By Laine Himmelmann
Chances are that at some point in your 20’s or 30’s (unless you are wildly unpopular) you’ll be asked to attend or throw a bachelorette party for someone in your life.
I’m currently the Maid of Honor (MOH) for two of my closest friends and in the midst of planning both bachelorette parties with the possibility of planning a third for my mother. (Yes, I know what you’re thinking and you’re right, I am Katherine Heigl in 27 dresses anthropomorphized.)
Having already thrown a few flings before the rings (and having been a regretful attendee at a few flops), I figured while heavy in the midst of planning I would share some of my Staggette lessons learned with my Girls on the Grid.
From nixing penis straws to arranging cross-country bachelorette bonanzas, here are my do’s and don’ts for planning the bachelorette party.
DON’T agree to plan (or attend for that matter) a bachelorette if you are not completely in love with the bride.
First and foremost, if you aren’t in love with the bride, you probably shouldn’t be in her wedding to begin with. Turning someone down who asks you to be in their wedding isn’t easy, but at the end of the day, it’s not your fault that they don’t have an even number of bridesmaids for the wedding party photo. Saying no now will be a lot easier than shelling out $350 for a bridesmaid dress you’ll wear once while standing next to an acquaintance you’ve shared a few beers with in college or after work.
Wedding party aside, it’s important to remember that whether you’re attending or planning a bachelorette, Bachelorette parties are expensive and can take a lot of preparation. If this isn’t someone who you’d shell out a birthday present for, then you probably aren’t going to feel too great about shelling out a bunch of Benjamins so they can get boozy and dance on tables at a location of their choosing.
I’ve made the mistake of agreeing to attend bachelorettes where I wasn’t in love with the bride and I found myself feeling bitter with every credit card swipe. Likewise, when planning a bachelorette for my best friend from College in Vegas, I didn’t think twice about booking us in the nicest hotel the strip had to offer. It’s the difference between buying a drink for someone because you feel weird splitting the bill versus buying a drink for someone because they’re awesome.
DO know what you’re capable of and what you’re not
Not everyone is an experienced event planner and that’s ok, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to be disorganized or throw a lazy crap party. If you aren’t willing to put in some effort into making this special, you aren’t the one for the job. It takes zero talent or dollars to be organized and communicate with your guests. Be honest with the bride about your planning and financial capabilities and don’t be afraid to ask for help (from someone who knows how to plan events, not the bride!).
DO schedule a time ASAP to sit down with the bride to decide the basic logistics
Meet with your bride (just the two of you) to discuss who she wants to include in the bachelorette (some brides like to include bachelorette guests beyond the bridal party, or they may only want to invite select members of the bridal party), where she wants to go, and when. The sooner you do this, the better- especially if your bride is looking to do something out of town that might require some more planning and saving for your guests.
DO send out real invitations
It costs less than 50 cents for a stamp. Not everyone is going to send Pinterest-ready invitations, but do put a little more effort into this than inviting everyone to a private Facebook group. Sending out invitations also makes the event more solidified and leaves less room for the group-think and other people’s opinions on logistics – which will make your life much easier as the planner.
For one bachelorette I sent every invitee a gold box that had a card on the outside saying “Your presence is requested for a very wild weekend in…” and when opened it there was a Las Vegas Ornament inside and an itinerary for the bachelorette. Putting these together and shipping them proved to be a little pricier than I had anticipated, partially because my bride and half her invitees were Canadian. That being said, two years later she still talks about how excited she was when she opened them. For an upcoming bachelorette I sent out invitations that appeared to be blank and you had to use a blacklight to read them (I included the blacklight in the envelope. Each blacklight pen/light cost me less than $1 on amazon).
I do recommend creating a private Facebook group AFTER you’ve sent out the invitations as they are a good way to communicate with your guests, especially if it’s a larger bachelorette party. (The one I’m planning for Miami this December has 15 ladies coming).
DO communicate with guests (excluding bride) about what this will cost
Take the bride out of the Facebook group and make sure everyone who says they’re attending has a real idea of what they‘re looking at budget wise. Allow them to back out now or prepare to shell out.
