Bachelorette Party Planning Basics

Organizing a night on the town for the bride-to-be? Here's a complete bachelorette party guide.
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Bachelor parties have been a wedding tradition since long ago, when the groom was given a chance to let loose before settling down with his new wife. Those old-fashioned times are long gone (thank goodness!), and these days women celebrate their upcoming weddings with their closest pals too. If you're in charge of putting your best friend's bash together, read on for the full rundown of everything bachelorette party.


Virtually anyone can host a bachelorette party. Often the maid of honor and bridesmaids, who are close to the bride, do the honors, but any friend, relative (a cousin, for example), or even coworkers who feel the urge can plan this one.

Guest List

Shower guests must all be invited to the wedding, but this isn't necessarily true for bachelorette parties. Chances are that most bachelorette party guests are wedding guests, too, but it's fine to invite coworkers or neighbors who may not be invited to a small or out-of-town wedding. Just be up front with them about your limited wedding guest list—you don't want to disappoint any well-wishers. It's usually best to keep this party pretty small: definitely under 20, and under 10 is probably ideal.

Decide on a Date

Steer clear of the night before the wedding—the last thing the bride needs is a hangover! She'll be nervous enough; she shouldn't have to worry about getting sick, not to mention feeling and looking exhausted. Plus, the rehearsal dinner is usually scheduled for that night, anyway. If the wedding location is anywhere other than the bride's hometown, you might want to have the bachelorette party before she leaves. Even if the wedding is local, party at least two or three nights before the wedding day.

Plan Ahead

One person can plan the entire bash, or several people can collaborate. Some bachelorette hosts ask for a donation from each guest or co-host, depending on the type of party, whether you're renting a private room in a restaurant or taking everyone for an afternoon of spa treatments, for example. That contribution may range from $50 to $200, but the bride shouldn't have to contribute a dime. Be reasonable and don't go overboard—you shouldn't put yourself in debt over this. A fabulous time can be had by all for less money than you think.

Spread the Word

Store-bought invitations will do, or make your own with a desktop publishing program or paper and glue. Choose or design with a theme in mind, even if it's as simple as the bride's favorite color. Some hostesses forgo official invitations and just call guests a few weeks before the wedding—it all depends on the type of party you're planning. If you need to make reservations for a show or other activity, you'll probably want guests to officially RSVP. If you'll be hanging out at the corner bar, scrap the invites—a phone call or email is probably fine.

Party Time

Bachelorette parties are more laid-back and less structured than traditional bridal showers. There is no "typical" bash, though what usually comes to mind is a group of friends dragging the bride from bar to bar and making her blush in public. You can paint the town red if that's your style (or, more importantly, the bride's), but there are so many other ways to celebrate: a nice dinner at someone's house or a favorite restaurant, low-key dancing at a cool club, a concert or comedy show—the list is endless. The point is to reminisce, laugh, act goofy and maybe embarrass the bride at least a little.


The bachelorette party is not a gift party in the same way a bridal shower is, so presents aren't necessary. That said, this is a great opportunity for guests to give the bride silly gifts (or even sexy ones like the lingerie that was just too risqué for the shower!). You might ask everyone to bring a gag gift (like a glamorous red wig to wear all night). Or take the nostalgic route: Give her candy jewelry, bubbles and glitter. The goal is for the bride and her guests to bond and have a blast before the wedding.

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