Hen and stag parties are a great excuse for friends to get together and ensure the upcoming bride or groom has at least one amazing night of freedom before tying the knot. These events are far more than just a cultural rite of passage; they are a centuries old tradition where individuals band together to make memories which will last a lifetime.
Although many choose to organise their stag or hen parties in the UK, around 50 per cent of us reportedly head abroad. Men traditionally enjoy their city breaks, in locations such as a Prague or Amsterdam, while women tend to head to the sunnier climates of Spain or Portugal to soak up some much needed rays.
Whatever the destination, the maid of honour or best man traditionally plans to ensure the celebration is as memorable as it possibility can be. As this is a lot of pressure, we have created the following guide to make sure that your stag or hen party goes off without a hitch; and with as little stress as possible!
First steps to organising a stag/hen party
If there’s one piece of advice you take away from this guide, it’s this: always plan well in advance of the event. It may sound obvious, but there is always so much to organise, as the following points demonstrate:
The first step to organising any hen or stag party is to create a guest list. While many would prefer to keep such details a secret from the stag or hen, it may well be worth consulting them, even if it’s just to obtain a list of must-have friends or family members.
Although you’ve known them for a long time, it is unlikely you’ve met every single one of their friendship groups. Checking with them before creating the guest list will ensure that no one is accidently left out.
Directly related to the guest list, this budget will determine how many friends or family members are invited as well as the activities you can participate in. To give you some idea of how much a stag or hen party usually costs, men reportedly spend an average of £512 per person on their gatherings while women tend to be slightly less extravagant; opting for an average of £320 per person.
Fortunately, with many stag and hen parties, packages do not have to be paid in one lump sum. It is often possible to organise these in instalments which might make budgeting and saving for the occasion that much simpler.
These budgets ought to be relatively flexible and guests should be allowed a reasonable amount of time to save up. After all, it would be a shame to price out one of the bride or groom’s best friends.
Create a timeframe and make sure all the guests are aware of when the stag or hen party will be taking place. This allows them to reserve the date in their calendars and ensure it doesn’t clash with anything important.
Traditionally the festivities took place the night before the wedding, but with so many stag and hen parties happening abroad now, picking a date a month or so before the wedding is becoming the norm. This helps with budgeting as of course weddings often involve an overnight stay – and it allows plenty of time for eyebrows and hair to re-grow!
Again, it is worth checking with the bride or groom to ensure that the date doesn’t fall on anything they have planned. Can you imagine if they couldn’t turn up to their own party?
Best destinations and activities
We’ve already determined that when looking for stag or hen parties abroad, men tend to prefer city breaks while women usually head to Spain. However, these are not the only destinations for creating great memories.
As these parties are once in a lifetime opportunities, you would be forgiven for planning something truly extravagant. Yet, it’s no coincidence that many occur within Europe as budgetary constraints often prevent groups from heading too far from the UK.
To help you plan a great stag or hen party abroad, we have created a shortlist of destinations which is sure to give you some inspiration:
A traditional favourite, the capital of Holland has something for everyone. Whether sampling some culture in its many museums or partying in the numerous bars and clubs, both hens and stags can have a wonderful time here.
Not a city instantly associated with hen or stag parties, the area has a range of exciting bars, restaurants, and clubs to keep groups happy. There are also usually river cruises and white water rafting available on the nearby Vltava River.
Regarded as the ‘party capital of Germany’, Berlin has everything you could reasonably want from a stag or hen party. With numerous activities in the city to choose from, there are also more exotic events such as indoor skiing and adventure courses.
No hen or stag party list would be complete without mentioning Ibiza. A great place to let your hair down; the sun, sea, and sand will make for a great party experience. Furthermore, this was Wayne Rooney’s destination of choice when he and his friends enjoyed their stag party. There’s nothing quite like a celebrity endorsement is there?
Located in the cold north of Estonia, Tallinn is quickly gaining a reputation as the place to be for stag and hen parties. While this medieval masterpiece certainly has its charms, it also has some of the best activities around, such as motor paintball and shooting packages.
Although this list should give you an idea of the destinations available, we haven’t even touched on the activities yet. We have listed some of our favourites below:
- Paintballing; a firm favourite amongst groups, Tallinn has improved upon this formula by adding vehicles into the mix.
