When all the wedding planning stress becomes too much to bear, it’s time to take a break and remember what you’re celebrating in the first place: a chance to honor your love alongside all of your favorite people. Enter: The bachelor and bachelorette parties! Typically held one to three months before the nuptials, these uber-fun pre-wedding events are all about honoring your bonds with the friends and family members who made you and your fiancé(e) into the people you are today.
In heterosexual relationships, bachelor and bachelorette events have traditionally been kept separate, but, as is the case with all wedding traditions, there’s no reason to uphold this one if it doesn’t suit your needs. There are plenty of reasons to opt for a joint bachelor/bachelorette party, and the most important one is this: more bonding time for all of your besties!
“Since bridesmaids and groomsmen are usually family members, childhood friends, college friends, young professional friends, etc., everyone may not know each other,’ says bachelor and bachelorette party planner Maggie Rester. “This is the perfect opportunity to bring both sides together before the wedding day."
Meet the Expert
Maggie Rester is the founder and CEO of Bash ATX, an all-inclusive bachelor and bachelorette party planning company based in Austin, Texas. Her company plans 30 to 60 events per year.
Still, pulling off a combined shindig does take a certain amount of finesse. Read on for everything you need to know about planning an unforgettable joint bachelor bachelorette party, including answers to commonly asked etiquette questions and expert-approved planning tips.
Joint Bachelor Bachelorette Party Etiquette
What should we call our joint celebration?
Whatever you want! Terms you might see include “bachelor/ette,” and “bachelorx,” with the latter being a common LGBTQIA+ term for all-gender celebrations. You can also choose something cutesy like “Todd and Sophia’s Last Bash,” or do something simple and straightforward like “Todd and Sophia’s Joint Bachelor-Bachelorette Celebration.”
Do invitees need to know each other well?
Not necessarily. “In most joint parties, it’s more common than not that all the guests don’t know each other,” confirms Rester. That said, all attendees should be open to mixing and mingling during the weekend, and those in serious relationships may need to be comfortable traveling in a co-ed group without their spouse. Everyone’s comfort levels will be different, so it’s best to check in with your VIPs about their willingness to attend a joint bash before you move full steam ahead.
A joint bachelor-bachelorette party might also make sense if your primary friend circle is comprised of couples, and you see both members of the couples together regularly in social outings.
Should we share accommodations?
Rester recommends booking separate accommodations for each group. “That way, if there are singles, nobody feels left out,” she says. “It’s also more intimidating to stay in a house that sleeps 30 and not know anybody versus staying with just a bride or groom’s side.”
Separating the sleeping quarters also allows for moments that honor just a bride or groom, so they still get their individual time in the spotlight. Of course, if all of your joint bachelor-bachelorette party attendees are coming with the other half of their couple, it may make more sense—and will save money—to group everyone in one house and share bedrooms.
Is it okay to incorporate gendered décor or activities?
“Survey both parties before booking anything,” says Rester. Strippers, for example, can be a touchy subject, and a lingerie shower might feel too intimate to share with members of the opposite sex.
Reserve more gendered décor—hello, penis straws!—for your separate lodgings. In group settings, Rester recommends gender-neutral accessories (think trucker hats, drink koozies, and sunglasses that incorporate the names or initials of both members of the couple. Keep party games gender-neutral as well, and be sure to always incorporate participation from both sides of the group. The 21 Questions game, for example, gets a lot more fun when the other half of the couple can give their answer live.
Who should do the planning?
Tradition often states that the best man takes the lead on a bachelor party and the maid or matron of honor takes the lead on the bachelorette. In a joint situation, the best man and maid of honor may come together to plan the party, the marrying couple may take the reigns, or perhaps the person in the group who most enjoys planning trips could be asked to step up. Doubling the group doubles the logistical tasks, so it might also make sense—and help preserve everyone’s sanity—to hire professional bachelor/ette party planner.
Steps to Planning a Joint Bachelor Bachelorette Party
1. Compose your guest list
Your joint bachelor bachelorette party guest list will likely include all the members of the wedding party plus any additional close friends or family members. “Twenty to 30 people is a safe spot,” says Rester of recommended group size. “The more people you have, the harder it is to book activities, accommodations, and reservations, and the harder it is to get to know one another. Save the bigger party for the dance floor at the wedding.”
2. Pick your destination and date
With a bigger group comes more personal limitations to consider. If you’ll be hosting a destination bachelor bachelorette party, consider spots with major airports (think: Chicago, L.A., Atlanta, New York, Miami, D.C.) so that attendees coming in from different parts of the country have a greater chance of finding a flight that works with their schedule. Though airfare and accommodations can be more expensive on holiday weekends such as Labor Day weekend or Memorial Day weekend, the built-in day off might increase the chances that more of your guest list will be able to attend.
3. Book your lodgings
As mentioned above, choosing separate lodgings for each group might help certain individuals feel more comfortable attending a joint bachelor bachelorette party. (It’ll also provide downtime and ease the pressure to be partying 24/7.) Two rental houses within a few minutes’ drive of each other is an ideal set-up, but you can also opt for multiple rooms in the same hotel. When going the hotel route, it’s a good idea for one member of each group (typically a bride or groom) to book a larger room or suite, which can serve as the common gathering area before and after activities.
4. Plan your activities
You might be throwing a joint bachelor bachelorette party, but that doesn’t mean all of your activities need to be joint. It’s more than fine—in fact, it’s downright encouraged— to split the groups up occasionally so each can indulge different interests. (That might mean a candle-making workshop for the bridal party and a round of golf for the groomsmen.) Then, combine forces with something a bit more active or adventurous, such as a boat excursion or floating down a river. “A party bus or bar crawl is also an excellent way to bring the groups together,” Rester adds. “Roller skating is also fun!”
5. Arrange for big meals
Not every meal has to be a joint affair, but it will definitely help kick the weekend off on a high note to start with a group dinner. “A hibachi chef is a fun activity to bond over right off the bat,” suggests Rester. Picnics or casual semi-catered meals back at a rental house also allow more fluidity, as people can move about and mix with others with more ease.