THE RISE OF THE STEN

Joint stag and hen cel­e­bra­tions have seen a surge in pop­u­lar­ity – Y&YW looks into why

You and Your Wedding - - Features & Regulars -

How to com­bine your hen and stag dos

How do you imag­ine your hen party? Given the range of ex­pe­ri­ences that have be­come avail­able over the years, you could be pic­tur­ing your­self do­ing any­thing from tram­polin­ing to a roller-blad­ing disco. Chances are, how­ever, that you can pic­ture the peo­ple who’ll be there quite clearly: you, your best friends, and pos­si­bly your mum. But you might want to add a few more to that guest list – namely, your part­ner and his or her friends.

The joint stag and hen do is un­de­ni­ably on the rise. “In the last two years, we’ve no­ticed a huge 250% in­crease in en­quiries for a joint hen and stag do – now known as a ‘sten do’,” says Lucy Zarem­b­ski of events or­gan­iser Chillisauce. “Right now, a sten do may still only ap­peal to a rel­a­tively small num­ber of our cus­tomers, but we’re ex­pect­ing that to re­ally grow.” So why are more and more cou­ples cast­ing off the tra­di­tion­ally gen­der-seg­re­gated pre-wed­ding cel­e­bra­tion? “We just didn’t feel com­fort­able with the whole stag and hen thing,” says Katy, 31, who PDUULHG 0DUN LQ ´:H PHW LQ RXU ÀUVW \HDU DW uni­ver­sity and we con­sider most of our friends to be joint friends. And any­one I met with­out Mark, like my school friends or for­mer col­leagues, he’s got to know any­way over the years. It felt a bit forced to sep­a­rate ev­ery­one based on gen­der.” Laura, 28, is

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Rho­dri for sim­i­lar rea­sons. “I get on so well with Rhod’s best friends and I would have felt left out if he didn’t want me to come along on a night out – and vice versa!” she says. “We don’t re­ally do sep­a­rate girls’ and boys’ nights out, so why would we make an ex­cep­tion for this?”

THE SMART OP­TION

Even if you do have sep­a­rate friend­ship groups who don’t par­tic­u­larly know each other, a joint cel­e­bra­tion could still be the smart op­tion. “A sten can bring the wed­ding party to­gether to meet and break the ice be­fore the big day,” Lucy points out. “It will cre­ate a bet­ter en­vi­ron­ment for not only the day of the wed­ding but also cre­ate a foun­da­tion for stronger re­la­tion­ships in the fu­ture, too.” There’s also a com­pelling prac­ti­cal ad­van­tage. It costs £303* on av­er­age for each guest to at­tend a wed­ding. Given that they’re prob­a­bly go­ing to more than one such cel­e­bra­tion that year, any­thing you can do to bring down their spend will be much ap­pre­ci­ated. “A much big­ger group book­ing means that you can split the cost be­tween ev­ery­one, mak­ing it much more af­ford­able so your money lasts longer,” says Lucy. “With a joint hen and stag do, you’ll be of­fered cheaper ac­com­mo­da­tion, ac­tiv­i­ties and nightlife.” Just re­mem­ber that the larger the group, the more peo­ple there are to keep happy, par­tic­u­larly if you need to choose ac­tiv­i­ties. Af­ter all, if your maid of hon­our has been eye­ing up a hip hop class while the idea of danc­ing in pub­lic is the best man’s pri­vate hell, it’s un­likely that will end hap­pily. When mak­ing the se­lec­tion, it’s best to go for crowd-pleasers rather than any­thing too niche – see our sug­ges­tions be­low. If you ab­so­lutely had your heart set on do­ing some­thing your part­ner would hate, you could al­ways try a semi-sten – you each do sep­a­rate ac­tiv­i­ties with your friends, then all meet up for some se­ri­ous joint cel­e­brat­ing. “We’ve hired a house in Dorset with all our friends, but we’ll be do­ing sep­a­rate things in the day­time and then go­ing out as a group both evenings,” says Laura. “Rhod’s ex­cited about

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like that with me, be­cause I hate golf! But we haven’t di­vided the ac­tiv­i­ties ac­cord­ing to gen­der. Our friends just had to tell us in ad­vance which ones they wanted to do, and we’ve ended up with mixed groups for all the ac­tiv­i­ties.”

THINK ABOUT ORGANISATON

One of the se­crets to a suc­cess­ful sten is be­ing clear about who’s or­gan­is­ing the whole af­fair. If you’d pre­fer to leave it to the grooms­men and

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that they’ll work well to­gether. “We found it eas­ier to sort out our joint stag and hen our­selves,” says Katy. “I had four brides­maids and Mark had his best man and four ush­ers – it would have been a case of ‘too many cooks’ if we’d left it to them.” You also need to be clear that this is some­thing you both want to do, be­fore you get too far into the plan­ning process. “We’ve al­ways said we’d have a joint hen week­end away, but re­cently my

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like she’ll be miss­ing out some­how by not hav­ing her own hen,” says Kerry, who’s mar­ry­ing Jes­sica in 2019. “I think we’ll still have a joint hen, then she’ll do some­thing sep­a­rate with her mum and sis­ters.”

Of course, there’s noth­ing wrong with want­ing to stick to the more tra­di­tional hen and stag for­mula – it’s about what suits you as a cou­ple. “I can’t think of any­thing worse than hav­ing a joint stag and hen with Tom,” says Liz, who’s get­ting mar­ried in sum­mer 2019. “We live to­gether, so we spend plenty of time as a cou­ple any­way – I like hav­ing a chance just to be with my friends.”

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