Tatum was extremely trusting in us and let us keep the whole thing a surprise from her. There aren't many people who would let their two mental mates organise a weekend to remember without knowing the details but there are a few things you need to remember to tell the bride and I'll cover those as we go!
Now the first thing I wanted to do was get designing the invite but before you can start on this you need to know who you are inviting an a rough plan of action.
We let the bride tell us who she would like to invite and asked for contact details for each of the hens (it's handy to have an email address and mobile number)
You also need to find out if she is wanting to split the party at all, e.g. just close friends for a party at night and then all family and friends during the day...
Coming up with a Plan
Now this is the tricky part - when you have so many options available to you, how do you possibly decide where to go and what to do!
We came up with our location based on the group of hens invited. Most of the hens stay in London or close by and a few of them had young children so we didn't want to go far away as it meant they probably wouldn't be able to join us - so with all the things London had to offer we decided this was our best option.
We then emailed all the hens telling them the Hen Weekend would be in London and gave them a choice of two dates (which we had already cleared with the bride). We picked the date that most hens could make and then asked the others if there was anything they could do to wiggle plans around so that they could make it as well. In retrospect it is much easier to pick one date but if people come back saying no then it could be a lot of emailing back and forward to find another date. I would recommend getting the dates sorted at least 3 months in advance so you have plenty of time to sort final plans.
Then it's time to Google it up to the max and search for those perfect plans! We created a SECRET Pinterest board (the secret part is really important as you don't want the bride seeing it) and that way both bridesmaid could start planning possible ideas and then we Skyped to discuss everything we had come up with. Of course, if you live next to each other then why not meet up over a G&T to discuss and have some pre-hen night fun of your own!
Remember to think about what your bride would want, rather than yourself and also something that won't push all of your hens too far out their comfort zone!
We decided the best way to do it was split the weekend into 3 parts so that way if you could only make part of the weekend then you didn't need to pay for the whole thing. So we came up with a plan for Saturday afternoon, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. We also came up with a theme for each part as if you have a theme it's easier to come up with something to make your hens all look like they are out at a party together, rather than just a normal night out at a club.
As well as coming up with a plan you need to work out the rough cost for each part of the day. Now at this point you don't know who can attend each part so we gave a rough range - the lower price was if everyone came and the higher price was if half the group came. Remember to explain to people what is not covered in the cost you are quoting, e.g. booze in the club
And last but not least you need to give people an option for somewhere to stay. We booked an apartment for 4 people in the centre of town as it was free cancellation right up to two days before - that way we knew we had somewhere guaranteed but if we ended up having loads of people who wanted to stay then we could book somewhere bigger! As it turns out only 4 people wanted to stay but 7 people ended up not wanting to go home at the end of the night so remind people if they have to leave to get last trains etc they will miss the end of the evening!
To make the invites I used a website called pic monkey. It has loads of backgrounds, cool shapes and funky fonts so you can knock up an invite in no time at all.
I made a separate invite for each part of the weekend as they all had different themes but if you are sticking with the same theme then it's only down to how much information you can fit on the page!
Now normally you would post an invite out but I've always found a better way to do things for a hen weekend if to create a Facebook group (again please make sure it is SECRET so the bride doesn't see) and I then uploaded the invites as photos on the page. Now the only problem with this is you need to have all the hens as Facebook friends and it can be tricky to find them but if they are all friends with the bride already then you can search on her friends list - or send them a link to your Facebook profile page and get them to add you. Then once they become your friend you can send them an invite to your group page that you've created. A Facebook group is also great for asking your hens questions, like "does anyone have a food allergy" or "what's your favourite booze" and you can check how many people have seen your message which is handy if you have to chase people.
The Themes and What I Crafted for Them
Saturday Afternoon - Vintage 50s Housewife
We knew that the bride loves a bit of vintage so we thought we would start the day with a 50s housewife theme and that way we could make lots of housewife jokes and games as well.
We booked a canal boat called the Jenny Wren as they said we could bring our own food, booze and decorations which made it a good option to combine the price for lunch and a bit of fun for everyone at the same time.
Now the best advice I can give you is to find out what all your bridesmaid strengths are an play to those. The other bridesmaid Lindy is an amazing cook and great fun so she made all the food and organised the games. Where as I'm addicted to crafts and love spreadsheet so I made the decorations and pulled together the logistics of how it was going to work, who was coming to what and sorting out money.
I'll ask Lindy if she could share her wonderful recipes with us but in the mean time you are stuck with my crafts!
Bunting is simple way to brighten up a room (or boat) and not to difficult to make.
- I cut a triangle out of cardboard and then used that to stencil it onto the material, which I bought on ebay (5 fat quarters made 4 meters of bunting).
- Then take two triangles of the same material and lay them together so that the pattern side is in the middle.
- Stitch them together using a sewing machine and then flip them inside out
- Take your ribbon, I got two from hobbycraft that said "congratulations" and "happily ever after", pinning your flags to the back of the ribbon and then stitch them on, removing the pins as you go
Put up some balloons as well to give it that extra festive feel!
I love these and you can use them over and over again for events.
