Why is a Hen Night Called a Hen Night?



“She’s… going to the chapel and she’s… gonna get married!”


But not before you throw her a great party, right?


The hen night is a pre-marriage tradition and that’s more popular now than ever. Far from its origins, the hen party can now be a week away on a beach holiday, a weekend city break or a wild night out on the tiles. For hens who’d prefer the older generation of mums, aunties and grandmas to come along, a lovely afternoon tea is a popular choice.


Hen nights get bad press, and in the UK the classic image of a hen night is often a drunken night out with hordes of ladies harassing men, women, and anyone in their path.


But they’re not all like that, and the people we meet at our cash and carry in Coventry don’t seem like those types at all!


The hen party is a little piece of history and tradition…


According to Google trends, the hen party was made popular from the 1960’s onwards, but the hen party actually dates back to 1897!


The hen party (known as a Bachelorette party in the US) used to be a “time honoured idea that tea and chitchats, gossip smart hats, constitute the necessary adjuncts to these particular gatherings,” according to the Deseret News.


Since the 1980’s , the trends have changed and an alternative has become more popular with the classic blow-up doll, the array of ‘L plates’ and participants enjoying games.


This is far from the original idea of chit chat and gossip, and now the hen party is often thought of as a wine-fuelled binge…. although not everyone opts for this approach.


A quick search on Google will show you the dark side of the hen party with arrests and lewd acts. This is because the media likes the sensationalised stories.


Well, “Sarah had a lovely chilled night with mates, pizza, a face pack, and Netflix” isn’t going to sell papers or get clicks, is it?


What are the traditional parties or celebrations for a hen party?


This depends where you are in the world.


Hen parties in Africa – It’s tradition in South Africa to have a party called ‘The Kitchen Tea’. This gathering of ladies is a simple afternoon party just before the wedding, where guests are asked to bring gifts for the bride that are suitable for her new kitchen.


The aim isn’t to get her drunk and have a final night on the town. It’s to help her set up her kitchen… something that would be seen as sexist in the UK.


Hen parties in the US – In the States, hen parties are not too dissimilar to our hen parties. The Bachelorette party can involve a lunch or nice evening with friends or (as is becoming more common) the party can be a night to remember with bars, clubs, and yes – strippers!


Hen parties in Germany – Get smashed! No, not the alcohol kind! In Germany the hen party features a kind of Greek style smashing ritual where the bride-to-be and her friends and family smash porcelain to give the couple some good luck for their life together.


Hen parties in Scotland – And by far the strangest adaptation of the hen party has to go to our neighbours in Scotland. ‘Blackening the Bride’ is, as it sounds, a party to make the bride black and dirty. The guests take buckets of flour, eggs, treacle, and feathers, mix them up and then sling the contents at the bride who sits in the back of a truck.


Then (and this is where it gets even weirder) the bride is paraded around the town past pubs and restaurants where she is paraded and given drinks before being allowed home. Odd, but true.


What’s the most popular hen party in the UK?


Depending on what you’re looking for, the meal followed by a night out on the town is by far the most popular. But with options of spa visits, culture, fun activities, sightseeing, adventure, and lunch and wine, there are many forms of the classic hen party and the options are increasing.


According the The Metro, the top ten places in the UK to go out on a hen night are:


  • Manchester
  • Brighton
  • Newcastle
  • Liverpool
  • Bournemouth
  • Bristol
  • Leeds
  • Glasgow
  • Cardiff
  • London


Manchester is famed for its combination of relaxation and vibrant nights out whereas London is a great allrounder with a bit of everything!


The running theme here in the UK is a night out with your girlfriends and female family members, although it’s often common to invite gay male friends so they can join in on the action.


What do you wear for a hen night?


This will be largely down to wear you’re going, and what you’re doing. It’s not unusual for a hen party to go Go-karting or paintballing, so the heels and dresses won’t suit you well there. But the evenings tend centre around to pubs, bars, and clubs. Some hen party organisers suggest fancy dress for just the bride-to-be, or for the entire party. Or there might be a theme you’re asked to stick to.


As far as decorations go, you’ll find that the majority will opt for:



Of course, you could create your very own theme and go wild with the themed dress code!


More ideas for the perfect hen night or weekend


According to The National Wedding Show, what most brides really want is a great time with friends and some pampering, with the odd surprise thrown in.


Which is probably why most future grooms in TV shows like ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ seem to send high maintenance women on an outdoors activity they’ll probably hate!


Top tips for the perfect hen do:


  • Write the guest list, making sure you include the ladies the bride wants there.
  • Make you communicate the plan clearly to everyone involved.
  • Plan the budget, and tell everyone well in advance what they need to pay for.
  • Include a few nice surprises for the bride.
  • Arrange hair and make-up for the bride to make her feel special.
  • Keep it personal.
  • Make sure everyone knows who the bride is!
  • Plan a few hen party games to get everyone involved and having fun.
  • Take plenty of photos for her to look back on in years to come.
  • Make sure the bride drinks plenty of water for hydration.


It’s a great starting point if you’re a head bridesmaid or Maid of Honour and you’re tasked with the impossible task of creating the best night ever! Good luck!

Hen nights – on the tiles, on the town, or on the sofa


Whatever you do, remember that the traditional reason for a hen night was to get together and chat. Back in the 1800s that’s what the hen was about and although you now have millions of options, just make sure it’s memorable for all the right reasons.


If you’re looking for decorations, outfits, and more fun bits to help your hen party be an event to remember then head over to our store now.

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