My wedding week part 1 – The “hag” party – Karaoke at The Dime Bar & Diner and Glamping with Strawberry Hills

I hate hen parties – and I make no secret of it. Willy straws, big sashes, loud nights out and no memory of the night before? Yes, I sound like my grandma, but it’s just not for me. A joint hen and stag (or “hag”) party was always on the cards for us. The challenge? Finding something that everyone would enjoy.

Finally we settled on karaoke followed by glamping. Time to be really honest here – the morning of the hag, due to stress caused by the family situation I’ve mentioned a few times, I suddenly got very upset and didn’t want to go. I’m telling you this because it’s a testament to how awesome the activities were that once I got there I had one of the best days and nights ever. So in case you’re stuck for ideas, here’s how we did it – and some embarrassing photos to go with!

Karaoke at Dime Bar & Diner in Battersea

I come from a large family of performers. I love retro venues. So how to satisfy both needs? The Dime Bar and Diner in Battersea. Found by one of my two amazing maids of honour, Rhiannon, it’s an awesome, diner-style, retro pub and restaurant with separate karaoke rooms downstairs. With the most expensive weekend room hire at £70 for 10+ people, this made it extremely affordable – given a small contribution from everyone, it only cost people a few pounds each to attend.

Before I get into the wonderful time we had, let me quickly tell you a bit more about the venue and what to expect:

Book in an hour early to eat. We weren’t aware (possibly through our own lack of reading things that were sent to us) that we couldn’t bring food into the karaoke rooms and so delayed things to eat. If you’re planning to grab food, make sure you arrive early and eat first or make time to eat afterwards. It really is worth it as the food is delicious and served quite quickly. There are even some immense vegetarian options (LOVED the veggie burger!) Don’t worry, booze in the karaoke rooms is allowed!

PAY ATTENTION when they show you how to use the machines – it’s not hard, but I wasn’t watching and spent the rest of the day shouting at the thing before someone showed me how easy it was to change songs.

The private booths are downstairs and they are FANTASTIC, pretty soundproof, loads of room to sit, a big screen in front and easy-to-choose songs that everyone knows. However, in hot weather and with lots of people the booths can overheat a bit, even though they are air conditioned, so make sure you bring mini fans or something to cool you down so you don’t miss any of the karaoke!

Things that I never thought would happen on our “hag” party

I was made to wear an embarrassing plastic bridal headpiece I swore I’d never go near. That lasted all of two minutes. Don’t I look like a good sport? *cough*

The embarrassing headpiece was then worn by everyone else, to make me feel better, including John. Please excuse his very rude hand gesture, I presume there are no kiddies reading! Gives a whole new meaning to Under the Vintage Veil!

We took a photo with the bridesmaids that we all liked! And I found a tacky headpiece I loved too – a little rockn’roll tiara, worn by the lovely Rhiannon in the first photo and stolen by me in the second!

I sat on Carys and Rhiannon’s lap for at least 5 minutes without being tickled by Carys. This is a miracle.

OK, that last one was SO not true:

I found out my mum’s partner Terry can sing really nicely! None of us had heard him sing before!!

OK, I FULLY expected something like this to happen:

Glamping with Strawberry Hills

Before I even start, I’ve been meaning for the last week and a half to write a huge thank you to Gemma at Strawberry Hills who did a phenomenal job at organising our beautiful tents, but the last of the wedding rush got in the way, so Gemma I’m so sorry and there’s a big thank you coming your way!! For now, though, let me tell you all about what happened.

First of all we chose a really remote campsite in East Sussex. Barely anyone knows about it and I think the owners like it kept that way, so if you’re after somewhere really secluded, PLEASE do ask me and I’m happy to tell you where we went, but I won’t publish the name because I don’t want to ruin the fact that it’s a really awesomely kept secret!

We turned up at the campsite an hour and a half late (too much karaoke fun) to be greeted by the gorgeous Gemma who showed us our tents. Gemma had created a gorgeous little village of bell tents – it was such an encouraging site having walked half a mile from where we were dropped off.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever been glamping before, but nothing could have prepared me for how excited I felt when I saw the inside of our special bride and groom’s tent. Not only was the décor stunning, complete with bunting, flowers, rugs and the most comfortable airbed and duvet in the world, but as we were getting married we were left a gorgeous hamper of goodies with luxury chocolates and crisps, champagne, two glasses and strawberries. I’ve honestly never felt so special – what amazing touches! I mean, imagine walking in to see this? Makes having a good time pretty easy:

Of course, the minute we arrived, the menfolk decided to have a testosterone-off and get the fire started. One thing I learned about men – each one of them thinks they have the magic formula for getting a fire started and keeping it alight – and they’re mostly really odd with no basis in science. But I digress – look, men are here – they bring firewood. Ug, ug. My personal favourite is the one of my cousin, Adam, carrying what appears to be a small tree!

And then the sun went down… but we didn’t! In fact, a few of us pulled an all nighter and watched the meteor shower that was coincidentally taking place that same evening above our heads. To say it was magical would be an understatement. And crashing into bed at five in the morning, I’ve never appreciate a comfortable airbed and snuggly duvet more – perfect!

A few tips for surviving a camping trip (yes, even glamping)

If you’re not having a company set you up (and after my experience I would highly recommend Strawberry Hills), make sure you get there plenty before dark to get yourselves ready.

If you’re planning an all-night party, the fire is your BEST FRIEND. I’m not joking. Unfortunately, mother nature likes to put fires out, so here are a few little secrets:

- Bring big tarpaulin sheets and other things to wrap firewood. Once the dew starts in the morning it can really put a dampener on things. Excuse the pun.
– Don’t forget a lighter or matches!
– Newspapers and other kindling help!
– No matter how much firewood you bring it’s never enough. Gather as much as you possibly can so you don’t all keep having to get up.

Bring lots of food. We had the bright idea of ordering pizza. That set us back about a million hours while we went to collect it from the main road. Potatoes are always good to bake, sausages etc. and some long sticks! It’s much more authentic.

Don’t run out of booze like we did! (Drink responsibly, kids, but still, bring enough to go around – we didn’t!)

That compost toilet a field away might seem simple when it’s light, but when it’s dark and the ground is dewy it can feel like a total mission. Bring the following:

- Several bright torches and batteries, including one torch to hang in the bathroom and keep lit (your phones will eventually die, don’t rely too much on them for light)
– Big socks and wellies – and a couple of changes of socks and shoes in case. My trainers and socks got soaked on the first walk across the field, even though it was fab and clear weather. I spent the rest of the night shivering and nearly set my feet on fire trying to warm them up! Just bring some waterproofs!
– Bring toilet roll and baby wipes. Essential.
– Never say “I’ll be right back” or you’ll start convincing yourself you’re in a horror movie… just me?

Bring PJs and, no matter how warm it is during the day, bring a nice snuggly coat too!

I had the best time at our “hag” party – and I hope my little “dear diary” account has given you guys some good ideas for your own hens and stags. So over to you – I’d love to hear how you’re all planning to celebrate your last “single” days! Are you going out clubbing? Are you doing something unique to you? Having it together or apart? We’d love to hear from you!

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