- buy your cupcake stand fittings - I got mine on ebay for a bargain
- search round charity shops (or ebay) for different sized vintage plates - I used 3 sized plates:
- 1 dinner plate
- 1 side plate
- 2 saucers
- Take one of the small saucers and place it upside down with the large dinner plate on top, then put the screw through both so its sticking up through the dinner plate
- Screw in one of the stems and then put the side plate on top (remember to put the washer on either side to help protect the plates)
- Screw in another stem and place your last saucer on top
- Screw in the top handle and you are done
You could even drill a hole in a tea cup and add that to the top before screwing in the handle!
There are lots of other bits and pieces you need to get to make your table look pretty
- table cloths
- fun times like mini windmills and cocktail umbrellas
Hen Goodie Bags
It's lovely to have a little gift for all then hens and bride to take home with them as a memento of the weekend so a little hen goodie bag is a great idea
How to make the bag
I have done these before with gift bags but that's only good if you are not going to be out and about all day. This time I thought I would try shopping tote bags as it would give people somewhere to put there bits and pieces in during the day
- I bought a pack of canvas bags on ebay
- Make a stencil using sticky back vinyl. I used my Cricut machine to cut it out but you can use a craft knife as well.
- Stick the stencil onto the from of your bag
- Colour it in with fabric paint or a fabric pen (fabric sharpie pens work well). Make sure you put a piece of cardboard or something inside the bag so it doesn't go through to the other side
What to fill it with
- Sunglasses - We wanted something all the hens could wear so we thought these vintage sunglasses would be a fun piece to add. We got the bride white ones so she stood out a bit more
- badges - these personalised badges are fab and a great memento for your hens. Also they came amazingly quick - this shop is the best
- bubbles - these are always fun at a party and I managed to find diamond ones which matched our brides surname
- Sweets - there will be some point over the weekend when someone gets the munchies so a little sweetie bag is always a handy thing to have.
- Details of the weekend plan - I made everyone a lanyard with the laminated invites and a little game for us all to play. Once we got off the boat we split into teams and all ran round Camden taking pictures of things that would help Tatum be the "perfect" housewife - the funnier the better
- last but not least, I engraved a compact mirror for everyone
How to engrave a mirror
- Buy your compacts, some etching cream and sticky back vinyl
- Again I used my Cricut machine to cut out the words I wanted to put on the mirror
- Stick the vinyl to the mirror - making sure there are no air bubbles or bits sticking up
- use a small paint brush to put your etching cream on top of the stencil
- Leave for 10-15mins (don't think it takes this long but I like to make sure) and then wash it off when it's finished
- Take the sticker of and give it one final rince - then leave it to dry
I found everything I needed on amazon and ebay so you don't even need to leave your house to get them but remember it will take a while to get things delivered and then you still need to make them so give yourself plenty of time.
Saturday Night - 1920s Party
We decided we wanted to do the next part in our apartment and then head out to a club but you can hire a cottage for the weekend and organise the whole party in there - we have some great ones in Scotland!!
Now you might be wondering why we didn't keep the same theme all day but 50s dresses are really hot with those underskirts and we didn't want people feeling roasting in the club so we asked everyone to wear a little black dress at night. The 1920's theme was a surprise to everyone and I had a crafty way to transform their outfits into 20s stunningness
1920s Headband Making
I searched online and found pictures of 1920s headbands that I thought wouldn't be too difficult to make, and then I made an inspiration board for the hens to use on the night.
I bought along lost of props:
- glue gun
- needle and thread
- elastic lace
- black felt
- flat backed jewels and pearls - different sizes
Here are the instructions I gave the hens on making their head bands:
- Hold the elastic around your head, stretching it a little bit and cut it with a slight overlap
- Sew the ends together and then put the headband to one side
- Cut out a basic shape from the felt and cover it in jewels on the front, with a few feathers glued to the back
- Then take your basic shape and add a thick line of glue all the way along the back before sticking your headband to it. Make sure you stick the piece of your headband that has the stitching to hide it
There was too many hens to do everyones at the same time so the other bridesmaid played games with everyone while I manned the craft table and took a few people at a time
I also bought everyone a long set of 72inch flapper beads to finish off the look
You may notice the bride is wearing a hand made sash, if you would like one then contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss the best option to make it personalised to your bride.
I found lots of 20s posters on Google and printed them out on A3 as well as putting up balloons. To finish it off I made some art deco bunting with my Cricut - I'll put up the template for it soon!
And what did you do next...
I hear you asking what club we ended up going to - Bar Soho in Covent Garden is a fab dance club where we managed to get our own area that had a massive vintage style bed in it - perfect for photos and our own dancing space!
Sunday Afternoon - Commitment
We started of the Sunday but having a chilled out picnic in a local park so that everyone could recover. remember you might have a few hungover ladies on the second day so don't book anything too adventurous!!
Then our big surprise was - as Tatum was making a commitment to her husband to be, we took her to see The Commitments Musical
This is the perfect musical for a hen weekend - nothing to serious and lots of singing and dancing to be had! They even did an encore at the end when the cast just came out and played a few songs like you were watching a live band! AMAZING!
So I hope this has given you inspiration for planning your hen weekend and remember the most important thing is it's not how expensive you make it and all about those little personalised touches that everyone will remember - especially your wonderful bride to be!
I'll be back,