I am no fun. No really, I never have been, and I am totally happy with that. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I don’t understand why dinner parties are ever an opportunity for someone to suggest playing charades. I was the child who went to pantomimes and hid under my chair when they asked if anyone from the audience wanted to go on stage, and I spent my entire university career living in perpetual terror that someone was going to suggest we all partake in the king of public humiliations – drinking games.
After I left university I learned something wonderful. I learned that as a fully-fledged adult, I was no longer obliged to passively partake in any of these things and thus ensued a few years of respite in which the word ‘no’ was as thrilling to me as it is to a toddler refusing his/her vegetables. So with this sort of mindset you can only imagine the horror that has dawned with the realization that as all my friends are now getting married, hen parties constitute around 70% of my social calendar (along with baby showers, but that’s a story for another time).
Once again I am propelled into a world that strikes me as being unusually fraught with peril – L-plates, Magaluf, neon tutus, and the 21st century nightmare that is the novelty onesie – all of these things I have seen brides-to-be subjected to by their so-called friends in what appears to be an unmitigated attack on dignity.
Accordingly, you will understand that when the latest e-invite came through to see another friend off into matrimonial bliss, the trepidation felt as my hand hovered over the mouse was dispelled with joyous relief because this time we were going on a spa weekend! No L-plates, no tutus, maybe the odd onesie, but all in all, two whole days of extended relaxation with an emphasis on good food (a priority as far as I am concerned), and time to talk to some of the people I most like to spend time with (rather than holding their hair back while they vomit into a swimming pool).
Facials, massages, and other more unusual aspects of a wider spa experience – chocolate-making, cocktail-making, and surfing lessons being chief attractions on this particular break at Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa in Cornwall (I have wanted to learn to surf for years and the fact that it could be done in the knowledge that I was headed for a facial to combat being smacked in the face with salt water for an hour made it all the more appealing).
I guess whatever you do for a hen party depends on the bride-to-be – it is about her after all … although I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s also a sly indicator of how much her friends actually like her. Nonetheless, there are a few reasons I think a spa break takes the prize for being one of the best ways to spend this pivotal time together:
1) It’s an environment in which you can all relax, which is a key ingredient to ensure that everyone has fun.
2) There is minimal opportunity for anyone to be humiliated – always a plus (see former note on being no fun and adolescent horror).
3) The food is pretty much guaranteed to be good.
4) You actually have time to talk to one another.
5) You have a pretty good idea of the cost of at the start so no one is going to get any nasty surprises or be unceremoniously out-priced (friends’ weddings are expensive, we all have to be sensitive to that).
6) Everyone leaves feeling well, or possibly better than they arrived.
This last point means that everyone will be glowing at the wedding, resulting in beautiful photos that will accordingly afford the bride even more gloating rights on Facebook and other forms of social media, which of course is what we all want out of a wedding.
Image by Eleanor Herring
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