Alternative bachelorette parties

Recently, myself and four of my closest girlfriends from college flew halfway around the globe as bridesmaids in another friend’s wedding. We’ll call her Alice.

We all come from feminist theory backgrounds – indeed, that’s how we met and became so close. And we were prepared for long flights, hot temperatures, customs delays, and bridesmaids dresses; anything for our best friend.

What we were not prepared for was the bachelorette party, thrown by her “new” girlfriends (many self-proclaimed “anti-feminists”) on her new continent in her new country of residence.

The four of us sat, ashen-faced, politely sipping our cocktails (which were convieniently marked with adhesive vinyl stickers that said things like “Bitch” and “Slut”) as a dozen overaged women in miniskirts, fake-and-bake skin, and Carmella Soprano eyeshadow draped our best lady with penis paraphernalia and convinced her to hand out condoms to unsuspecting gentlemen. The entire evening was underscored by a never-ending soundtrack of bad house music and drunken hyena scream-laughter.

Sound like hell? It was.

What made it quite so hellish? Because the entire thing was a “surprise” orchestrated by her new girlfriends, and she was admittedly miserable the entire evening. You could have cut her discomfort with a knife.

There came an ugly moment when one of us had to step in and put a moratorium on anymore alcohol. And us Southern girls can drink like pros, but eight shots at 3:00 in the afternoon in 102 degree heat is too much, y’all. No one wants to vomit on leather couches while being draped in a light-up necklace made of dicks.


The four of us re-grouped at our hotel room in the city later that evening, after putting Alice to bed.

We sat, sweating off our makeup, around the one working air conditioner and talked. And talked. And talked.

What the hell? we questioned.

When did this sort of thing become a “tradition?” we asked.

We’d seen pictures of this sort of thing happening in the good ol’ U.S. of A, but none of us actually knew anyone who had bachelorette parties like this. The two of us who were already married certainly hadn’t done anything like this.

Not only did it clash with our feminist morals (“What the fuck do they think they’re achieving, walking around with “WHORE” on the side of their drink?” demanded Nicolette), but it also deeply prickled our Southern sensibilities (“Did you see how they snapped drunkenly at the bartenders?” asked Ginny.)

We were floored. Was this what bachelorette parties were coming to? If so, god save us all.

Lily Beth’s Bachelorette Party

When I was married, all but one of my bridesmaids came from out of state. (Alice crossed an ocean, and Ginny literally stepped off a plane from the Peace Corps.) Most of us hadn’t seen one another in over a year, and in some cases, two or three.

Therefore it was very clear from the get-go that my “bachelorette” party was going to be our only opportunity away from family and significant others, our only chance to really catch up in person and relive our favorite memories with each other. It was less about my wedding and more as if we’d gotten away on a ladies retreat.

We spent the afternoon at the spa, and then onto a quiet, upscale lounge for cigars and drinks only appropriate in rocks glasses. And the entire time we talked, and talked, and talked, non-stop.

We debated the upcoming elections, we talked about each other’s work, we laughed hysterically at past romances gone bad and antics from college. We talked about our spouses and partners, we rehashed our worst holidays with our families. We caught up on gossip and swapped home repair horror stories. Although several gentlemen approached our table and offered to buy us drinks, we cheerfully bared our teeth at them until they left us in peace.

I can’t imagine having done it any other way.

Some Inspirational Alternatives

No one’s saying you have to substitute a Bible study for your bachelorette party (well – I guess some people are saying that, but not me).

But here are some other awesome alternatives I’ve seen ladies utilize:

1. Spending the day at the track or casino. A bachelorette party doesn’t have to be a drunken, fuzzy Las Vegas outing; instead, buy some spectacular hats and head out to the track to bet on the horses, or dress to the nines and spend the evening around a craps table and then onto a four star restaurant (complete with everyone ordering a different dessert to try).

2. Go co-ed. When Jack and I got married, his bachelor party (a month before our wedding) may have been hosted by men, but all his best girlfriends (many of whom were also my friends) were invited. After the fact, it had just turned out essentially to be a big party without me; I’d sat up, home, alone, instead. Retrospectively, we were both very “what the hell” about the whole thing. As Jack said, “I kept thinking the whole time, why isn’t Lily Beth here? We’re having such a great time; she should be here.” So with that in mind, consider going co-ed right from the start. If your bridesmaids and groomsmen don’t know each other well, this is a good time to fix that. If you’ve got people you’d like to spend time with outside your wedding party, this is also a golden opportunity to include them. Hire a limo, make reservations at a fancy restaurant or a lounge, and spend the evening laughing and remembering the good times instead of gyrating drunkenly or trying to shout over the bass line at a the local singles club.

3. Throw a costume party. Again, an excellent source of co-ed fun. Whether you’re encouraging people to dress as famous couples from history or as guests at a 1920s speakeasy, a costume party is a great way to expand your “bachelor party” into a pre-wedding celebration with your closest friends.

4. Bridesmaids luncheon. No one says you have to have a bachelorette party, anyway – consider a bridesmaids luncheon as an alternative. Rent out the local tea room, invite all the women in your family and your girlfriends, and laze the afternoon away by eating scones with clotted cream. (Mmmm, clotted cream.) Encourage the older married women to tell stories about their own weddings or first years of marriage. (At one of these luncheons, a woman once revealed that, for the first year of her marriage, she’d go to bed with her makeup on every evening and leap out of bed before her husband woke every morning to ensure that she was safely showered and made up before his first cup of coffee. All of us, herself included, spent several minutes alternating between laughter and horror.)

5. Lingerie party. I’ve been to some of these that were utterly lovely, and some that were a disaster (almost always due to a bad hostess). I’ve never seen one of these work properly with men in attendance, although people keep trying to include the guys in this. But done properly, they can be delightful. My recommendation is to either host in someone’s home or rent out a private space, such as an enclosed room in a restaurant or bar. If you’re getting married at a hotel, see if the hotel has a room that might be appropriate for a small private party. Encourage the bride to start a lingerie registry, or encourage guests away from wasting money on the more ephemeral novelty items (because really, how many times can a woman honestly wear those stupid high heels with feathers on them?) and instead shift the focus to legitimate items she can use again and again, such as robes, nightgowns, and sexy but sensible underwear.

6. Get away somewhere. Whether it’s Tahiti, Bar Harbor, or the bed-and-breakfast 20 minutes outside of town, leave the city. Get away from email, phone calls, and the responsibilities of remembering to pay the cable bill. (I don’t know about you, but Jack and I could have used some significant time away from each other the month before our wedding.) Spend a weekend snuggled up in a lodge drinking hot toddies or around a campfire, just spend it together. I had a girlfriend who broke the winter doledrums six months before she got married by jetting her bridesmaids and groomsmen to her timeshare in Mexico; likewise, I had guy friend who took his entire crew out to a cabin for a weekend of Playstation competitions, trap shooting, and hiking several months before the wedding.

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  1. […] Aug While recently talking with a girlfriend from overseas (you may remember Alice from “Alternative Bachelorette Parties“) about my recent post concerning what to put on your wedding registry, she asked me whether […]

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