Bachelorette parties come with stereotypes, like a drunken posse on the streets of Vegas or girls posing for photos in matching outfits and sashes. But these stereotypes are just trends, and as the bride or party planner, you’re free to follow all or none of them. If you’re a friend of the bride, or the bride herself, wondering how to plan the best bachelorette party, first know that there are no rules or conventions. A bachelorette party is a time for the bride to do what she wants to destress and have fun with her best friends.
Coordinating a bachelorette party requires intentional planning. Good communication and organization are important, so here are tips on planning and etiquette, along with a checklist, to keep you on track and to create a party of a lifetime.
Planning a bachelorette party
Who plans a bachelorette party?
Anyone can plan the party. The maid of honor typically assumes responsibility because she’s often the bride’s closest friend and understands the bride’s tastes. But the maid of honor may not be the best party planner, so another bridesmaid, friend, sibling, or coworker might be the best option. The parents of the bride or groom usually don’t plan or attend the event, but may be willing to fund it.
Is it ok to plan your own bachelorette party?
Of course. As long as you’re not just being a bridezilla. If you have a bridesmaid or friend willing and enthusiastic about planning it for you, let them have the opportunity. You have enough pre-wedding stress, so your bachelorette party should be a time to relax and let someone else sweat the details. On the other hand, you may be dreaming of a bachelorette party, but no one has volunteered to throw it. Know that it’s ok to ask a close friend or coworker if they’re up for it. If not, then go for it! Just remember that it’s your day and don’t worry about trying to please everyone else.
When to throw the party
The bachelorette party commonly occurs a month to several months before the wedding. This time frame gives the bride to relax and enjoy herself without being preoccupied with wedding jitters. In the past, the bachelorette party was celebrated the night before the wedding as the last hurrah of unmarried life. But too little sleep and a little too much wine don’t make for a pleasant walk down the aisle.
Celebrating after the wedding is another option to consider. This is a great idea if the bride and groom eloped or had a brief engagement. Of course, you’ll want to give the couple enough time to adjust to married life and enjoy being together. In an article in The Washington Post, a bride reveals that having a bachelorette party after the wedding is better because it gave her time to recover from her wedding and reflect on her new life with her friends.
Where to have the bachelorette party
Weekend getaways to Las Vegas, Nashville, New Orleans, Miami, and other cities are exciting bachelorette destinations, but staying close to or at home might be more relaxing. Again, it depends on the bride’s likes and dislikes. Destination bachelorette parties are an extravagant expense after travel, drinks, and ticket costs. The memories are worth the price, but some guests may not be able to attend because of the cost or to take extra time away. If this is a concern, then spending a night or weekend somewhere closer to home could be just as exciting. For an alternative, take a trip to the mountains, visit a museum, take an art class, or have an adult slumber party.
Whether you choose a destination or stay local, get inspired with these Bachelorette Party Ideas.
10 most popular bachelorette party destinations in the U.S.
Las Vegas, Nevada | cost: $1,175
Dallas, Texas | cost: $1,349
New Orleans, Louisiana | cost: $1,276
Los Angeles, California | cost: $1,469
Portland, Oregon | cost: $1,294
Nashville, Tennessee | cost: $1,350
San Francisco, California | cost: $1,815
NYC, New York | cost: $1,322
Charleston, South Carolina | cost: $1,322
Atlanta, Georgia | cost: $1,353
For a breakdown these destination costs and more popular party destinations, check out the data from upgraded points.
When planning a bachelorette party, whether it’s a weekend away or a night out, begin 3-5 months in advance to allow plenty of time to book accommodations and events, and to pick games and/or party favors, as well as to allow guests time to ask off of work and plan to attend.
Bachelorette party checklist
Brainstorm with the bride
4-5 months before
If you’re planning a bachelorette party, you probably know the bride better than anyone else. Even though the party’s in good hands, don’t assume you know what the bride would like to do or which friends should or should not be invited to the bash. Sit down with the bride and base the party on her vision, schedule, and guest list. Ask who she wants to invite and exactly what she is or is not comfortable doing. Sequins and sashes may or may not be her thing, and a night in could be more exciting for her than a wild weekend away.
