Hen's Party, Kitchen Tea, Bridal Shower... what's the difference!?

There’s a lot to organise in the lead-up to a wedding! We aren’t going to list every single thing here, because that’s not what we are here to talk about today, and frankly, that list could be pretty daunting!

What we are going to look at are some of the traditional celebrations that can occur in the lead-up to the main event. We’ll shed some light on what these are, where they have come from, and how you might like to include them as part of the party planning process.


Hen’s Party

Let’s start with, potentially one of the most thought-about pre-wedding events, the hen’s party (also known as the bachelorette party). These are known for maybe being a little on the wild side! They can often involve the group of girls hitting the town, having a drink or two, and maybe even some semi-naked men! 

But, where did it all start?

The term ‘hen’ way back in the day (we’re talking Middle English times) was used to describe a female of any bird or even the female gender of any species of animal. Jump forward to the 1800s and ‘hen do’ was now being used to describe a general gathering of women with no relation to an upcoming wedding. However, it wasn’t until we hit the 1970s did girls start to come together and have what we now refer to as a ‘hen’s party’. Buck’s parties came first, but after the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the girls started to get the opportunity to party hard and let loose before the wedding!

What are they now?

Since the conception of the hen’s party came into its own in the 1970’s it hasn’t changed too much. As we mentioned before it is generally a time for the bride-to-be and her closest girlfriends to come together and let loose a little bit. This usually involves some drinks, some penis paraphernalia, some dress-ups potentially, and usually some form of male entertainment. Bear in mind, for a hen’s party, it is usually the bridal party that foots the cost of the bill!

Who’s invited?

This one may not be for the family. Due to the nature of the events, it is usually seen to be the bride and her bridal party and her closest BFFs, all over 18 of course!

What can I do?

With all that being said, the hen’s party doesn’t all have to be about booze and half-naked boys! You can tailor the celebrations to include whatever the bride is into!

Here is a brief list of other activities you could include as part of the party.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out our post on the top activities to include in your hen’s party!

 Bachelorette in red laying in front with a hen party sash, 4 women standing behind her


Bridal Shower

Bridal Showers on the other hand tend to be a little bit more sophisticated and cater to a wider demographic of guests than the hen’s party. The idea is that it’s a time for the upcoming bride to be showered with gifts from their female friends and family.

Where did it all start?

Now there certainly is some history with this one! Bridal showers have origins dating back to the 16th century. It began in Holland when the father of a young bride-to-be refused to pay a dowry as he disapproved of the marriage. From here the women in the town got together to offer small gifts to assist the girl in starting her home without the financial support from her father. 

What are they now?

These days it still is a chance for the bride to receive gifts, yet these gifts may have differed slightly from what they once were. Instead of only items to create a home, the gifts may include spa treatments vouchers, lingerie, candles, perfume etc. The Bridal Shower is a time for the bride to thank her bridal party for all the support leading up to the wedding as well. Often the bride’s family will pay for the bridal shower, however, the maid of honour and bridal party may contribute to the overall costs of the party as well.

Who’s invited?

Traditionally female-only attendees, the guest list generally includes the bridal party, family friends, and the groom-to-be’s family as well. 

What can I do?

The activities to include in a bridal shower can really be limitless, however, oftentimes the celebrations are held at the bride’s house or even her mother’s house. Activities to consider could include;

This is a brief list to get you thinking, of course, there are endless options to choose from!

4 women sitting on bed applying maekup with pink balloons around them


Kitchen Tea

Out of all the celebrations, the Kitchen Tea and the Bridal Shower are probably the most similar. Generally, they are a lower-key event than the hen’s and involve the family members as well as close girlfriends. 

Where did it all start?

Traditionally the kitchen tea was a time for the bride to receive gifts revolving around cooking and it would be a chance for the bride to be provided tips and tricks around the kitchen.

What are they now?

These days, they aren’t as commonplace as they used to be. This may be because the idea has been incorporated into the Bridal Showers, or maybe because many women getting married live out of home and already have their kitchens set up and have learned some basic cooking skills. These events are usually during the day and often take place in a home environment, usually the bride’s or her mother’s house. It is relaxed and fun and can also include games, similar to those we mentioned in the Bridal Shower activities section.

Who’s invited?

Typically a female-only event, the guest list will include any close women in the bride’s life. It can be an all-ages event, so even the soon-to-be flower girls can be invited!

What can I do?

You could incorporate the idea into your celebrations for the Bridal Shower as the concepts are quite similar. However, if you are looking to pay tribute to the good old days and have a kitchen tea you might like to consider the following few ideas;

  • Taking a cooking class
  • Attending a high tea
  • Play some games (bridal bingo, scavenger hunt, recipe for a good marriage)


White cake with flowers and table of women sitting and eating behind

All in all, one of the girls getting married is something to celebrate! So why not take as many opportunities as you can to get together and spread the love. Whether you decide on one of the above, all of the above, or a combination, there are no rules as to what pre-wedding events you need to include. Remember to ensure that any celebrations that are planned reflect the personality of the bride and what you plan to do is inclusive of all the important women in her life, and you really can’t go wrong!

Until next time,

House of Hens xox



girls getting ready for night out
Emily Christensen

After saying cya to the corporate world, Emily has taken her experience with people and business and put pen to paper. In reality, it's more fingers to the keyboard, but nonetheless, she is crafting copy and content online to help businesses show the world just how great they are!

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