The thought of a “hen do” excites many, but can also be terrifying if you’re not into that kind of thing. If you fall into the second category fear not as many brides-to-be are choosing to do things differently, reimagining what a hen do is. You can say goodbye to cheesy games, shots and mortifying moments and plan a weekend of chic girly fun instead. Our editors share what they did for their own hen dos, some opted for luxury staycations and others jetted off for sun drenched weekends of fun.
Contributing Fashion Editor, Patricia O’Dwyer
I’m not sure I will ever get over my hen weekend, nor can I really put into words how incredible it was! My sister (who is also my MOH) was in charge of all the planning and I knew absolutely nothing before we set off. I know for a lot of people this can be nerve wracking, but she is my best friend in the whole world and knows me better than anyone so I knew I was in safe hands – and she absolutely nailed the entire thing.
Thirteen of us girls (from multiple friendship groups) flew to Valencia and then drove out to Denia and it was perfect from the moment we had our first sip of champagne in the airport. We stayed in a stunning airbnb (it had multiple kitchens and living spaces!) with gorgeous views of the mountains and a short walk to the seaside.
The weekend was fuelled by tequila, laughter and lots of tapas. We went to a beach club, a nightclub, did a (very emotional) Mr & Mrs, had a sunset catamaran trip and I watched all the women I love fall in love with each other. It was truly everything I could have asked for and more.
Contributing Luxury Editor, Leonora Smee
Looking back, my hen-do was as classic, joyous and beautiful as I could have dreamed. The process of getting to that point, however, was a little more problematic! The original plan was to go to Vegas for a weekend of glitz and glamour, however due to the pandemic, travelling cross-Atlantic was not an option. We then settled on heading to Nobu in Marbella, but then the total travel restrictions were introduced, and we had to stay in England. It was at this point I made the decision to have a luxurious and glittering hen-do at home.
By the time July came around we were permitted gatherings of thirty people and I was lucky enough to be able to invite my bridesmaids, closest girlfriends, aunties, godmothers and of course, my mum, to celebrate with me. While hosting at home was not what I envisioned, it could not have worked out any better; it was so lovely to have a larger group of all different ages laughing, eating and drinking together throughout the afternoon. Ultimately, it was the perfect reminder that being surrounded by loved ones and sharing their excitement and enthusiasm should be at the crux of any hen-do.
Under the rose-adorned pergola, we set up in the glorious July sunshine. Balloon arches in pink, blush and cream were tastefully placed around the courtyard and Perrier Jouet Pink Champagne flowed from dawn to dusk. The table was adorned with sweatpeas, roses and succulents and at each place setting was a bag containing gifts from Gigi and Olive, Chantecaille as well as a Tivon Morganite for an extra special touch. Extending on from the touches of pink in the decoration, I wore a dazzling pale pink, sparkly mini dress from Retrofête and exquisite pink bow shoes from Emmy London. My guests were also dressed gorgeously in various shades of pink and it completed the atmosphere of sophisticated femininity perfectly. The afternoon started at 13:00 and went by in a blink of an eye with a delicious spread of food, games, cuddles from the sausage dogs and dancing on tables before ending up in the pool in the early hours of the morning. All in all, it was a fabulous day with love and laughter at its core, and I would not have changed it for the world.
Contributing Fashion Editor, Alessandra Frame
It’s hard not to get emotional when I think about my hen do in Ibiza. The amount of love and care that was put into it by my bridesmaids was quite frankly unbelievable. The weekend had the perfect balance of wild tequila-fuelled nights dancing under the stars, lazy days throwing ourselves into the ocean, watching sunsets and bonding through deep soulful conversations whilst cuddled around the table at our villa.
Many of the girls still say it was one of the best weekends of their lives and we had to drag ourselves away from each other at the airport when we got back to London. Two of the girls even extended their trip and didn’t get home until a few days later! I don’t think I’ve ever felt more overwhelmed by the love and support of the women that surround me in my life.
All in all my advice would be this: whether you end up having a low key lunch or jetting off somewhere the fundamentals of what makes a hen do special remain the same. It’s not about where you go, but the people you bring with you. Make the event a celebration of friendship and love and you will leave with your cup overflowing.
Co-founder & Editor, Isabella Foulger
When it came to planning my hen do, I was a bit of a control freak. Thankfully my friends expected nothing less stemming from the fact I was working for BRIDES magazine at the time and totally immersed in the world of weddings. I booked a weekend away for twelve of us at Wilderness Reserve in Suffolk, staying in The Grange which is part of their new estate, Chapel Barn. Once the house was booked I handed over the reins to my bridesmaids but expressed I didn’t want too many games or for it to be very “hen party” in nature, just a lovely, girly weekend away in the countryside. I have a slight fear of stereotypical hen dos.
My wish was their command. The weekend was filled with long, lazy Rosé fuelled lunches, bike rides around the estate and I was blown away by the endless thoughtful gestures. Checking into The Grange was heaven for us all, the interiors are stunning and really femininne making it perfect for a girls weekend. The first night was very relaxed, one of my friends cooked for us all. Night two, we all dressed up and the Wilderness team provided a chef who cooked up a feast – the menu was curated to feature all of my all-time-favourite dishes, including mouth-wateringly delicious steak and luxurious mac and cheese. Pre-dinner we played Mr and Mrs, where the girls had recorded my fiancé Tom sharing his answers. I loved this, minaly because I got all the questions right!
The Sunday was very relaxed, we all spent time in the pool and hot-tub before settling down for a movie night. It couldn’t have been a more memorable weekend from start to finish and even if you’re slightly anti hen dos like me, I’d say trust your friends – they know you and what you’ll love. Nearer to the wedding date, I hosted a little bridesmaid lunch at home in the garden.
Drinks Editior, Portia Freeman
Safe to say, my hen do was probably one of the most debauched weekends I’ve ever experienced. Thirteen of us flew out to Barcelona, dumped our bags, got ready and went out and danced until the early hours of the morning. Little did I know that the early hours of the morning are when Barcelona comes alive… I had to be pulled away from the dance floor.
With aching legs and the slight presence of a hangover, the next morning we got ready for my ‘surprise’. Packing list was; suncream, hat, swimwear, booze and some sort of food. Armed with all the goods we headed on our way and ended up at the port. A boat? Just for us? Oh my girls did good!
This was also the point where they informed me that my husband-to-be had in fact been involved with the planning for my hen. I loved this element so top tip for planners, ask the bride’s other half if they have anything they’d like to contribute. It’s very likely that they’d love to be involved in some way and it really was such a gorgeous touch to know that my boy had his input.
We were away for 3 nights in total and we really did cover it all. The finest tapas, dancing, Barcelona House with all the Rosé, silliness and games. All the perfect ingredients to contribute to celebrating your precious time before getting hitched. We did however feel like a much needed detox was in order when we came home!
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