Featured image: Nirav Patel.
There are so many wedding terms and phrases that few people pay attention to until they’re engaged and trying to get a sense of what they all mean can be overwhelming. For example, what’s the difference between a Hen’s, bachelorette party, kitchen tea and bridal shower?
It’s a question we get asked frequently enough to warrant writing this article – both by bridesmaids who are trying to figure out their roles and responsibilities and by brides who are thinking about the most appropriate and memorable way to bid farewell to their life as a single woman.
Of course you don’t have to do something that fits under a particular wedding label – or anything for that matter – but for those wanting some clarity around all the differences between a Hen’s, bachelorette party, kitchen tea and bridal shower, here it is.
Hen’s Party vs. Bachelorette Party
A Hen’s party and Bachelorette party are two terms used to describe the same thing – it simply depends on where you live (Hen’s in the UK and Australia vs. Bachelorette in the US). Both are a final ‘hurrah!’ for the bride-to-be as a single woman, alongside her closest female friends.
What happens: Typically, it’s a night of debauchery – think penis paraphernalia, male strippers, free-flowing booze and dancing on table tops. It’s common for the bride-to-be to be (and sometimes her bridesmaids) to wear a veil, sash or costume that identifies her as the Hen.
With all of that said, in more recent times Hen’s parties have evolved to also include more PG style celebrations such as lunch at a high-end restaurant, wellness retreats, cocktail making classes, weekend getaways, wine tasting, nude painting, picnics, flower workshops (or a combination of the above).
Who is invited: Our advice is to keep it strictly to people who you’re inviting to your wedding. Someone close to us put it well when they said, “it’s like saying you’re fun enough to pay to party with me but not special enough to attend my wedding”. That really hits different. Our personal team feel that a Hen’s should be spent with the crew that’s closest to you, which by default means they’ll be at the wedding.
Note: It’s okay to exclude anyone who isn’t of legal age or to have parts of the celebration where attendance is optional. For example, your grandmother and mother-in-law might not want to hang around all night if the organisers have made it clear there’s an ‘After Dark’ section that is ‘X-rated’.
Who organises and pays for it: Your bridesmaids are in charge of organising the event (or if you’re not having bridesmaids, your closest friends) however, everyone attending is expected to cover the cost of the day and contribute to the covering the bride’s costs.
When does it happen: Any weekend before the wedding, though we generally recommend having a buffer of at least two weeks before the big day (just enough time to fully recover).
Kitchen Tea vs. Bridal Shower
A kitchen tea is a daytime event where you quite literally, drink tea (amongst other things). It’s usually held at someone’s house or at a venue. Traditionally, couples didn’t live together before getting married so the idea was for guests to bring a gift for the bride suitable for her kitchen such as a small electrical appliance or cookware. It is also common at a kitchen tea for guests to bring along a favourite recipe. A bridal shower is much the same only there is no theme around what gifts guests can bring.
What happens: It’s a social gathering where women are invited to enjoy a variety of food – usually sandwiches, pastries, scones, fruit, slices etc., drink tea or champagne and watch the bride open her gifts. Sometimes there are activities too such as bridal bingo, wedding movie charades and toilet paper wedding dress.
Note: Some bride’s have a kitchen tea or bridal shower before going out for their Hen’s party.
Who is invited: This type of celebration is suitable for all generations and ages. In days gone by, it was only women who were invited but now there are no set in stone rules. Again however, our advice is to keep it strictly to people who you’re inviting to your wedding.
Who organises and pays for it: A kitchen tea or bridal shower is usually organised by your bridal party or close friends and generally it is the bridal party and/or the mother-of-the-bride who cover the cost. Otherwise, some people ask guests to contribute by bringing a plate of food.
When does it happen: Usually for a few hours in the afternoon and around two to four months before the wedding day.