You’ve been invited to be a bridesmaid in your best friend’s wedding, and you know what that means: bachelorette party. It is by far the most fun of the bridal party’s duties, but it can also be one of the priciest. Even if you’re not heading out of town (and thereby skipping flights, hotels, cars, and restaurants), the cost of planning can still add up when you throw in dinner, drinks, transportation, and décor. So who foots this growing bill? We turned to the experts to help break down who pays for the bachelorette party.
Traditionally, the only person who doesn’t pay for the bachelorette party is the bride. Especially for an in-town party that’s a single night out instead of a weekend away, the bridesmaids and other guests will often chip in to cover the bride’s share, as well as cover their own costs. That’s one upside to heading out on the town with a bigger group. Of course, this depends heavily on the wishes of the bride and the group as a whole. We've known many an egalitarian bride-to-be who paid her own way through most of the celebration.
For a destination bachelorette bash, however, that rule doesn’t usually apply. Since there’s travel and lodging involved, plus multiple meals out, the bride will also contribute to help cover the expenses. You may all decide to treat the bride to one night on the town, but she’ll have to take out her wallet to cover that hangover brunch the next day.
While you’re still in the planning process, keep the bride in the loop so she (and all of the attendees) have an idea of how much they’ll be expected to spend. Keep in mind that everyone participating in the bachelorette party festivities should be comfortable with the costs of attendance. Consult with the entire group about spending before creating the budget. Usually, the most effective way is to ask them individually as group settings could influence each person's response. To streamline the process, there are lots of free online survey sites that can digitally send a customized poll to each invitee with the option to make the replies anonymous. This can also be a great tool for choosing a bachelorette party date, destination, etc.
Once there is a budget that more-or-less satisfies everyone, you can start scouting locations and brainstorming activities that will adhere to that guideline. Consider Airbnb over a pricey hotel suite, and look at options in a few price ranges to find something that works for everyone. As you’re planning activities and meals, be sure to share pricing information so the guests can start budgeting.
Make pricier activities (like a massage at a high-end spa) optional, and fill in-between time with low-cost or free choices (like a local hike or an afternoon window shopping) that everyone can participate in.
If the bride is strapped for cash (hey, weddings are expensive), scrap that weekend in Vegas in favor of something she’ll be more comfortable with. A slumber party with teen movies, popcorn, and junk food (plus the bride’s favorite wine or cocktail) is just as fun and will be much easier on everyone’s wallets.