Hen Night Tradition and History

In Scotland we call it a Hen night, Hen party, or Hen do – terms commonly used across the UK, Ireland and Australia. In the US they call it a Bachelorette party, in Canada it’s a ‘Stagette’ – but where did this tradition come from?

The bachelor party (or Stag do) which the hen party is modelled after was traditionally a dinner held by the groom-to-be for his friends just before the wedding. The practice of honouring the bride-to-be with a party is centuries old, but the current incarnation of the hen party only began around the mid-1980’s.

Hen night tradition is usually restricted to an all-female group – but that is not a hard and fast rule.  Hag-dos have been gaining in popularity for the last 2 decades, and are a great option for women with friends across all genders.

The party is usually organised and hosted by members of the wedding party – typically the chief bridesmaid and Maid of Honour. Traditionally, the party is held in an evening, within the last few weeks before the wedding, but Hen Weekends are becoming more popular, especially if guests are travelling from far and wide. 

The idea behind the Hen Night tradition is to celebrate the ‘last night of freedom’ for the bride.  Learner style ‘L’ plates, bridal veils, sashes and strippers are associated with Hen Nights – almost to the point of them becoming cliched! 

Hen Night Tradition in Scotland

Blackening is not a replacement for a Scottish Hen Night – it usually happens alongside it!  In the weeks before the wedding, the Happy-Couple-to-be are “captured”  by friends and family and covered in…well, everything. 

From food to glue, mud, hay and whatever else the friends choose, it’s all thrown at the couple acoompanied to the sound of pots and pans being banged!  It also needs to happen publicly, and  usually (as this is a traditional rural activity!) the couple is driven in the back of a truck or a trailer. 

For more ideas on games and things to do, visit our other Hen Night Pages.