Can’t decide on an at-home hen, spa hotel or big do abroad? Here, two former brides and a bride-to-be tell Deirdre Reynolds about all the little touches that made their pre-wedding celebration so special
“My bridesmaids were my sister Louise and best friend Rachael.
On the morning of the hen, they gave me a letter revealing that we were going to the amazing Galgorm Resort in Co Antrim, as well as a bag with lots of other thoughtful bits including a bride t-shirt, sash and Instax camera so we could snap all the memories of the night.
Before setting off for the hotel, they had organised a fabulous vintage tea party at home.
They also made me a lovely keepsake book with photos of myself and my husband from childhood right up until we met.
At the resort, we had three cabins right next to each other, which the girls had decorated. It meant we were able to gather together in my cabin that night for a game of Mr&Mrs — which was just the best laugh.
We had dinner in one of the hotel’s restaurants and went with a flower crown theme. I wore a flower crown on my wedding day, so it was nice to have it incorporated into the hen party too.
There was also a band playing in the bar that night, so afterwards, we danced the night away.
Spa treatments were arranged for the next morning, and it was a lovely experience as we had a massive area to ourselves, as well as the thermal suite to explore.
My biggest advice to other hens is not to stress. If your bridesmaids are surprising you, and there’s something you really want or don’t want, make sure they know.
Other than that, just enjoy yourself in the lead up to the wedding.”
Kelly-Ann McCracken (30) from Kells in Co Meath married husband Robert in August 2021 “My original hen party was meant to be in a hotel in Athlone, with an activity, lots of cocktails and dancing, but with Covid-19 it was changed to an at-home hen.
To be honest, having it at home didn’t bother me at all as I’m not mad into the fuss anyway — I’d rather attend a hen than be the hen!
My bridesmaids were my sister Gemma and best friends Fiona and Céileigh, who organised everything to perfection.
We began the night with a meal at a local hotel before heading back to my house for drinks and dancing. The girls had called round earlier to decorate the house with balloons, photo props and party bags with everything from scratch cards to hangover cures. We also had the chance to get ready together, which was lovely.
As well as the Mr&Mrs quiz, my friends had the chance to quiz me — luckily they went easy on me and it was nothing too bad! But my favourite thing that my bridesmaids organised was to get everyone to bring a photo of me with them or shared memory to put into a keepsake album. I’m sentimental like that so it was really thoughtful.
Without a doubt, I would recommend a home hen to any bride-to-be. For me, it isn’t about the thrills and frills — it’s the people that make it and my family and friends made it a night to remember. To this day, people who were there still mention my hen, so everyone enjoyed it. My husband also had his stag party during lockdown.
Lorraine Higgins (31) from Caltra in Co Galway marries fiancé David next month
“For my hen party, I was dreaming of a fabulous few days away with my girls — being boujee, drinking cocktails and having a bop to Abba. And that’s exactly what my fabulous bridesmaids, Laura and Laura, organised when we went to Marbella recently.
We flew from Dublin, started drinking prosecco at 4am, and the fun didn’t stop until we touched back down three days later.
The girls know I love The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,Below Deck and Love Island, so we stayed in a massive, beautiful villa with our own private pool.
We spent the first day relaxing on a catamaran with drinks, music and water toys.
On day two, I awoke to find hundreds of photos of me with family and friends all over the terrace, balloons, breakfast and all my girls lined up ready for hugs. I was very emotional. Then we chilled for the day and had our very own Hen Olympics in the pool.
Later on, we went out for dinner and rooftop drinks, then on to a club where we danced our hearts out. On our last day, we had a barbecue in the villa before heading out for cocktails. During the BBQ, the girls blindfolded me and dressed me up as a worm — an old, private joke: very random, but it was great fun twerking along to Uptown Girldressed as a worm!
From start to finish, the girls had thought of every detail from sailor hats for the boat to the ‘I Do’ clutch bag that we intend on passing on from bride to bride in our group.
My top tip for other hens who are a nervous Nelly like me is don’t be afraid to ask what’s happening — not everything on the itinerary needs to be a surprise. Knowing most of what we were doing helped me to pack appropriately and put me at ease.
Relax, enjoy and make memories — take as many pictures as you can and really appreciate the effort people go to to make you feel so loved and special.”