My friend C and I are as thick as thieves. So much so that she invited me to be her bridesmaid! (So exciting… I’m ancient and I’ve never been a bridesmaid – only a groomsmaid!)
Being one of her bridesmaids means that I am organising the hen do. Such responsibility! (Aka Bachelorette, bridal shower etc – it’s what we call it here in the UK.)
Now, I love organising things. I even organised my work summer party and Christmas parties last year. I really should have been an events planner or something. I love it when a plan comes together! There’s something very satisfying about it.
But then I got to thinking… C and I have been on quite a few hen dos over the years. And what can I say? We like to have a little b*tch about them when the plans aren’t planned with the military precision we like to say we personally would have used…
So now C’s hen party will be the test! Ha!
Now I know she will be happy whatever happens. She’s a very unassuming person really and we only ever b*tch in private. (And we do enjoy the parties! We just like to say what we would have done differently!) In fact it’s probably putting it a bit strongly to say we b*tch… Maybe you could say we provide constructive criticism! I mean, you need to have a few things to make a good hen party.
Off the top of my head, these are:
- Something the bride-to-be likes to do / that summarises her.
- Opportunities for everyone to get to know each other.
- Drinking. (We are British. It’s the law.)
- Some kind of activity.
- An opportunity to dress up.
- Something where you talk about the groom-to-be and their relationship.
- NO strippers!
I then had a bunch of requirements from the hens. In particular her sister-in-law (brother’s wife) who had a very restricted budget. The reason being that she’s been on maternity leave for months. (Her baby is a few months older than B.) Now I know statutory maternity pay is terrible. But these people are renovating a house… and it strikes me as a bit mean that the bride’s own brother won’t give her some money to go to his sister’s only hen do!
As a comparison, a lot of stag dos (the male equivalent) start at around £300 and end up even more. Stag parties seem to go overseas a lot. C was keen that we do something that was in everyone’s budget and something in London to keep costs down (because we all either live in London or nearby and transport in and out of London is good). So I asked everyone what their budget was and it turns out that her SIL wanted something for around £150 including accommodation!
As a guideline, most London hotels don’t come in under £100 a night. And even a budget hotel won’t give you much change from £100! So that wasn’t happening. We agreed I would do something that came in within budget but not including a hotel…
Let me tell you about C. She’s one of my best friends. When we first met, I thought she was kind of snooty because I was a brand new grad at work and she’d been there a few years. She used to sit right near us and not talk to all the young ones! I thought it was because she was snooty but really I just think she was shy.
She’s one of the most quick witted people I know. She looks the picture of innocence but then she will come out with some comment and have you in stitches even before you realised she was even listening. She is so sharp I don’t think that you even realise she’s doing it. She’s really a born comedian but in the vein of someone like Jack Dee or Stewart Lee, very deadpan rather than slapstick.
A few years ago she took a year off work and went to cookery school. Like the actual catering college you do if you want to do it for a job. And then she went right back to the office job. I mean, other people on her course went for apprenticeships in big kitchens and one even opened his own restaurant (that we went to, to show solidarity). But C was just doing it for her own satisfaction and nobody else’s. (This does mean we have catered between the two of us for another hen party we went to.)
She’s generous to a fault. I’ve had some excellent (mainly food related) presents from C. Like personalised champagne and cheese hampers. Or home made chocolate truffles. She isn’t selfish at all. She even offered to sub her SIL on the hen do but that is not the tradition! The hen isn’t meant to pay for anything!
Most of the time I’ve known C, she hasn’t had any boyfriends. She’s had the odd person on the go but she was busy climbing the greasy pole that we all do in the city. I mean she was the archetypal career woman. More so than me. I mean I defined myself by my job – but my job always involved drinking and socialising with men whereas hers involved working long hours with no time to go out.
Plus she’s a slightly intimidating prospect to men. She’s not a girly girl, and yet she is in a way. She is pretty but she’s also smart. She doesn’t flirt in the typical way (a way I honed over the years of working in a male dominated industry). Some men just wouldn’t get her. Especially the wry jokes.
So for years I was on at her to find a guy (I mean because she said she wanted one! Not because I thought she needed one!) and she never did anything about it. For someone working 12-14 hours a day on average just isn’t going to meet the love of her life unless he happens to work in her office (plus many workplaces frown on that sort of thing).
