Are brides-to-be "owed" a hen party?
Obviously, most people are going to say no. For starters, not all women who are getting married want to have these events in the first place. Bridal parties are increasingly far-flung, which can make traveling for the celebrations prohibitively expensive.
Then again, it's nice to feel special and if your friends and family know you want to have a hen party, it's kind of them to throw you one. Personally, I didn't feel that a shower was necessary, but my bridesmaids planned me a hen party because that was kind of my thing.
In an advice column on A Practical Wedding, a woman who's been engaged for 10 months recently wrote in saying it's two weeks until her wedding and her bridal party hasn't planned any events for her — no bridal shower, no hen party, no lunch or brunch. She sounded upset, but she wasn't sure if she should be upset.
She said she has six bridesmaids. Two of them live locally, three of them live within a three-hour drive, and her maid of honor is her 19-year-old sister who lives far away. While she understands why her sister is not involved, she's questioning why the rest of her bridal party or her mum haven't stepped up.
"I don’t know if I should say anything," she continued. "But I just feel like in the course of 10 months, somebody could have hosted a little something. I would be happy with just a bridal luncheon, no gifts, no crazy partying or expensive destinations, just a time to celebrate my wedding in an intimate setting with my female friends, and feel like a bride." She added that she's been considerate of everyone financially, only requiring them to buy dresses.
Now, she doesn't know whether to tell her bridesmaids how she feels or keep quiet — especially since it's too late to do anything now that her wedding is coming up so soon.
Liz Moorhead, APW's resident advice columnist, said she thinks the woman shouldn't say anything at this point. While she has a right to feel disappointed, Moorhead pointed out, sometimes friends "aren’t good at anticipating what we want, others just aren’t good at planning, some stink at surprises." But most likely, she said, they dropped the ball because they weren't entirely aware of the expectations. Sometimes, members of a bridal party tend to think that others are handling the responsibilities.
She suggested the bride take matters into her own hands: "Instead, I’d buck up and pull together a hen party for yourself. You’ve got two weeks! If all you want is some time to celebrate with friends, then get on it, girl!"
Meg Keene, the founder of A Practical Wedding, had this to say: "First, your wedding party isn't obligated to do anything other than put on a good outfit and stand up for you at your wedding. That said, in theory you asked good friends to be part of your wedding party, not sort-of-friends that you invited out of guilt or obligation. So assuming you did that part right, if you want a party that is within reason, you should be close enough to them that you can ask if that seems like something they could help out with."
Some totally got what Moorhead was saying. "I feel ya AND am gonna side with the person giving advice here," one commenter wrote. "I definitely had some feelings about not being thrown a bridal shower by the women in my family, even though my sister and bridesmaids organized an amazing hen weekend trip. I was SO caught up in the weird wedding industry assumption that these types of events were a given that I ended up really hurting the feelings of those that care about me... I think you need to get to the root of why you feel hurt."
Another commenter advised the bride to speak up. "The advice given in here is really bad," she wrote. "She's obviously really upset about this so why should she bottle it all up? It's all about communicating early on about what you're hoping for and helping out with the planning if it's going to make it easier on your bridal party. So I'd advise for her to have a chat with her girls and ask to do something fun together before the big day in place of a mega bachelorette party."
That seems like reasonable advice to us. At the end of the day, it's all about communication. Like Moorhead said, a lot of weddings do happen without these events. But whether you're a bride or an attendant, it's important to speak up about your needs and expectations.