Top Trends for Bucks and Hens!

Prince William is believed to have eschewed a boozy bucks in favour of a low-key event with 20 of his closest mates.

His bride-to-be Catherine Middleton also reportedly opted for an understated hens party at a friend's house over any wild shenaningans.

The couple, to be married in London on April 29, is on the mark when it comes to bucks and hens trends in Australia, with many brides and grooms-to-be revamping the last hurrah. Half-naked gyrating strangers are no longer cutting it in the over-the-top world of pre-wedding festivities.

As the countdown to the royal wedding gets into full swing, we take a look at the activities that are setting a trend

GETTING WET

It was all about the sand and surf for Sydney journalist Katelyn Catanzariti's hens celebration. Catanzariti gave her bridesmaids one direction when it came to organising her hens: everyone had to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The rest was out of her hands.

"My ingenious bridesmaids more than fulfilled that criteria with organising a weekend away to Mollymook on the New South Wales South Coast, where we all - my 63-year-old mother included - had a surfing lesson," Catanzariti says."Only one of the gaggle of us had ever surfed before and we were all pretty hopeless, but we had so much fun."

But just because Catanzariti was tackling a surfboard, doesn't mean she escaped hens night novelties."I had to have the lesson while wearing a veil attached to a chicken (hen) mask," she says.

After surfing, Catanzariti was dressed up as a mermaid and played bowls at the local green. At night the women had a fancy dress party, played games and enjoyed good food and wine.

BACK TO BASICS

When it comes to bucks nights, many guys are opting for a fishing or camping trip. Catanzariti says her husband, Glen, went kayaking at Kangaroo Valley with 15 mates and spent the night camping in the wilderness."I don't think there was much sleeping involved," says Catanzariti. "Much more climbing trees, sitting in the kayaks drinking beers and midnight swims."

She says the couple wanted to have memorable hens and bucks nights that would stand out from other celebrations they have been to. "Also, a lot of our friends are married or in long-term relationships and were not interested in the sleazy silliness that is expected of a 'proper' send-off. I've seen plenty of strippers, dressed up in silly outfits and had more than enough greasy strangers rub up against me on the dancefloor."

Jen Hitchens from WA company Aphrodite Wedding Planners says some couples are even holding a bucks and hens weekend together.

They've decided there is no point in being separated when they share the same friends, says Hitchens. "It is definitely steering away from the trend of going to the nightclubs."

GOING NAKED

No, this isn't about stripping the hen, but about adding a touch of class to some eye candy.For creative types, life drawing has become an option for a hens celebration but it's not just any ordinary art class.

Sydney Hen party planner Kylie Roberton says life drawing classes are becoming a popular alternative to a trashy night out."I think there's a move away from strippers. A lot of the feedback I get is `we don't want anything sleazy but we want something a little bit fun'," Roberton says.

The two-hour classes include a nude male model, professional art teacher, a topless waiter serving food and even mini shoulder massages.

"It's really interactive, it's really fun and it's not just a boring art class," she says.

IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO

Many brides-to-be who want to celebrate their upcoming wedding with their mums, and are choosing to have separate, more tasteful events. A kitchen tea or high tea saves you from becoming embarrassingly drunk in front of your mum, aunty, grandma or mother-in-law. These hens will often still have a crazy night out but will keep the invitations to only a handful of their closest friends.

"We have a lot of requests where the mum and mother-in-law and a few elderly aunties are coming, and it's not appropriate to have a stripper," says Roberton, who also runs Sydney High Tea.

"You want to go out and get a little bit drunk and let your hair down without your mother-in-law being there, so some women go for the bridal shower which is much more traditional.

"There's a lot of pregnant brides now, a bit more of a sophisticated crowd, who are not wanting anything at all sleazy."

IT'S ALL ABOUT LENGTH

Many bucks and hens are going away for a long weekend to celebrate their upcoming nuptials, as opposed to having a single night out.

Hiring a beach shack where your friends can organise barbecue lunches every day, and from where you can base fishing and surfing expeditions, is becoming the norm.

Wedding planner Hitchens says as the age of married couples gets older, people are preferring to steer clear of the nightclub scene. "It's not really just about the alcohol anymore," says Hitchens.

She says many brides and grooms-to-be are extending the time off they've taken for their weddings and having bucks and hens events in the weeks leading up to their big days.

"So they might come down for an extra two weeks in the (Margaret River) region and have their bucks and hens prior to the wedding. All the boys play golf and the girls go on a wine tour and or to day spas. I think it comes down to time to. They're thinking `we may as well do it all at once'."

TRIED AND TESTED

If all else fails, go for the tried and tested bucks and hens nights. Popular options for bucks include heading to the go cart track for some friendly competition, playing skirmish with a group of mates or picking a few suburbs, hiring a bus and taking part in an all-day pub crawl.

For hens, getting glammed up and going to the horse races is always a winner, along with pamper days at luxurious day spas and wine tours in regions such as the NSW Hunter Valley.

If you're still in the mood for drunken revelry, hiring a party boat is an option for both men and women, while hanging out of a stretch hummer as it cruises the streets will guarantee you a few looks.

IF THAT'S NOT ENOUGH

- Cocktail masterclasses taught by a mixologist is a great way for a hen to let her hair down while being educated. And you get to drink what you create too.

- With burlesque dancing back in the limelight, hens are opting to get in touch with their feminine sides by attending pole dancing workshops with friends. Latin dancing classes have also become popular.

- If you're more into health and wellbeing and need a break from hectic wedding planning, it might be worth considering booking into a yoga retreat. This is an extension of the pamper package hens trend.

By Jennifer Chapman, AAP


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