Back in the day, when sex outside the marital bedroom was uncommon and difficult to procure, the “last chance” mentality of the bachelor party really did apply because most single men were not sexually experienced and men’s behavior really did have to change after marriage (they not only couldn’t go to strippers as a married man, they might have even had to drop a few friends if the wife didn’t approve). Plus, most couples didn’t live together and many more people including men waited to have sex, so the idea of having one last night of freedom really did offer one last chance to grab some low-hanging fruit from off the feminine tree.
When bachelorette parties came around in the sixties, the purpose initially was an upgrade from the bridal shower. Instead of just receiving a bunch of blenders at a shower, now the bride might get some lingerie and even more scandalous gifts in preparation for the beginning of her sex life. It wasn’t until around the 1980’s that bachelorette parties finally embraced the mentality that rivaled the promiscuity of a bachelor party, where as a result of the women’s movement, now a woman would also have her “one last chance” night before marriage.
But these days, your last night of freedom is rather meaningless because before you got together with your fiancé, you probably had a few years of wanton frolicking were you sowed your wild oats, threw monogamous sex to the wind, and embraced having a slutty phase. The idea of seeing some hot thonged-men dance around on a stage which might have been exciting to the virginal girls of the sixties, seems pretty outmoded as today’s modern woman has a number that might be double what she told her fiancé. Furthermore, our general notions about sexuality has changed so while there was a time that going to a strip club seemed pretty naughty, these days your fiancé is likely to know all about the Thunder Down Under show your friends are taking you to and he couldn’t really care less. So why do we girls keep throwing outdated bachelorette parties like none of us has ever seen a naked man before?
In planning for my friend, the first thing to consider was, why have one at all? If brides don’t need a “one last chance night,” was there a good reason for us girls to get together at all? But marriage is not just the end of certain sexual behaviors. It’s also a demarcation between girlhood and womanhood and getting a bunch of girlfriends together to celebrate the bride, share memories of our friendships, and just be silly, girly, and immature seemed like an irresistible proposition.
And so for my friend, we got about twelve girls together for a weekend sleepover. The bride kicked her parents out of their house for the weekend (they stayed at my parents house – the benefits of being lifelong friends), but it would have worked just as well even if they had stayed. All the girls brought a sleeping bag and we spread out on beds, couches, and the floor. The pièce de résistance was a photo shoot by a professional photographer, the very talented Kessia Embry. We spent one morning at a local salvation army, bought as many eighties taffeta and sparkly gowns as we could find and came back home to crimp our hair and apply blue eye shadow. We then took a bunch of “modeling” shots and eventually made a calendar out of our ridiculous pictures. We spent one night on our sleeping bags, watching romantic movies, and eating popcorn. We spent the other night out at a club – a place specifically chosen where we knew we could dance because the bride wanted a night out on the dance floor. We spent one morning at the beach. We pooled some money and stocked up at Costco for snacks and alcohol for the weekend. And yes, at one point we gave the bride some extreme lingerie, phallic lollipops, and some handcuffs for good measure. But for less than a hundred dollars per person we had a weekend of fun, made some great memories, got to celebrate our friend, and now we have an awesome 2012 calendar to boot.
Of course, depending on your friend, some or all of this may not be appropriate. Some girls really do want to see a stripper in Vegas and they should have what they want. But let’s stop assuming that there is only one version of what a bachelorette party should be. It’s time the purpose of the bachelorette party be refashioned to make sense for the modern bride.
Here are some tips/suggestions to help you plan a bachelorette party that is fun and not outdated.
1. Know Your Friend
You need to know your friend’s tastes. As much as I didn’t want to see a male stripper, if I knew that was what my friend wanted, I would have given it to her. Talk to the bride. Don’t make any assumptions. Instead of asking what bar she wants to go to, ask her what she’s always wanted to do that she hasn’t done yet in life and see if there’s a way to make that happen. Instead of reverting back to old clichés, figure out what’s unique to your friend and make that the centerpiece of the event. Some brides only feel comfortable planning something that would include their fiancés so get in touch with the Best Man and plan a meet-up with the groomsmen. Ask her, if she wants her mother to make an appearance. Brides have strong opinions on these subjects so be sure to run through all these options in the early stages of the planning.