Surprise parties may not make the best bachelorette parties, but this doesn’t mean you have to tell her everything. A list of do’s and don’ts and possibly a wishlist are all you need. The best bachelorette party is the one that best suits the bride’s personality, and there’s plenty of room for creativity. For the outdoorsy bride, consider hiking or glamping. Your musical bride may love a Broadway show or a concert. The options are endless. Let loose and don’t misinterpret bachelorette party trends as rules. There are no rules, only fun-- as defined by the bride. Really, the bride is the only one whose notion of the perfect bachelorette party matters.
4-5 months before
Find a few potential locations for the celebration (if the bride hasn’t specified) and make a list of places to go and activities to do at each location. At this stage, it’s okay not to have a solidified destination or itinerary. You’ll need to take into account the availability, budget, and location of guests, so make sure you estimate the costs of each option, have a general idea of travel plans, and find possible discounts for large parties.
Bring in the bride’s closest cohorts
3-4 months before
If the bride’s guest list includes more than five, trying to plan around the schedule and budget of each person could become a complicated mess. After you’ve gathered ideas, coordinate calendars and costs for one or a couple friends of the bride who the bride wouldn’t want to party without. This way, you can confirm that the most special friends will be there and get their input on your ideas. You can also ask for their help planning the itinerary and marking off your to-do list.
3-4 months before
If you plan to have the bachelorette party before the wedding, try to set the date at least a month before the ceremony, and make sure to coordinate with the person planning the bridal shower. It doesn’t really matter whether the bachelorette party happens before or after the shower. The bridesmaids are expected to attend the bridal shower and bachelorette party, so you may want to send out a poll with a few tentative dates to those on the guest list to get an idea of guests’ availability. Avoid group messages with a large party to discuss matters like dates and budget to avoid heated conversations or hurt feelings.
3-4 months before
The cost of a bachelorette party ranges from $30 to over $1,000 per person depending on where you go, what you do, and how long you stay. While you may not want the bachelorette party to be conservative, your guests may appreciate it if the budget is. So if you plan to travel far and do a lot, try to look for group rates on tickets or book an airbnb instead of a hotel. When budgeting, don’t forget to include the cost of food, drinks, tickets to events or attractions, travel expenses, and any fineries.
Who pays for what?
Guests are expected to cover their own costs and a portion of the bride’s. The brides expenses are usually split between the group unless you’re throwing a destination party. In that case, friends should still share some of the bride’s cost (maybe food, drinks, or tickets), but the bride should expect to pay the rest.
Is it ok to ask for money at a bachelorette party?
Yes, nicely. You don’t want to get stuck paying for everything because you’re afraid to be a little pushy. It is not rude to ask for money, and the sooner you collect funds the better. However, don’t ask for money until you’ve solidified the itinerary and clearly communicate to group member’s what they’ll be paying for. Communicating the cost would be appropriate when you send a save the date or a formal invitation. Request that guests pay when they RSVP or sometime before the party. You can always return any excess, but it’s difficult to hold people responsible after the fun is over.
3-4 months before
Get guests excited about the bachelorette party through an email or group chat. At this point you can reveal the location or theme. Get the party on their radar and reveal just enough to whet their appetites for the getaway or night out. This may also be a good time to send a poll for the date if you haven’t solidified it already.
3-4 months before
Now that you have a general idea of who’s coming and what you’ll be doing, it’s a good time to book your stay. Locate restaurants and bars you plan to attend and look for an airbnb or hotel within walking distance to save on transportation. If you plan to stay local, it’s time to book a venue or purchase tickets if needed.
2-3 months before
Schedule a plan for the entire duration of the party. “So, what do you all want to do?” should not be asked at any point during the bachelorette party. Remember, it’s all about the bride. Giving people a choice brings in others’ ideas of fun and could ignite conflict. Have an itinerary and stick to it, but also include time for relaxation during a busy weekend away. Give guests time to chat, bond, rest, or primp before the next outing.
2 months before
Paper or paperless invites work well. A bachelorette party isn’t supposed to be formal, so keep the tone casual and lighthearted. Just be clear on the RSVP deadline if it’s necessary for reservations. Include necessary items from the itinerary or a packing list so guests know what to bring if they need to purchase anything. Let them know if they need a swimsuit, cocktail dress, athletic attire, clothes of a certain color, hiking boots, etc.
