Monday, March 10, 2014

A Night on the Town, Before the Gown

Note: This post may contain some adult topics/language. Enter if you dare (That's what she said?)! 

Bachelor Parties (for guys) and Bachelorette Parties (for girls) have become pretty much the norm for couples getting ready to get married, especially if they're in their 20's and preparing for a first wedding.  The idea is that it's the "last time" the single individual will get to have a big night (or day, or weekend) out with his or her crew and they're going to celebrate like they mean it! Typically, the Maid of Honor and Best Man take charge on the planning of these (often separate) celebrations and may include the Bride and Groom, respectively, in some or even most of the planning. A few surprises should be left until the party, but nothing that the guest of honor wouldn't want or like. You always want to keep their upcoming wedding and marriage in mind and do your part to enhance the wedding experience for everybody. The bachelor parties these days tend to be a mix of bonding, adventure and a little raunchiness (but it seems to be a lot less crazy than it used to be- phew), while bachelorette parties are, first and foremost, a chance for the ladies to bond with the bride and each other- over drinks, games and momentous activities to create lasting memories.
   This post will have more of a focus on Bachelorette Parties, but guys can check out the activities list at the bottom for some ideas, too (Spa day, gentlemen? Just kidding, but who wouldn't enjoy a sports outing or a destination party?). Check it out and plan something that your buddy will enjoy.
   Okay girls, What would the bride like to do? What are her interests? Throughout the planning, you want to be thoughtful- of the bride and of the other guests- regarding the activities that will be taking place and the cost factor for everyone involved (knowing that all guests will chip in toward the bride's cost so she can enjoy the party without opening her purse). Ask the bride how much involvement she wants to have and whether she has any preferences about the activity/location/theme of the party, then ask her for the guest list asap! The guest list will help you figure out arrangements such as a hotel, transportation and timing, as necessary, and then you can throw some ideas out toward the bridesmaids and other guests.

Whether you ask your blushing bride in person, via phone, email, facebook, or even a YouTube video like this one (love it!), find out the bride's preferences before doing any planning.  Most bachelorette parties (or Hen Parties, as they're sometimes called) involve a main activity and an outing (possibly combined), and may include an overnight stay. Oftentimes, the itinerary may consist of an afternoon or evening activity, a few (sometimes naughty) gifts for the bride, dinner, then drinks out on the town, but as with any celebration, it can vary.

If you're the bride: 
Consider the following points before you scroll to the bottom for some Activity & Theme Options to consider depending upon your likes, hobbies and visions for the celebration.

- Nice Day for a Hair & Makeup Trial? Are you getting a hair and makeup trial done before your big day? Consider scheduling it the day of your bachelorette bash, so you'll be all dolled up and ready to go! Plus, you can test out your 'do on the dance floor and in pictures.

- What to Wear: Would you rather wear a cute tank or t-shirt, a dress or something in between?
Either way, you (the bride) should stand out! You could have your gals wear black and you could wear white (or some crazy fun, bright color!), or you all wear sparkly dresses. Totally up to you. If you go with t-shirts or tank tops, here are some cute sayings you could have printed:
1. Last Fling Before the Ring
2. I'm Tying the Knot, Buy Me a Shot
3. I'm the Bride, and different t-shirts for each girl, i.e."I'm the _____ bridesmaid"
4. Soon-to-Be Mrs. ________
5. I'm still single, I'm standing right here. I'm pretty thirsty, buy me a beer?!
6. A Night On the Town, Before the Gown
Look online for more fun ideas or come up with your own :)

- Who to Include: Bridesmaids, best friends, ladies you're close to who live within driving distance and are of an appropriate age to do what you'd like to do. Consider whether you'd like to include moms, aunts, and grandmothers for a meal before you go out- if you feel like that's a little inappropriate, remember that they've been through all of this wedding stuff, too, and some of them made babies, so there's that...I've been to parties where the mother of the bride was included for some, all and none of the activities for the day, so that's your call! Of course, you just want to make sure that everyone who is invited to the party is also invited to the wedding.
*Note: Sometimes, the bride & groom decide to have a joint Bachelor & Bachelorette Party and may split up then get together later in the day, or spend the entire time together.

Now sit back and relax, bride, as your ladies plan a great party to celebrate you! You have enough planning to do with that bigger party coming up :) You can skip to the bottom of the post now!

Maid of Honor- Planning Steps: 
- Once you have the bride's desired activity/activities in mind, do your research and look for a few options and price points. Remember that you don't want to do TOO much, as it can get costly and limit some guests to coming for only part of the celebration.

- Find transportation options (as you want everyone to get out and back safely, especially if there's alcohol involved) to get to the starting line, around during the party, and back at the end.  Limo, cab, bus, van, rental car driven by an AMAZING friend or a sober/willing guest, etc.- know the expected price including tip. If you have to travel to get to the starting point (i.e. a destination party), consider where everyone is coming from and try to help set up arrangements for an easy travel/arrival. Have the address, a map, necessary parking info, and any special instructions available.

- Find overnight arrangement options if needed (Hotel, Rent a House airbnb style, the home of one of the ladies or the bride, etc.). Note whether guests should bring anything along, such as sheets, towels, aerobeds, pillows, etc.

- Since the MOH is usually the 'hostess' of this event, favors are her choice and responsibility, but bridesmaids may help with these as well. Consider a goodie bag including a candy necklace, light-up rings, bead necklaces, name tags with crazy names ("The ____ one"), penis straws, pop rocks, tattoos, boas, pearls, glow necklaces/bracelets, gum or mints and anything sparkly/fun.

- Make a budget and a plan for decorations (fun, girly, sassy), supplies, food (dinner/late night snacks/breakfast), drinks (including water!) & treats (lots of crazy, fun cake/dessert ideas on Pinterest). Considering any known dietary restrictions of guests when choosing snacks and meals is really thoughtful, if you can take the extra step.  Don't forget about paper goods, plasticware, and ice for drinks if needed. Also consider special individual/group photos (and a plan to share them/not share them afterward), music/entertainment and games.

- Consider what kinds of gifts the bride may want. Lingerie? Sex toys? Definitely NOT either of those things? If you're not sure, ask her. If she does want lingerie, find out her size (for bra and undies) and whether she has anything particular in mind or any preferences on style/cut, then go shopping! My friend Katrina is a consultant with Pure Romance, which sells items to make a bride feel beautiful and sexy on her wedding day and every day- everything from bronzer to body glitter to lip plumper and of course, bedroom accessories and lingerie to spice up the wedding night and honeymoon. Check out her site here  (Click 'Shop With Me Now' to see some of the Most Popular items, the Best Gifts and more). If you really want to step up the Bachelorette Party game, bring her out for a party/workshop, learn a thing or two and feel pleased knowing that anything your guests order for themselves can earn free stuff for the bride!
 A few other options are Victoria's Secret, Frederick's of Hollywood, and, for the giggling teenager in all of us, Spencer's.

- Plan out the bride's get-up. Will you get her a tiara, boa, headband, veil, sash? Will you have all of these available and let her choose what she wants? Some bridal parties like to go this route  and have the bride wear a raunchy necklace, headband, etc. Know if your bride would like that or not.

- Once you've collected all of the info that you need, communicate with the rest of the bridal party. Check everything with them, then when there's a more solid plan, reach out to the rest of the guests. Finalize a plan based on what everyone can do/afford, then find out the total cost, divide by the # of guests (not including the bride) and collect the money before the party if you can (this will take any potential confusion/stress out of the day and allow everyone to relax & enjoy the celebration).

- Send out invitations with an Itinerary of the party/night/weekend. Again, this will alleviate any confusion and you can share the bride's lingerie sizes with guests here! 

As You Get Closer to the Date:
- Put together a Just in Case kit and bring a tote bag along. It will come in handy for flats, bandaids, gum, hair ties, the veil when she wants to take it off, etc.

- Confirm RSVP's and Reservations

- Get Lots of Sleep the Night Before

- Plan some Games: 
Suck for a Buck- Bring along a Lollipop bouquet and/or wear candy necklaces and "sell" candies to people you see for a dollar each. Money goes toward more drinks for the bride (or cab fare, or the hotel for the night, or the wedding, or a late night snack...).  I did this for a friend recently and it went very well. It cost less than $15 to make the bouquet and we made at least $40 or $50 before we lost the whole thing. Whoops, oh well- at least it bought some drinks for the bachelorette, and was fun to have along!

Scavenger Hunt- Work as a team (or split up into teams) to check items/people/actions off of a list. Keep track of your score, Prizes for the winners.

Panty Line/Lingerie- We've done this for a number of bachelorette parties and it's always a hit. The key is to get a nice piece of lingerie that the bride can keep wearing long after the wedding. We hang up a string on the wall and use little clothespins to attach pairs of underwear/lingerie for the bride. We ask everyone to bring something and put it all in a certain order based upon the Panty Line poem, which goes something like this:
A few other Options Include:

How well do you know the Bride?

Truth or Dare

The Groom Said

Pre-gaming Drinking Games Before You Go Out/On the Bus/In the Limo

The Chore Game (ask me about this one, I can't explain it without giving away the best part, but it's great!)  

and the list goes on...

The Day/Night/Weekend of the Party: 
- Give opportunities for toasting the happy couple throughout the night!

