Today I’m debuting a new feature – so many of you have asked for ideas for hen parties/bachelorettes that I thought it was time I gave some attention to these pre-wedding festivities too. As well as regular hen party and bridal shower theme features, I’m looking to feature real parties, so if your girls did something awesome for you and you have some lovely photos to share, I’d love to hear from you! Venue suggestions for London or Cape Town are great, but this one’s open to all of you.
I thought I’d start off with an idea that’s super popular at the moment. The Gatsby/1920s theme is everywhere, and let’s be honest, haven’t we all secretly wanted to dress up as a flapper and Charleston the night away? It can’t just be me. It’s not only great for weddings, but perfect for a bachelorette as well, because you can start off with a sedate 1920s-style tea party, and then dig into the bootleg gin once moms and grans have left for the evening! It’s also relatively easy to dress up for, and not something your girls will feel too embarrassed to wear either. Plus, the ’20s are all about glamour and wild abandon, which is exactly what a hen night should be, imo. SO… How to do it? Here’s my quick guide to getting started.
Dress: Ideally your girls will be able to buy or hire flapper-style evening dresses, but if they don’t want to spend their hard-earned cash, they can make do with knee- or tea-length cocktail dresses and some fun accessories. Sparkly hair bands and feather fascinators can be bought or made up using ribbon and a brooch, feather boas, strings of pearls and long cigarette holders (any good party shop should carry these). For the less girly girls, trousers and braces are totally acceptable, like the stylish maid of honour above. The bride can wear the same dress style as everyone else, but consider adding a sweet birdcage blusher veil for that extra touch of brideyness. There are multiple flapper makeup and fingerwave hair tutorials on YouTube – here’s one that has tips for both.
Invitations: You have a few options here. One is to go art deco in keeping with the era – you can find some lovely examples of art deco wedding invitations online to inspire you. A fun option I found is these invitations from flapperdoodle on Etsy – aren’t they adorable? The range also includes a set of recipe cards, which is perfect if you want everyone to bring along a recipe for the bride during the shower portion of your afternoon. If you want to go all out (especially if there’s just a few of you), I love the idea of having a flask hidden in a hollowed-out book with the invitation on the inside front cover – how awesome would that be to receive in the post?
Decor: Obviously this will depend on the kind of party you decide to throw. If you’re having a sweet vintage afternoon tea, I think the table setting above would be absolutely perfect (and a chance to dig out the prettiest crockery!). Think lace and strings of pearls with found objects from the era like old cameras, radios or books, a lace tablecloth and soft blooms. If you’re putting on the glitz, then take your inspiration from our Gatsby Glam board below:
Top row (l-r): Vintage headpiece; metallic bouquet; metallic drink stirrers; couple; Syrie Maugham decor
Row 2: Champagne; tassel garland; mercury glass; flapper bridesmaids
Row 3: Gramophone; glitzy biscuits; cake; art deco invitation suite; bride.
Food & Drink: Finger sandwiches and deviled eggs are appropriate to the era, and you’re safe with the usual peanuts, chips and pretzels which were also served at speakeasies in the 1920s. Caesar salads were also popular and make a lovely light lunch meal. Where you can really have fun is with the drinks – tea, coca cola and ginger ale for the non-drinkers; martinis, champagne and mint juleps for the bootleggers. Of course, alcohol was illegal in America during the Prohibition, so a fun idea may be to give the drinks non-alcoholic code names, or keep them cold in a real bathtub as a play on ‘bathtub gin’.
Activities: You can have so much fun with this one! If you make your afternoon tea a Gatsby-style picnic, then be sure to include lawn games like croquet for your guests to enjoy. For an evening party, consider hiring a makeup artist to give everyone a perfect clara bow before heading out, or spend an afternoon learning the Charleston at a special class. In the UK, Charleston Dance not only offer workshops to hens in London, Cheltenham and Henley, but they offer combination packages with afternoon tea, vintage photo shoots – even a vintage life drawing class! Another idea is to organise your party around a murder mystery – you can pick up some super fun 1920s-themed packs that will give everyone a character and get them into the swing of things. Needless to say, the night ends with a bit of a boogie – get your girls on the dancefloor and party like it’s 1929!
Favours: Again, flapperdoodle has some absolutely adorable (and affordable) options, including CDs of 1920s music, beautiful playing cards, and the cutest flash cards with 1920s slang! Mini flasks on key rings are another cute option, or get everyone a copy of The Great Gatsby – almost all editions have absolutely gorgeous covers.
Venues: In London, get the full speakeasy treatment by attending a Prohibition night in the West End (see the website for details) or try Albert & Pearl in Islington. In Cape Town, rumour has it that SWING nights, hosted by culturetalent, are the place to be.
Real 1920s Hen Parties:
MORE GREAT GATSBY WEDDING INSPIRATION & IDEAS:
- Great Gatsby Bridesmaid Dresses
- Gatsby Glam Wedding Dresses
- Hair Inspiration: Gatsby Glam
- Gatsby-esque Cocktail Wedding
- Gatsby Glam Bridesmaid Dresses from Frock & Frill