I recently returned from Ireland where hen parties are all the rage. We saw several occurring in several cities. So what is a hen party? It is a glorified bachelorette party attended by not just the bridesmaids, but any female close to the bride, including the mothers of the bride and groom, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, sisters, bridesmaids, and close friends. It is not unusual to see twenty or more ladies parading through the streets, each wearing matching T-shirts and sashes designating their relationship to the bride.
Hen parties are big business in Ireland, where companies who specialize in the parties will arrange a week-end away in the city of the bride’s choice. Depending on the ages and preferences of the attendees (and the weather), activities might include sports, shopping or sightseeing. Popular activities include dance lessons, murder mystery dinners, scavenger hunts through the city and more, all arranged by the tour company. Saturday night usually means a visit to one or more pubs.
Attending a hen party is not inexpensive and usually includes the cost of transportation to the desired city, lodging, food, all the bubbly a person can consume in a week-end and admission fees or fees to participate in a sport or other activity.
Will hen parties catch on in the U.S.? Maybe, though most American brides prefer fewer attendees at their bachelorette party, usually limiting it to the bridesmaids and one or two close friends. Rarely would you see a grandmother at an American bachelorette party, perhaps for good reason. So what does the groom do while the ladies are away? He may have a stag party, where he and his friends will not wear matching T-shirts and sashes or parade through the streets, preferring less visibility than the ladies, though they may indulge in similar sporting events and pub crawls.