- Look Out for the Bride! Know where she is, make sure she has a drink in hand (if she wants one), and help make sure every other drink or so is a glass of water. There's nothing worse than a party ending because the guest of honor (or really any guest) is too sick to continue. Keep the party going for her by keeping an eye on her and taking care of her, as friends do.

- Look Out for Each Other! No bridesmaid or guest gets left behind, even if that's what she says she wants. This party is about the bride, so everyone sticks together, wherever she is.  This is one night out when you want to avoid splitting up the party. This includes tables at dinner, parts of a club, and rooms in a hotel, if possible (if you have too many girls for one room, look for a suite or adjoining rooms where you can open up a door in between). If you can keep everyone together throughout the celebration, it will prevent any clique-y behavior/anyone feeling left out, and promote more bonding time. That being said, the party is over when the bride is ready. Want to keep partying? Bring it back to the hotel and hang out until it's time for bed. Don't be the one to upset/split up the group.

- Have fun! This is a truly special occasion and only night out like this that your friend may get for her entire life. Do your part to make it momentous, and have a great time!

Activity Options:

1. Day on the Water: A Beach Day, Boat/Yacht ride, Pool Party, Tubing excursion then a Bar Tour down by the shore. ("Sail before the Veil")
2. Health=Wealth Adventure: Camping, Zip-Lining, Skydiving, Wellness Retreat, 5k Run (Color Run is especially fun!), Rock Climbing, Surf Camp, Paintball (layer up!), Hiking, etc.
3. Destination Bachelorette Party: A trip to Vegas, Napa, New Orleans, Atlantic City, New York City, Florida, an away game played by your favorite team, a Winter Ski Trip, a nearby desirable destination, etc.
*Note: If you decide to have a destination getaway and only a few friends are able to join you in your travels, you may want to try and have a smaller soiree near home when you get back, so that others have a chance to join in the fun as well! For my sister's wedding a few years back, we did a small bride-and-bridesmaids trip out to Atlantic City for her bachelorette party, and then did another one in Philly another night. They ended up being equally awesome and fun, and it was nice getting to know the girls that came out to each/both of them!
4. Moving & Grooving: A Group Fitness Class, Dance Class, A Night On the Town at Dance Clubs & Bars.
5. Drinks, Anyone? A Winery Tour, Mixology Class, Champagne Tour, Brewery Tour, Bar Tour, etc.
6. Keeping It Classy: An Afternoon Tea Party.
7. Money, Money, Money, Money: In the mood to gamble? Visit a Casino, or bring the casino to you!
8. In the Mood for Food: Pick berries or fruit then use them in food or drinks for later. Head out for your favorite Cuisine. Get a Private Room at the Restaurant if possible. Make it an experience to remember at a Hibachi restaurant, Fondue Spot (such as The Melting Pot), Italian Restaurant with Family-Style Meals for all to share, etc. Consider Cooking Together in one of the girls' homes, or take a Cooking Class.
9. Chill and Comfortable: Have a barbecue or meal at a friend or family member's home, complete with drinks, music and lawn games. Have a Catered Meal at Someone's Home (Spice it up with Shirtless Waiters).  Have a Movie Night (watching movies with 'All the Guys You've Loved Before') and/or a Grown Up Slumber Party (complete with drinks and great movies like 13 Going on 30)
10. Reveling in Relaxation: A Spa Day, a Pamper Party at home.
11. Sexy & We Know It: A Pole Dancing Class, Romantic Pleasure Workshop/Party (Check out my friend Katrina's Pure Romance page here), Lap Dance class or Passion Consultant to give sexual advice. Head to a Male Revue (such as Savage Men, the "Magic Mike of the Northeast") or strip club, if that floats your boat, or bring the show to you.
12. Take Us Out to the Ballgame: Go see your favorite Sports Team! Get box seats or a suite and make it special.
13. See a Show, Be the Show: Broadway Musical, Concert (your favorite band/singer/group), Play, Comedy/Improv, Ballet, Opera, Dueling Piano Bar (such as Howl at the Moon, now with a location in Philly). Find a bar with Karaoke and get up there!
14. Art from the Heart: Take a group Art Class, Pottery Class, Sip & Paint Class (such as Painting with a Twist), Jewelry Making, Flower Arranging Class or Have a DIY Pinterest Party. Go to a Museum, Find a Place to Make Fun Splatter Paintings a la Princess Diaries, or Hire a Male Model and Practice Your Still-Life Drawing Skills
(...and of course, the list goes on and on)

Consider a(n Optional) Theme 
Yee-Haw: Wrangle up your friends for a Country-themed Party- Cowgirl/boy boots, Mechanical Bull Riding, Hats, Big Belt Buckles and all. ("Gettin' Hitched")

1920's: This is a really popular party theme right now, and can work well tied into a bachelorette
party. Flapper dresses, wigs, feathers, boas, headbands, alcohol, etc.

