Alternative hen nights
The big night behind the big day often causes as much stress as the main event, yet the only criterium (ooh, get us! We know grammar!) for a hen do is to be wild and free like a Grecian maenad. With the rise of ladette culture, what happens when Mars and Venus collide? And is it possible to have an alternative hen night?
It’s Saturday night in a bustling Wetherspoons. A sea of pink cowboy hats sported by women of varying ages comes into view. Each lady clutching a luminous alcopop whilst the one with a net curtain stuck to her head sets fire to a tray of sambucas. You got yourself a hen party, right? Wrong. Although a theme is a must for any self-respecting hen clan it seems the girls are raising their game along with their shot glasses. The local boozer simply won’t do… Let’s Easyjet it to Bulgaria. Hardcore drinking not your thing? How about a spot of glass-blowing followed by a round of clay pigeon shooting?
The high spirits that accompany prenuptial shenanigans have been around for centuries. Only recently, the old Welsh custom of felling trees to block the groom’s road to the church hit the headlines. Sergeant Phil Edwards of Dyfed Powys Police said he is all for tradition but “cutting down telegraph poles has gone beyond a joke” as it caused major disruption for other motorists, not to mention the damage to property. The custom – known as ‘melltith’ – means ‘curse’ in Welsh. Other methods of applying the curse of melltith include adding gravy browning to the groom’s water supply, emptying a hay barn and placing the hay in front of his door to prevent him from leaving the house, and also putting several sheep into the church the night before the wedding. It is the groom’s duty to overcome the obstacles in order to prove he is worthy of his bride. Undertones of this tradition are still alive today, as we have seen the majority of pranks and challenges are still focused on the groom rather than the bride.
Traditionally stags have pushed the boundaries of partying from bog standard stripper/chain/ lamp post combo to the midget/suitcase/chain combo. Not familiar with this one? For a hefty fee, a person of dwarf stature will conceal himself in a suitcase. When the whole party is assembled you give the stag the ultimatum of either wearing whatever is in the suitcase for the entirety of the weekend or you will relieve him of an eyebrow or two. He should pick the suitcase, expecting it to be a garish frock/Borat swimsuit or similar – he certainly won’t be expecting the midget brandishing handcuffs. For the duration of the do they must be shackled together day and night. One crew went as far as painting the wee man blue and giving him a red hat so that he resembled a real life smurf.
Hen pranks usually include saucy dares ranging from getting your hands on a pair of underpants to lap dancing an unsuspecting male. Quite often the Mr and Mrs game (which needs a bit of pre-planning) will rear its ugly head. Question the groom beforehand and keep his answers safe. On the night you ask the bride the same (hugely personal) questions and see how well she gets on. If you want to be cruel, tell your bride the theme is ‘Tarts’ and she should dress accordingly. Tell the rest of the party to come in formal dress.
Remember, you want to embarrass the bride, not humiliate her. Which is something most stags have yet to learn.
A groom in Sweden was the subject of an ingenious, albeit twisted, prank. The party started off sedately with a spot of fishing. The groom was presented with a full bushy beard to add the captain bird’s eye effect. He happily slapped the thing on and had an enjoyable day. It was not until later when he and his gang went for a naked (apparently this is normal in Sweden) sauna session that the groom suspicions were aroused as to the origins of his beard. His entire party of mates were all completely bald ‘down there’. The beard was whipped off pretty sharpish following that particular revelation.
Due to these Samsonesque obstacles often incorporating public humiliation, leaving your home town and fleeing to the anonymity of an unknown city is often favoured. The mantra “what goes on tour, stays on tour” has more chance of survival when the preying eyes of the locals are removed. Edinburgh is a great party city to escape to (though the put-upon locals would disagree), especially in August during the Fringe Festival. As well as the extended opening hours, some clubs stay open until 4:30am, along with the huge array of shows available all day and night. Toby Darcus runs the Cuckoo’s Nest in Edinburgh and has seen many hen and stag groups pass through his doors. The strangest incident he encountered was “A group of lads from Hull who all decided to lie down on the pub floor rigid. I had to carry them out one by one.” He is of the opinion that “Hens tend to be better behaved, but much louder.” Although he did add that “Their dress sense tends to be more offensive.” In terms of disruption it is neck and neck between the stags and hens in Edinburgh.
Alternative hen party themes
Bride-to-be Kat Coyne is currently planning her hen night and has chosen an alternative evening for her pals. She set out with the criteria to “do something memorable, silly and girly so that people who don’t know each other can meet and have a giggle.” The chosen venue is a remote cottage in Hertfordshire. The theme: Fairies. Welcome to the Fairy Love Experience! The website describes this weekend as being “perfect for those who have always wanted to be a fairy and were never given the chance.” You will be given free reign of the extensive fairy dressing-up boudoir, delicious home-cooked vegetarian dinners, roaring open fires, and cosy fairy-themed bedrooms with comfy feather duvets. During your stay you can enjoy creativity workshops in rainbow beadwork, fairy making, angel cards, fairy tarot reading and even harmonised singing for the full angelic effect. However, the option of a fairy pub crawl round the local village is also open to you. It seems fairies value a pint just as much as the next hen, even if they get drunk if they have more than a thimble’s worth.
Some quick alternative hen party ideas
- Alternative Hen Night – Bellydancing night
- Alternative Hen Night – Murder mystery
- Alternative Hen Night – Fairy weekend
- Alternative Hen Night – Poledancing (Burlesque poledancing can be a nod to the pagan tradition of the late 1700s of dancing round the May Pole, so it’s actually very beautiful and associated with fertility and blossoming men and women)
The send-off has evolved. With weird and wonderful ideas being dreamt up every day there’s no excuse for a dull do.
Fairy hen night!
Burlesque / Poledancing hen night!
Murder mystery hen night!
Hen night bellydancing evening!