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Learning the Ropes: Why Do Hens Wear L-Plates?

Are you looking forward to your hen night? Whether you’ll be karting or dancing the night away, at a cupcake class in the Cotswolds or sipping cocktails ’til the sun goes down, it’s more than likely you’ll be sporting a rather attractive motoring accessory. The more you think about the weirdness of L-plates on hen nights, the stranger it gets! Why, for example, are L-plates for girls, while stags generally avoid such cute little props? (Although one classic exception with stags in fake boobs springs to mind!)

My friend and fellow learner driver Joel has all the answers – after all, who better to explain the story of hens and L-plates than a wedding expert preparing for his driving test?! Today’s wedding blog will make you chuckle and wonder. Enjoy!

hens l plates

Learning the Ropes: Why Do Hens Wear L-Plates?

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. This ubiquitous wedding day tradition has been around for decades; as long as the bride has all four ‘somethings’ on her person when she arrives at the altar, her marriage will be long and happy. The original poem also recommended that she have “a silver sixpence in her shoe”, but that part was presumably swept under the rug sometime in the seventies.

Hen nights and bachelorette parties are relatively new inventions, but the hen culture has already come up with a few lucky charms of its own. They might not lend themselves so readily to rhyming verse, but head boppers, bridal veils, and certain phallic items have pretty much become the hen night equivalent of the ‘Something Old…’ checklist. There are umpteen variations on all of these products, and suppliers of hen party accessories will do their damnedest to convince you that leaving their wares out of your ensemble is a nuptial faux-pas on a par with heading down the aisle in your jogging bottoms.

But of all the hen party essentials on the market, the strangest is surely the Hen L-Plate.* This, after all, is an object that was designed to go on cars, and one wonders how it managed to make the jump from motoring to marriage. All the other elite hen party accessories are either wedding-related (veils, garters) or a bit naughty (everything else), so it’s kind of hard to see how L-plates – resolutely un-titillating as they are – fit in with all of this.

So why do hens wear L-plates? One curious specimen on Yahoo Answers suggests that the tradition arose because soon-to-be-hitched virgin brides would have to learn their way around the bedroom pretty quickly if they planned to keep their new husband, but a more popular line of reasoning tends to point out that a bride-to-be is, by definition, not married yet, making her a bit of a ‘learner’ as far as marriage is concerned. Like the inexperienced driver, with his provisional license and his foggy notions of how a box junction works, the woman at the centre of the hen party is bound to possess a few mistaken ideas regarding married life.

And once you cut through the saucy dares and binge drinking with which it’s associated, you’ll find that the hen night’s true meaning is far more heartwarming. Regardless of its constituent activities, a hen party gives the bride-to-be a chance to spend some quality time with her friends before she takes the plunge, and it gives her friends a chance to dole out any helpful marriage advice they might have handy. While one can’t be expected to learn all of the ropes before tying the knot, a well-spent hen night can at least provide a decent primer.
So there’s one explanation for hen L-plates, anyway. But who knows? Perhaps they’re just supposed to make you look like a car.

*Okay, so the willies are a pretty weird one too, but I’ll run down the high street in a wedding dress before I dedicate a 500 word blog post to penises.

Joel Dear writes, blogs, and waffles for Hen Stuff, a hen party accessories website whose bestsellers include willy-shaped straws, fluffy pink head boppers, and of course Hen L-Plates. At time of writing, he is also preparing to take his driving test. He’s just about mastered box junctions, although his roundabouts do occasionally leave something to be desired.

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at www.byMoonandTide.com. Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.

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