This year I’ve been incredibly lucky to be a bridesmaid on two occasions. I have never been one before now and it has been so much fun. For my friend Alice, I had a bit of involvement in planning and getting her hen do together along with the maid of honour and two other bridesmaids. It was pretty overwhelming, to begin with, but really enjoyable overall. We settled on planning the hen party in Manchester over August Bank Holiday. It was where we went to university and a great city overall for food, things to do and going out.
One of the first things the bride-to-be will see at a hen party in Manchester is probably going to be where she’s staying. With so much choice from hotels, B&Bs and apartments, we settled on a private flat just on the outskirts of the city centre. We originally were staying close to the Ancoats area of Manchester but frustratingly, the person we booked it from cancelled about four weeks before!
We had booked through booking.com and they couldn’t have been more accommodating with what had happened. They found us another apartment despite the weekend we were going being a bank holiday and over Manchester Pride Weekend. For the inconvenience that was caused, they were happy to give us a bigger place for the same price which was much appreciated. The apartment was amazing and we decorated it with lots of balloons with polaroids of us all and the bride-to-be over the years.
The location ended up being on the other side of the city but was actually better as it was closer to the things we had planned. The apartment was at Bridgewater Gate, just off Ordsall Lane. They were a little too far to walk but only about three minutes away from Deansgate by taxi.
There are plenty of different places to choose from at a range of prices. We wanted to get an apartment that was easy to book so went through booking.com. I’ve also used Airbnb before for some great places to stay in Manchester. If you’re looking to keep prices lower, I’d suggest staying just outside the inner city ring-road. You can get much bigger apartments for a much lower cost. It’s not extortionate to get a taxi or you can get an Uber for about five pounds into the centre.
One of the easiest and most fun things at a hen party are the games. They are great to get people chatting and getting the drink flowing. It’s important to have them to break the ice as not everyone will always know each other. We decided on doing a couple on the first night as icebreakers and some more on the second before getting ready for pride. Some of the games we played were the following:
Mr & Mrs
Probably one of the most popular hen party games around! This takes a bit of preparation and the Maid of Honour took this one on herself. You put together a list of question to ask the groom-to-be in advance. At the hen party, the bride-to-be then has to answer with what she thinks her partner’s answer would be, not what she thinks. This can be simple things like “What’s the bride’s favourite food?” to the funnier and more awkward questions like “What’s the groom’s favourite position?”. For every question she answers incorrectly, she has to take a shot. Save the embarrassing questions for last as they get funnier with more drinks.
Would She Rather
This is a pretty easy game to put together, you simply write or print out a list of either/or questions. The bride has a copy along with everyone else. She will circle her answers and everyone else has to circle what they think she will write. Again, keep them as general or as difficult as you like, the idea of this game is to get the other guests drinking. When going through the bride’s answers, anyone that got her choices wrong has to take a shot or a sip of prosecco.
As much as most know that hen parties can get messy, I’d always suggest somewhere a little more upmarket, to begin with. If you’re planning a hen party in Manchester, there are so many options available. I’d suggest looking at something unique, whether that’s for the aesthetics or the drinks. There are so many amazing bars in the city centre. We looked at a few; The Fitzgerald, 20 Stories, Sunset and a couple of others. Ultimately, we decided to go with Cloud 23 looking over the city in the Hilton Hotel on Deansgate. Something a little different to the every day and within everyone’s budgets. We preordered a drinks package which gave every a glass of prosecco and a cocktail which got the drinks flowing upon arrival.
We didn’t have any set plans for afterwards and decided to go with the flow. I’d suggest looking at a few different bars if you’re planning a hen party in Manchester and don’t know the area. We decided to head to Deansgate Locks afterwards as it’s fairly cheap and reminded us of our student days without being as bad as the Printworks! Celebrating the bride-to-be, we decided to start with some cheap shots in Coyote Ugly whilst dancing on the bar. Such a fun and cheesy night!
We actually planned the hen party in Manchester around the Pride festival. The bride worked in the village every year so it was another nice touch for her to reminisce. I would always suggest to have an activity or two and there’s so much choice. Some of the other places we were looking at before deciding on August Bank Holiday, were Crystal Maze and Junkyard Golf. I’ve done both with work previously and they’re such a laugh. The activities are important to break the ice again and get to know the other people that are also close to the bride.
Now, most people love a good brunch, so we planned to find a great one for the first morning. One of the other bridesmaids researched a few and we decided to go for Cottonopolis in the Northern Quarter. The main reason we went for it was because they offered bottomless brunches at the weekend for only £15 on top of your meals. It’s a Japanese inspired restaurant and the food looked incredible.
When we arrived, it looked like something on my Pinterest boards. Based in a grade II listed building, the walls were exposed brick and the decor was gold, navy and lots of amazing greenery. The food was incredible. I tried the crispy duck leg with waffles, yuzu marmalade and a duck egg. I started off my bottomless brunch with a bloody Mary but then switched to the white peach bellini. Delicious, definitely want to go back next time I’m in Manchester.
There are a lot of ways to keep costs down when you’re planning a hen party in Manchester. We decided to get a kitty together to get supplies for the apartment. This included food; sausage rolls, drinks, sweets, crisps, bread, coffee, etc. I made a huge cheesecake to celebrate with that was a little over-the-top and tasted even better after a night out. We didn’t eat out on the second night, we just got a Domino’s on our way back from Manchester Pride which was a great decision.
Other things to remember when planning a hen party in Manchester
Something that’s becoming more popular amongst hen parties and weddings is getting a hashtag for Instagram. It’s a great way to see everyone’s photos from the event in one feed. Try and decide on something unique for the bride-to-be that’s relevant and either involves her current surname or her new surname. It can be a little difficult depending on the surnames but there are loads of generators like this one to start your inspiration.
Another nice touch to include for a hen party in Manchester or any other city is a hangover kit. I bought some online and put them together with water, sweets, chewing gum, hair ties, painkillers, Berocca and a few other little bits and bobs. The bride-to-be’s bag was a custom-made canvas tote and there were a few extra bits for her like Lucozade, a face mask, under eye mask and a card.
I had so much fun with planning a hen party in Manchester so just wanted to share some of the things that we did. Even if you’re not looking to arrange one in the same city, I hope it points you in the right direction and gives you ideas. My favourite part of the weekend was without a doubt the bottomless brunch and the games in the apartment before going out. Try not to get too stressed out with anything when planning things, everything will work out.
Have you ever planned a hen party before?