DON’T be afraid to ask the bride to pitch in for flight and accommodations if it’s a high-priced bachelorette
If you’re planning a bachelorette that requires everyone to get on an airplane, it’s fair to ask the bride to cover her own hotel and airfare. (Proper etiquette is that guests should cover food, drinks, and activities). When planning my friend Tara’s bachelorette for Miami (Art Basel), Tara responded that she expected to pay and would have demanded to if we tried to exclude her from it. That being said, if I saw home girl lift a finger to pay for her own Mai tai, I’d have a fit.
DO schedule the accommodations for everyone
Whether you’re staying at an AirBnB or reserving multiple hotel rooms, the MOH should handle reserving the accommodations. It’s important to remember that everyone might not know each other or feel comfortable reaching out to ask if they can play bunk mates (and there’s nothing worse than blowing unnecessary bachelorette funds on a room when you could’ve been bunked with someone else). Figure out what your accommodations are going to look like and assign as needed. (Remember, it’s always best not to split up the party. Avoid separate accommodations if at all possible)
DO get everyone’s money upfront
Whether you’re a baller or living paycheck to paycheck, it is not the MOH’s responsibility to foot the bill. That being said, it is your responsibility to organize the event. Be upfront with guests about what the costs will be and when you need their funds in hand. Make sure to get confirmation from each guest that they agree and remember, Venmo and Paypal are a MOH’s best friend.
Getting money upfront will also give you a better idea of who is coming for planning purposes. (People rarely back out once they’ve thrown cash down).
DO have a plan/itinerary for the bachelorette
There is nothing worse than spending money on a plane ticket and hotel and arriving only to find that you’re going to be spending the weekend doing the same thing you could’ve done at home. (This has happened to me and being the budget minded person that I am, I was not happy). Whether the bachelorette is in mellow Napa or sin city Vegas, take some time to figure out how the majority of the day and/or night will be filled. If you’re going to Vegas, know which pool party you’re going to hit and which nightclub you’re going to that night. Heading to Napa? Figure out which wineries are your go-to’s and what restaurant you’ll be hitting up after.
DON’T get overwhelmed by Pinterest or go spend crazy on the little things
At the end of the day, the most important element of a bachelorette party is the people that are there. Then the next important elements are alcohol and activities. No one is going to remember the champagne glasses you spent hours bedazzling. Try not to get too overwhelmed with Pinterest or spending exorbitant amounts on matching penis hats – focus your attention on the major things and throw a few creative items in the mix to make it special and unique.
DON’T forget to delegate
Just because you are planning the bachelorette, doesn’t mean you are responsible for bringing everything. Delegate someone to plan 3 games for the crew, delegate another to bring decorations (if needed), or to make the restaurant reservations. Your other bridesmaids love the bride too and will want to help – let them.
DON’T feel the need to conform to the typical bachelorette traditions (unless your bride wants it)
Maybe your bride is a boozehound; maybe she’s a one glass of pinot grigio and a bathrobe kind of gal. Don’t feel the need to go out and buy a stripper, an appendix shaped booze luge, and a life-sized blow-up sex doll unless that is the kind of thing your bride is going to absolutely love.
DO make a hashtag
Hashtags are free, they’re fun, and they’re a great way to organize and share photos from the event. Get creative with your hashtags. Right before I threw my best friend from college’s bachelorette her mother Carla left a warning on the dangers of alcohol consumption in a comment on a Facebook under a comment I had made on my friend’s page about getting her plastered at her bachelorette. The hashtag for her bachelorette became #DontTellCarla – it was a hit.
DO let loose and have an absolute blast
The older we get, the less opportunities we have for those ladies nights like those of our younger years. Make sure to take this opportunity to have a memorable time and a blast with your favorite people. If you don’t come back from your friend’s bachelorette hoping more friends get engaged soon, you didn’t do it right.
DON’T forget to thank everyone for coming
After all this work, you definitely deserve a thank you. But don’t forget, depending on where your bachelorette is and where your guests are coming from, the effort that your guests also put into coming. Make sure to say thank you!