Welcome to my very first post here on the National Vintage Wedding Fair and today, it’s all about finding that perfect hen do destination or activity.
When trying to decide where to go and what to do prior to my hen do 2 years ago, there seemed to be a distinct lack of options unless I fancied trawling tacky bars with an L plate stuck to my back and a plastic willy on my head. For a lady of a certain vintage (!) this was simply my idea of hell.
Luckily, a fitting destination was found and activities that suited everyone in my party and caused me minimum embarrassment. See no.1 on my recommendations was where I ended up!
Fast forward a couple of years and the options have increased considerably, with venues, suppliers and hen party organisers now catering for those hen parties who want to do just a little bit more than get sloshed, or maybe still get sloshed but with just a bit more class and refinement, darling!
As a lover of ‘vintage entertaining with sparkle’ this pleases me greatly and so here are my top 10 recommendations for alternative and vintage inspired hen do activities and pastimes.
1. Choose a classy location
For a city of class and stature, it has to be Bath.
My hens and I booked the Georgian House in Bath, a stunning property that was built in the 1700’s and boasts many of its original Georgian features. The house sleeps up to 16 people and was the perfect combination of elegance and comfort. Staying in such salubrious surroundings was certainly a fitting backdrop for twilight soirees before venturing out for the evening.
Of course, shopping and enjoying cocktails featured heavily in our activities but when In Bath, the advice is to do as the Romans did and visit a Spa. We chose a private session at the Cross Bath, a standalone Spa, which is a great alternative to the New Royal Bath close by.
2. Unleash your inner Vintage Festival Babe
Why not choose to spend your hen do at a vintage festival? They are a splendid choice for any vintage inspired bride to be and there will be something for every member of your party.
Look at different festivals but Twinwood, Goodwood or the Retro Festival are all great options.
Spend your days enjoying a vintage makeover, a dance lesson (think Belly dance, Lindy hop, jitterbug or jive), satisfying your vintage shopping urges, picnicking to Big Band sounds and feeding your passion for homemade cake.
By night, unleash those new found dance steps, and enjoy awesome entertainers performing tunes from the 1940s and beyond. Twinwood, just as an example has 10 different music venues and 4 themed music bars with comedy and Burlesque. More fun than you can shake a stick at!
For the hen do organiser, this type of destination can be a dream come true as all activities can be pre-booked and are all in one handy place. Check your local area information for any vintage festivals popping up at a town near you.
3. Become a Vintage Vixen
It’s not a new activity by any means but opting for a vintage make over session with your babes has to be one of the most popular choices for vintage loving ladies. Imagine being pampered and beautified whilst celebrating your inner siren. Think Rita Hayworth, Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren.
Packages vary but many include a full make over, hair styling and fizz. Other options may be outfits to dress up in and a photographer to provide a lasting reminder of a fun and special day. Be sure to pick up hair and make-up tips to help you re-create the vintage look at home.
Personal recommendations from me have to be Sarah from SarahsDooWopDo’s and the lovely team at Le Keux Vintage Salon.
4. Get Your Vintage Craft on
A resurgence in the Women’s Institute and the ‘make do and mend’ philosophy has meant that this kind of activity has become increasing popular with workshops popping up all over the country.
Options range from risqué sessions making frilly knickers, nipple tassels & garters to creating bunting for the big day, wedding favours or statement jewellery. All you need to do is pick the activity your bride to be will enjoy the most!
Sessions can run for 2 hours with expert tuition being given. Items are usually simple and fun to make, ensuring that even the most ‘uncrafty’ of your hens will come away with a handmade item to treasure as a lasting memory of the day.
Check out The Crafty Hen for more inspiration.
5. Bottoms up old Gal!
Now this suggestion has to be one of my favourites. As a vintage cocktail bar owner I would personally love to have a go at this particular activity.
What a better way to spend part of the hen do shenanigans than celebrating with Classic Cocktails from a bygone era. Even better if you get to learn how to make them too!
Make and drink, make and drink! Oooh, gets me salivating just at the thought. To learn the art of muddling and flairing plus to find out what makes a Martini ‘Dirty’! then look no further than booking your hen party onto a Classic Cocktail making course.
Check your local area for classes nearby.
6. 1950’s Housewife Training
Yes, this does exist! How about you and the lovely ladies getting together for lessons in the art of being a good 1950’s housewife.
Dress for the part in 1950’s frocks, red lipstick and curls then enjoy an afternoon being taught by a professional etiquette and finishing school mistress.
Learn how to walk elegantly, the correct way to alight a sports car and how to look after your husband in the traditional way, upon his return from a hard day’s work. No, not that way! You filthy lot!
There are prizes awarded for the best 1950’s housewives at the end of the session and you get to enjoy tea and cake too! Doesn’t that all sound divine? Hop on over to Liquid Circle to find out more.
7. Go Shooting
No, before you panic I do not mean live things or members of the Stag party if they’ve been up to no good! The shooting I am referring to is of the Clay Pigeon variety.
As a pastime that dates back to the 1920’s in its current form, it’s a perfect sport for country loving outdoorsy vintage ladies to try. You can even dress the part, if you so desire. Think tweeds, flat caps and brogues and you’re off to a themed fun vintage activity with a bit of competitive sport thrown in for good measure.
There are plenty of ranges throughout the country and this activity can often be undertaken with other sporting pursuits.
8. Glamorous Retro Glamping
Camping has certainly come a long way from the ‘Carry on Camping’ image of my youth. George ‘Amazing Spaces’ Clark, we salute you!
For a weekend away with your retro babes, consider the delights of vintage glamping. Your party can choose to stay in vintage caravans tastefully restored to their former beauty and packed full with period features.
This is an eco friendly option with open fires and outdoor pursuits in abundance. Perfect for those who prefer a laid back, relaxed back to nature vibe.
Take a look at Mad Dogs and Vintage Vans for a taste of what’s on offer at their gorgeous site in the Wye Valley, Herefordshire overlooking the Black Mountains.
9. Down The Rabbit Hole
There are many companies offering vintage tea parties in all areas of the UK. Think refreshing tea perfectly brewed in vintage teapots, dainty finger sandwiches, carefully handmade cakes and cookies served on flowery, chintzy china all washed down with the odd glass of Prosecco to enhance the proceedings.
But how about an afternoon tea with a twist? Take a trip down the rabbit hole by indulging in Afternoon tea in Wonderland if you so desire.
The perfect London location for this is the Sanderson Hotel. This afternoon tea experience is an eclectic and curious affair with the menus hidden in books, teapots adorned with zebras, carousels and ticking clocks. Eats include homemade ‘marshmallow mushrooms’ and ‘Jelly Wonderland’.
There is a no ‘fancy dress’ policy though, so it’s smart dress all the way here. To find out more, take a look at their website.
10. Hula Hula
Although this pastime hails from hundreds of years ago, hula hooping in the form we know today, first experienced worldwide popularity in the 1950’s. Of course, this means that it’s a perfect leisure pursuit for hens who would love to ramp up the ‘tiki’ vibe!
Sessions are great fun, with an instructor teaching you the moves. Be prepared for stiff muscles though as arms, legs and torso are given a full work out. An average session can last up to 90 minutes and includes fun ‘hen’ games and by the end of it you will have mastered a full routine.
Hula Hooping Hens have some great packages, go take a look!
So that’s my 10 recommendations for all vintage and alternative loving hens. I hope you have been inspired. If you are the lucky lady tasked with organising the proceedings, you may find my Top Tips for a Tip Top Hen Do useful too.