2. Consider Expense
Weddings are expensive, gifts are expensive, bridesmaid dresses are expensive. So when planning a bachelorette party, the last thing every girl wants to feel burdened by is unreasonable costs. If all the girls are professionals in their thirties, you are options are going to be different than if they are a bunch of graduate students in their early twenties. Maybe suggest different hotel options if not everyone can afford the Wynn in Vegas. Maybe insist on pooling everyone’s money together to buy gifts for the bride instead of insisting everyone bring something individually. I know this seems obvious, but somehow people always get lazy on this and just figure well she’s only getting married once so we need to go all out. While this may be true, you don’t want to leave lingering bad memories about how much the event cost, when the fact is a lot of money is not required for a great time.
3. Don’t Make It About You
Maybe you do really want to watch porn with all of your friends. But if your bride doesn’t, you shouldn’t be throwing it in and just assuming that everyone else will appreciate it. This is one of the biggest problems in modern bachelorette parties. We get carried away with planning what we think would be great. We’ve found an amazing deal on a hotel in New Orleans so we just book it when the bride doesn’t really want to leave town for the party. It’s about her, not you. Don’t lose sight of that.
4. Involve All the Girls Attending in the Planning
As much fun as I knew I would have with an 80’s glam photo shoot, it wouldn’t have worked if the bride’s other friends weren’t going to be into it. Once you have a list of invitees, get suggestions from everyone and check with them before making reservations for any event.
5. Some Suggestions for the Modern Bachelorette Pary
Lastly, here are some of my favorite ideas for a bachelorette party.
Wine Tasting - If she loves wine, go wine tasting in Napa.
Food Crawl - If she’s a foodie, rent a limo and do a food crawl of different courses at the best restaurants around town.
Scavenger Hunt – Involve people from the brides childhood such as teachers, coaches, and friends’ parents and have the bride try to figure out clues that lead her to all the people.
Photo Shoot – Dress up like Stepford Wives. Dress up like men. Have every girl bring a picture of herself and the bride and recreate the poses from days past.
Sex Seminar – Have an expert in tantra come to your house and give everyone lessons.
Defy Death - If she’s an adrenaline junkie, go sky diving.
Cook and Bake - Make a dinner party together and bake cookies in the shape of male genitalia and have a competition to see who made the most lifelike one.
Competitive Games – laser tag, go carts, or just organize a game of tag around town.
If You All Grew Up Together – go on a tour of favorite old haunts. Go back to your high school and find her locker. Drive to the parking lot where the bride had her first kiss. Go back to the street you all used to
Make Pottery – Go to Color Me Mine or any of those places where you bake clay pottery and then paint on it. Have every girl
make something there and then give it to the bride. Maybe if you can rent the place out for your party, you can make some scandalous bowls, she will never forget.
Spa Day – Book treatments at a local spa. If it’s too expensive, give yourselves manicures and pedicures at home, and have someone teach you how to give massages so you can all do it to each other.
Make A Film – retell the story of your friendships by reenacting the day you and the bride met. Or have everyone go in a room by themselves and do a reality tv-type confessional and then watch them all
The list is endless. Think about the bride. Find out what she wants. And for the love of God, if it has to be a stripper, try to keep the bride in check. The only thing worse than a stripper at a bachelorette party, is a stripper who is still around after the bachelorette party has ended.
Check out our entire calendar for inspiration here: Kodak Gallery
Tamara Shayne Kagel is a writer living in Santa Monica, CA. To find out more about her, visit www.tamarashaynekagel.com and follow her on twitter @tamaraskagel. © Copyright 2011.