Besides planning my own wedding, it’s serious big day fever in my family as my sister gets married this April.
Of course, before the wedding is the hen do and – since she works school term time – we decided to plan her away hen for October 2019.
I thought I’d share some things I learned when planning a classy hen party abroad.
1. CHOOSE THE DESTINATION
It was quite the logistical nightmare trying to find a hen party destination that had good flights that weren’t a) ridiculously expensive, b) weren’t the middle of the night and c) had a return flight less than a week later!
As I mentioned, we had to go during the school holidays so prices were a little higher anyway.
My sis wasn’t totally set on one destination to start with, so I used Skyscanner, chose to search the whole of October and opted to show flights to everywhere. From there, I whittled down the places that had flights in a good budget and in dates that suited.
We originally thought we’d go to Budapest, then it changed to Marbella before we finally settled on Barcelona, where a few of us had been before. We went Sunday to Thursday and flew Vueling. From seeing some of the airline’s online reviews after we booked, I totally panicked as some were less that glowing! I’m delighted to say we had no problems with the airline at all and found them loads better than the likes of Ryanair or EasyJet, but I guess everyone has different experiences.
2. DECIDE ON ACCOMMODATION
Praise be Booking.com’s free cancellation properties, that’s all I’m saying! As I said, we first thought we’d go to Budapest and provisionally booked a hotel there, but it ended up all changing.
We also had two other properties originally booked for Barcelona, but firstly the numbers of the group changed so it no longer made sense to stay in that property. The second property we booked comprised of two apartments for nine of us, but after booking, we were sent a list of rules. Not that the hen was going to be wild, but we paid extra for a penthouse suite with a balcony. We were soon told we couldn’t play music and would be charged our entire deposit if there was a single noise after 10pm (200Euro per apartment!).
I was too worried we might get caught out, even when we would try to be careful so we changed it to a hotel. We stayed at the Leonardo Las Ramblas and, as much as the hotel was lovely inside, it was a located a little back and we didn’t feel too safe walking back the narrow streets at night. I won’t get into it, but we had a really scary experience on the last night which shook us up and it would make me want to stay even more central.
3. USE INSTAGRAM TO FIND GO-TO’S
We didn’t want a ‘classic’ hen – we ain’t about that feather boa/L-plate life tbh – so I wanted to find some different things to do.
First up, we knew we wanted to throw Beth a bridal brunch. I tried Google, but nothing really jumped out so I searched #BarcelonaBrunch on Instagram and found loads of great places.
I’m so happy I came across Benedict BCN and it was the perfect way to kick off the festivities on the Monday morning, our first full day. I think Instagram’s location and hashtag searches are the best way to find places. Googling ‘hen party brunch’ or similar phrases just bring up loads of sites which are focused on hen parties and it just isn’t what we were looking for.
Other things I found on Instagram included 1850 Urban Spa Barcelona which we were able to book out just for us on the Tuesday afternoon, complete with full use of all the facilities. Plus, we opted to upgrade the package with a few bottles of cava and fruit platters – bliss!
4. THINK ABOUT THE LOGISTICS
When going on a destination hen, think of all the added extras, from luggage allowance to the transport either side of your flights.
The bridesmaids and I arranged who would take what, like decorations, and split this so one of us wasn’t taking added luggage weight. Plus, don’t forget things like sellotape/blu tac to actually hang up decorations (being careful, of course, not to cause any damage!) and opt for things which are lighter to pack.
We also priced different taxi and mini bus options and opted for a mini bus. After calling around so many, we used B Line Travel and they were great getting us to Edinburgh airport and back.
5. SHARE THE DETAILS
Setting up a WhatsApp chat with everyone on the hen helped to share the details, but messages can be missed so I created a little itinerary and sent it to all the hens as well.
It included details like times of activities, like the brunch, and outfit info so everyone was on the same page.
6. PRICE EVERY ASPECT
This is something I felt super aware of from the start. Trying to plan a hen that my sis would love, but would also not cost everyone approx. £1 million was a task!
It took a lot of emailing different places for availability and pricing before I could put together serious plans. Everything from accommodation to restaurants, I tried to provide costs so everyone going on the hen could have a heads up ahead of time to know how much they would be spending.
7. INVOLVE THE BRIDE… BUT NOT TOO MUCH
Originally, we wanted to keep the destination and plans completely secret from Beth, but it soon became clear this wasn’t realistic! Even things like who to invite were so much harder without getting her involved and we wanted to make sure we planned her dream hen so it really helped knowing what she had in mind.
In saying that, we didn’t let her on to all of what we had planned. I made her a separate itinerary, which included timings and what to wear, but left out details on where exactly we were going, what activities we had planned and any mention of games.
We also created little goodie bags for everyone, with a special one for Beth. We got her a personalised veil and also filmed a Mr and Mrs game with her husband to be before we left, with Tequila Rose for any questions she got wrong!
Everyone loved the personal touches too, like our personalised glasses which came in handy for some drinks in the room before heading out.
8. GO WITH THE FLOW
You can spend every spare minute planning, but sometimes the best moments are the ones you don’t plan!
From quite literally stumbling into an Irish bar to Beth being serenaded in the middle of a Monday afternoon after a free round of tequila, there were so many moments that made everything so funny.
Prepare what you can ahead of time, but when you’re there remember to just enjoy the moment!