Bachelorette parties go beyond the “surprise” (and not always welcome) visit from the male stripper to exciting group activities, such as a girls’ day at a spa, wine tasting, destinations or just a night on the town. The maid of honor is traditionally designated as the head party planner, but bridesmaids, family members, friends and the bride herself can also have a say in determining the party details.
For ideas on how to get started in this last hurrah for the bride-to-be, we’ve put together a planning guide to help get the party started.
Who is Responsible for the Planning
The maid of honor is traditionally responsible for planning and hosting the bachelorette party. However, involving others in preparations and arrangements will ensure that the activities and budget are on target with the entire group. She should take into account not only the style and personality of the bride, but the group as a whole, so everyone will be comfortable and have a great time.
When Should the Bachelor/ette Party Be?
The bachelorette party should typically be held at least three to four weeks before the wedding. This gives everyone plenty of time to complete last-minute wedding details before the big day. Plus, there won’t be any hangover recoveries to deal with on the day of the wedding.
One of the perks of getting married is celebrating your life event with your best friends. After all, they’ve known you and supported you through the process of hope, heartbreak, and joy that is the search for the perfect partner. Now that you’ve found your lucky someone, it’s time to celebrate! The only remaining question is: when?
Although some wedding planners will swear by “one month” or “one week” before the wedding date, the truth is that there’s no magic bachelorette party date that works for every bride. There are, however, a few factors you can take into account to find the best date for the bachelorette party you’re planning.
Whether you’re a maid of honor putting together a surprise bachelorette bash for your best friend, or you’re a bride who’s dead-set on planning her own, make sure you choose the right date for your party.
Otherwise, you could end up with a bride stumbling down the aisle and complaining that the camera flashes set off her hangover–what a nightmare! In contrast, a good bachelorette party energizes the bridal party and gets them excited about the big event to come.
Type of Party
What type of bachelorette party do you want to have? It’s important to decide this well ahead of time not only for date planning purposes, but also so the maid of honor (or whoever is planning the party) knows how many Chippendales dancers to hire. (Helpful hint: for many brides, the answer is zero!)
The wilder the party, the more time you’ll probably need to recuperate before the wedding. If you forecast a night filled with pink cocktails and dancing until sunrise, then leave a week before the wedding at the very least. (It’s best to get a good night’s beauty-sleep before the wedding.)
If the bachelorette party will be a low-key affair that’s over before midnight and won’t involve more than a glass or two of wine, then holding it the night before the wedding becomes a lot more realistic.
Ultimately, you know your own limitations. If the bride isn’t a heavy drinker, the night before the wedding isn’t a good time to start. If your group of friends habitually hits the clubs on weeknights with no ill effect, then you just might get away with a pre-wedding rager.
Playing it safe and leaving a few days as a recovery buffer, however, is the best bet when you want to come away with flattering wedding photos.
Complexity of Plans
There are parties that involve a round of drinks at the neighborhood bar, and there are parties that involve rented beach villas in Jamaica. The more complicated your plans, the more time you’ll need to plan the bachelorette night. If your ideal party involves airline tickets or a road trip, don’t plan it less than three weeks before the wedding.
Taking the girls to Vegas for a wild weekend makes for a fantastic celebration, but it rapidly loses its charm if the bridesmaids are jet-lagged for the ceremony.
Take into account potential time-consuming complications like airline delays and vehicle trouble. If you’re traveling to an exotic destination, allow enough time for your girls to get over any upset stomachs or travelers’ ailments they may contract. It’s not a likely possibility, but it could just ruin the wedding day.
Location of Attendees
It’s best to start planning the bachelorette party as soon as you can. Factors like bridesmaids having to travel long distances to attend the wedding can severely limit your party planning calendar, as well as the type of bachelorette celebration you can plan.
If the long-distance ladies will only all be in town starting a few days before the wedding, you’ll have to either plan a toned-down party or a completely separate event. Consider hosting a bachelorette party a few months before the wedding; that way, your friends may be able to make two trips.
