The sound of wedding bells becomes pretty deafening around this time of year, so we’re taking pity on the hapless best men and stressed-out maids of honour out there desperately trying to organise stag and hen weekends. Check out our no-nonsense group-planning tips, which should help you avoid tiffs, tears or traumas.
1 Plan well ahead – consult with the bride or groom on possible dates and style of do, and give plenty of notice to the other guests. Some people have complex work and family commitments and will have to do a lot of negotiation to get away. You’ll also need to allow for recovery time before the big day. Get names, phone numbers, email or Facebook contacts and suggest a few potential dates. Choose the one that most – and key guests – can attend.
2 Make the budget clear to everyone you’ve invited, and don’t price people out of the game if the head honcho really wants them to come. If you’d rather not have the responsibility, delegate managing the finances to one of the more sensible members of your gang. They can also hold the kitty when you’re away.
3 Take time choosing your destination and accommodation – stags and hens differ wildly on what makes a rockin’ pre-wedding break. Guys will probably want to focus on a centrally located, basic hotel in a lively city, or a big house within staggering distance of a good pub. Many gals like to make the hotel more of a destination in itself, booking into spa or pampering treatments as part of the itinerary.
With the bride or groom and other key players, consider your particular group and what will work best for you. Book this for everyone, rather than leaving it to individuals…and give clear deadlines for payment, well in advance.
4 Organise some sort of ice-breaker to get the party started. It may sound cringeworthy, but it’s likely that many of your guests won’t know each other. You could even get creative and prepare a cheeky hand-out featuring brief bios and everyone’s mobile number in case anyone goes AWOL while you’re away.
5 Be prepared for the unexpected…make sure you have access to the internet while you’re away so you can research last-minute venues or activities if necessary. And have some strategies up your sleeve for livening up a flagging do or diffusing tense situations.
1 Invite too many people – 10 to 15 is an ideal number to avoid splinter groups, factions and general chaos. You can arrange a cheaper, easier local night out for parents, aunts/uncles, bosses and more random guests.
2 Leave booking your flights and travel extras until the last minute – you’ll generally get lower prices if you book early, and always ask about group discounts. At Holiday Extras you can email email@example.com to arrange airport hotel bookings of more than 13 rooms and lounges for groups of eight or more. Some airport lounges will not accept hen or stag parties, so always check this out before booking.
Specialist companies who sell stag and hen packages will remove a lot of the hassle of planning a stag do and they also have access to some good deals. Try The Stag Company and sister company Hen Heaven, Red Seven Leisure, Chilli Sauce and Compare Stag & Hen.
3 Play it by ear – organise your main daily events and dinner destinations in advance and distribute the itinerary so everyone knows the plan. This should ensure your weekend doesn’t become an unstructured mess and will also help if people get split from the main group. Do remember to break up the heavy drinking with eating and other activities, and don’t peak too early!
4 Expect everyone to know what to bring – if there are dress codes, activities or accessories required, make sure you let everyone know exactly what they need to pack.
5 Leave the groom or bride to deal with problems – they’ll be stressed enough as it is. You all want to have a good time, and it’s your job to make it happen. Good luck!
Still need some help planning the perfect stag or hen party? Check out these useful websites: