Whether you have the honor of being a bridesmaid in someone's wedding or you're a close friend or family member of a bride-to-be, it's likely that you have a bachelorette party in the near future. While it's by far the most fun and celebratory element of the bridal party’s duties, it can also be one of the priciest wedding events. Even if you’re not planning a destination bachelorette party (and thereby skipping flights, hotels, and car rentals), the cost of planning can still add up when you throw in dinners, drinks, transportation, and décor. So, who foots this ever-growing bill? Here, we break down who pays for what at a bachelorette party.
Traditionally, the only person who doesn’t pay for the majority of the bachelorette party costs is the bride. This especially rings true when the bash is an in-town celebration (consisting of a single night out)—as opposed to a weekend away, which is where things get a little more nuanced; more on that shortly. The bridesmaids and other guests will often chip in to cover the bride’s share of the single evening, as well as covering 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.
Don't shy away from communication while planning the bachelorette party! In order to ensure that everyone is on the same page, have honest conversations with the group as a whole, as well as the bride, to ensure that everyone understands the expectations (and limitations) for the evening or trip.
For destination bachelorettes, however, that bridal-party-pays-for-everything rule doesn’t apply. Since travel and lodging are involved, in addition to multiple meals out and planned activities, the bride should also contribute to help cover the expenses—especially her own travel and share of the lodging. The bridal party might all decide together to treat the bride to fun decorations for the Airbnb or hotel, as well as one big night out on the town (covering her food and drinks), but she should consider taking out her wallet to cover that hangover brunch the next day.
While you’re still in the planning stages, 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; plan to 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.
Once a budget has been established 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 from restaurant menus and local activity websites 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 of 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 movie night with her favorite romcoms, quirky games, and junk food (plus the bride’s favorite wine or cocktail) is just as fun and will be much easier on everyone’s wallets. Alternatively, you could sign up for a group cooking class, go see a local concert, or just do a low-key wine and paint night.