I realised a couple weeks ago that I’ve never done a blog post about my hen do!
Perhaps I didn’t rush to write a post about it because it actually wasn’t all that note worthy. But I think it’s still worth sharing with you so you can perhaps learn from the errors made in the planning of mine.
Date: Saturday 24th September 2016
Location: Brighton, UK
Accommodation: Brighton YHA
Main Activity: Proud Cabaret Brighton
Number of Hens: 6 plus me
Overall cost per Hen: £140 (included entrance into the Cabaret with 3 course meal, accommodation and travel & parking). Drinks and other food on top.
Here is a list of my 3 Hen Disappointments and 3 Hen Satisfactions…
Hen Do Disappointment Number 1:
Not a Big Guest List
Being a couple on a budget one of the things we did to reduce our wedding costs was make cuts to the guest list. We had most of our family there (we invited all family we were close to and only a couple RSVP’d saying they could make it for different reasons) But we really didn’t invite many non-family members to the wedding. Non-related friends invited to our wedding totalled 16, half of which were either male or children. We’d have loved to have invited more buy our budget just wouldn’t allow it.
I didn’t not feel comfortable with inviting people to my hen do that I hadn’t invited to the wedding. This meant the list of people I could invite to my Hen wasn’t that big to start with.
Add to this that some wedding guests weren’t able to come on the hen do due to being either heavily pregnant or having newborns.
I would have liked to have had my Mum join in with my Hen do, but she was going on holiday the same weekend which had been booked it long in advance, which meant she couldn’t come.
On top of this my shyness stopped my from inviting 2 female friends (who were invited to the wedding) to my Hen. Which is ridiculous but at the time I was just too filled with anxiety thinking I didn’t want to make them give me an excuse for not coming because I genuinely thought they wouldn’t want to come. I often don’t pursue friendship because I convince myself they don’t really like me / want to be friends with me.
All of those reasons meant I I ended up with 6 people plus myself. I would in hindsight have liked to have had a slightly bigger group of people; however everyone who did come are very dear to me.
Hen Do Disappointment Number 2:
It wasn’t a Surprise
I entrusted my 2 bridesmaids to plan the Hen. My best friend and my sister; who are very, very different people in regards to their own personalities, style and interests. At the time my sister was saving for a house deposit and so was very budget conscious, which I fully supported. This along with them being such different people meant they could not agree on where to have the Hen and what activities to do.
This meant I had to get involved with planning the Hen, which I was a little disappointed about as it meant I had the stress of trying to find and book accomodation, chase people for payment, arrange transportation and all that other stuff I didn’t really want to have to worry about.
Hen Do Disappointment Number 3:
Brighton isn’t welcoming to Hens
Oddly, very oddly, Brighton did not feel welcoming of Hens or Stags. A lot of accommodation said they do not allow hen parties or stag parties to stay, meaning we felt we had to be ‘covert’ when in the accommodation and even the Cabaret said they had a dress code that didn’t allow ‘hen party tat’ to be worn. Not to mentioned a number of the clubs and bars do not allow large groups to enter the premises or allow anyone to enter wearing any fancy dress or even just hen party sashes.
This was a real surprise to us as a group as Brighton is often thought of as a hub for Hen and Stag parties along the south cost of the UK, and it did kind of sap the fun out of my night a bit as I wanted us to wear our sashes and stuff.
Hen Do Satisfaction Number 1:
Enjoyment All Round
From the moment we all got down to Brighton Pier and drank our first drink of the weekend I was so chilled out and so excited. Although I had a small party of people with me, everyone was there for me and so excited for me and the fact I was going to get married in two weeks time.
My Hen was the first time it really sunk in that I was getting married. I felt constantly giddy and excitable and was so grateful to my Hens for being there to celebrate the end of my time as an unmarried woman.
Plus despite the fact that my Hens didn’t really know each other everyone got on so well. Dee knew Leanne and Trudy, but Trudy and Leanne had never met before. Trudy knew Dee and Kim but Dee and Kim had never met before. Heather and Monika only knew each other. And of course everyone knew me! hehe.
