Whether you call it a bachelorette party or hen night or hag do (combined with the stag outing) or demand that no-one refer to it as anything other than simply a night out on pain of being forced into a peach taffeta bridesmaid's dress, for most women the pre-wedding girly get together is as much a part of getting hitched as other people weighing in with unsolicited opinions on every. last. thing.
In theory, I'm not a fan of the hen party. At all. It's not just the implication that it's the last night of freedom that irks me; is being part of a pack of screeching women wearing shotglasses and feather boas with a drunk and disorderly bridezilla and a bossy matron of honour at the helm really anyone's idea of a good time?
But I'm about to embark on my fourth hen this weekend and I've discovered that, once you're in good company and steel yourself for the production of a sash and a mini-veil/L plate/tiara for the bride-to-be and willy straws/headbands/whistles for everyone else (because some level of "ironic" novelty item always seems to surface, even if only for the pre going out fizz in the hotel room) hen dos can actually make for a pretty good night out!
Who'd have thunk it, eh?
Of course, it probably helps that I've only ever been to low-key hen parties. And that I've known all or most of the other attendees at each one. And that they've been for girls I really like and get on well with, whose idea of a good night out would be broadly similar to mine. Food, chats, drinkies, chats, dancing, chats.
The hen requires a modification of this formula, for some reason, but even so the ones I've been on have fallen within accepted limits: activities are alright once they don't feel like team building exercises or Obligatory Fun; very low levels of tack are not lethal; there can be absolutely NO STRETCH HUMMERS or fancy dress or stripping firemen or puking into one's shoes in Temple Bar.
That's not to say they've all been without incident: one was very nearly a complete bust when the bride's then best friend threw a strop on the evening of the party and refused to attend, which as you might imagine put a bit of a dampener on events.
Have I just been mostly lucky so far? I'd love to hear about your best (or very worst) hen party experiences. Have you been really impressed by any you've gone to? Got any horrific stories that you could do with getting off your chest?
And sure while we're here, go on and tell us what you did or are planning for your own hen. (Or bachelorette. Or "night out". Whatever you're having yourself!)
Lynnie photo c/o Michelle Molyneaux.