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Coronavirus: My lockdown hen party was virtually as good as the real thing

Erica Banks

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Abbie McKerlie

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Bride-to-be Erica is caught on screen finding out about her virtual hen do

“I woke up on my would-be hen weekend with no expectations – but this day will go down in history as one of my favourites.”

Bride-to-be Erica Banks had to postpone her wedding – and her hen party – due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Erica, 28, of Aberdeen, knew little about what was originally planned for the “girly Scottish retreat” on a weekend at the end of April.

When the date came around, she had expected to spend her lockdown Saturday at home doing her daily 10,000 steps and thinking about what might have been.

But her friends, family and fiancé Richard Frew had other ideas.

They plotted a surprise virtual hen do, featuring an afternoon tea, flowers, drinks, quizzes, music and dancing – and the virtual company of many of her nearest and dearest.

Hen Night images

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Erica Banks

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Erica was greeted by many friendly faces

Presentational white space

The chief organiser of the virtual hen party was school friend Abbie McKerlie, who said the idea came about because she thought Erica might be “a wee bit sad”.

“It was really just the week before, I suggested a Zoom group chat hen party and hen party attire,” she said.

“A few people took on different roles, organising afternoon tea to be delivered to the house, flowers, and a couple of wee surprises – balloons, a veil, and sash, all to make her feel like a bride.”

Fiancé Richard was contacted so he could hide the party items needed for the big reveal, and make sure his wife-to-be was at home at the right time.

Richard Frew and Erica Banks

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Erica Banks

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Erica and Richard are looking forward to the rescheduled events of 2021

“He was brilliant,” said Abbie. “On the day, he logged onto his Zoom, and everyone was on about 20 minutes before Erica – she was shocked when she saw us all on screen.”

As well as food and drink deliveries, they had also organised games, and a music play-list, and the party continued from the afternoon well into the night.

“There was lots of dancing,” Abbie said. “It’s fair to say the hangovers the next day were real.”

Erica – who is originally from Dumfries and works in PR for a cancer charity – said she had envisaged her actual hen weekend as “yoga on the lawn and sipping prosecco with friends and family”.

Erica Banks

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Richard Frew

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More than a dozen of Erica’s favourite faces from around the country popped up on the laptop

“As the threat of lockdown loomed back in March and we grasped the importance of staying home, we decided to push the wedding, hen do and stag weekend into 2021,” she said.

“So when I woke up on the morning of my would-be hen weekend, I had no expectations whatsoever.”

Plans for a bracing stroll ended when she opened the front door to a gift bag containing afternoon tea. She prepared a table with the china and magnum of prosecco her friends had “sneakily” delivered.

“Halfway through the sandwiches the doorbell rang again – a bunch of flowers and hen do postponement poem,” Erica said.

“When Richard placed the laptop in front of me with a ceremonious flourish, I was definitely a bit teary-eyed when I realised that, looking back at me, were the miniature faces of 17 of my favourite people.

“I felt quite overwhelmed.”

Erica Banks

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Richard Frew

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An afternoon tea delivery was one of the treats

Afternoon tea

“We embarked on the modern hen do classics, including a suitably embarrassing and hilarious Q&A round – my mum had apparently given unlimited access to my reports from primary school,” she added.

“I danced my socks off and retired to a bed full of white ‘Team Bride’ balloons.”

Erica said she wanted to thank “the most thoughtful, generous, creative and fun friends and family a girl could dream of – it really was the world’s best-kept secret”.

Bride-to-be Erica Banks and reporter Ken Banks are not related – the shared surname is purely a coincidence.

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