As I prepped for my nuptials, I knew I didn’t want a traditional bachelorette party, but I definitely wanted some form of celebration with my friends. I was already feeling uncomfortable with the traditional pressures of a wedding ceremony and reception and frustrated with the subtle gender roles forced on me. I felt like I had to be the one to decide wedding colors, plating choices, table dimensions, invitation fonts, and so many more details.
It quickly became clear to me that in the eyes of society (and the wedding planning industry), the bride is the dreamer and decider of all aesthetics and the groom isn't expected to be capable of making such decisions. Instead, he gets a slap on the back and glass of whiskey while the bride frantically creates Excel spreadsheets and Pinterest boards.
"It’s the bride’s day. You only get to do this once," people around me said, encouraging me to enjoy the frenzy. "Hopefully," I shot back sarcastically.
I tried to take a "whatever" attitude toward these choices, but I realized every lackadaisical response I served my mother and friends caused more drama. Being a "whatever" bride doesn’t make sense to people: It sets them in a panic, wondering how it's possible for you to not have an opinion. So I pretended to care about linen fabrics and quietly decided the bachelorette would be done on my terms.
The bachelorette parties I have attended have fallen into one of two categories. Either the party mourns the death of singlehood with stripper-centered entertainment, or it mourns the death of girlhood with light-hearted games and giggling whenever anyone says the word "penis." Neither choice was enticing or applicable to me.
At the time of my engagement, I had been living with my partner and our dog for six years, so the death of a "single" lifestyle had already happened. I think it may have quietly passed in the middle of the night when I accidentally farted and he didn’t stop big-spooning me, or perhaps it happened once we started asking each other twice a day, "Did the dog poop?"
And as for my "girlhood," as far as that's code for "virginity," that too had dissolved well before I hit my thirties, and I had zero regrets about that. Even the tradition of wearing white for your wedding gave me pause, even though I planned to go along with it: As a mature thirty-something woman, why should I wear a color associated with virginal purity? Cultural norms may praise the virgin and throw shade on promiscuity, but I refused to have a bachelorette party that did too.
My bachelorette, I decided, would be a celebration of my transition into marriage, and there would be no mourning of past lives. In order to celebrate my future, though, I still felt I needed to honor my past. After all, each past lover helped me grow into the partner prepping for a healthy and loving marriage, so gratitude to former relationships was a must. To create these positive pre-wedding vibes, I realized there was only one event that could give me what I wanted: a cleansing ceremony. Specifically, a dick-cleansing ceremony.
In terms of technical flow, I wasn’t entirely sure what a dick-cleansing ceremony would entail. I'm not particularly spiritual, but I grew up in a Latinx household that frequently burned sage to clear or recover from mal ojo, or negative energy. I figured if I came with pure intentions, I could sketch this out.
I decided I needed my ceremony to provide two things:
1. Blessings to my new phase of marital sexual freedom.
Did getting married mean I was destined to watch Big Bang Theory, purchase socks for my husband to wear under his sandals, and succumb to sexual monotony? Nah. But it did represent a new phase for me and my husband, one marked, I hoped, by hot sex. In my dick-cleansing ceremony, I wanted my best friends to send me happy future coitus wishes.
2. Cleansing of any leftover vibes from my past lovers.
I'm grateful for everything I learned from them. Past lovers have taught me to be more considerate, generous, and vulnerable, but I wanted any residual juju left on me by them to disappear. As Drake says in "Nice For What," "You ain't stressin' off no lover in the past tense. You already had them." It was time for me to channel past experiences into marriage.
The last step was to educate my bachelorette party attendees and get their buy-in. I explained the purpose of my dick-cleansing ceremony to the group and prepared them to direct positive energy with me. In an uncharacteristically Bridezilla-like moment, I also set a dress code of sorts, demanding they wear something that made them feel powerful.
As for the script, I suggested that on the day of the ceremony we just improvise and see what happened. My friends were intrigued, but also skeptical about how we could possibly cleanse 14 years of sexual activity in one go. I reminded them that there was no wrong way to do this since I was literally making it all up: I just needed them to come ready with positive energy, which everyone confirmed they were fully capable of bringing.
My bachelorette party was held over a weekend in Palm Springs, filled with desert vibes and lots of snacks. Saturday night was the scheduled dick-cleansing ceremony, and my girlfriends came dressed in their most powerful looks: Envision seven women dressed as a mix of Stevie Nicks, Rihanna, and Lily Tomlin. We were off to a strong start.
We gathered around a table and placed three large penis-shaped candles in the center. These candles represented my sexual past and would be burned accordingly. My friend Lisa then asserted herself as the lead bruja and explained that once the candles were lit, the ceremony would begin, and once they were out, the ceremony would end. As Lisa lit the candles, we all became strangely solemn — then, to my surprise, each girlfriend brought out a contribution to the ceremony.
To cleanse the space of negative vibes, Stassi lit a sage smudge stick and placed it in the center of our circle. She also brought rose quartz crystals, which are said to open your heart chakra and allow more love to enter your life. Katie brought a framed painting of a Día de los Muertos husband and wife with the inscription "Until death separates us" in Spanish, which she placed in the center of our circle, alongside the penis candles. She and her husband had received it as a wedding gift the previous year, and she hoped it would bring my marriage good luck.
Brittany brought handmade cards with images of Dolly Parton, Erykah Badu, vaginas, wombs, and entwined lovers printed on the front; she scattered them face-up on the table and told us to channel these images into our ceremony. Finally, Scheana brought the holy sacrament of tequila for ceremonial shots. The vibes were officially set.
Instinctually, we all held hands to form a circle and took a breath, and Stassi suggested we each share a happy wish for my new marital sex life. As each friend took their turn, I felt like Sleeping Beauty when the fairies gave her wishes of beauty and song, except my fairies were my closest girlfriends giving me blessings of a strong libido and sexual adventure. Close enough.
When the last wish had been shared, we were all still holding hands, and it felt electric. Maybe it was the tequila or all the snacks we had eaten, but I felt powerful. We sat in a solemn circle, smiling in silence, and as the shadows of the dick candles lit the face of each one of my friends, I was filled with gratitude for all of them. Not only were they humoring my request to hold a ridiculous and totally made-up dick-cleansing ceremony, they came willing to play, and that moved me.
Then, at the perfect moment, Lisa leaned over and blew out the dick candles. The ceremony was officially over. We sat looking at each other until I broke the spell by announcing, "I just felt my hymen grow back."
It hadn't, nor did I want it to, but I did feel refreshed, grateful, and eager to embrace my next phase of life. For me, a bachelorette filled with penis straws and strippers wasn’t going to provide that. My DIY dick-cleansing ceremony did. Bachelorette parties can be beautiful occasions that recharge brides for the pre-wedding sprint and center them in what's important. Mine reminded me that love and gratitude is the center and driver of life transitions, not seating charts or invitation card stock. Whatever way you do it, taking a breath to enjoy the lessons you have learned and the unconditional love of your friends is a proper send-off to married life — whether or not that breath also blows out a dick candle.
For anonymity, all names have been replaced with the names of the cast of Vanderpump Rules.
Read more stories about dating and relationships:
- Hey Men, It's Not My Job to Like Your Hobbies If You Don't Give a Damn About Mine
- I'm a Dreamer Who Married the American I Love — Here's What DACA Means to Us
- 6 Ways You May Be Sabotaging Your Own Dating Life
Now, find out what dating as a little person is really like: