Planning a vintage hen party? Whatever your era of choice, here are our top hen party planning tips to make your task as sister, bridesmaid or maid of honour a little less stresssssssed and a little more ‘on it like a scotch bonnet’!
- Use What’sApp or Facebook messenger to canvas for ideas, make suggestions, or get definite yes’s and no’s. Get a feel for people’s budget, date availabilities, and enthusiasm.
- When it comes to making a decision, a chat with two or three people is sometimes easier than a decision by community, so get on the phone, or meet up if you can. Email is best for sending final arrangements.
- No matter how opinionated your fellow hens are, the bride to be is your main woman! She’s the one to please, especially if you’re surprising her.
- Would she prefer a chilled, afternoon tea & hair and make up hen do, with sophisticated live piano? Or a stomping 1950s rock n roll dance class , lots of laughs, and a big vintage night out?
- Plan icebreakers if the B2B has invited groups of friends who hardly know each other, from school, work, uni, & relatives. Tip: A hen party dance class is the ultimate icebreaker! Guaranteed to get people laughing and bonding as they learn a dance.
- Plan your playlist ahead of time, as this will make or break the atmosphere of your party!
- Either stick to the era for an authentic feel, or mix numbers from different vintage eras for variety. Some hens mix vintage with modern. There are many great modern numbers with a vintage feel. Throwing in a little electro swing is fun for a 20s party.
- Whether you’re having a 1940s tea party in a hired hall, or a 1920s dinner party at your holiday cottage, or a 1950s cocktail party, mix a variety of tempos, to suit the type of event. Have a danceable playlist for later if you want people to get up.
- We’ll be posting our very own recommended vintage playlists for parties here soon, era by era!
- Remember: It takes a long time to move a large, chatty, tipsy group from place to place!
- If you’re planning a hen party across several venues, as many of our London groups do, allow enough time and budget for taxis, walking, or taking the tube. Check drive times on google maps, and allow extra time between events or activities, for traffic and delays.
- Send maps to people ahead of time or print them off for use on the day. Be a girl scout when you’re planning your final details, then you can relax on the day.
- Or…. plan the whole party in one venue if you’re not up for all the logistics!
Some groups like to splash out on a posh afternoon tea or dinner. Alternatively, do your own food and then you can afford more activities, more prosecco!
- Do your own food at someone’s house or your holiday cottage – ask each person to bring a vintage china plate, teacup, side plate and cakes, and get vintage teapots and cakestands. Bring scones and sandwiches too, and ‘hey presto!’ – your home made afternoon tea.
- Have a bake-off or cook-off! Give prizes for most original and tastiest contributions.
- Get people to bring food contributions to a pot luck dinner party.
- Fun baking/ cooking themes: 1940s street party (tea and cake in the garden with union jacks), 1950s lounge party, 1920s canapes with prohibition cocktails in teacups; 1960s with prawn cocktails and other brightly coloured 60s themed food. Wicked Women’s Institute (can you imagine the cake decorating possibilities?).
- Hire a village hall for a bit longer after one of our dance classes and stay on and have your own nibbles, for a simple budget do. A lot of our hen parties in Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds do this.
What more can I say? Surely a vintage hen party is all about the dressing up opportunities? Take inspiration from old photos online.
For 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, you can buy authentic vintage clothing easily. Treasure it, or sell it on afterwards. Note: Some vintage fabrics are a bit sweaty for dancing in, but you’ll look so authentic for a vintage makeover!
There is lots of stylish reproduction vintage clothing available online. See our post on repro 1920s style dresses. There are also lovely dresses, trousers and separates in styles from the 1930s -50s , made in modern fabrics. Or, raid charity shops for clothing in the style of your era.
Vintage isn’t just about dresses! Hollywood actress Katharine Hepburn was famous for her stylish trouser suits. There were some fantastic women’s trousers in the 50s. In the 20s, it was thought extremely modern and racy for a woman to dress in gentleman’s attire, and many Hollywood stars did.
Trouser and suit wearing wasn’t always associated with cross dressing and being of sapphic persuasion (though it certainly had that appeal). In the 20s, for a woman to wear trousers was not the norm, and so you were trailblazing and rebellious if you did it.
In wartime many women went to work in the fields and factories and wore overalls and trousers suited to that work.
Be yourselves ladies… or be someone else for the day! Create your own alter ego or comedy character – go to town! Use vintage to express yourselves in any way that you see fit. Find your own feminist or anti-girly icons.
At our hen parties and events we’ve had:
- A pregnant gangster in braces, trousers and a fedora.
- A 1940s landgirl
- A wartime factory girl.
- Laurel and Hardy (above)
- A very stylish gangster in trousers with a cigar.
- A dinner jacketed Marlene Dietrich (above).
- A same sex wedding where one bride dressed as Amelia Earhart and another’s attire was inspired by Louise Brooks.