- Shooting; a quick adrenaline fix, various companies throughout Europe offer shooting experiences with a number of instantly recognisable firearms, such as AK47s, 44s, and shotguns.
- Assault courses; a great team bonding exercise, prove that you and your friends are good enough to make it through these challenges.
- Horse riding; relive the days of the Old West by participating in a horseback riding experience. It’s a great way to see the sights as well!
- Boating; a safe bet for any stag or hen party, these range from high-speed powerboats to relaxing cruises. Pick something to suit your theme!
- Spa day; a great option to unwind and relax after the day’s activities, a pampering session is definitely a good move.
- Treasure hunting; taking a break from the action, these fun games can often be designed yourself and can lead groups to several great locations.
- Extreme driving; from racing cars to tanks, these activity days will provide entertaining anecdotes for months.
- Chocolate making; an extremely popular activity – after all, who doesn’t want to spend a day eating chocolate?
- Photoshoot; often a neglected idea, it is worth documenting these days with a professional photoshoot. The images will also be wonderful conversation pieces for years to come.
Essential things to plan beforehand
With the destinations and the guest list planned, it is tempting to sit back, relax and call it a day for a few weeks. However, some things are best to organise as soon as possible. Not only will this ensure peace of mind in the build-up to the celebration, but it could actually save you some money.
Sometimes, when journeying abroad, the flights are the most expensive part of the holiday; especially if left to the last minute. Plan well in advance, determine the best deals, and make sure it’s one of the first things you organise.
Something which is often overlooked, finding the right accommodation for a stag or hen party is absolutely essential. For example, those enjoying the centre of a busy capital would benefit by organising a hotel close to underground and other transport links.
In a similar fashion, those planning a quiet retreat should consider a location separated from the hustle and bustle of a busy area. Just make sure that you’ve got the size of the group sorted before booking the accommodation.
What does the FCO say?
Before venturing to a new country, it is worth reading up on that nation’s laws. For example, some have strict guidelines about being drunk in public and other disorderly behaviour. To make sure your gathering doesn’t cause offence, visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to obtain the latest information.
Get travel insurance
Something you cannot afford to be without, ensure every person in your party has purchased travel insurance before heading abroad. In the event anything goes wrong, such as important documents go missing or an individual suffers an injury, this should ensure that you’re covered. If travelling in Europe, also make sure that everyone has an EHIC card.
The final checklist
The advice mentioned above should ensure your hen or stag party goes off without a hitch. However, as these can be stressful things to organise, we’ve included a final checklist of ideas to make sure the gathering is as good as it possibly can be.
Organise an ice-breaker activity
When organising guest lists, it is highly unlikely that everyone will know each other. Consequently, arranging a small activity, such as a team building exercise, will create a fun environment where guests can get to know each other.
Ensure this is what the bride/groom wants
A hen/stag party is all about the bride or groom to be. Therefore, ensure that you have their aims fresh in your mind when organising and keep these at the forefront of everything you do. For example, you might enjoy the idea of paintballing, but will they feel the same way?
Prepare for every eventuality
Always prepare for the unexpected while abroad and make sure you have one or two backup plans up your sleeve. For example, if you discover when you get there that the bar you really wanted to visit has closed down, ensure you can access the internet on your phone to find a quick alternative.
Stag and hen parties can get pretty hectic. Guests can get separated from each other and time can be wasted tracking everyone down. Therefore, before leaving, make sure everyone has each other’s contact details so missing party members can be located swiftly.
Make sure everyone knows what to bring
Depending on what activities you’ve got planned, ensure that everyone is prepared. For example, those participating in quad biking or adventure courses should make sure they’re wearing old clothes which can handle a bit of punishment. Similarly, a fancy dress theme will be ruined if one person forgets to pack a certain outfit.
To summarise, make sure everyone is prepared for the party.
Don’t overly involve the groom/bride
There are some situations (mentioned above) where it’s beneficial to involve the bride or groom in the decision making process. However, generally speaking, their involvement should be kept to a minimum. After all, these individuals are busy planning the wedding; they have enough on their plates.