Who Actually Pays for the Bachelor or Bachelorette Party?
While designated hosts will pay for prewedding events like the engagement party or the bridal shower, who pays for bachelorette party expenses or costs for the bachelor party? Is there a certain etiquette for financial responsibility at these events, and how exactly do you manage bachelor or bachelorette party expenses?
Unlike a shower, where the host pays for the event (often a family member or members of the wedding party), all bach party attendees will chip in and handle their own travel. Make it clear before the festivities though. Tell all the guests what the plan is and the suggested contribution. Here, you'll find more details for who pays for bachelor and bachelorette party expenses, and how to manage finances during these getaways.
Who Pays for Bachelor & Bachelorette Party Expenses?
According to our internal data from 2019 (pre-COVID), the cost of a bachelorette party depends on factors like the length of the event, transportation options, stay and activities. A bachelorette party, therefore, can range anywhere from $350 for a day-long affair to upwards of $4,000 for a destination bachelorette party trip. On the other hand, the median for a bachelor party is even higher, starting at $550, and increases according to similar factors.
With bachelorette and bachelor party etiquette, who pays is actually straightforward: all attendees are responsible for group expenses, including dinners and additional highlight "events" for the groom or bride-to-be. The groom or bride's expenses are oftentimes covered, though this depends again on the type of party: is it a destination bachelorette weekend or a one-night event?
At a bachelor party, the best man typically charges per head for drinks and entertainment. At a bachelorette party, the maid or matron of honor (often the best friend of the bride-to-be), or the most financially responsible participant among the bridesmaids, will take the lead on budgets, costs and charges per person. The financial responsibility, therefore, falls to everyone involved, but there is typically a point person to keep the group on track and to pick up the tab.
How to Manage Bachelor and Bachelorette Party Expenses
When bachelor and bachelorette party ideas are initially presented, the to-be-wed designates a wishlist of places to travel, along with the proposed length of time for the event. Then, the group works through possible schedules and budget restrictions. "If you're the [bride or groom], have that conversation with the people planning your wedding party and get an honest idea of what people are willing to-or can-or-cannot afford," says Kathleen Entwistle, Managing Director at Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. "It's a matter of understanding your priorities and what's important to you, and balance that with the people you want to be surrounded with."
Here's exactly how to manage each step for a memorable bachelor getaway or the perfect bachelorette party.
Establish a Bach 'Planner'
This individual should be organized, responsible and financially literate since he or she will be managing all expenses to be broken down according to the group. A frequent question we receive is does the best man or maid of honor pay for bach bash expenses? Not quite. Often, this key wedding party individual will be responsible for pushing the schedule along or putting down their card to secure reservations.
"From a responsibility standpoint, I would absolutely recommend one person to be the keeper of the budget; it's usually the maid of honor or somebody in the wedding party," Entwistle explains. "This is somebody who's organized and who has some understanding of budgeting and finances. Pick that one person to take care of all the arrangements and the different services that you are booking."
Narrow Down the Budget
While all attendees pay for a bachelorette or bachelor party, the overall spend could depend on the number of attendees. Bachelorette parties typically have, on average, 10 attendees, while bachelor parties have about eight participants according to our 2019 data. The number of partygoers typically helps lower and divide costs.
Keep in mind the numbers behind a bach bash are also correlated to travel. Nearly one in four bachelor party attendees fly to their destinations as opposed to one in five bachelorette partygoers. You'll want a general sense of how much attendees are willing to spend for a getaway and it's important to field dates and destinations within everyone's comfort range.
Confirm the Vision and Dates
Our data found that 27% of to-be-weds decided on the destination, whereas another 22% of all bach party attendees (together with the bride or groom) made the decision collectively. (In some instances, 21% of partygoers surprised the guest of honor with the location choice.) Ultimately, a confirmation is required, whether it's the bride or groom directly choosing the destination themselves, or the group reaching a consensus together.
With particularly lavish bach parties, the bride pays for certain experiences or the groom steps in to cover accommodations to express gratitude for everyone's efforts to attend. "If the bride or groom has friends who cannot afford to participate in the bach party because they're flying or staying in hotels, the to-be-wed has to make a decision. Either they change their vision or accept that others can't attend," says Entwistle. "Or—they offer to support some of the costs of the bach party if it is above and beyond what the wedding party is able to afford. Give people those options. It's figuring out what's important to the bride or groom and aligning that to the pocketbook."
Once a budget is established, the group will work through key dates. According to our data, the majority of bachelorette parties take place in the spring and summer (43% and 35%, respectively), a statistic that aligns with peak wedding season. By assessing the overall picture, which is a must during the wedding planning process, proper expectations will be set.
Book Your Stay
One in three bachelorette parties are held over the course of three or more days, and 56% of bachelorette parties span two-plus days. Depending on the chosen location (for example, bachelor parties were twice as likely to head to Vegas), each guest is responsible for booking their travel. In 2019, both bachelorette and bachelor parties were 2.5 times more likely to book a hotel or resort over a rental house. Post-COVID, hotel stays will still be popular (hello to that New York City suite), but we'll also see a rise in individual rental home bookings through platforms like Airbnb and VRBO.
According to our internal data, the top activities during a bachelor or bachelorette party involve some sort of drinking-related activity. About 47% of all respondents in 2019 said they went for dinner and drinks, while another 35% said they hit the club. Bar hopping and bar crawls were another popular activity (32%), while 26% of bach bashes involved a party bus.
Bachelor party participants spent more given the types of activities too, including golfing, hitting casinos (22%), and reserving sporting events.
Purchase Decorations, Gifts and Swag
Who pays for bachelorette party games, those sashes and decorations? Our data found bachelorette parties were more likely to incorporate decor and attire into the cost than bachelor parties. Often, the entire group will chip in and the maid of honor will take the lead on selecting fun decor options. Party favors were often optional, but a fun way to add gratitude to the experience.
In addition, gifts from the group are also factored into the overall spend, including lingerie and gag gifts for bachelorette parties or group wedding gifts. Alcohol and home items were frequently presented at bachelor parties.
Keep Track of All Expenses
To streamline additional expenses for the guest list, one to two designated wedding party members (often the Best Man or MOH) will keep track of all costs. This means putting down cards in rotation or having the "bach party accountant" suppress initial costs, including cocktails, meals like brunch, Ubers and beyond.
To make the entire bachelorette party experience slightly less complicated: we created a list of essential apps to download, including cost-splitting options and party planning alternatives.