As we head into wedding season, with mindful drinking and sober curiosity rising in popularity across the UK, wedding experts at Hitched have researched how guests feel about attending active and sober hen parties.
In a survey of 966 respondents, Hitched revealed that almost two-thirds (60%) of guests would ‘happily’ attend a booze–free hen party, with another third (30%) saying they would go ‘if they had to’.
Regarding the activities typically presented at less booze-fuelled hen parties, almost half of those surveyed (42%) said they would happily participate in an active party that included boot camp, yoga experiences, spa days or ParkRun events. Less than a third of respondents said they would refuse to attend an active hen party.
Additionally, regarding sober weddings, the National Wedding Survey (of more than 2,400 newlyweds in 2022) commissioned by Hitched revealed that 11% of weddings last year were alcohol-free, an increase from 2021 when the figure was 10%.
Only a small increase, but when combined with the latest Pinterest Predicts findings which show that searches for “fancy non-alcoholic drinks” were reportedly up by 220% this year. There was 75% more interest in “mocktail bar” inspiration by users, too; it’s clear that booze–free bars are on the rise, driven by Gen Z’s disinterest in the drinking habits of the generations before them.
Zoe Burke, leading wedding expert and editor of Hitched says: “While there’s still a place for the tipsy, traditional hen do where preferred, we are seeing a rise in those planning, or interested in attending sober wedding events.
“With more than one in 10 weddings in the UK last year being alcohol-free, it’s not a surprise to see the pre-wedding celebrations follow suit. As more millennials and older Gen Z-ers identify as sober-curious or practise mindful drinking, we can expect this number to grow even more.
“It might be hard to consider a wedding or hen do without the free-flowing bubbles, but when you think of it without the headache and hangover the next day, with all your memories of one of the most exciting events in your life intact, it becomes a much more enticing prospect.”
Becky and Paul Cribdon from Coventry hosted a dry wedding in 2022 and told Hitched why it was perfect for them.
“I used to drink, especially in my Uni years,” says Paul, “But I stopped when I ran out of money and didn’t miss it all that much, which was back around 2012, just before I met Becky. Perhaps coincidentally, I was living with an alcoholic when I stopped drinking. It’s fair to say I’ve seen plenty of reasons to avoid alcohol abuse, and I was never very good at separating ‘use’ from ‘abuse’,” he adds.
As for Becky, she tells Hitched she has never drunk alcohol and that she’s “just not interested in it”. Paul continues: “We’d always hoped to have a low-alcohol wedding but were very fuzzy on how that would happen. In the end, it was only about a month before the event that we agreed with the venue that they would run a completely dry bar, and we asked our guests not to bring any alcohol themselves.”
Paul admits that some guests were slightly disappointed, but many had expected it as their sobriety was widely known. “There weren’t many [disappointed guests], and everyone was very polite. We have various friends at the theatre [where the couple were married] who would normally be partying until 4 am, and they warned that our party would be over very quickly.”
“We had more guests tell us how much of a positive experience it was for them. Several guests had travelled from further afield, and when we announced it was a dry wedding, they realised they would be able to drive back home the same night and save money on accommodation, which they appreciated.”
“Other guests just said it was nice to have such a “chill” event without worrying about the party going over the edge and getting messy or dramatic!”