1 month before
It’s time to polish the plan. Make dinner reservations, plan games to play or movies to watch during downtime, and shop for snacks, booze, and party favors. Make sure everyone has RSVP’d and confirm bookings. Pump everyone up by sharing a hashtag or a clue to keep them guessing about a surprise element.
1-2 weeks before
Check-in with everyone, answer any last-minute questions or concerns and try to convince the person who tries to back out because “something came up” that occasion will be well-worth her time. Also, check the weather. You may need to suggest that people pack an umbrella or a jacket. And finally, it’s time to pack for yourself and prop your feet up before you hit the ground running.
Bachelorette party etiquette
Is there such a thing? With a bachelorette party, there are no formalities or hard-and-fast rules to follow. But a few common sense guidelines may help the party-planner, bride, and guests all have a good time.
Do mothers go to the bachelorette party?
They’re not usually included, but certainly not excluded. Moms are expected at bridal showers, but may make the night a little awkward at bachelorette parties. In most cases, the bachelorette party includes the bride’s inner circle, her best friends close in age. But sometimes, a bride is best friends with her mom and wants to include her. Ultimately, the bride should make this decision, so if you’re planning the party and are unsure, just ask her.
What about sisters-in-law?
It depends on your or the groom’s relationship with her. If you want to get to know a sister-in-law better, then absolutely invite her, especially if she and the groom are close. A bachelorette party is a great way to get comfortable with your future sister-in-law if you’re not already. However, your groom may have many sisters or sisters that aren’t close to you in age or location. A bachelorette party is considered an intimate occasion, so don’t feel obligated to invite them.
Gifts or no gifts?
Gifts are not necessary at a bachelorette party. Guests are expected to spend money to attend and even cover a portion of the bride’s expenses, which is a gift in and of itself. Gifts are given at the bridal shower or wedding.
How about party favors?
Party favors aren’t expected but are a nice gesture to thank guests for contributing toward an awesome experience. These tokens of appreciation can be handed out at the end of the celebration or the beginning or randomly throughout the party to correspond with various excursions. Bathrobes before visiting a spa, water bottles before a yoga class, or sun hats before a beach trip are great examples. However, the party host, not the bride, is responsible for providing party favors.
Dress code or no dress code?
Wearing matching or coordinating outfits depends on the bride’s taste. The conventional bachelorette may wear white and have the bridal party wear matching shirts or outfits with the same color or print. A dress code looks cute in photos, but don’t be too demanding with expectations and ask that everyone purchase a new outfit. Matching bachelorette shirts could be provided as a party favor, or you could request that guests adhere to a certain color scheme.
Do you have to attend the bachelorette party?
If you’ve been invited to a bachelorette party, feel honored. The bride considers you a good friend. If you are in the bridal party, yes, you have to attend unless you have an incredibly good reason not to go. If you’re not in the bridal party, you’re still a close friend and should make every effort to go, but you aren’t under the same obligation as a bridesmaid.
If you’re the party planner and/or bride, don’t be over-polite by telling guests that they don’t have to come if they don’t want to. While your actions may be well-intentioned, people may actually not show up to your party, like with this bride whose maid of honor bailed and only one person showed up.
A word of warning about social media
First of all, make sure the bride is okay with her friends posting photos of her bachelorette party. Remember that she only invited a select few and may want to keep the shenanigans private. Also, make sure everyone in attendance approves of posting swimsuit or risque outfit pics before uploading to social media to avoid embarrassing someone in the photo.
This fun, free printable Girl Code Agreement is a great way to keep everyone on the same page with sharing on social.
A note about bachelorette parties for a destination wedding or elopement
Destination wedding: In this instance, make sure you only invite those to your bachelorette party whom you’ve also invited to your wedding. Keep the costs to a minimum since attending your wedding requires travel expenses. A destination bachelorette party for a destination wedding is most often impractical.
Elopement: It’s okay to get your friends together for a bachelorette party if you plan to elope and none of them will be invited to the wedding. However, you should expect to do the planning yourself and many want to keep the costs low or consider funding all expenses.