80's Bash: Who doesn't love dressing up in neon colors, denim and...wait, these things are totally back in style? Open up your closet door and grab something that could've been rad and rockin' in the 80's, then go party! A friend brought this to a bachelorette party I attended a few years ago and it was amazing.

Love these Videos from!

A great Infographic from Simply Bridal, found on Pinterest.

Go ahead and check out more Bachelor & Bachelorette Party ideas on the Wediquette Pinterest page, and happy planning!

Did you attend a bachelorette party and LOVE any special details?
Have any additional tips for current MOH planners, brides and bridesmaids?
Share them in the comments below!

Bachelorette Parties I've Attended in the Philly Area:
- For my sister's bachelorette party #1, we drove out to Atlantic City for a great Beatles cover show (so much fun)! We went to dinner first, then saw the show, then went to a couple bars at the casino where the show was (I think it was at the Tropicana). This was a small group, so we all went out in 1 car and one bridesmaid stayed sober to drive back that night. We stayed over at one of the girls' houses when we returned to PA. 
- For her bachelorette party #2, we went out in Philly. We went to a BYO restaurant for dinner (and brought some wine along- win!), then went to a couple bars, including a bar that had karaoke (another win)! 
- For a friend's bachelorette party, there was an 80's theme, so we all dressed the part, went out for dinner at Applebees in the Reading area (they saw us come in and put on 80's music- or at least it seemed that way), then out for drinks at a nearby bar, then back to the MOH's place for movies and late-night snacks. The cake & decorations were amazing (see above).
For a friend's bachelorette party, we got a hotel room in Philly, went out to dinner at Swanky Bubbles (now closed) restaurant (moms and aunts included), then they headed out and we went back to the hotel to get ready. We did gifts at dinner, started with drinks when we returned to the hotel, and took a cab or 2 to Cavanaugh's River Deck bar. We danced, participated in a bachelorette scavenger hunt that they were doing and had a great time. Stayed overnight, hit up a nearby breakfast spot in the morning, and some of the girls went to a Phillies game in the afternoon. 
- For another friend's bachelorette party, we drove into Philly and stayed all night at one of the night clubs. I forget which one it was, and it was a little crazy, but we got drinks, we danced and we all had a good time before calling it a night and heading back out to the suburbs, then home. Short but sweet :) 
- For my bachelorette party, we went out in Phoenixville. I love it there and wanted to keep it affordable/easy to get to for most of the girls. I did have my hair trial that day (which was great, because I saw pictures afterward and realized I didn't want to do my hair that way), then stopped into Ulta where they happened to be doing free makeovers that afternoon. I had a few minutes and went to Charming Charlie, where I found the perfect dress and decided to get it/wear it that night and my sister and I went to a nearby nail salon and got our nails done to get the party started. For the party, we started out at Taste and Black Walnut wineries (my MOH brought craft materials for everyone to make their own wine charms- amazing!), then headed to the Fenix for martinis in their lounge area before going to Bistro on Bridge for dinner, Molly McGuire's for drinks and dancing (I always love the live band that play there!) and Club 212 to finish the night. Not the best club, but when you're with your friends and there's music, it doesn't really matter. Then a few of us stayed overnight at one of my bridesmaids' houses and went for a walk in Valley Forge Park in the morning. It was a blast.  Everything was great, and got even better when we spotted fireworks from the Molly McGuire's balcony toward the end of the night. Not for me necessarily, but still awesome :) 
- For another friend's bachelorette party weekend, we drove out to Atlantic City and stayed in a hotel. We had dinner in a restaurant at our hotel, saw the Savage Men Male Revue show (along with at least 40 other bachelorette groups), then went to a couple bars in the casino where it took place (Bally's, I believe). The next day was beautiful, so we got up, had breakfast, tried to go to the beach but it was too windy so we headed down to the pool and hot tub for awhile. One friend and I had to leave on Saturday afternoon, but some of the girls and the bride stayed another night for more fun! 
- For another friend's bachelorette party, we all met up and drove 2 cars down to Philly together for a hibachi and Howl at the Moon excursion. This was a blast! We went to Tokyo Hibachi Seafood and Steakhouse for dinner with 10-ish girls, then walked to the new Howl at the Moon dueling pianos bar down the street. There were fun drinks, great music, lots of people, and tons of fun, and we stayed there for the night before heading back home. 2 people drove back to the meeting point, then everyone was good to head home. A fun thing to mention is that the day of the bachelorette party was also the day of the bachelor party for this wedding. The guys had gone to (and pregamed for) a daytime Flyers game and a couple bars, and they were pretty much wrapping up when we were starting. 
- We have another coming up soon (also in Philly) and I'm sure it'll be a blast :) 

By the way...

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