01 August 2023

Sten dos: What you need to know about the quirky wedding trend

01 August 2023

For many engaged couples, stag and hen dos are an essential part of the wedding planning process.

But with the cost-of-living crisis not looking likely to go away anytime soon, some have been considering alternative options.

Data from Barclays has revealed that there has been a rise in joint stag and hen dos, know as a sten do, with one in 10 (11%) opting for it.

“It’s becoming more common and trendy to integrate together as people are thinking of ways money can be saved,” says Roberta Sabbatini, who has been in the wedding business for nearly 20 years and is the founder of RS Events with an Italian Touch.

Samantha Gilchrist, co-founder and chief executive officer of The Gilchrist Collection, says the growing trend could be because many people have friends of the opposite gender, who they don’t want to see miss out on all the pre-wedding fun.

She says she’s “seeing in some of our bridal parties that the best man is actually a woman and bridesmaids are featuring men, so naturally these are important friends and family to include in the celebrations”.

“The stereotypical stag or hen do is also not so appealing to everyone, so it’s a great reason to swap a beer bike or life drawing session for a spa weekend away with your fiancé and friends.”

So what should you know about organising a sten do?

Sten do ideas

Knowing where to begin when organising a sten do can be tricky, but thinking about what you enjoy is a good starting point. “Get together the friends who have the most in common and organise an activity that the majority of people in the group will enjoy,” advises Sabbatini.

“If the bride wants to invite 30 friends and the groom, 20, literally profile each and every one of them and see which things the majority like and get them together as a group.”

“I know a couple of people who went bowling with their friends and there was another couple I know that organised a cruise on the Thames,” Sabbatini adds.

Growing in popularity

Gilchrist suggests sten dos are the future, as we move away from the traditional separation of men and women on stag and hen parties.

“What I love about sten dos is that they shake up the pre-wedding celebrations by not following the traditional approach of splitting up genders or having to pledge allegiance to a ‘team’,” she says.

“I see them as a great opportunity to bring both friendship groups together for one big party ahead of the wedding.

“It’s also a nice way to remove that cliché ‘last night of freedom’ thinking, keeping it a worry-free party by all being together.”

She adds that many couples are already living together and are likely the same friends, so having a sten do is a no-brainer.

How to live it up on a budget

If you want to plan a trip abroad, Sabbatini has this top tip: “Check the seasonality of different countries, as in low season you can get extremely cheap deals.

“In Italy, October is low season, but the weather is really nice and you can get extremely cheap deals to travel to Italy and stay overnight.”

The same logic applies if you’re planning an event at home. “If you go and do a quick search, you will see that there are certain times of the year and certain days of the week that work out cheaper for venues or restaurants, so grab the deal if there are any available,” says Sabbatini.

“Maybe you want to plan [a sten do] quite a long time in advance – you can just pick up the phone and say, ‘I have a group of X number of people, can you give us a discount?'”

How long should you spend planning a sten do?

If you want to have an enjoyable sten do, planning is required – but it is up to you how many hours you invest into it.

Sabbatini says time is even more important if you want to “shop around and see different possibilities”.

“I would say somewhere between three and six months would work, but you really need to do your homework”, she adds.

“It depends on your budget and the type of crowd you have.”

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