Your Bachelorette Party Etiquette Guide to Help You Slay the Bash
Though your wedding day is full of joyful once-in-a-lifetime memories and begins your marriage, there are many fun and meaningful events along the way. One of the most exciting and memorable is the bachelorette party: a time to gather with your closest female friends and family to toast the end of your single life.
Rather than a simple night out, many brides have decided to make this into a long weekend experience for their group of gals. In addition to themed nights and many photo ops, many brides see it as a way to unite friends from different stages of life, so when the big day arrives, they already know one another, and bantering is easy.
But, who plans the bachelorette party? And what are the right 'rules' to follow? How much should it cost? And how far in advance should you reserve the calendar dates? Here, we chatted with experts to provide the ultimate bachelorette party etiquette guide to help you slay the bash.
Bachelorette Party Etiquette:
Bachelorette Party Planning Etiquette
Though weddings are a happy time, they are also ripe with emotions. As you get deeper into your planning to-do list, you'll quickly realize everyone has an opinion, and you'll need to tread carefully to keep the peace. Consider these basic etiquette recommendations to ensure you have the smoothest (and ahem, drama-free!) bachelorette party.
Who Is in Charge of Planning a Bachelorette Party?
Typically, the maid of honor is responsible for planning the bachelorette party, according to Kevin Dennis, a wedding expert and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services. However, in cases where the couple chooses not to have a wedding party, it can be a combined effort between the friends.
"It's also been much more common in recent years for the wedding party to brainstorm together; that way, the budgeting and planning don't fall on one person, who likely already has a lot on their plate," he says.
How Far in Advance Do You Start Planning?
Decades ago, a bachelorette party was generally just a fun girl's night out. These days, it's a much more involved process, and it can become a huge undertaking. With this in mind, Dennis says it's never too early to start planning—especially if you're considering a destination bachelorette party.
He adds that even if you decide to stay local, it's best to start planning 3-6 months in advance. "You will have plenty of time to gather everyone's schedules, budgets and itinerary ideas," he explains. "If the group decides to head out of the country, those months leading up to the trip can be crucial. Some people may need to renew their passports, you'll need to secure flights and accommodations, and it's important to give a lot of lead time so that everyone can plan to take time away from their families and careers."
Bachelorette Party Goodie Bag Etiquette
Most of the time, bachelorette parties book a home rental (rather than a hotel) to keep the group concentrated and organized in one spot. With this current trend, many maid-of-honors (and brides!) are choosing to provide swag bags as a welcome gift for the attendees. Here's some guidance and inspiration for putting this sweet gesture together.
Who Buys Gift Bags for the Bachelorette Party?
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First things first: Dennis reminds hosts that gift bags aren't required but can be a fun touch for the bachelorette party. Also, the person planning the party doesn't necessarily have to be the one also to curate the gift bags: This can quickly be passed on to someone close to the person getting married.
"Ideally, it would be someone familiar with most attendees," he says. "Additionally, the designated gifter should feel comfortable with any expenses involved, as you likely won't be asking the recipients to pay for their own gifts."
What Do You Include in the Goodie Bags?
Dennis says you don't have to go overboard when putting together swag bags, especially if you consider that some items may get lost or misplaced if you're going out on the town for a night out. It's best to tailor your gift bags to the theme of the bachelorette party and to keep logistics in mind. AKA: If everyone is flying in for the weekend and likely didn't check a bag, a big shampoo bottle isn't helpful.
You'll want to mix both bespoke and personal gifts and some practical items the attendees can use that weekend and then take home with them.
Here, some ideas from Dennis:
- Sleep masks and earplugs: Adding a monogrammed touch or personalized slogan is equally fun.
- Toiletry bags: These can be filled with mini sizes of sunscreen, bug repellent, shampoo, conditioner, painkillers, liquid IV packets and other must-haves.
- Mini wine, beer or champagne bottles: Add custom labels with a sweet touch if you want to. If you have any attendees that don't drink, a non-alcoholic beverage is also an option.
- Monogrammed glassware: Dennis says this may be a classic, but it's something that your friends will keep for years to come.
- Tote bag: If you're hosting the bachelorette party at a beach or in a city where you'll need to carry some water or other goods, consider adding a tote bag. It doubles as the 'gift bag' and can be reused.
