There’s only one wedding-related event where the groom is the center of attention: the bachelor party. Depending on the guy, bachelor parties can be as simple as a low-key weekend in the woods with a few close friends or a fun-filled day of drinking and golfing on the coast.
What Is a Bachelor Party?
A bachelor party is a celebration held in honor of a man’s upcoming marriage. It is typically attended by the groom’s closest friends and family members.
“Bachelor parties have sort of a bad reputation,” says bachelor/bachelorette party planner Maggie Rester. “It’s not always the case. Everyone is celebrating the same thing and just wants to explore a new city with their favorite people. A lot of the time, bachelor parties can be the cleanest house guests!”
Meet the Expert
Maggie Rester is the founder of BASH, a professional bachelorette party planning service that's planned hundreds of bachelor and bachelorette parties.
Bachelor parties are a chance for a guy to get together with all of his closest friends, say goodbye to the single life, and start a new chapter with his chosen partner for life. Before you send the groom-to-be off on his “last night of freedom,” here’s what you need to know to plan the perfect bachelor party.
Bachelor Party Etiquette
Who Throws a Bachelor Party?
A bachelor party is traditionally planned by the groom’s best man or his closest friends, but there’s no rule against the groom planning his own bachelor party. Either way, make sure the planner communicates all important info to the groomsmen well in advance so they can make arrangements to be there.
When Do You Throw a Bachelor Party?
“Anytime leading up to the wedding!” says Rester. “Usually one to three months before the wedding.” It’s convenient to plan bachelor and bachelorette parties on the same weekend so the couple has similar yet vastly different experiences to tell each other about later, but it’s not always possible when you’re juggling multiple schedules. The actual bachelor party planning should start about three to six months before the festivities, depending on how elaborate the itinerary will be. This provides ample time to understand the attendees' preferences and complete any necessary bookings or reservations before they fill up.
Is It Okay To Plan a Bachelor Party for a Holiday Weekend?
Definitely, says Rester. “Labor Day and Memorial Day are great bachelor party weekends so the guests attending don’t have to take any days off work.” If you’re planning a bachelor party on a holiday weekend, be aware that some hotels might jack the price up due to the increased demand, and if you’re partying in a tourist town, expect that some restaurants might have longer wait times.
Avoid this by booking your accommodations early and looking for restaurants that take reservations, especially if you have a large party.
How Involved Should the Groom Be In Planning the Bachelor Party?
Let the groom decide how involved he wants to be in planning his own bachelor party. “Sometimes the groom is completely surprised by the entire weekend, and leaves it all to the best man,” says Rester. “Or sometimes the groom likes to be involved in all the planning that occurs to ensure a great weekend for him and his friends/family!”
Who Gets Invited to a Bachelor Party?
It’s up to the groom to decide how big of a party it should be. Some might have a small wedding party but extend the invitation to close friends and family who they think would make the weekend even more fun. Whoever is planning the bachelor party should clear the guest list with the groom before sending the invite, and anyone who attends the bachelor party should also be invited to the wedding.
Do I Need To Send Formal Invitations?
Skip the paper invites. Get the attendees on a group text chain to decide on important info like dates and location, and then move the conversation over to email when it’s time to book hotels and flights.
Who Pays for the Bachelor Party?
In most cases, it’s every man for himself. All attendees pay their own way, including food, lodging, and activities. The planner should give everyone an average estimate of these costs before the guests send any money for deposits or book airfare. Sometimes the parents of the groom will pay for a portion of the costs, whether that’s a meal, part of the cost of the hotel or house rental, or an activity.
Do You Give Gifts at a Bachelor Party?
Bachelor party gifts are not required, though some attendees choose to bring small tokens that can be enjoyed by the group during the festivities. Typically these include alcohol, cigars, sports equipment, or party games. Another iteration is for the group to cover the groom's cost at one of the events, such as a dinner out, a round of drinks, or a particular outing.
Is It Okay To Hire Strippers?
Contrary to just about every media reference, not all bachelor parties include strippers. But, if you're unsure of whether adult entertainment is expected, it's best to consult with the groom and the group that will be in attendance. If you already know everyone well enough, you probably have a good grasp on the matter. Otherwise, there's no shame in bringing it up or putting it up to an anonymous vote. Just be mindful of the fact that this party is for the groom, and less so everyone else in attendance. If the groom isn't keen on adult entertainment, but everyone else wants it, the groom's wishes should be respected first and foremost.
Steps to Planning a Bachelor Party
1. Determine the Guest List
Decide how many people and who you want to be around you as you celebrate. “People are often invited to the bachelor party who aren’t necessarily in the wedding," says Rester. “This helps the groom get to include as many people as possible.”
2. Pick a Location
Figure out the vibe and central theme to your bachelor weekend. Whether it’s a trip to see your favorite sports team compete in a playoff game or a camping trip in a secluded cabin in the woods, deciding on the vibe is the first step to narrowing down a location for the bachelor party.
3. Set a Date
Pre-select a few weekends to bring to your bachelor party crew and get everyone’s input on the weekend that works best for them, or if they have any outstanding conflicts they can’t miss. Hopefully, there’s one weekend where everyone can attend. From there, let the real bachelor party planning begin.
4. Book Accommodations
For destination bachelor parties, Rester recommends going with a house rental over hotel rooms almost every time. “That way, you can have groceries/booze at the house so you’re not having to eat out every meal,” she says. “And some of the best times are waking up with everyone and recapping the night before.” It also makes things like meals and parking easier if some of the guests are driving instead of flying.
Before booking a bachelor mansion, make sure to clear the cost of the accommodations with guests. This will ensure they’re comfortable with the cost, along with room assignments if they’ll be sharing a bed with someone they may not know.
5. Plan Activities
Because, yes, bachelor parties involve more than just drinking copious amounts of booze. Make sure to schedule some downtime around events, especially on the day of everyone’s arrival. Plan two to three group outings, whether that’s a round of golf, sporting event, brewery tour, or bar crawl. What you don't want is the bachelor weekend feeling like one giant to-do list, so avoid cramming in too many events. “Don’t think that you need the entire weekend planned out,” says Rester. “Some of the best times are hanging out at the house together.”
6. Arrange Group Meals
Plan meals ahead of time. Stock the house rental’s pantry with snacks and quick bites like frozen pizza that guests can pick at late at night or in the morning between meals. Large groups can make dining in restaurants tricky, so try to book reservations if you can. Make sure the restaurant can split checks so no one person gets stuck paying the huge bill, or download Splitwise/Venmo for easy transactions. Get some of the meals catered to the house, especially if you have a big group.
7. Confirm Attendance
Once you have a good idea of estimates for lodging and activities, share with the group so they can make arrangements for attending. Let everyone know that once they confirm they’re in, they’re agreeing to their portion of expenses for the entire weekend, so there’s no backing out. Once the guests have RSVP’d and everything is booked, it’s time to pack your bags for the weekend of a lifetime.