Helen Nianias | Contributing writer | Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Why Hen Parties Are Out Of Control And Must Be Stopped Immediately

Why Hen Parties Are Out Of Control And Must Be Stopped Immediately

The Debrief: 'I particularly enjoy being forwarded passive-aggressive emails sent from maids of honour asking a dozen skint millennials to please deposit £302.56 each in her account by the end of the day.'

Illustration by Jayde Perkin

Like the tribe in the South Pacific that worships Prince Philip, some things make no objective sense, and that is what has happened to the modern hen do. The pre-wedding ritual has become elevated way above its natural station and reached a mythical status that it can never, ever live up to. 

Hello, my name’s Helen Nianias, and I’m here to shit on the best night of your life.

According to a new survey, the average cost of a hen is £507 a head, and it goes a little something like this: £109 on travel, £90 for accommodation, £75-worth of alcohol, £50 on clothes, £63 for the dreaded activities, £57 for food and £63 on – the final kick in the bank balance – pre-wedding gifts.

Now, a word of caution about the survey – it was only conducted on 1,000 people and isn’t backed up by any other maths. But when you saw that number, you felt your stomach sink with recognition, didn’t you? I certainly did. 

This a pretty suspicious sharp rise on the £157 average The Telegraph reported in 2013, which was in turn up on £102 in 2008 – but hen dos do seem to have become incredibly flamboyant within the last couple of years. Going abroad is now the norm – in fact, cities such as Barcelona are sick to the back teeth of rowdy mobs of stags and hens, trundling through their pretty markets while wearing plastic bums and saying ‘woooo’. 

Where once a trip to the pub and a couple of novelty cocktails would do the trick, it’s all Air BnBs in the Cotswolds and the hens having to book days off work for long weekends or face being excommunicated by the bride-to-be and maid of honour. 

Anyone who has ever organised a hen party will know that they represent a great challenge, and not all of us are equal to the pressure of the situation. Something that can accommodate aunties and BFFs, that can offer something a bit (sigh) ‘cheeky’ and yet also tasteful and meaningful. 

This means it’s just easier fling money at the thing and hope it’ll be alright. That often leaves you with an exhausting timetable of 18 activities (baking! Beyonce dance class! Mani-pedi! Butler in the buff! Cocktail making! Games! In Morocco!) spread over three days. Frankly, even Beyonce would struggle with such a gruelling schedule. I’m against it. 

Hen etiquette dictates that the maid of honour will allege that you can ‘join in for any of the things you like’ but that’s a damn lie. She will hold a small grudge against you for the rest of your life if you opt out of anything. So better learn all the lyrics to Lemonade because you will be singing them a lot. 

The fun thing about hen dos, and even other people going on hen dos, is that the bitching beforehand is so acidic it could strip the paint off boats. 

There are always the same insane stories about friends having to chip in £100 on the ‘hen present’ – on top of the wedding gift – to make the bride’s day ‘extra special’ like she’s a five-year-old girl instead of a 32-year-old management consultant. 

I particularly enjoy being forwarded passive-aggressive emails sent from maids of honour asking a dozen skint millennials to please deposit £302.56 each in her account by the end of the day. These emails are usually decorated with heart, dancing-girl and smiley face emojis and forwarded to my inbox with a note from a friend saying ‘ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH’. 

On a personal level, the admin and expectations of a hen in 2017 rarely make for a truly great event. Instead, you’re clenched with embarrassment drinking rosé through a willy straw, trying desperately to pitch the conversation somewhere between saucy (for your friends) without being rude (for the aunts). Oh, and P.S., you’re in a beach bar in Croatia so you’d better make the most of it. 

How to end this insanity? Let us seek guidance from a higher power – not Prince Philip, but Christ. ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you,’ Jesus said in the Gospel of Luke. Accordingly, we should have another rule stitched into the Bible as a last-minute addition: ‘ye shall not suggest that your friends go unto Tuscany for a mini-break because you want a pre-wedding tan. It is just bad manners.’

While it is understandable that we want to have out own super-lavish hen do as reparations for the mammoth hens we’ve been on recently, we must collectively be restrained and just go to the pub or for dinner or a day out instead.

Because, no matter how many incredulous emails I get from friends wondering why they’re spending their June salary on a holiday for a friend, that friend will, in turn, issue their own unreasonable demand. One chum spent weeks complaining about a hen do to Italy before revealing – with no intended irony – that her hen was going to be in Sri Lanka. 

The hens that are the most memorable and sweet and funny have all been done locally, on a budget, with a group of friends and relatives who are happy to be there. If the current trajectory of the extravagant hen mini-break does continue then none of us will need the money for a house deposit anyway as we’ll just be permanently living abroad in nomadic tribes of women who don’t particularly like each other. On the plus side, none of us will need the money for a flat deposit that we’re spending on hen dos. Every cloud.  

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Follow Helen on Twitter @helennianias 

Tags: Friend Ranting And Raving, Wedding Hell, Friends