Bachelorette Party Gift Etiquette
Beyond the gift bags, you may wonder if other tokens of love or appreciation are part of the bachelorette party etiquette. And who pays for that? Here, we learned the best approach.
Do You Bring the To-Be-Wed a Gift?
It's the bride's big celebration, so you probably wonder if everyone should go in on a joint gift from all attendees or if each individual brings their own. Dennis says if everyone else will receive swag bags, you must include the to-be-wed in the gift-giving. "Bearing in mind that there may still be a shower planned, you don't have to go all out with an extravagant gift," he says. "Make sure that it's something that they can easily travel with. And remember, the to-be-wed wants your presence, not many presents."
What Is the Traditional Bachelorette Party Gift?
Your bestie might be a modern bride who keeps everything low-key and low-pressure. Or she may have a family laying on the expectations for her, adding stress and anxiety. Maybe she's traditional at heart and she has hopes and dreams for how her friends will shower her with love and attention at her bachelorette party.
Dennis says, generally speaking, the bachelorette gift is usually more fun than anything else, unlike what you'd usually give for a shower off the couple's registry. "A lot of gag gifts end up as clutter or in the trash, so planning something you can do together is much more meaningful," he says. "It can even be a surprise activity that everyone chips in for, such as a wine tasting or an excursion at your destination, like snorkeling or ATVs."
Again, it doesn't have to be expensive, but just a little something to make their bachelorette party feel extra special.
Bachelorette Party Cost Etiquette
There's no way around it: while weddings are worth the cost, the expenses can add up if you're part of the wedding party. From the engagement party to the bridal shower, the wedding day itself and the bachelorette party, it's easy to spend thousands on hotels, flights, gifts and attire. Here, we break down the anticipated cost.
Who Pays For What During a Bachelorette Party?
As Dennis puts it, expenses can be tricky, and it's crucial to be sensitive to everyone's budget. He recommends the host contact each attendee to gather information on their budget comfort level. Since some often have more flexible spending than others, this will help you find the lowest number and work within that range. When considering the cost, everyone is usually responsible for their travel, accommodations and any outing, activity or meal.
"Traditionally, the person getting married doesn't pay for the bachelorette party unless they offer to foot the bill," he says. "It's a great opportunity to celebrate and treat them, but everyone should be on the same page with chipping in."
How to Split the Bachelorette Party Costs
Dennis recommends creating a spreadsheet ahead of time that includes everything that will be split between attendees. This should have all of the known expenses (home rental cost and yoga class booking, for example) and an estimate of anticipated spending (like dinners). "Consider inputting a running total of what you're covering for the bride's portion, such as flight or hotel expenses or even their share of the Airbnb you're renting," he says. "From there, you can split the costs evenly, and everyone can see an itemized list of what they owe."
What If It's Too Expensive?
Unfortunately, not everyone will be a big 'ole 'yes' to the bachelorette party. This, more than anything, is an expectation-setting for the bride. To help ensure everyone she loves can attend, Dennis says the best thing you can do is have an open dialogue about expectations before anything is planned.
"Assume that some people will have a much lower budget than others, and try your best not to alienate anyone by booking anything too expensive. If this is a concern, devise a tentative idea to send to everyone," he says. "A week-long trip to Mexico may not be in the cards for everyone, and you'll want them to feel comfortable giving feedback before you book a reservation."
Bachelorette Party Invite Etiquette
With the ideal timeline in mind and keeping cost at the top of your priority list, it's time to gather the attendees. Who do you invite to the bachelorette party? Usually, this choice is up to the bride, since it's her big celebration. Once you have the list, follow these best practices.
How Far in Advance Do You Invite Someone?
As soon as you know the date(s) of the bachelorette party, Dennis says to start sending out invites immediately. "An informal email or text will suffice, even if you don't have all the details yet. Give attendees an idea of what's being planned, but first and foremost, make sure you have at least three months' notice," he adds.
Should You Only Invite Members of Your Wedding Party?
Nope! Dennis says you can invite as many (or as few!) people as you'd like. "The wedding party is usually the go-to headcount for bachelorette parties, and it can feel more intimate with your closest friends," he says. "That said, if you're staying local and you want to have a fun night out, plenty of people go beyond the scope of their wedding party to invite some other close friends and family to celebrate."