Welcome to advice from a fellow Savvy Bridesmaid who has made limitless mistakes, planned everything from bride's brunch to burlesque classes, designed countless Hens Nights & managed to maintain her manicure and her sanity in the process. Take these tips with love from a woman who has walked in those peep-toe high heeled shoes before. If you are after honest, exciting and sometimes quirky advice, then grab your martini glass and come with me…
Not so long ago, I was given the honour of being elected chief bridesmaid by one of my best friends. I use the term ‘honour' loosely. Now, don't get me wrong – I adore 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…well, all that Hens Night expectation was driving me up the head-over-heels crazy. Add to this the fact that the bride-to-be had requested the Hens Night experience be kept a secret. No pressure or anything…
Fast-forward a few months and I had just finalised the arrangements for the traditional pub crawl & fireman's pole routine. That afternoon, the bride-to-be's grandmother called me and asked if some crystal-frosted champagne glasses would be an appropriate gift to bring along on the day? I froze in panic. I was minutes away from Hens Night disaster and only just managed to avoid a total debacle- a debacle that surely would have seen the bride and her nana in tears, and myself being promptly fired from the job. It was time for action! If only I knew then what I knew now…
Disaster Avoider 1: Keep the Bride-to-be in the loop
No matter how much your Bride insists that the Hens Night should ‘definitely be a surprise,' whatever you do, don't concur. An expert Bridesmaid knows how to read between the lines. What your Bride is actually saying is ‘Keep me updated on everything except the colour of the napkins.' Yes – the napkins are the only surprises that come into play here.
Disaster Avoider 2: Unleash your Inner-Journalist
It's time to get the clipboard out ladies. The next step to Hens Night bliss is to interview the bride. Whilst you probably have a reasonable idea of what sort of Hens-do your Bride has been dreaming of, you can never be too sure. Ask her to describe her exact vision – and just as she is rambling on about tinted crme candle holders, pull her back to reality. Fire questions like a game show host. Don't forget the classics, such as the ‘How many people will be attending?' enquiry, the ‘Does this need to be a Nana safe event?' ultimatum and ‘Exactly what do you mean by Fireman's Pole?' questions. Specifics are your new best friend. How many times have we heard that Hens Night horror-story where the bride has hinted she would love an ‘afternoon Tupperware party' only to be perceived by the Bridesmaid as a ‘nudge nudge, wink wink' statement, prompting her to organise a ‘Tupperware party' of the more fluffy & vibrating type. In this scenario the bridesmaid only realises her mistake when Aunty Shirley turns up on the day, wearing her Sunday best and expecting to by some new muffin tins. 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-savvy bridesmaid may ask ‘What's to confirm, I've already booked the cupcake making class.' Big mistake. Just a few of the things that you will need to confirm right from the get-go are your outfit for the night, guest numbers, food allergies, transport home, how everyone will pay, making sure that guests bring appropriate footwear (you can't go skydiving in heels), the Hens Gift, the thank you gifts, the timing of the day, the suppliers arrangements. Obviously in that order, I mean everyone knows the main job of a bridesmaid is to look fabulous.
Disaster Avoider 4: Become your own Monopoly Banker
Remember when you where eleven and finally had the chance to be the banker in your family game of Monopoly? Well this is the same thing, but for grown-ups. It's time to summon that savvy money chic within you and get this Hens Night financed. Again, we've all heard to Hens Night horror-story: The bridesmaid plans a truly gorgeous Hens Night with a pamper party followed by a stretch limo. Everyone agrees that the $79 is a bargain. The bridesmaid lets everyone know to bring cash on the night and pre-pays for the whole thing on here credit card – for all twenty guests. Can you see how this situation is looking more-and-more like a scene from one of those ‘seconds from disaster' shows on telly? Come the big night and all she hears is claims of ‘Don't worry babe, here is an IOU I wrote on the back of a supermarket receipt' and ‘Well, I don't have the cash this week – do you take visa?' or the inevitable ‘I thought Bridget paid for me?' conversation. Not only does said bridesmaid spend the whole night stressing about money – so much so that she doesn't even enjoy the champers – she also realises that the $1500+ she has just put on her credit card is being charged at 7%. Disaster. Hens Night Organiser 101: Get the goods before the event takes place. Some hens party companies (ala My Ultimate Hens) allow each guest to pay for her portion of the event separately – meaning you don't have the responsibility of taking and organising payments, and the guests have the luxury of paying by Bpay or Credit Card. It's a win win. The more smiles on the Hens Night equals a smoother event all round. Because, let's face it, IOU's never hold up 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, at the end of the day you are going to be a paying guest at this event too. If your bride insists on having strippers and shots, where you really imagined a champagne sunset sailing cruise with canaps – meet in the middle. Get the specifics from the brides request, mould them around your ideals and present the bride with portfolio of options. A meet-in-the-middle solution could be to do a burlesque dance class followed by a cocktail cruise, or a winery tour and limo cruise. Most 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 Hens Night ever. She will be putty in your manicured hands.
So there you have it. Whoever said being a Bridesmaid was an easy job has obviously never planned a Hens Night. The best advice I can give it to throw caution to the wind, what in between being a banker, journalist, baby sitter, debt collector, best friend, event manager and mediator, there needs to be some room for fun as well. And above all, remember that when you are sitting with your feet up, sipping a glass of bubbly and looking at the photo on the mantelpiece of you and the girls battling it out in paint ball, or clinking martini glasses in the back of a limo, that it will all be worth it.
Speaking of bubbly…my champagne ice bucket has just chilled. Savvy Bridesmaid over & out!
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