If their calendars or budgets don’t allow for a separate bachelorette vacation, though, you’ll need to decide between a wild party with only part of your crew or a tamer affair once everyone’s in town.
The most important part of throwing a successful bachelorette party is making sure that your best friends can attend. Start discussing calendar openings as soon as possible. (If you mean the party to come as a surprise to the bride, you’ll have to use a sneaky way of finding out when she’s free.) Once you’ve narrowed your options down to a range of dates before the wedding, you’ll be able to plan the exact type of bachelorette celebration that makes sense for you.
Who Should Attend
The bachelorette party is usually an all-female event, although unconventional couples may want to host a co-ed bachelorette party. The guest list should be limited primarily to bridal party attendants and the bride’s close friends who will be attending the wedding.
Because bachelorette parties often include some inebriation, you might not want to include anyone underage. You should also consider excluding the bride’s parents or bosses to prevent stifling the mood. This is the bride’s special day to let loose. Any parental supervision or work-related higher-ups may put a stressful damper on the festivities.
You can spend anywhere from $15 to $150 per person for expenses like food, drinks, club covers, transportation and gifts. Costs are completely dependent upon variables such as the choice of event, entertainment, location, number of guests, and for how long the venue is secured.
Typically, every guest attending should pay for their own expenses, with the bride’s costs split between the maid of honor and the bridesmaids.
Destination bachelorette parties can be particularly expensive. Before settling on an extravagant weekend vacation, consult with the bride for approval. This is especially important if the bridal party will be unable to pay for all of the bride’s expenses.
In some cases, the bride will be willing and able to pay for her own travel and lodging while the bridal party will remain responsible for any planned activities, meals and transportation at the destination.
The bachelorette party planner should be intimately aware of the bride’s likes and dislikes. Be sure that the party tailors to her unique lifestyle and values.
If she’s a woman who appreciates a well-toned man in a skimpy Speedo, then maybe a trip to the local male revue is the right place. If dancing is right up her alley, then set up a night on the town to visit a few popular night clubs. Set the agenda by calling ahead and reserving tables.
Find out if the local DJ can be clued in, so her favorite songs can be set for the playlist. A center stage activity can also be arranged, assuming she doesn’t mind being the center of attention.
Another fantastic activity is a spa retreat. Set the girls up for the full treatment: massages, saunas, facials, manicures and pedicures. Meet with the manager to discuss food and beverage options.
If the bride is a woman who loves surprises, then make it happen! Surprise her with a completely unexpected bachelorette party. Tell her you’d like to have dinner one night, while secretly planning her party. Arrive at her place in a limo with her best buddies in tow.
Take her to a concert to see one of her favorite bands, or to that exclusive eatery that only takes reservations months in advance. Just make sure it takes place on a day when she will have the time to spend enjoying company without having to get up early the next morning.
Foodie brides may enjoy a hands-on evening with a private, chef-instructed cooking class. This can be held at a venue or in one of the attendants’ own homes. You all can cook, eat, drink and share. Plus, the bride will be able to take home some great recipes she can whip up with her soon-to-be husband.
Destination bachelorette parties, contrary to popular belief, aren’t confined to Las Vegas, and can be ideal if the bride has close friends living in different parts of the country. Organize the bridal party to meet in a central location and plan something adventurous, like a three-day ski trip or a horseback riding excursion.
The bachelorette party is meant as bonding time between the bride-to-be and her closest friends—whether it’s dancing the night away, relaxing in a sauna or hitting the slopes. As long as it involves what she likes to do best when she spends time with her friends, the party will be a hit.
Lisa is a special needs teacher and a hugger. She always makes time for everyone and lightens up everybody’s lives with her presence. When she is not chasing her students around the yard, she finds time to write about what she truly loves, and you guessed it, its people and relationships.