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Should We Have a Sten Party?

by 18 April 2015Hen & Stag3 comments

Raucous nights of drunken debauchery, enough cosmo to drown in and perhaps a misguided sexual encounter with a lady boy – what’s not to love about the age old tradition of the stag and hen party?

Okay, so not all parties quite follow the same dangerous pattern of Hollywood’s Hangover films, but we wouldn’t mind betting that it isn’t all hyperbole. Well, maybe the bit where they stole Mike Tyson’s tiger.

It’s perhaps partly because of these films that more and more couples are opting to have joint parties, otherwise known as a Sten party – perhaps they don’t trust one another to play safe. Perhaps they simply don’t trust each other.

But perhaps it’s because they share all the same friends, perhaps it is because they don’t have an exclusively gender-based set of friends to spend a night out with, perhaps it is because they enjoy each others’ company. Who knows. Crazier things have happened.

Young men and women celebrating

One Last Night of Freedom

Traditional Hen and Stag parties have notoriously bad reputations and in the lead up there is always some concern that the best man or chief bridesmaid is going to hire a stripper or attempt a ‘honey trap’ for their friend.

I think this is one of those images that just doesn’t go away, like Englishmen with bad teeth and Frenchmen in mime outfits. These are, for the most part, ridiculous stereotypes that have very little basis in truth.

Solo parties these days are often getting longer, spread out across a weekend and indulge in several activities such as quad biking or spa days. It’s become a lot less about getting absolutely trashed and cheating on your partner and much more about spending a fun couple of days with your friends. This doesn’t necessarily mean there is no alcohol consumed of course…

Let’s not fool one another, nine times out of ten your friends will act differently around you than they would in front of their partners. I think this counts doubly for most guys. A party with your mates before your wedding isn’t an excuse to go and have meaningless sex with someone whose name you can’t remember, but to destress and be silly and fun. This might mean doing things that your partner might not approve of, but only because they would call you childish perhaps.

Paintball activity

Joined at the Hip

Having a ‘Sten’ party, as it has been dubiously named, is a good way to combine budgets, combine friends and celebrate together. If you’re thinking of having a party together because you don’t trust your partner, you might want to reconsider why you’re actually getting married. If you’re thinking of having a party together because you don’t trust your partner’s best mate to look after them when they’ve had a couple too many, you may also want to question your motives.

There are very few legitimate reasons to have a Sten party, but the ones that exist are very good reasons indeed. For starters

  • Your best friends don’t fit into a gender category

Most of my wife’s best friends are guys. She has a couple of girlfriends, but realistically, 90 per cent of her friends are men. This could technically make a hen do quite problematic. Her friends could feel left out (especially as I have a completly different group of friends) and she ends up having quite a small group to go out with. In this case, a joint party means that they could have come, invited by her.

  • You share all the same friends

You could still go off in seperate directions, but if you’re the kind of people that like to do things as one group, it makes sense. You just have to make sure you’re spending time with friends rather than together – there will be plenty of time for that soon, trust me.

  • Money

A joint party means joint budgets and it also means, as a larger group, that you can often get good discounts on things such as restaurants, activities and drinks.

Rinse It

We got married in Thailand, so we sort of cheated. We had seperate parties back at home, but once we got out to Thailand we had a joint party with everyone that came with us. With any luck (and maybe a heavy helping of hard work) you should only ever be doing this the once. So rinse it. Celebrate it until you simply can’t party anymore. It doesn’t need to be shots and spiked marshmallows – it’s just another excuse to spend time with all the people you love. Make the most of it.

About the author

Paul Macklin

Paul is your friendly neighbourhood poet/cynic. He believes in story-telling, curiosity and peanut-butter sandwiches and he spends the vast majority of his time writing stuff. Paul learnt how to write stuff at Portsmouth University where he earned himself a Masters degree in writing stuff. Neat huh? Paul also hates writing in third person.


  1. Mike Collins

    This is a great article about Sten Parties.

    I must confess that I don’t really understand the concept of segregating the genders for this kind of celebration, unless
    it is a pretext for lusting after naked flesh, having the last night of freedom or other kinds of misbehaviour.

    I sing at a lot of hen parties, but this kind of hen party has already realised that they do not want nudity or misbehaviour, and that is why they book me in the first place.

    I am The Wandering Minstrel and I write funny songs all about the bride to be, from whatever the hens tell me about her, I record it onto a full band production audio CD, and then surprise her, and sing her special funny song, live, before presenting her with the CD of her special song. I have often thought that it was a shame that the groom to be did not get the chance to hear the song performed live too, after all it is often just as much about him as it is his girlfriend. Not to mention, the brothers, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, nephews who would have loved to have seen the performance too.

    The hen parties that book me to surprise the bride to be, have realised that the so called traditional entertainment at hen parties is not compulsory. Where did they get the impression that it was compulsory to have a male stripper? There are always members of the group that don’t approve, usually the bride to be herself. Often, though, there are aunts, or grandmothers who would have loved to share this event with her, but will not go because of the nudity.

    Shouldn’t the hen party be a celebration of the time this group of friends have had together, as she moves on to her new life? Does having a naked man writhing in front of her achieve this, of course not. Having a funny song written and performed all about her does, as do lots of other activities.

    As it happens, hen parties are becoming more and more sophisticated and do not always involve a man getting naked. So I say that if there isn’t going to be anything unsavoury, then why not have the stag and hen parties together. Why not tell all those funny stories, with all your friends and family around you, not just the ones of your own gender. I think it is a great idea and something we will be seeing more of.

    • Paul Macklin

      Hi Mike, thanks for reading.

      I don’t think it is always as clear cut as – if you want seggregated parties it is because you want to, misbehave, shall we say – I think sometimes it is simply a case of tradition and other times a case where the couple get to let off a little steam away from each other after all the stress of planning a marriage.

      My wife and I enjoyed having separate parties and we didn’t have particularly wild nights. I don’t drink, so my party was fairly tame and based around daytime activities and I actually picked up my wife-to-be from her party.

      I don’t think that either one way is right or wrong, I think it simply depends on your reasons for doing it and what works for you as a couple. Many couples enjoy having several celebrations with different groups of friends because each party then takes on a different type of energy.

      Your role in this seems quite interesting, I wonder, do you do many wedding receptions? Because that becomes an opportunity for everyone to be involved.

      Thanks for your comment, Mike, much appreciated!


  2. Mike Collins

    Hi Paul
    Hen Parties seem to be my most popular occasions, alongside birthdays
    I have done exactly 3 weddings since I restarted the business in this form and the impact has been huge on each one, even making a very good friend for life

    When I first started in Liverpool only, I was kind of a local celebrity and this meant that weddings were my most popular occasion. I once did 10 weddings on one Saturday and I do agree with you that my fully personalised performances work amazingly well for weddings.

    Today the business is very different for me, I cover the whole UK, and rely on what they call inbound marketing
    Hen Parties have been very easy because the person looking for services like mine, is the chief bridesmaid or Maid of Honour.The surprise element is safe. If I do a wedding fair, or position myself on wedding websites, the surprise element is gone because the bride to be is usually the person choosing the entertainment.

    So I advertise on hen party sites rather than wedding sites

    Interestingly though 2 of these weddings were same sex weddings, and I have seen an increasing number of gay male friends attending hen parties too. The dynamics of these issues may also lead to more sten parties too. Gay culture is no longer a separate culture. It is fully integrated into modern life. So this might be another reason why Sten parties may become more prevalent in the future.

Hen & Stag Should We Have a Sten Party?