You have been invited to a girls' night out. Perhaps you received an invitation in the mail. Or did you hear about it through the grapevine? You are invited, and you want to go to see your friends and to catch up on the latest gossip. Are you going to a bridal shower or to a hens' party? Let's discuss the differences between the two, shall we?

A bridal shower usually includes a written invitation of some kind. If it is an office environment, invitations may be sent to each individual co-worker or through a blasted e-mail. Bridal shower hosts may invite male co-workers and friends as well as female co-workers and friends.

A hens' party, however, is usually an unscripted, word-of-mouth event that takes on a life of its own once it is announced. A formal invitation is not needed. A hens' party includes NO roosters at all, so males are not allowed under any circumstance.

A bridal shower is focused upon one female getting married within a short period of time. A hens' party includes women of all stages and ages of life: the single and the married, the divorced and the separated. A hen is a hen, regardless of her relationship or lack of relationship with a rooster, or male.

A bridal shower is intended to provide encouragement to the bride by the bestowing of gifts and advice to the new bride-to-be. A hens' party is just the opposite. A hens' party will not whitewash the truth of the pitfalls of marriage, and the bride will either question her engagement or become resolute in her intention of getting married after the hens' party is over.

A hens' party is not focused on any one person, as all hens are free to participate at will. Some hens like to gather as often as once a week, while other groups might gather once per month. Usually a hens' party is held at a local bar, pub or restaurant, while a bridal shower could be in a church, a rental hall or in a nice restaurant. The discussion will vary as well, as the bridal shower is focused upon upcoming nuptials to her wonderful fiancée, a hens' party will cover a broad range of topics in one night, often at the expense of one or more roosters.

A bridal shower is usually held for a first-time bride, and might be held for a second-time bride. After the second marriage, however, the bride usually gets no shower and very little recognition as friends and family feel like they have spent enough money on her already. A hens' party guest list may last for years as women bond through wedded bliss, divorce, pregnancies and child-rearing and caring for older parents.

A bridal shower is upbeat and positive, while a hens' party may vary in its complexity at every meeting. A hens' party may become sympathetic one minute and hilarious the next as the hens discuss their trials and tribulations. Usually trials and tribulations are not discussed at a bridal shower.

Usually cake and punch is served at a bridal shower. At a hens' party, beer and peanuts might be the norm, or participants can order their favorite dish and pay for their own meal. At a hens' party, no cake is involved, and punch is not served unless it is spiked.