Your best friend has gotten engaged, and she's asked you to do her the honour of being her bridesmaid. It's a huge privilege, and one that you really can't turn down. A lot of first-time bridesmaids don't realise that being there for your friend on her special day can be expensive work. There are dresses to buy, fake tans to apply, and (most importantly) organising the hen party.
If you're on a tight budget, don't despair. Our top tips will make sure that you give your pal the perfect send-off, without getting on the wrong side of your bank manager.
Tip 1: Set a budget
The other hens (and the bride) will love you if you manage to keep costs low for everyone, making budgeting one of your most important tasks. It can be easy to get carried away looking at swanky afternoon teas, cocktail making classes and spa days, but before you start looking at what's on offer, it's best to decide how much you want to spend. Once you know how much it should cost per person, go from there.
Tip 2: Take deposits
Any last minute cancellations from other hens could leave you out of pocket. The best thing to do is calculate what needs to be paid for in advance, and ask each person to pay their share. Let them know that if they cancel they're forfeiting their deposit, and that nothing will be booked until they cough up. It might sound tough, but it will save any potential resentment down the line. You can make use our free money management software to keep track of who has paid, and which venues have taken payment, so you'll always be on top of your finances.
Tip 3: Think outside the box
One of the best things about saving money is that it can inspire creativity. You might not be able to afford to fly the bride out to the Algarve for a weekend of fun in the sun, but you can always host a beach-themed party in your own flat. Get every girl to bring a different kind of fruit juice and a bottle of bizarre booze and have a cocktail making competition. Throw in some party games like never have I ever and fuzzy duck and you have the recipe for a night the bride will look back on during years of wedded bliss.
Tip 4: Look out for deals
Keep an eye on group buying emails to see if anything interesting pops up. You'd be surprised at how many random activities can pop up: clay pigeon shooting, wine tasting, bargain weekends in countryside chalets... all excellent options for a hen party. As well as giving you inspiration and ideas for things to do, these emails also offer bargain basement prices so that no-one is left out of pocket.
The most important thing to remember is that it's not about how much you spend, it's about the company. The bride isn't looking for an excuse to be pampered: she just wants to have a great night out with her favourite ladies. Whether that's in a Michelin star restaurant or her local Wetherspoons.
Posted by Marc Murphy