It has been an incredibly difficult year for anyone planning a wedding and that includes myself. I am due to get married on the 27th June 2021 and we have only just found out that the wedding is allowed to go ahead.
Weddings in the UK are still only allowed 30 people and have been hit extremely harshly in comparison to many other sectors. From the 21st June, larger weddings are able to take place but the government has been really unhelpful in giving out information that will allow couples, like myself, to plan for their big day. Back in January, Boris Johnson set out the easing of restrictions roadmap with the intent for all restrictions to be lifted come the 21st June 2021 (this has since been affected due to the new variant). Since the announcement, my fiance and I decided to dive into our wedding planning and allow ourselves to get excited about it all - because the build up is all part of it. This, therefore, involved planning our stag and hen parties!
I originally planned to have two hen parties, one for my friends and family who are based in London and the other in Devon for those who live there. We planned to have florist workshops, spa trips, a meal in a restaurant and a big night out in a club. Unfortunately, due to COVID all these plans were cancelled and we moved on to plan B.
Taking into consideration the restrictions at the time, I came up with the idea of having an afternoon tea garden party. The restrictions allowed up to 30 people to gather in your garden after the 17th May. After suggesting the theme and agreeing to host the party in my own garden, I had little involvement in anything else - my wonderful bridal party, Mum and Mother in Law set to work on the planning.
In the lead up to the day, I was checking the weather reports like a madwoman and it wasn’t looking good. It forecast rain and showers and I was worried we’d have to call the whole thing off. Luckily, my boss very kindly offered to lend me his 7ft x 5ft marquee. I quickly got my tape measure out to measure my garden and by the skin of my teeth, the garden was big enough - just! On the Thursday before ‘hen do day’ my garden was filled with this tent-like contraption that was threatening to blow away. Thankfully it didn’t!
Then the day finally arrived and at 9:30 in the morning I was whisked away by my sister. She took me to have my makeup done at a Charlotte Tilbury counter. We both had a lovely morning being pampered and this also got me out of the house to allow my ‘bride tribe’ to set everything up.
Later in the afternoon, I was allowed back to the house and I was so overwhelmed when I walked through the door. The wonderful Rosie from Sparkling Soiree’s had been and set up a beautiful arrangement of balloons, welcome signage, prosecco wall and peacock chair - it was amazing! The attention to detail that Rosie puts into her arrangements is lovely. I had personalised balloons, all in my favourite colours!
My Mum had saved the veil she wore on her wedding day and allowed me to wear it during my hen do. This was a very touching and lovely surprise. It felt so, so special being able to wear something of my Mum’s and I felt like a proper princess in it. I wore a white lace dress from Never Fully Dressed. I loved the lace detailing and the style but the fabric itself was a little thin and I had to wear a white tank top underneath to prevent it from looking too see-through.
I’d managed to source various tables and chairs from friends and family members and these had been laid out in the middle of the marquee. It didn’t matter that they were all different lengths and widths, it added character and charm. The tables had also been covered with white linen table cloths to hide their rugged appearance. There was a beautiful floral centrepiece that stretched the length of the tables and party props scattered around. It was laid with china side plates and cups and saucers. It really did look like a proper afternoon tea spread and was so beautiful.
For the food, my friend had made delicious scones and my Mum had sorted sandwiches and salads. These were all arranged on beautiful tiered cake stands and set up in the middle of the tables. We had proper Devon clotted cream and a selection of jams. I enjoyed a cup of tea, from my china cup, with my scone before moving on to lots of alcohol. I felt so touched at the effort everyone had put in to make my bridal party so memorable!
After eating, my future sister in law had arranged some hen party games which were so much fun! She also put together a great playlist that we later danced to in the middle of my garden. My maid of honour made some willy biscuits and we had some willy straws - because what hen do isn’t complete without these?
The rain did arrive as predicted but luckily the marquee protected us all so it did not ruin our fun!
Thanks to a great effort from my family and friends, I had the most magical ‘plan B’ hen party. It exceeded all my expectations and in a way, I am so glad COVID ruined all my original plans. What we ended up doing felt so much more personal and enjoyable than sitting in a busy restaurant shouting down a table to each other - or dancing in a club with thousands of strangers.
Let’s just hope this virus doesn’t ruin our wedding day!!