As a bridesmaid, your most important duty apart from getting the bride to the altar on the wedding day is making sure that her last days as a bachelorette are not just memorable or spectacular but filled with happiness and fun.
Half of the beautiful town of Dorset is designated as an area of outstanding beauty. The other half is filled with farmer’s markets, quaint shops, day-activity centres and luxurious homes. We’ve brought you this guide to ensure you and the girls have a truly amazing weekend without going over budget.
Where to stay for the weekend – Group-friendly and budget-friendly hotels in Dorset
Most of the hotels in Dorset are ideal for hen parties. The Grand Hotel is a massive hotel in the heart of the Isle of Purbeck, offering breath-taking views of the bay. It also has direct access to a private beach. Amenities include innovative cuisine, spa bath, heated indoor pool and a gym with a range of therapies.
The view from The Heights Hotel is truly amazing. You get a panoramic sea and coastal view of Chesil beach and Weymouth towards Lyme Bay. Facilities include free Wi-Fi, 24-hour laundry service, 2km walk to the beach, access to sporting activities, beauty suite, games room and arrangements for pony rides.
Go shopping with the girls
Can a girl ever have too many shoes, clothes, handbags or makeup? No. What better way to start the weekend than a shopping trip?
If the bride loves vintage items, Dorchester Curiosity Centre is the best place to begin. Popularly referred to as Aladdin’s Cave, you’ll find a large collection of retro clothing, jewellery, antiques, collectables, textiles and more. There is a café onsite, free Wi-Fi access and small restaurants serving home-made dishes in the building.
You’ll find a mix of well-known brand shops, department stores, high-end fashion stores and indie shops in Bournemouth. Coffee shops and restaurants are within walking distance, so you can shop until you drop. A popular destination is the Sovereign Indoor Shopping Centre that houses over 40 top brands.
Hire a private boat to Brownsea Island
This is the largest island in Poole Harbour. It is a nature reserve that is home to a huge amount of wildlife. There is so much to do, you should plan to spend at least four hours here. Attractions include a museum and an open-air theatre that hosts a Shakespeare play every year.
Things to do on the island include spotting the elusive Sika deer and red squirrel, lakes/heath walk, fungi forays, pumpkin madness and eco camping.
Try a scrumptious lunch at The Pig on the Beach
The Pig on the Beach is a great hotel in Studland. Chef James Golding is the head of a kitchen that serves British food influenced by the coast with an emphasis on clean, fresh flavours. They grow most of their own vegetables and source the rest from local farmers.
Some of the items on the menu include south coast hake, Jurassic coast cuttlefish, Sam of ladram, Poole bay mackerel and Studland spider crab pappardelle. Don’t forget to try some of the delicious flatbreads, brought straight from the wood-oven to get you started.
See the cutest monkeys at Monkey World
Apes deserve a good home, just like humans. These intelligent creatures enjoy a comfortable habitat at Monkey World. It houses over 20 different species and more than 250 primates. Most of the animals here were abused or neglected in their former homes and have been rehabilitated to live amongst groups.
The award-winning ape rescue centre is perfect for a group outing. Follow one of the guided tours to hear personal information about the personalities and stories of the different species. You could also consider adopting one of the monkeys that tug at your heartstrings.
Explore historical buildings in Dorset
Begin your exploration at one of the most majestic buildings in Dorset. Kingston Lacy overflows with rich décor layered in gilt and gold. Look up at the ceilings and be awed by Guido Reni’s masterpiece, The Separation of Night and Day. Other artworks include paintings by Van Dyck, Rubens and Titian.
Corfe Castle is one of the most famous landmarks in Dorset. It was the home of Sir John Bankes. During the Civil War, it was besieged by Cromwellian forces. Even then, it only fell because of an inside betrayer. You can still see most of the damage done to the building including the splayed-out gatehouse and gun powdered walls.
Looking for insight into the complex man that was TE Lawrence? Visit Clouds Hills. He was a legendary British soldier who worked with Arab tribes against Turkish Forces during the First World War. Highlights include the desk of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom and desert campaign photographs.
Discover the best pubs and clubs in Dorset
Dorset has plenty to offer in terms of nightlife. A proper hen party should take place in a pub where you’re sipping cocktails and chasing shots with lemon and salt. The wide selection of excellent pubs makes Dorset one of the most desirable hen party destinations in the UK.
Start your pub crawl at the Kings Arm in Longham. Everything is perfect. From the service, décor, ambience and food.
The Butcher’s Dog Bar & Bottleshop Wimborne is one we particularly like. They serve some of the best craft beer you’ll ever taste. You can choose from 14 different beers on tap and fifty different bottles, including a top-shelf selection of fine spirits and organic wine.
Once you’ve got a good buzz going, head over to Bournemouth town centre where the best clubs are located. Club Halo is a popular destination. It used to be a church but has been converted into a club. The music reverberates through the room, reaching you inside and forcing you onto the dancefloor.
Further down the road, you’ll find the swanky Bar So, where all the fashionistas go to have a good time. There’s always an overflow of Prosecco every night.
Aruba sits nicely on the pier. It features a striking Caribbean design and plays crowd-pleasing music all night long. One of the best features here is the panoramic view of the beach, which is the most beautiful just as the sun goes down or rises in the morning.
Hey bridesmaid! This should be enough for one weekend of fun and goofiness. Remember to be sensible with your drinking. You do have to get the bride to the altar and ensure she doesn’t do anything too crazy.