Welcome to the advice of a fellow Savvy bridesmaid who has made unlimited mistakes, planned everything from the bride’s brunch to burlesque classes, designed countless Hens Nights and managed to maintain her manicure and her health in the process. Take these tips with love from a woman who has walked in these peep-toe high-heeled shoes before. If you are looking for honest, exciting and sometimes quirky advice, grab your martini glass and join me …
Not so long ago, I was honored to be chosen as the bridesmaid by one of my best friends. I use the term ‘honor’ loosely. Don’t get me wrong – I love my friend and being invited to be part of the celebration was a fabulous gesture, and it’s not that I don’t want to make her wedding experience as fabulous as possible, it’s just … yes, all that Hens Night expectation got was blowing me head-over-heels. Add to that the fact that the bride-to-be had requested Hens Night experience be kept secret. No pressure or anything …
Fast forward a couple of months and I just finished arranging the traditional pub crawl & firefighter’s pole routine. That afternoon, the bridal couple’s grandmother called me and asked if some crystal frozen champagne glasses would be a suitable gift to bring during the day? I froze in panic. I was minutes away from Hens Night disaster and just managed to avoid a total accident – a debacle that would surely have seen the bride and her nana in tears and I was immediately fired from the job. It was time for action! If I just knew what I knew now …
Disaster Avoider 1: Keep the bride to be in the loop
No matter how much your bride insists Hens Night should “definitely be a surprise,” no matter what you’re doing, you don’t agree. An expert bridesmaid knows how to read between the lines. What your bride actually says is ‘Keep me updated on everything except the color of napkins.’ Yes – napkins are the only surprises that come into play here.
Disaster Avoider 2: Release your inner journalist
It’s time to get the clipboard out ladies. The next step to Hens Night bliss is to interview the bride. Although you probably have a fair idea of what kind of Hens-do your bride has dreamed of, you can never be too sure. Ask her to describe her exact vision – and just as she walks around tinted cream candle holders, pull her back to reality. Questions like a host show for a game. Don’t forget the classics, such as ‘How many people attend?’ study, ‘Is This Necessary to be a Nana Safe Event?’ ultimatum and ‘Exactly what do you mean by Fireman’s Pole?’ questions. Specs is your new best friend. How many times have we heard that Hens Night horror story, where the bride has hinted that she would love an ‘afternoon Tupperware party’, only to be perceived by the bridesmaid as a ‘nudge nudge, wink wink’ statement that makes her organize a ‘Tupperware party’ of the more fluffy and vibrant type. In this scenario, the bridesmaid is only aware of her mistake when Aunt Shirley shows up on the day, wearing her Sunday best and expecting to get some new muffin blocks. Please girls, please avoid an Aunty Shirley situation at all costs.
Disaster Avoider 3: Confirm, Confirm, Confirm
‘Confirm’ is your new mantra. A not-so-knowledgeable bridesmaid might ask ‘What to confirm, I’ve already booked the cupcake-making class.’ Big mistake. Just a few of the things you need to confirm right from the start are your clothes for the night, guest numbers, food allergies, transportation home, how everyone pays, and make sure guests bring appropriate footwear (you can ‘ parachuting in heels), Hens gift, thank you gifts, time of day, vendors’ events. Obviously, in that order, I think everyone knows that the bridesmaid’s main job is to look fabulous.
Disaster Avoider 4: Become your own monopoly banker
Remember when you were eleven and finally had the chance to be a banker in your family game Monopoly? Well it’s the same, but for adults. It’s time to summon the savvy money-chic inside you and get this Hens Night funded. Again, we’ve all listened to Hens Night’s horror story: The bridesmaid is planning a really beautiful Hens Night with a pampering party followed by a stretch limo. Everyone agrees that $ 79 is a bargain. The bridesmaid tells everyone about bringing cash at night and pays for credit cards in advance – for all twenty guests. Do you see how this situation looks more and more like a scene from one of those “seconds from disaster” shows on telly? Come the big night, and all she hears are claims of ‘Don’t worry, here’s an IOU I wrote on the back of a supermarket receipt’ and ‘Well, I don’t have cash this week – do you take a visa? ? ‘or the inevitable’ I thought Bridget was paying for me? ‘ conversation. Not only does the bridesmaid spend all night stressing with money – so much so that she doesn’t even enjoy the champions – she’s also aware that the $ 1500 + she just put on her credit card is charged at 7%. Disaster. Hens Night Organizer 101: Pick up the items before the event takes place. Some chicken party companies (ala My Ultimate Hens) allow each guest to pay for their portion of the event separately – which means you are not responsible for taking and organizing payments and guests have the luxury of paying with Bpay or credit card. It’s a win win. The more smiles on Hens Night correspond to a smoother event all around. Because, let’s face it, the IOU never stops in court.
Disaster Avoider 5: follow your heart
Okay, I know it sounds cheesy to say ‘follow your heart’, but I just can’t bring myself to write ‘follow your gut’ – it just sounds so wrong. The point is that at the end of the day, you must also be a paying guest at this event. If your bride insists on having strippers and shots where you really imagined a champagne sunset cruise with crosses – meet in the middle. Get the details of the bride’s request, shape them around your ideals and present the bride with a portfolio of options. A meet-and-center solution might be to take a burlesque dance class followed by a cocktail cruise or a winemaking and limo cruise. First of all, let the bride know how important it is to you that she has a Hens Night that is ‘not just another night at the pub’ and that you intend to pull off the most memorable, unique and just plain fabulous Her Night Back Ever. She gets putty in your manicured hands.
So there you have it. Whoever said being a bridesmaid was an easy job obviously has never planned a Hens Night. The best advice I can give is to throw caution to the wind, what in between is the banker, journalist, babysitter, debt collection, best friend, event manager and broker who also needs room for fun. And first of all, remember that as you sit with your feet up, sip a glass of bubbly and look at the picture on the body of you and the girls struggling out in the paint ball, or cling martini glass to the back of a limo, that it will all be worth it.
Speaking of bubbly … my champagne bucket just chilled. Knowledgeable bridesmaid over & out!