So Farm Adventure has been running for ten years this year! Woohoo!
I figured that with all those conversations and all that experience talking to organisers of stag and hen parties, surely I’ve clocked up some knowledge of the “do’s and don’ts” of organising and planning these big events! Seeing as we’re ten years in, it only seems right to offer ten top tips!!
There are so many emotions when it comes to organising hen or stag parties .. for the organiser, the bride or groom to be, the invitees, and yup, even me sometimes!!
We’ve been privy to all sorts of insight with hen and stag parties, and COVID certainly hasn’t helped! So, when planning the pre-wedding party, you need to get thinking :
- Get a finite list of invitees from the bride or groom to be and make sure that the people on the list are the ones they WANT to invite! We all fanny around so much with politeness, and worrying whether we’ll upset someone if they’re invited or not. But the fact is, this list should only have the people who the bride or groom really want to be there! Plus, sometimes, they have to think about the sort of things you’ll be doing on the hen do .. do you want your mum to see you getting a bit close with the butler in the buff?!!
- ASK the bride or groom what they absolutely DO or DO NOT want to do! Make sure you are 100% sure on avoiding any “boobs”, doing something they absolutely wouldn’t like! Obviously you may want to create some uncomfortable moments for them 😉 but lets avoid tears and fall outs here. Remember, this is THEIR special occasion … not yours! You guys are there to see them laugh and have a fab time!
- Get everything written down ; seems obvious right? NO it doesn’t! Nothing is obvious, it’s all learning! This is a new event. No-one has ever organised this EXACT event before. Attendees, where you’re going, what you’re doing, how does everyone get from A to B, what everyone will need, are there any special requirements, dietary requirements, how are you going to organise food, budget, how you’re communicating with everyone and so on. Get that spreadsheet going, and get the details in. Why? Because most people will organise an event well in advance. And what happens between now and the actual event date? Time. Which means you’ll forget the details you were planning originally, and conversations you’ve had with so many people. You will be so grateful you wrote it all down, because it’s in black and white about what you were organising all those months ago!
- BUDGET! Firstly, get an idea from the bride or groom what they perceive a good and reasonable budget to ask of their friends and family. Everyone is different and not everyone has the same disposable income, and the B2B or G2B will know all the people in the list in terms of their spend capacity. This will help you know what you can and can’t afford from the offset. Don’t waste your time (and suppliers’ time!) planning things which are way out of budget! Simple OK! Once you know roughly, then you’ve got something to work from.
- Do your research ; again, this refers back to the point above, but when you’ve actually found something you want to do, go through the suppliers’ websites, social media and such, and keep note of what they offer, what you want from them, and all the logistics around this. There is nothing worse than not knowing what you’re turning up to, and then seeming completely unprepared in front of the supplier or attendees. You can’t plan the logistics unless you have all the information. How is everyone getting to the location? What are you actually doing when there? How are you going to feed everyone? Can the accommodation or other suppliers provide any pearls of wisdom on things to do?
- Ask questions of your suppliers & attendees too. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you’ve written everything down, you’ll have all the logistics written out, so need to make sure you know the answers to many questions. I get asked a million questions from the organisers – some are way more organised than others!! 😉 Often it comes with apologies for the numerous questions, but I really don’t mind – I chatter away on email or over the phone, because I want them to get it right! I want them to get the best out of everything we offer! Can we put decorations up in the accommodation? Can some people come to stay for one night only? Do you have any dietary requirements from your group? Any allergies? It also gives us as a supplier, insight into what a group needs, and do we supply it, or do we need to supply it. Parking .. will people be driving? Is there adequate parking at the accommodation?
An example is that you’re staying in our self-catering accommodation. Then get a supermarket delivery for your food and drink! Don’t fill your car with all of the food when you’ve got enough else to bring! Book your slot for just after you arrive (don’t forget maybe a little buffer time incase you’re held up in traffic!). Plus when you’ve got your order done online, you can keep amending it with all the bits you forgot, up until midnight before the slot date! Brilliant!
- TELL people to pay their money to you ; this one I’m adamant on. Once you have planned what you’re going to do and know your budget (making sure your budget covers all the little extras which you’ll have made notes of), TELL people they need to transfer you the money BY A CERTAIN DATE. Remember, everyone has their own lives and agendas. You are not here to ask their opinions on whether they should give you the money. If they want to attend, they have to pay. Give them the full details on what they’re paying for ; the money is refundable/non-refundable, what it’s covering etc etc. Remember – the price of some things like accommodation as an example, may vary depending on the number of people staying. If someone tells you they’re coming, doesn’t pay their deposit meaning you pay on behalf of them with your credit card, they then back out, you are then left covering someone else’s cost. That’s not fair.
To expand on this point, you may have several pay points, so you might need to pay a deposit (Pay point 1), then the balance (Pay point 2). You can ask people to pay for “Pay point 1” by a certain date, and “Pay point 2” by another date further down the line. Remember things like pay days for people – the end of the month is something good to aim for as a pay point. Give people time to save or plan to give you their funds, ask your supplier if it’s OK to hold your provisional booking until that date, or when the latest point is that you have to make the payment. Just be organised, and set expectations for everyone on this one, so they know what they’re aiming for.
- THINK of other eventualities ; wish we’d known about COVID for this one!! But the point of this, is to plan for some of the most obvious things which could go wrong. Do you have mobile numbers for all the attendees? Can you get information to your group quickly and easily? Someone arrives at the location before you do, but they don’t have the details of how to get in – can you get that information to them? The location you’re going to, doesn’t have mobile signal – how do you communicate? Is there wifi? Cancellation policies of the places you’ve booked .. Sounds silly, but all these little things that can throw a spanner in the works, can be made easy to handle in those stressful moments, if everyone has the right information and tools to hand.
- Plan at least one activity which involves leaving your accommodation, and if possible, some competition. While this adds more logistics in, there is nothing worse than sitting doing nothing for the weekend. Well, there is something worse .. sitting doing nothing – with a hangover! We regularly (well, soon to be regularly again!! Thanks again COVID!) see people arriving on site, or emerging from their accommodation, wearing sunglasses, and not looking nearly as perky as they did the day before! It is very amusing from our perspective, but many people will have heard me say over the years that our activities are the best way to just get through that hangover! And it’s true! you might need a nap afterwards, but have something additional to look forward to. Ensure it is pre-organised, you know timings, how everyone is getting there etc, and that everyone has paid you, the organiser, the money in advance .. none of this “on the day” organising!
- It’s all in the detail ; when you’re on track for all of the above, now you can plan the fun details. Those little extras which will make people smile! If you’re not creative or don’t have a clue where to start, check out websites & social media – there are loads like this one : Team Hen where it’ll help you plan what you want. This will also help you understand your budget. Don’t go overboard, but make it count! Just start getting on Instagram for ideas of what other people do! But remember, think about whether there would be any conflict with getting these things with what you’re actually doing. Case in point ; our accommodation in North Yorkshire is located on a farm, so we can’t allow decorations outside – balloons flying away into fields is not good! Think sustainability too – don’t go too crazy with the plastic and non-reusable. This is a lovely blog which gives some more ideas!