Send stuffy traditions packing and consider a mixed pre-wedding celebration. Jenny Shelton investigates the rise of the ‘sten’ do
Lately I found myself comforting a miserable bride to be. “I was like, ‘But I want to do that!’” she wailed, while I made sympathetic noises.
No, she wasn’t getting cold feet, but feeling sniffy about not getting cold feet – at her intended’s action-adventure stag do. He’s planning a climbing and caving trip with mates in Wales and, unsurprisingly, his future wife is miffed at being left out of the fun. This is a situation arising more and more.
When it comes to it, all of us enjoy a good party, some silliness and a bit of adventure, regardless of gender. There’s no reason why girls have to stick to cocktail classes and spas when it comes to hen dos: I chased hungover zombies round an abandoned swimming pool for my hen do and couldn’t have asked for more. (Of course, there’s nothing wrong with spas and cocktails – as we’re sure some guys would agree.)
Plus, girls don’t exclusively have girl mates and vice versa. If you’ve got a mixed friendship group, a mixed ‘sten’ – or ‘hag’ – do seems a clear solution.
Stag and hen do’s are clearly no longer the ‘last single fling’ they once stood for; more a chance to let your hair down with your bezzies and celebrate having found that amazing person you want to spend your life with.
Which gets me to my final point: bring your betrothed along too. Start as you mean to go on, having fun with all of your mates, together.
Make a splash and take your mates wakeboarding at Hannam’s Wake Hub. Run by friendly Aussies, this purpose-built lake in the middle of the Fens is an excellent ‘sten’ destination. Wakeboarding’s a cross between waterskiing and snowboarding, but you don’t have to be an expert in either to have fun: get zipped into a wetsuit then glide gracefully across the open water like a pond skater (or bellyflop like a beluga whale, either’s good).
Cocktails & karaoke
Get loud and hit the town with your home girls ’n’ boys, starting with a few cheeky cocktails. The Snug offers cocktail-making workshops, as does Cambridge club Kuda (or take a sophisticated approach at Hotel du Vin in their underground bar). Now that everyone’s loosened up, take yourselves over to The Orchid’s purpose-built karaoke booths (friendly staff are on hand if you knock the machine and end up with the lyrics all in Chinese. Not that we’ve done that). Cambridge Leisure also offers Sing Dizzy karaoke pods, complete with dressing-up box (the orange wig and Elton glasses are MINE!).
Hire a party pad
Get everyone together in a big house and make your own fun. Bring your own booze (cheaper), make a party playlist and throw in some games or a dance mat or two – you don’t even have to get out of your pyjamas if you don’t want to. See Rishangles Old Church in Suffolk (perfect for a Cluedo party, it sleeps 12 in four bedrooms) or stay in the amazing Cley Windmill in Norfolk (sleeps 20 in nine rooms).
Thinking of a ‘sten’ do abroad? Make the most of Cambridge Airport on our doorstep, which flies to a number of desirable destinations. Just over an hour away from Cambridge, Jersey has everything: sandy beaches, nice bars and restaurants – and better still, you’re unlikely to bump into many other stag or hen dos. Never mind Riga, we’re in the market for a classier kind of do, thank you very much! Visit Premier Travel on Sidney Street for further details and inspiration. www.premier-travel.co.uk
Experience the unbridled joy of smashing headlong into your mates while ensconced in a massive inflatable hamster ball. After a short introduction by your friendly instructor, you’ll be inserted into a cushiony zorb (your head and torso is covered, while your legs are free) ready to run wild and indulge your inner kid. The football aspect is very much secondary here but the competitive stakes are high. Falling over doesn’t hurt, though getting up again whilst laughing, feeling like a turtle on its back, can be a challenge! It’s a perfect icebreaker for your group, many of whom might not have met before, and very gender neutral. Don’t expect anyone to go easy on anyone, and you may be surprised who the star player turns out to be. Takes place on Parker’s Piece and other selected venues (up to 30 miles of Cambridge). One hour costs £186 for a group of 8-16. www.krashball.com