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How to host a virtual hen do: advice, tips game ideas and activities

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Megan Murray
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 Planning a virtual hen do for a bride-to-be? From activities and games to little touches to make it as special as possible, here’s everything you need to know.  

Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the wedding industry seeing weddings postponed, hen dos cancelled and even 2021 wedding trends change in the face of the pandemic.

If one of your friends is getting married this year, you’ve probably already had some difficult conversations around the likelihood of their hen do going ahead, or they’ve cancelled it already. With thousands of brides in this position, we’re seeing virtual hen dos soar in popularity as bridesmaids try their best to do something special for their friends.

But let’s face it, sitting at home on a video call is nothing compared to a city break away or a raucous night out on the town. Which makes planning a virtual hen do that’s actually any good all the harder.

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Kate Garman-Jones, a hen specialist at luxury hen service Ladies Who Hen, knows this is tough but reckons there’s lots of ways to make experience unforgettable: “It is such a disappointing time for all of the brides who were hoping to get married this summer but have been forced to cancel their plans due to Covid-19. Not only have they likely had to change their wedding plans, but they’ve been stripped of a hen party too! A double whammy!

“With this in mind, it is super important for the bride to have all of her friends swarming around her to make her feel special and to lift her spirits. A virtual hen party is the perfect way to do this. Plus, it gives everyone a chance to do something fun, different and to spend time with each other.”

We also know it can feel a bit, well, awkward to bring together a group of people who might not know each other and it can be tricky to think of activities that will translate well to screen. That’s why we’ve spoken to wedding experts to get tips on planning and hosting a virtual hen do, with some ideas for activities as well.

So, if you’re organising an online hen do for your friend and unsure of what to do or how to structure it, read our tips below. 

City breaks have previously been a big hen do trend, something we unfortunately can't do at the moment.

Find a time and date that works for everyone

Although we’re all stuck at home, not everyone’s situation is the same. While some people aren’t currently working and could video call at any point in the day, others are working harder than ever from home, and may feel that after looking at a screen all day filled with conference calls, the last thing they want to do on a Friday night is be glued to their laptop.

This also includes family situations: while some hens might live alone and be super flexible, others could have children to cater for meaning that a 6pm start clashes with bed or bath time. We know that hen dos have a reputation for creating a lot of admin, but it’s worth finding out when will work for everyone – or you could find certain people dropping out or being pulled away from the event for family reasons.

Decide on a start and end point

Two hours doesn’t sound like a long time for a hen do, but actually when you’re sitting in front of a screen with no atmosphere, ability to connect with those around you or distractions in your environment, time feels like it’s going much slower.

And although sitting in your living room is arguably a lot less effort than getting dressed up and travelling to a venue for a hen do, it also means there’s no excuse to go home which means people can feel awkward about logging off once they’ve had enough. Make it easy for everyone by laying out what is expected and dictating a time frame, no more than three hours maximum, and make sure people know this beforehand so they can structure their time around it.

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Be clear on the agenda

Plan the structure of the call ahead of time so that it doesn’t turn into ambling chitter chatter. If the hen do involves a lot of people it can be hard to have conversations that don’t clash as people talk at the same time, or delays mean that people get cut off, so although it’s lovely to catch up this can feel a little aimless. Organise an agenda and send it to each person a few days before so that they feel prepared and it eases any nerves for those who don’t know a lot of people on the call.

Ask her partner to make a fuss of her on the day

If her real hen do was going ahead, we imagine the bride would be looking forward to a whole day (or longer) of exciting plans. As she’ll be swapping that for just a few hours, it might be nice for her partner to wake her up with breakfast in bed and present her with a card signed from all of her hens. You could suggest they watch some wedding-themed films like Bridesmaids, have some bubbly at lunch and play all of her favourite music and dress up before the call to get excited.

Many weddings planned for 2020 sadly won't be going ahead this year.

Send your bride something to make her feel special

As this is a difficult time for the economy and job stability, this may not be possible, but if you want to and you’re able it’s a nice idea to make the bride feel a little pampered before her hen do. You could club together with the other hens to send her some flowers, a bottle of wine and a personalised wine glass, a ‘bride’ robe, a self-care box with beauty goodies or a sash and novelty veil, to get her in the mood for the video call.

Start with introductions

At an in person event, everyone would be able to introduce themselves and make new friends, but this is much harder on a video call. To ensure people feel comfortable making conversation with someone they might have never actually met, get the hens to say who they are and how they know the bride as the call starts. 

Talk about the big day

Lavender & Rose is a wedding prop specialist and floristry service in Scotland ran by twin sisters Rosie and Jess. Not only have they wowed many a bride with their skills, they’ve planned each other’s hen dos, so they know a thing or two about what makes a good one.

“It might seem almost taboo to talk about a postponed party, but trust us, your bride will want to chat about her eventual nuptials,” says event planner, wedding stylist and co-founder Rosie. 

“When we’ve been talking to our couples about their postponement they still want to chat about how the day will look and feel when it comes around, they want to recall favourite elements and play around with changes if their wedding will now be held on a different date. This isn’t a ‘bury your head in the sand’ situation, it’s potentially the biggest day of your friend’s life – give it the airtime it deserves and let her know you’re on board with many more months of planning!” 

An easy way to incorporate this idea into your virtual hen do is to ask everyone what they’re most excited for when the wedding rolls around. You could categorise people’s answers beforehand so that you cover a few different topics that will open up the conversation in different ways. Think food, flowers, people, vows, fashion etc. We can guarantee your friend will feel extra special to be given a little airtime to indulge in all the details of her day, which will get her super excited for the main event again, whenever that has to be.

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Plan activities

Garman-Jones knows a lot about virtual activities you can plan into a hen do, and says they can make the experience less stressful for you. “The best advice I can give anyone organising a virtual hen party, is to pre-arrange an activity to do during the call. It will really take the pressure off, especially if there is a big group and if not everyone knows each other. The person hosting the activity will then lead the experience for you. For example, if you booked a wine tasting experience (from £39pp) you would have a professional wine expert guiding everyone through the tasting, which gives some structure allowing conversations to flow naturally and allowing everyone to have a lovely time!,” she says.

“A format that has worked really well for our clients is to start the video chat with an afternoon tea (£23pp) which will have been pre-delivered to each person’s home. Everyone will have 30 minutes or so to tuck into their treats and catch up. Then, you would have the main activity such as a life drawing class (£15pp) or a murder mystery party (£38pp).”

Play some games

A lot of the games you might have been planning for the in-person hen do can still work for a video chat. For example, contact the bride’s partner and ask them to answer questions about how well the couple know each other on video. You can then share your screen and play the video, pausing before the answer is revealed, giving the bride a chance to guess. 

You can also do a group quiz on how well they know the bride, asking everyone to email you their answers as the questions are asked, so that you can tot up a winner at the end. To make the bride the centre of attention you could try a round of ‘would you rather?’ – asking questions such as ‘if you had to choose, would you rather have met your partner ten years earlier or ten years later than you did?’

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Images: Unsplash 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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