When did Hen Parties become an Olympic Sport?

Hen PartiesWhen did Hen Parties become an Olympic Sport requiring a full kit bag, possible training in a new ‘fun’ sport or marathon drinking session and a bank balance large enough to reach Rio and back? Whatever happened to a Saturday night bouncing round the local pubs in town with your besties, drinking cheap plonk through a plastic penis straw, dressed in horny devil horns and feather boas, with the Bride-to-be in a veil and L-plates, accosting strange men for a kiss and a quid for the pot?

Now, humble Hen Parties have taken on a life of their own, turning the pressurised Chief Bridesmaid into an Operations Commander producing detailed itineraries with military precision, coaching the Hens through their paces over a weekend endurance test. The person who enjoys the Hen weekend least of all is the Henzilla Organiser who has to run the activities with a clipboard and whistle, barking orders like a demented trackside trainer.

Another element of the awkwardness of the ‘organised fun’ is hanging with a huge bunch of girls, most of whom you don’t know! Invitees are usually a mixed bag of family, close friends, old school friends, work colleagues, Groom-to-be’s friends’ girlfriends and those whom you don’t really want to invite but who would fall out with you if you didn’t! The convoluted, randomness of the situation can bring out the worst in girls as they all vie for the Bride’s affections. It can get incredibly competitive with different Hens trying to see who knows her best and everyone trying to sit closest to her. If you have never watch ‘Bridesmaids’ the movie, grab yourself a copy quick for a lesson on how not to organise Hen Parties!

Hen Parties

In the competitive strive to organise the best Hen Do ever, those staying in the UK for the ‘forced fun’, have to undergo stamina testing feats of go-karting, paint-balling, assault courses or the torturous burlesque, belly or pole-dancing (Bridesmaids take note, slithering up and down a pole in a room full of twenty women is not something which makes one feel sexy, even less so when you try to make everyone recreate their moves at the Wedding reception). Follow said athletic action activity on the Hen Do with the next event, of jewellery making, life drawing, vintage hair-styling class, a fizzy tea party or cocktail making just to fill in the time when everyone could actually be chilling with a cuppa or nice glass of champers and a right good blether about the Wedding. Then round off the Hen Do triathlon with a bumpy ride in a pink limousine to an expensive meal and drinks of epic proportions in a round for twenty and boom, your average UK Hen Do costs around £120!

That’s a conservative estimate, excluding travel and accommodation and the inevitable ‘surprise’ activity where you all have to scream with delight and dip your hand in your purse again to pay for a skinny, naked butler to prance among you. Add to this, the Hen Do activity weekend wardrobe requiring you and 19 other women you may barely know, to dress like four sets of quintuplets with matching garish t-shirts and jeans for day wear complete with bunny ears, themed dress of toga, schoolgirl or devils for evening attire and then a glamorous dress for night two and you can easily add on at least another £100. Then in group email number 37, comes the, “let’s all bring a gift of sentimental value” and a, “photo of you and the Bride-to-be” and, “let’s all chip in to pay for the Bride-to-be’s weekend” and your price tag for hanging out with your mate has sky-rocketed higher than a Copacabana cocktail!

Hen Parties


For those not content to have a weekend in the UK, Ibiza or Santa Ponsa are hot favourites for the sun, sea and sangria lovers with Marbella or a weekend in New York for those who have forgotten that the rest of the Bride-to-be’s friends are not merchant bankers! For this little couple of hundred pounds of ‘organised fun’, you’ll have to shell out for matching bikinis and sarongs after you’ve paraded through the airport in those obligatory t-shirts and cowboy hats, dragging your suitcase of advised ‘props’, ticked off from the emailed itinerary. Unless of course, you have a celebrity pal like Michelle Keegan who flew her twenty nine closest friends and family to Dubai for her Hen Party! Those not related to a billionaire, will often have to empty their bank balances and use up annual leave for such mini-holiday Hen Parties. With many of your friends possibly already having mortgages and kids, would you want to see them struggle financially for months just to be able to attend your over-priced fancy Hen weekend hanging in the Ocean Club, or worse still, borrowing money to be able to come belly-dancing?

The Hen Do phenomenon is a growing industry, apparently worth over £300 annually and this can be witnessed by the growing number of dedicated Hen and Stag Do Events Companies who will organise this extravaganza for you – there’s money to be made off the back of it! Hen Parties should not be a measure of how much of a friend you are to the Bride-to-be judged solely on how much you are prepared to spend on her pre-Wedding drinking hurdle.

Hen Parties

Lee Davidson Connor Photography

If you are tasked with organising the Olympian mother of all Hen Parties, here are our top 5 pieces of advice to prevent you morphing into Sergeant Henzilla:

  • Ask the Bride-to-be about what she would like to do and who she would like to invite. Why does the Hen Party have to be a surprise for the Hen, it is her Party after all?
  • If you are the Chief Bridesmaid, include the other Bridesmaids from the start to avoid fall-outs later on.
  • Be aware of the budget during the planning of the Hen Do and try to work out an approximate total, cost per Hen so you give a realistic projection of the cost to allow invitees to know if they can afford to participate.
  • Keep emails about arrangements to a minimum. No one wants to plough through hundred of sets of orders clogging up their inbox. Worse still, is when this chat spills over into Facebook so those who can’t make it, feel even more left out!
  • This is supposed to be a social event to celebrate the last night of freedom with one of your close friends; you are not going for Olympic Gold in the ‘everyone must have fun’ event.

There was an old saying, ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!’ Old phrase now, as Hens seems to think that each and every moment and each and every detail must be documented and evidenced across Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat, just to make sure that no one either on the Hen Party or not, misses a nanosecond of your ‘forced fun’ riding an inflatable penis! Everyone looks back on their social media snaps and thinks it was a wonderful weekend when in fact, no one interacted in real life time at the Hen Party as they were so busy posing for staged photos to share of how much fun they weren’t having!

Hen Parties

Andy Allan Photography

Put your phones down girls! What your Bride-to-be wants from you is your time, your attention and your chat. You are in her life for good reason so pitch up to what is supposed to be her last night of freedom and be in the moment with her. The phrase ‘hen party’ dates back to the 1800s to denote a gathering of females and maybe the very best Hen Parties are those spent sitting on the sofa with a glass of fizz, sliding slowly into inebriation, a wee dance and having a right good giggle with your besties, and maybe just the odd phallic accessory!

Hen Parties

Gail Photography




If you need any help for your Chief Bridesmaid duties, please do have a look at the amazing Suppliers Listed on or check out our Pinterest Board for lots of Bridesmaid Photography Inspiration!

31st August 2016