When it comes to planning the perfect stag or hen do, plenty of people turn to the professionals. But engaged couple Chris Perry and Kimberlee Drew had no concerns about where to turn when organising their own celebrations – after all, they met while working for a company which specialises in delivering parties for thousands of brides and grooms-to-be every year.
Chillisauce employees Chris and Kimberlee first got together at the office Christmas party five years ago and will get married this year. Unsurprisingly, considering their jobs, they both wanted to enjoy unforgettable stag and hen dos with all their friends, so much so that they decided to have two each.
After both spending eight years working in the wedding planning industry and talking to excited stags and hens every day, we thought we’d find out how two industry professionals go about planning their own parties (Chris also runs a wedding photography company so gets to meet tons of couples face-to-face).
Here are some of their top tips on ensuring your own pre-wedding celebrations are up to scratch:
#1 – Don’t be afraid to have more than one party
It might sound greedy to have two hen weekends, but there can be plenty of good reasons for that. People have busy diaries and different budgets or you may just have too many friends to accommodate in one trip. For Kimberlee, an Australian who moved to England for work, she had the perfect excuse, enjoying two celebrations on separate sides of the world.
The British Hen Do
The first saw her getting all the girls round to her seaside holiday home in Selsey, near Chichester, for wine, cheese and plenty of pampering, with two naked butlers serving up a BBQ.
The Hen Do Down Under
The second one was a more relaxed affair back on home soil in Sydney, with no real activities planned, just plenty of wine and gossiping at the harbour. “We get to see each other once every two years so there’s a lot of catching up to do,” says Kimberlee. Of course, you don’t need to travel across the world for an excuse for two hen parties, if you have lots of people to celebrate then just go for it, she suggests.
“The best tip I can give is to simply have two hen dos – you’ll get an even greater opportunity to celebrate your upcoming wedding day with everyone!”
#2 – Getting your friends together is the most important thing
Chris certainly made the most of his two stag weekends, one in Sofia in Bulgaria with workmates (“it’s somewhere no-one had been before, bit different, and very cheap,” Chris explains) and then to Brighton with as many of his mates as possible, picked due to its proximity to London and great nightlife.
“Most were coming from London, so it was really easy,” says Chris. “My main objective for this stag do was to get as many of my mates there as I could, from school, uni, work and football, so we made it accessible by way of location and cost. I booked this well in advance to ensure most people were free.”
Kimberlee had a similar approach making sure everything was booked nice and early to ensure that as many of her loved ones as possible could make it.
“The most important thing is to have a couple of great best friends,” she says. “Without their dedication to organisation and booking well in advance, nothing would have run smoothly or within budget for my two groups.
You can bet everyone has busy lives, different priorities and of course varying budgets so it’s important to ensure all those invited have time to decide what they can or can’t come to, as well as to give them the best chance to save and easiest way to pay.”
#3 – Add a competitive edge for the boys
Both of Chris’s stag weekends were action-packed to the max, with sports and activities planned out throughout the Friday and Saturday on both trips. And with all that testosterone flying about, you can be sure the men will want to unleash their competitive spirit.
Go-karting was the first activity of choice upon landing in Sofia. “This is great because everyone can be involved at the same time, it gets the adrenaline going and it’s competitive,” he explains.
The adrenaline kept flowing in Brighton too, with a full-on day of adventure at an activity centre where they got to do off road buggies, an assault course, archery and air rifle shooting arranged all in one place. “This made the day competitive and active – and blew out the hangover immediately,” adds Chris.
#4 – Get pampered
If Chris made sure his celebrations were all about action, Kimberlee ensured her weekends were slightly more relaxed and decadent affairs. Butlers in the buff not only served them dinner and drinks at their seaside cottage, they even cleaned up afterwards. The next morning it was a champagne breakfast to start the day followed by a day of lavish luxury at a day spa.
“The best decision for sore heads and ideal way to laze through the day before backing up and drinking again,” Kimberlee says. “I am obsessed with having facials and massages – what girl isn’t?”
Of course, pampering isn’t just for the girls these days, the stags got in on the act as well, making the most of the sunshine in Sofia with a chill-out at an indoor and outdoor day spa on the Saturday, as Chris explains. “Friday night is always the biggest on a stag weekend, so the sauna, jacuzzi and pools all helped get over the big hangover.”