One of your best friends is getting married and all you know is a Hen Party has to be organised. And then one day through all the confusion and chaos of your plans for the up-and-coming event, you wonder: “A Hen Party? Why exactly is it called a Hen Party?”
A hen party is a mirror of the stag party. The terms refer to the stereotypes coupled in terms of gender.
A hen party is very similar to a stag party, which is given in order to honour the groom. The difference however between a hen party and a stag party, is that a stag party mostly revolves around the idea of getting the poor groom so drunk that he doesn’t know whether he is marrying Martha, Bertha or getting married at all. A hen party on the other hand, was originally parties bestowed upon the bride-to-be in the style more becoming to the specific social circle of the bride.
It is almost hard to believe that in 1897, it was noted that hen parties are characterised by female get-togethers in celebration to the bride, with a hostess serving tea and cake and where necessitated chitchats are at the order of the day. It is believed that the more modern version of the hen party originated in the 1960’s at the start of the sexual revolution. The first book ever to be published upon the planning involved with hen parties was only published in 1998.
In the beginning, only the parties in celebration to the bride that involved getting drunk, sharing personal secrets and hosted the presence of male strippers, were classified as a Hen Party. All other parties in honour of the bride that did not display these acts were not labelled as a hen party. Nowadays the term is widely accepted to represent all types of hen parties.
The rule concerning a hen party is that all the attending members must be female. The hen party is usually organised by the maid of honour, or sometimes by the whole group of bridesmaids. The bride-to-be should not host this event by herself, although she is allowed to have some say as to which activities can be included.
In the previous era, it was the responsibility of the hostess to pay for the cost of the entire hen party, no matter which activities she may have had planned. Today it is a general practice that all the attending female’s pay for their share of the cost, as well as a little extra in order to cover the cost of the bride-to-be. However, this is not a strict rule. This aspect can be decided upon by the person(s) responsible for the planning of the party.
Attendance of a hen party is not a necessity. All the invited females have an option to attend or to decline. It is a fact that some brides prefer not to have such a party at all. This is simply a matter of choice. Also, neither of the friends or bridesmaids of the bride who decide not to attend the party can be forced to pay for any part of the hen party.
Because the modern day hen party in essence originated from formal dinner parties, hen parties are more commonly held during the evening. It is only a recent practice to plan activities over the course of a weekend in order to maximise the fun.
It is wise to plan a hen party to be held at least a week before the actual wedding date. Even with loads of long-term planning and carefully selected activities, it could be possible that things go wrong. Take into consideration any potential pranks gone wrong and possible hair discolouration accidents, it will (hopefully) provide the bride sufficient time to regain her self-confidence before the big day.
There are alternatives to the modern hen party; for instance, a luncheon can be organised. This event in its entirety is mainly hosted by the mother of the bride or in some cases, by the bride herself and will follow a significantly more formal theme. At a luncheon of this calibre it is a tradition for the bride-to-be to present her bridesmaids with small tokens of appreciation.
It does not matter what type of theme your hen party follows. Always remember that it is never a good idea to involve activities which may potentially embarrass the bride-to-be.