After that first drink or two in the bar on the pier we explored the rest of the pier and went on a few rides before heading to a gay bar for some more drinks. It was such a wonderful feeling knowing everyone was in Brighton on my Hen for me.
Hen Do Satisfaction Number 2:
Wearing Swing Dresses and receiving a little Surprise
Back in our rooms at the YHA we got ready for the evening, which involved a lot of curling of hair, applying of lipstick and zipping up of beautiful swing dresses.
Proud Cabaret recommend you dress up as part of their ‘dress code’ and suggest vintage/retro dress is a great idea for the theme of the cabaret venue; so Swing dresses just seemed like not only an obvious choice but an utterly fabulous idea. For me it was a very budget idea too, as I already had a swing dress I’d purchased a good 7 years previously for my 21st Birthday party. It was blue with white polka dots with a white belt and white petticoat. I couldn’t wait to get to wear it again and was so so pleased when my Hens agreed to go with the theme.
When we’d pretty much finished getting ready Heather and Monika came in with a tiara veil thing, a pink feather boa and a little wand for me. I was so touched, and actually really happy they’d got me some ‘hen do tat’.
I’d mentioned to Dee at some point months prior I didn’t want loads of hen do tat such as plastic willies and L Plates on the hen, but was actually really happy when they’d got the bits they had. Sometimes your Hens know what you want more than you do, and that was true of the ‘hen do tat’ for me and mine. But thankfully there was no willies or L Plates anywhere.
Hen Do Satisfaction Number 3:
Excellent Evening Entertainment
There are some negatives about Proud Cabaret Brighton, such as the food not being great, and not being exactly plentiful! But as an evening evening it was superb. Depending on availability of acts etc, they have Burlesque dancers, vintage style singers, drag artists being some of the diverse mix of acts you could see.
I’d never seen burlesque before (except for in that Christina Aguilera film) but thought of it as a beauty art form, so was thrilled with the choice of venue. Drinks are served to your table by scantily clad waitresses (I was very disappointed when I discovered a couple of male waiters who were not scantily clad!) to our booth we’d paid to keep all night. After the many amazing performers the tables that took up the area in front of the stage are cleared away for dancing as they then turn into a ‘nightclub’.
Once we’d danced for a few hours after the show had finished we decided to start making our way back to the YHA and stop in a couple of places on the way back. Removing our sashes etc and separating into two groups to get in (yes, some places classed 7 people as a large group and wouldn’t let us in if we all tried to get in together) we went into a couple of different bards until we found our way back to the gay bar we’d be in earlier in the day. Now the bar was really full and had a fabulous atmosphere. It was for sure the best bar we’d been in since leaving the cabaret, and fantastically close to the YHA for the short stumble back.
Back at the YHA we had sore feet and ringing ears but massive smiles on our faces.
Overall… ? Conclusion…
Brighton had given us what we wanted from a Hen location and despite the small budget we had set ourselves I couldn’t have asked for much more. When we’d got back to the YHA we went straight to the bar, which was very quiet, to have one last drink and reflect on the night before bed.
The reason we ended up in a hostel was because it was the only accomodation that had rooms left in our budget even though we booked 4 months ahead of time! I’d never stayed in a hostel before but I was really pleasantly surprised. As there was 7 of us, we had 1 room of 4 people and 1 room of 3 people. The rooms had bunk beds in them but were en-suite rooms, and the en-suites were really rather nice. I’d definitely stay in a hostel again based on the experience we had.
In the morning we had breakfast in the YHA canteen and checked out of our rooms, before dropping our bags back in the car and heading back onto the Pier. The Pier in Brighton is massive, free to enter and has lots of entertainment such as fairground rides and little seaside type shops. Walking along the coast from the Pier also offered lots of delights in the form of quirky and artsy shops.
Brighton is a Hen / Stag destination I’d recommend to others. Going to a Cabaret is an activity I’d recommend to others. I ended up having a fabulous time on my Hen even though I wasn’t able to have everyone join that I would have liked to have had, and even though it wasn’t a surprise.
I’m very glad we kept to a small budget for the Hen. And if I could do it again, there isn’t much I’d change.