Bachelor and bachelorette parties used to signify the last fling before the restrictions of marriage. To me this is an antiquated idea. The premise was that after the wedding you wouldn’t be having any fun so better get that in now. For men it was celebrating their last days of “freedom.“ Women did not want to be left out of the fun, so girlfriends started planning a parallel style party with the name ”bachelorette” attached.

You may have heard about or even attended a raunchy bachelor or bachelorette party, and pop culture has done a lot to promote the image of what these parties should be. But truth be told, most people are embarrassed by it. They often involve over-the-top sexualized activities, rely on stereotypes, and involve way too much on drinking to create the “fun.“

Instead, what if you thought of this party as an opportunity to get together with friends and talk about love, marriage and the upcoming changes in life; a chance to enjoy the company of old friends in a relaxed atmosphere before the formalities of the wedding day arrive.

If you are looking for some ways to create a more personal, stylish or sophisticated party, here are some suggestions. Bending the rules further, perhaps both partners (the engaged couple) can attend together, or you can go old school and have them separate. Remember these events do not have to be segregated by gender. They can be, but they don’t have to be; and friends of a groom may include some women and friends of a bride may include men. Just do what’s right for you!

I’m not saying not to drink if that is something you enjoy, but I am saying that drinking should not be the main focus or purpose. With that in mind you could still have a champagne brunch, with the perfect menu, held at a hotel or resort. You may want to include the choice of a spa treatment or round of golf. But who would pay for something that expensive? Well, if you can’t afford to spring for your crew, have these as options available on site with pricing shown on the invite, but of course, you must pay for the engaged woman or man you are honoring.

For more ideas involving alcohol – how about an “imported beers of the world” themed get together. Splurge on some really great brews, you can even include the matching beer glass. Or conduct it as a beer tasting. A Mexican or other international flavored menu would be great, whatever you feel pairs nicely with beer. Ditto for a wine tasting! And again, for whiskey.

A night at the casino is fun. Get a room at the hotel for the initial get together including a cocktails and snacks, then schedule an hour in the casino, followed by a show! You can set limits on the gambling and drinking by constraining the time line.

How about a cruise around Manhattan, a day trip to the Jersey Shore or a trip to the Hudson Valley? Hire a limo or bus.

Lead a group of friends to an undisclosed location (along the river, on top of a mountain) where the caterer meets you and a sumptuous meal is served. Be sure to include lounge chairs! This would be so marvelously mysterious.

Are you up for a round of paintball or a rafting trip? Be sure to order some custom T-shirts or caps to commemorate the event.

Like many things involving weddings, these events have become more extravagant and expensive over the years. But they don’t have to be. You can organize a baseball game or go bowling. A party can take place at home, without the expense of a hotel or resort.

Here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind:

• Do set a budget, and a time limit, when the event begins and ends. It should not be open-ended.

• Do have a designated driver.

• Do ask the couple for input into the invite list.

• Do make sure everyone invited to the party is also invited to the wedding.

And…

• Don’t plan it for the night before the wedding.

• Don’t play drinking games.

• And most importantly don’t do anything you’d be embarrassed to have your future spouse know about!

Oh yes, one more thing: do have a blast!

Lois Heckman is a certified Celebrant officiating in the Poconos and beyond. She writes about creating meaningful weddings, focusing on ceremony, ritual, and diverse traditions. Find her on Instagram, Facebook and website: LoisHeckman.com



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