The Complete Guide to Bachelor Party Planning, From Start to Finish

Here's who to invite, when to plan and how to budget (plus a printable checklist).
group of three men sitting on a brown leather sofa playing video games and eating snacks and beer
Jacob Lund | Shutterstock
Naoimh O'Hare - The Knot Associate Commerce Editor
Naoimh O'Hare
Naoimh O'Hare - The Knot Associate Commerce Editor
Naoimh O'Hare
Associate Commerce Editor
  • Naoimh writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, specializing in shoppable roundups from gift guides to wedding fashion
  • Before working on editorial content, Naoimh wrote storefront descriptions for some of The Knot Worldwide's many wedding vendors
  • Naoimh studied creative writing at the National University of Ireland, Galway
Updated Jun 07, 2023

The bachelor party is a rite of passage for any groom-to-be, and it's an opportunity to spend quality time with his closest friends before starting a new chapter in life. There's just one little (okay, big) thing to take care of before you can enjoy a few days of fun: the bachelor party planning. It might seem like a big undertaking if you've been tasked with hosting this prewedding event, but this bachelor party checklist organizes everything into step-by-step actions you can easily follow. There's no one-size-fits-all approach, but we're sharing the basics on how to plan a bachelor party, including who to invite, when to schedule the party and what to do first.

In this article:

What Is a Bachelor Party?

In the most literal sense, the meaning of a bachelor party is to celebrate the groom's upcoming wedding. It's a party attended by his closest friends—usually the best man and groomsmen—and can be a single day or a weekend-long event. Stereotypes around bachelor parties can give this prewedding event a bad rep, but there are plenty of ways to celebrate that don't involve getting a citation, staying out all night at the club or infidelity. By today's standards, some of the most popular bachelor party activities include golf trips, camping, sporting events and splurging on fancy meals.

How to Plan a Bachelor Party

Don't panic if you have no idea how to plan a bachelor party. We've outlined all of the details step-by-step in chronological order, and if you need even more guidance, you can bookmark and print our handy checklist as a reference.

printable bachelor party planning checklist PDF
Design by Tiana Crispino for The Knot

1. Talk to the groom.

Timing: Six months (or more) before the party

The number-one step for bachelor party planning is having a conversation with the groom about his dos and don'ts (including anything he says is off-limits). While throwing a surprise bash might sound tempting, you should at least loop the groom in on the basic details, like the timing, location and type of activities. Trust us, it'll be a lot easier to plan a party he'll enjoy if you ask for his opinion on your bachelor party ideas first. Some grooms like to get more involved in the planning than others, but it's important to be respectful of his wishes—a nonstop weekend of bar hopping might not be what he had in mind.

2. Finalize the guest list.

Timing: Six months before the party

When you're discussing the basic details of the party, it's also a good idea to decide who's going to be invited and get the groom to sign-off on the guest list. An invitation should be extended to all of the groomsmen, but there might be some additional guests that the groom wants to include.

3. Discuss the budget.

Timing: Six months before the party

With your guest list planned, you can start thinking about what each person can realistically spend on the bachelor party. Send out a Google form or informal group text to get a sense of everyone's budget and if they'd be willing to spend money on things like travel or activities. Keep in mind that the groom's expenses are usually covered by the rest of the bachelor party group, so you'll want to fold that in as an additional cost.

4. Pick a theme or party style.

Timing: Six months before the party

Next up on your bachelor party planning checklist, it's time to figure out what type of party your crew is on board with. Does an adventure-packed weekend trip to Lake Tahoe sound like your idea of fun, or is your group more into exploring the nightlife scene after a baseball game? The general vibe that you're going for will affect the party location, so be sure to get input from everyone for their ideas.

5. Choose a date and location.

Timing: Six months before the party

Between talking to the groom and gauging the group's interests, you've probably already got a good idea of where the party should take place. Some grooms prefer a chilled-out evening at home or a few drinks at a local bar, while others want to explore a new city or fly somewhere tropical. Miami, Las Vegas, Austin, Chicago and Scottsdale are just some of the popular bachelor party cities, but most importantly, the location you choose should be conducive to the kind of activities the group is interested in.

Find your kind of venue

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When it comes to selecting a date, it may not be possible to find a time that works perfectly for everyone, but try your best, and aim for the party to take place about two months before the wedding. The most important thing is that the groom is able to make it, as well as the majority of the crew. Most bachelor parties take place over the course of a weekend, but it depends on the specific wedding date and your group's circumstances.

6. Book travel and accommodations.

Timing: Three to four months before the party

With your guest list and party style in mind, you can move onto booking the necessary travel and accommodations, like flights and rental homes. Be sure to get the OK from everyone in your group before booking—that way, you can avoid situations like getting stuck with an Airbnb for 10 people and only six of you to cover the cost.

