. I didn't have one, I had not interest in that sort of thing for years before I got all the wild out already. I went to one party where I was invited just to fill out the numbers. I had only met the woman once. It was 4 people and very dull and sad.

  2. I guess these parties are different around the world, granted it is awhile since I have been to one. We called them Bachelorette parties, never heard the term Hen party before. Maybe I am just out of date, but from what you have written it sounds horrible. I am used to the bride saying what kind of party she wants and her best mate giving it to her. Funny post, funny world, funny times.

  3. Well said. How about 'a Gaggle of Women' and how about we don't restrict them to celebrating upcoming nuptials. On the other hand, some of my young friends are pretty wild and seem to have no shame. Whatever suits your fancy.
    Thought provoking post especially as my soon to be daughter in law is getting closer to her own hen party. I suspect she may not want this ancient matriarch hen (me) there to observe!

  4. I had never heard of a hen night until now. Took me a bit to see you meant a bride's bachelorette night out.

    I have seen some clips, talk shows, movies, and et. cetera of some of the hens night out and I am afraid I wouldn't want the "chick" after some of those "parties."
    Gregg Metcalf
    Colossians 1:28-29

    Gospel-driven Disciples

  5. I have never heard this called Hen Night either. We use Bachalorette Party. I am also quite happy that we have been changing them up a bit in my family. Having Painting Party's for the Bride and Groom's new home, a sports event (in Philadelphia we women are crazy for our sports teams). We have also done retreat weekends. I totally agree with you. Embarrassing the bride it just plain mean.
    I am starting to feel the Challenge part of the A-Z. I too am just thrilled with what I am reading and learning.

  6. Tough question. I've been to quite a few hen nights, ranging from a girly night in to watching the bride-to-be getting stone drunk. I know which I prefer - an evening sharing stories and laughs about the past and what is to come.

    Ellie Garratt

  7. Hmm. I've never called them "Hen Nights" myself. More along the lines of Bachelorette nights, though I'm not particularly fond of that term, either. I like you stance on taking care of the woman in question and respecting her through the evening, as opposed to just torturing her. I feel the same way about bachelor/stag nights and 21st birthdays. Honestly, the way some people approach it, it's more akin to hazing than anything else, which rather upsets me :(

    East for Green Eyes

  8. Hey,
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    Whether or not you decide to get into costumes for your hen party, the right hen party accessories can hardly be amiss.

  9. Hey,
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    Find some of the wild hen ideas in circulation that will ensure that you will have a hen party that you will never forget.

  10. Hey,
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