The venue has been booked, the bands auditioned. Dress fittings are out of the way and the big day is approaching fast. Now it’s time to get planning for one of the most fun parts of being in a bridal party (and one of the biggest reasons we agree to wear one of those hideous bridesmaid’s dresses) – the bachelorette party.
Before you wipe Amazon out of every bachelorette -themed sash, jewelry collection and tiara, let’s run through some basic Bachelorette 101 Etiquette:
When’s The Party?
This is going to vary from wedding to wedding. If your bridesmaids are coming in from out of town and don’t all live nearby, take into consideration finances and where the wedding itself will be held. If it’s a destination wedding, perhaps planning for the bridal party to arrive a few days early for a night out is in order. If not, consider a destination get-together for the girls – one that has relatively reasonably-priced plane tickets (especially if you don’t live near a major transportation hub) – like Florida or Vegas. In this case, plan the bachelorette for about two months before the wedding, so that everyone has a chance to recuperate financially and physically before the big day.
Who’s Hosting This Shindig?
Traditionally, the maid of honor is in charge of the party planning – so if you’re the MOH, here’s a rundown of what’s expected of you. You’ll be responsible for conferring with the bride-to-be on what kind of bachelorette party she wants (even if you’re intending to surprise her), and getting a guest list from her. You’ll want to speak with the VIPs on the list and make sure that you have a sense of good timing for all, as well as budgetary needs. Once you’ve formulated a plan, let everyone know well in advance what kind of expenses they’ll be looking at for the night – and ask everyone to pitch in for expenses such as limos, show tickets, and other expenses with enough time to gather the cash and pay your vendors. Be considerate: remember that your guests have probably shelled out a few hundred on attire, hair and makeup for the big day, and will be spending a good amount on a wedding gift. If you’re asking them to travel to attend, consider an Uber over a limo, even if the bride has been your bestie “forever” and you want her to have a Cinderella night.
Speaking of Cash…
This will also vary from event to event, but typically, guests each pay their own way, and either the hostess, bridal party, or guests will chip in to cover the cost of the bride’s night out. It’s not customary to bring the bride a gift for her bachelorette weekend, but if you want to spoil her with an extra treat, ask everyone to join you for a spa day ahead of the event, or have everyone pitch in to send the bride for one.
It’s ALL About The Bride
While this is your party, the bride will cry if she wants to. Consider the kinds of activities that SHE will be interested in. If you’re taking in a show or hitting the clubs, contact them ahead of time and see if they can give a special shout out to the bride to be, or look for other ways to make sure that she feels like the VIP on her last big blowout as a single gal.
…But It’s Also About The Venue
It’s your wild and crazy party weekend, but you’ve made reservations for dinner or a show – like Tampa’s male revue show at Whiskey North. While the party itself is all about the bride and her friends – keep in mind that the venues you’re visiting are running on a schedule. If you have show tickets, make it a point to arrive early, grab a drink, and settle in. Showing up late ensures that you’ll miss any introductory shout outs you called in advance to secure, and it also disrupts the show for other brides and their guests. Also – make sure you’re tipping your bartender and the dancers well if you want to ensure VIP treatment wherever you go.
Does She HAVE To Come?
Make sure that you consult with the bride on her guest list, and go the extra mile to help an attendee she’d like to see make it – even if it means offering to pick up some of that guest’s expenses for the evening. You should definitely include everyone in the bridal party, siblings, and her close friends. Consult with her before inviting the groom’s sister(s), her mother, or anyone she may feel she has to be cautious around.
You don’t need to get formal for the bachelorette party, unless you want to create a keepsake and have a specially-themed event in mind. It’s perfectly acceptable to use an e-vite system or create a (private) Facebook group to plan the party and share photos with after.
Speaking of Social Media…
It can be *incredibly* tempting – especially after a few drinks and a few wild hours with friends – to post that hilarious photo of the bride-to-be or your married friend on stage getting a lap dance. It’s also incredibly well-known that our judgement after a few drinks and during the emotional rush of a wild party weekend is not the best – and people may be checking to see what’s going on. In general, set your phones on airplane mode or delete your Instagram and Facebook apps if you have no self-control (you know who you are), and keep what happens in Vegas, or Tampa, between the guests. The next day, when everyone is sober (albeit in pain) you can send a group text to get everyone’s approval before posting recap photos.