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The Hen Party

The Hen Party

My American readers are likely not familiar with the English term “hen party”, which is what Americans sort of refer to as a bachelorette party. I say “sort of” because the English hen party has largely jumped the barriers of propriety and taken pre-wedding festivities to places that the tamer American bachelorette party would never go, with some hilarious and disturbing results.

The average American bachelorette party is (despite what you may have seen in the movie Bridesmaids a fairly tame combination of cupcakes, weak booze, and endless chatter, with maybe, possibly, sometimes if you’re daring, a Fabio-esque male stripper tossed in. By comparison, the English >hen party starts with costumes (see the photo above), from fairies, to devils, to escaped prisoners, to chickens (see above), with the bride-to-be getting the best costume, and a beauty-queen style sash of identification. Then, add in booze and lots of it, some goofy, ice-breaking party games, and when everyone is having fun, take the whole show on the road, head out to the nearest pub to initiate the pub-crawl portion of the festivities.

The hen party is much more rambunctious and boozy than the bachelorette party, and as a consequence is much more likely to end in tears and vomit than the average bachelorette party. It’s also much more likely to end in hilarity and good fun, too. So, next time some one mentions a hen party, think costumes and liquor, not cupcakes and squeals of fake delight.

How Average Are Your Bridesmaids?


Americans tend to have a fascination with the average. We keep seeking out the information that will tell us whether or not we fall in the ‘normal’ range of nearly everything. Weddings, of course, are no exception.

So when I ran across a fun and informative infographic on averages concerning bridesmaids over on Visual.ly, I had to take a closer look and share the contents with all of you.

Seems I got a couple of things in the average range when I got married. Five bridesmaids is apparently the average, and that’s exactly what I had. Oh, that includes the junior bridesmaid who, at twelve, slotted nicely into the national average of being aged nine to fourteen. I had a matron rather than maid of honor, though, unlike some 97% of brides.

I’m not sure where to put myself in the question of the 64% of brides who have their maids wear identical outfits. See, they all wore the same skirt and blouse made from the same patterns and the same fabric… but then I asked them to trim and accessorize according to personal whim rather than a specific blueprint. So there were trims ranging from pink pearl piping to a grand fall of lace over the bosom to an added Batterburg lace collar with little blue ribbon roses, an equally broad range of jewelry styles, and flat shoes that ran the gamut from ballet flats to low, slouchy boots. So they all started in the same place with the same stuff, but they weren’t identical when they got done.
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Ladies, Don’t Make This Mistake

When waiting for the strippers at your bachelorette party, please keep in mind they look like this:

Real cops look like this:

I bring this up in light of a story last week from the Australian Broadcasting System about a bachelorette party being held at the Humpty Doo Hotel (I did not make up that name) where the constabulary were called out about a disturbance and the ladies mistook them for the strippers.

Before the police could retreat they very nearly lost their shirts… but not their sense of humor. In fact they posed with party goers and the police car. No charges were filed in the incident.

But remember, not all cops will be that understanding of being sexually assaulted in a case of drunken misidentification. Wait until after the strippers arrive to drink enough to get confused about who is who. You know, if you plan to get that wasted anyway.

If you can’t wait, have a designated stripper identifier. She can also be the designated driver.

To Party or Not to Party

Let’s talk about bachelorette parties, shall we?

Thirty years ago, they pretty much didn’t exist. Twenty years ago, they were fairly rare. Now they seem pretty common. Still, they aren’t for everyone.

I well remember a wedding where I was the MOH about twenty years ago. One day the bride called me in a bit of a panic because the other bridesmaid was talking about whisking her off and forcing her to drink fruit daiquiris and watch male strippers. This was profoundly not the bride’s cup of tea.

Luckily, I was able to talk the other bridesmaid down from that particular ledge, and the bride was saved. I threw her a nice, quiet, game-free shower with tea and desserts instead.
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Bridesmaids, Remember to Budget!

For some, being asked to serve as a bridesmaid is both an honor and a burden. Time spent assembling complicated wedding invitations or funneling candy into favor boxes is one thing; money spent is quite another. I’d wager that most of you reading this would be happy to accompany a friend as she shops for her wedding gown or samples wedding cake. Would you be as pleased if you found out this same friend expected you to pay $600 for bridesmaid attire? Or if she made it clear that her idea of the perfect bachelorette party is a week in Cancun paid for by her attendants?

bridesmaids-dresses

It’s not uncommon for bridesmaids or a maid-of-honor to accept a wedding party post without knowing what they’re getting into. That’s why there are books like Everything Bridesmaid: From Planning the Shower to Supporting the Bride, All You Need to Survive and Enjoy the Wedding and The Bridesmaid Handbook and The Bridesmaid Guide: Etiquette, Parties and Being Fabulous and even The Quintessential Wedding Guide … Maid of Honor.

In other words, while first-time maids and MOHs may not know quite what’s expected of them, there are plenty of how-tos out there ready to help. Get your dress on time, they say. Throw a bridal shower. Bustle the gown. Herd the groomsmen. Hold the bride’s bouquet. Give a speech. And so on.

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