So I started a campaign. I started telling her all of the stories about friends who had met their partners online. Also I sent her a Marie Claire article I found where it rated all of the dating sites. We decided Lovestruck had the most city types on (people who work in the city) so would be a good place to start. (I couldn’t find the article online but I found the one I scanned so will post below!)
Anyway she wrote her profile after me hassling her for like a year, and long story short she met the love of her life and they got engaged! Hurray! I mean why not listen to Dr Nara in the first place?! 😂
The funny thing is, C is like the opposite of a bridezilla. She’s like a can’t be bothered to make too much fuss bride. It’s like she really doesn’t want to make a fuss so she doesn’t act bridezilla ish at all! So I wanted to make her a lovely hen do because I knew she wouldn’t try very hard to be the centre of attention or anything (like I would! Ha).
On the very limited budget I managed to plan out the day…
Brunch – We kick off the day with brunch at a cool east end cafe. We can even add on bottomless bubbly and bloody Marys for a mere £15! (A drink in London usually costs £8 so it’s not bad.)
Activity – We are going to do a candy making masterclass! I figured she would have done most cooking before but probably not candy making. We can make lollies and sweets and take them away with us. Plus we each get a little bottle of bubbly to get us in the mood!
Afternoon tea – We are going for a girly afternoon tea where we all get to dress up and pretend to be real ladies! (Well getting nicely dressed is optional but the opportunity is there.) We will chat, give C some gifts, I have a Polaroid camera and we will make her a photo book, plus we will play a game of Mr and Mrs which I prepared with answers from her Groom.
Show – We are going to one of C’s great loves, a comedy show. I got her a t shirt from the club which I’m going to decorate if I get the time… We have VIP seating so we definitely get seats and we will also get there in time for happy hour!
Bar – We have space booked in a bar after the comedy. You’d be amazed how difficult it is to get a space in a bar in central London without paying an extortionate fee!
I think we covered all the bases? I steered clear of anything too tacky and hopefully it will be nicely personal. There are only ten of us so it won’t be like a massive gang of shrieking women and anyway we are all on the “mature” side (like closer to 40). I know most people so it should be a good group of nice people. I didn’t go with t shirts but I got some floral headbands for us all to wear (possibly just for the first two activities!) to tie it all together…
It will be a long day apart from B! I will have to pump in advance. I guess like when he’s at nursery although I’ll be back later than usual and at least he will be with T. T has just gone back to work so it will be a bit of a shock to the system for him too!
I sent the invitation to C via a tiny message in a bottle, which got anonymously delivered to her. She was very excited!
Now all I have to do before the big (but not biggest!) day is:
- Fabric paint C’s t shirt. I bought stamp and paint and brushes and I can totally see myself not bothering because I’m too lazy. Bad me!
- Pack up her presents. I bought her a Liberty of London coin (it’s really nice to give as most women I know love Liberty and it’s the nicest gift voucher I’ve seen – a real metal coin in a pouch and box wrapped up with a ribbon and then a bag! Also a scarf with dachshunds on as she loves them. Maybe some chocolate too.
- Decorate her guest book and prep the camera. I got a Polaroid camera and we will take pictures on the day and everyone can sign and decorate the pages with stickers and photos etc. I was going to make a photo book but nobody got their act together and sent me photos so I thought I would take the easy way out!
- Decide what to wear. I’m probably going to wear a dress for the daytime and maybe take some jeans / sparkly top for the evening. Just because! And it’s London so flats for walking around in, and heels for standing! Depends on the weather though.
- Pump! And pump! Now that B is at nursery I’ve gotten into a routine of pumping during the day for the next day, more or less. But he doesn’t have so much as I’ve pumped so I should easily have enough for the day away from him. Plus I have a massive freezer stash that hasn’t even been touched.
I’m not really sure when I’m going to get the time to prep… It would be nice to get some sleep! Ever since B started nursery my routine suddenly involves a lot less sleep. (We would always sleep in otherwise.) I guess we will get used to it after a few weeks!
So – a toast to true love. And the power of internet dating!
Article from Marie Claire: