I love organising events. It combines my project management skills along with an inbuilt need to insure everyone has a brilliant time.
I recently volunteered to throw my sister a combined Hens/Birthday party. I volunteered (crazy I know!) My sister has opted to by-pass bridesmaids for the wedding (bummer!), but in the past had organised some awesome events for me. I really wanted to utilise this opportunity to return the favour.
Throwing a good Hen’s party seems to be a rather unappreciated skill. I’ve heard horror stories of lost brides, regrettable actions, women over toilet bowls, in-laws offended, horrific expenses, seedy bars, even seedier entertainers, on and on it goes. I wanted none of this for my little sister. The phrase “not on my watch” comes to mind so I set out to plan a kick-ass hens party and below is how it was done.
- Step One. Know your bride!
You may be related, or she may be your BFF, but do you REALLY know her? Do you know whether she likes to be in the lime light or is she more comfortable as part of a group? Does she prefer loud and crazy or intimate and sombre? Know your bride. The event is for the bride and should accommodate her personality rather than your own.
- Step Two. Remember, your style is not their style.
This step is pretty logical but is so often overlooked. Your preference on the venue, decorations, entertainment, activities, food, drinks – well it may not be your bride’s cut of tea, or your guests. If in doubt, see step one – know your bride.
- Step Three. Assess the guest list.
How is the spread of ages and relationships to the bride?
A diverse age mix can make for an awesome evening but it will require a little more consideration into activities and entertainment to insure they are suitable and enjoyable for all involved.
Maybe some of the guests have small/young children? Are any of them elderly or unavailable for night time activities?
It may be possible to split your function into day activities and night activities which is what I did recently to insure I accommodated a diverse mix. For the day activities I included a touch of luxury and elegance that was suitable for any age and any connection to the bride (parents, friends, in-laws). With full disclosure to all the guests, I then planned the evening activities with a touch of naughty. My sister is younger then I and quiet the dancer, so I also included opportunities for her and her friends to get their Beyoncé on! Some of the older guests are choosing to attend the day activities then disappear for the more risqué night time events.
- Step Four. It’s all in the details.
A great party includes relaxed, stress free, happy guests.
How did I achieve this? Basically, it’s all in the details. For example, do your guests need to travel to/from the party? Do they need flights or accommodation? Is there parking? What about child minding? Do any of the guests have problems walking long distances? All of these things are helpful to know and share with the guests to make the experience as easy as possible.
For the event recently organised I provided a document that included “important details” to accompany the invitations. The document contained thumbnail images (plane, hotel, food, drink) for easy reference and shared information about how much the bride knew (and what to keep a secret), flight options and pricing (as this party is interstate), accommodation suggestions & pricing, child minding options, full detailed itinerary of day & night activities, requests for dietary information (if anyone is vegetarian, etc), gift ideas, disclosure around A.O. elements, walking distances, event dates and all my contact information. Anything I thought I would need to know about the event if I was a guest, I have provided. The guests will all know what to expect, where to be, and how to find us if they are delayed on the day. Happy guests = happy event = happy bride.
- Step Five: First impressions count.
The first impression people will receive of your event is of course the invitation. If your invitation looks a bit ho-hum, that is what your guests will think of your event before even arriving. Most importantly the invitation MUST include all the critical details (time, date, location, contact information). Guests will often print out an invitation to keep on the fridge or in their diaries as a reminder. Put all the critical information in this single document so that if they never go back to your “important details” document, they can still arrive on time and in the right location with just their invitation in hand.
(For anyone needing further information on invitation designs or my design services please leave a comment below – I am happy to provide design ideas and suggestions).
- Step Six. Plan a decoy
If your event is to be a surprise, or has a surprise component, it is often wise to construct a decoy event to keep your bride guessing. As I engaged with my sister in casual conversation about her thoughts/preferences for a Hens party back in the planning phase, I intentionally referenced things that appeased her requests but were not what I actually ended up organising – similar, but not the same. Keep her guessing and keep your quests in on the secret so you can all enjoy her surprised expression on the day.
- Step Seven. Know when to just let go and enjoy.
Sometimes things happen that are beyond your control. A limo doesn’t turn up. A restaurant messes up the booking. The entertainment is late. Something will most likely buck your plan on the day. Just go with the flow. Smile, laugh and just roll with the punches – the bride will think it all went perfectly to plan even if the opposite is true as long as you stay calm. You are there to have a good time too and come the big day, whatever unfolds will happen whether you stress and panic, or simply smile and have another sip of champagne. Don’t let one small detail ruin your carefully executed event. Take a deep breath, look at your bride and grin – “it’s all part of the plan!”
Happy planning and happy partying!