When the Marriage Amendment Act passed in August, Amanda Betts, former co-owner of model and talent agency Red 11, and partner Richenda dived head-first into planning the day of their dreams. This week, it's hen party time.
We're not party animals at our house. I'd like to say that we are if it adds to our cool factor, but I'd be telling big, fat nana lies.
We seldom have parties. We never had an engagement party and I didn't have a 40th birthday party.
However, we do have barbeque parties on a regular basis – they'll often finish with bad dancing in our lounge over my favourite 80s anthems, much to Richenda's distaste.
So when it came to thinking about having a hens do, Richenda and I decided we didn't need the stress of it all in the lead up to not only our wedding, but Christmas. Add to this that we’re being bombarded (albeit in a good way) by family from Ireland and Australia, and it’s madness. Crazy madness, even. Or just plain stupid.
Plus did we really want strip-o-grams? And to wear silly clothes with silly crowns, get smashed and be felt up by a bunch of opportunistic men wanting to send the hens off with one last pash and grope before they tied the knot? We weren’t sure. Not that there was anything wrong with that the first time round, but that was in my 20s – over half my life ago. It would just be downright gross for any onlookers now. And besides, I love my Kate Sylvester and Zambesi frocks.
However, our friends had other ideas for us. Two of our besties, Bonnie and Keren threw it out there that they could organise a small surprise hens do for us. With nothing to lose, we handed all control over to the pair.
We knew nothing except to bring sunblock and wear smart-casual dress. It meant no jandals for Richenda, who would wear them to our wedding if she could get away with it – it wouldn't be the first wedding we've been to where she's whipped her jandals out after 10pm!
The day arrived – a spectacular Auckland day – and a ferry whisked us off to Waiheke. On shore, a mini bus awaited, ready to transport us to The Oyster Inn. We arrived at the Inn to a beautifully decorated table: delicious MOR treats rested on each of our plates, and sensuous MOR candles infused the air with sweet fragrance. I made a mental note that I want MOR everywhere on our wedding day, as well as giving all the out-of-towners MOR for Christmas presents. The stuff is luxurious indulgence defined. Champagne, oysters and sumptuous local cuisine soon followed.
Next, the slideshow started and so did my tears! I blubbered like a baby as I watched our life together as a couple being flashed up on the screen. I would thoroughly recommend for any of you planning a hens do – a slideshow is fricking awesome.
Surrounded by loved ones, the atmosphere was buzzing. There was one person missing though: my longest-standing friend and the only person attending my second wedding who was also at my first. She is our MC and an actress and has been busy filming the second series of 'Wentworth', so I understood she couldn't make it. But not having Danielle Cormack there just didn’t feel right.
Bonnie announced to the group that there was someone who couldn't make it, and got Danielle on the phone. Oh did the tears flow as she told me she wished she could be there! She told me my dress looked amazing. I thought nothing of it – she would know my dress would be amazing. Then, she repeated:
‘You look incredible in that dress.’
I turned around. There, in the doorway was Danielle, dressed in white with her crazy red hair everywhere.
And out the tears flowed this time faster than champagne could be poured. Luckily I was road testing my MAC waterproof mascara – it passed.
We ate, drank, laughed and enjoyed a few wicked games, as you do. It was amazing. Even though what goes on tour stays on tour, I will say there was no semi/nudity. The words that came out of our mouths, though? Well. That's a whole 'nother story to add to the memory bank of happy days.
Next, we headed to Waiheke's Cable Bay winery. That place is fabulous too. Not only is the wine good, but the views were spectacular. We all agreed it felt good to be alive.
There were more games and we were each given a goodie bag which had sexy MOR lipgloss, gorgeous Jo Malone goodies, some Orly nail polish and a Pump water bottle to keep us hydrated (despite all that sun and booze)! It was awesome, and the girls had gone all out for us.
The ferry ride home was fun, with the wind whipping our hair about like crazy –we created our own 80s music videos, speading lots of apologies and 'you're welcome's to the other passengers on the ferry.
We arrived back in Auckland and off we went to Keren and Becky's beautiful home where we had a BBQ for those who couldn't make the day trip and for the left-out menfolk. We ate, drank, laughed, danced some more and sang at the top of our lungs until we were satisfied, full and exhausted.
If you're thinking of skiving through without a hens do, don't. It's worth the effort (easy for us to say - we just rocked up) but it's also a prelude to the wedding. It's a heck of a lot of fun and most of all, it's a reminder of just how much love it takes not only between a couple for a relationship to be successful, but also to be surrounded in love, support and laughter from your friends and family.
From this day forward, we're definitely excited, even more so after the hens do, for our big day. It's going to be a huge and fun love feast! Bring. It. On!