7. Finalize activities.

Timing: Three to four months before the party

You've nailed down a time and place, so now it's time to handle any remaining things that need to be reserved, like booking a restaurant for a group dinner or securing tickets for an event you're planning to attend. Other popular activities to add: golf outing, pool day, comedy show or brewery tour—but don't forget to pencil in some downtime for your guests too.

8. Confirm attendees and share the itinerary.

Timing: One month before the party

A few weeks before the party, check in with the group to make sure everyone's still attending and get a final guest count. Make a timeline of the activities to share with your group that includes the order of events and important details, like the hotel name and address, arrival times and everyone's contact info. A shared itinerary is especially helpful if you're planning a multi-day bachelor party, but you can also make a simple one for a single-day outing.

9. Pack your suitcase.

Timing: Week of the party

It's almost time to hit the road, so start planning what you'll need to pack in your suitcase—or if you're staying local, begin putting things aside so that they're ready for the day of the party. Remember to bring any decorations and party swag, like T-shirts, koozies or other supplies.

10. Travel and celebrate.

Timing: Day of the party

As the host, you should plan to arrive a little bit earlier than the rest of the guests, especially if there are items to prep or party setup that needs to be handled. If you can't do everything on your own, enlist the help of another groomsman as your wingman.

11. Regroup and say thanks.

Timing: One week after the party

After you've had your fun and returned home, there are a few more things on your bachelor party checklist. First, send a quick thank-you note to the group (an email or text is fine) to let them know you appreciated their time celebrating the groom, especially if travel was involved. You can also follow up on missing Venmo payments and outstanding expenses once you've had time to look through your bank statements with a clear mind.

Bachelor Party Planning: Frequently Asked Questions

We know there are a lot of questions when you're figuring out how to throw a bachelor party, so here are the answers to some of the most common ones to help you sort out the logistics.

Who Plans the Bachelor Party?

The majority of the bachelor party planning is usually handled by the best man, but depending on your personal preferences, it can be a group effort that involves all of the groomsmen. It's okay to enlist a few others to help out, and there are lots of tasks you can delegate, such as picking out bachelor party shirts, booking tickets or organizing the bachelor party supplies. The groom should be involved in some aspects of the planning, especially when finalizing details like who, when and where.

Who Pays for the Bachelor Party?

All of the party attendees are responsible for paying for the bachelor party, although exactly how you split everything is up to you. For most groups, everyone is responsible for covering their own portion, including travel, accommodations, food and miscellaneous expenses. It's also common for the group to cover some or all of the groom's expenses, or at least treat him to one splurge, like dinner at a top-rated restaurant or picking up his tab for a night of drinks.

When to Have the Bachelor Party

We all know how it usually goes in the movies (hello, The Hangover), but if you think the night before the wedding is the perfect time for a bachelor bash, think again. The last thing the groom needs on the big day is a hangover—or a reason to stress out his partner. Ideally, the bachelor party should take place between one and three months before the wedding. You'll need to find a time that works for the groom and most of the invitees, but one month out is generally the sweet spot in between major wedding planning milestones and finalizing last-minute details.

Who Do You Invite to the Bachelor Party?

Ultimately, it's up to the main party planner and the groom to decide on the right number of guests, as well as who makes the list. Traditionally, this should include the best man and all of the groomsmen, as well as any other really close friends.

Not sure how to invite the groom's friends to the bachelor party? When you're finalizing the guest list, make sure you get everyone's contact details so you can give them a heads up about the party early on. You'll want to gauge interest and estimate numbers before finalizing accommodations and activities, so it's a good idea to extend a preliminary invite through a text or phone call before sending out official bachelor party invitations confirming the date and location.

Do You Give Gifts at a Bachelor Party?

Bachelor party favors are often a big part of the celebration, but you don't need to go overboard with elaborate gifts. The easiest way to pick out favors is to take a cue from the party's theme or location. A nice deck of cards for each guest is a great idea for a Las Vegas bachelor party. If you'll be chilling out poolside during the festivities, insulated drink tumblers or personalized koozies are practical ideas.

Do You Give the Groom a Gift?

Gifts for the groom aren't a requirement at a bachelor party, but you're more than welcome to bring one if you want to. If you're the best man, reach out to the group and ask them if they'd be interested in chipping in to get a collective gift for the groom. Looking for ideas? Choose something that'll come in handy during the bachelor weekend, such as a monogrammed hip flask or poker game set. Or, use his interests as inspiration for a meaningful gift. For example, a sports fan will appreciate merch representing their favorite team.

Does the Groom Give the Groomsmen a Gift?

The groom isn't expected to give a gift to the groomsmen at the bachelor party. While it's a nice gesture if you really want to go the extra mile, you can generally hold off for a couple of weeks and hand out groomsmen gifts at the rehearsal dinner or on the wedding day.

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