Bachelorette Party 101: A Step-By-Step Guide To Throwing An Unforgettable Party

When planning a hen night for the bride-to-be, the host should have everything they need to throw an outstanding party. In this post, we will provide the bachelorette party 101 and discuss how to create an amazing experience for both the bride and her guests. While the basic meaning of this pre-wedding celebration is pretty simple (to have a fun filled night with her girls before she marries), there is often more planning involved than people realize. There is a certain etiquette involved when planning a hen party for that special lady. Here we will not only answer all your FAQs, but provide you with an easy to follow checklist to make sure that you have everything you could possibly need to plan the best bachelorette party.  

What is the formal meaning of a bachelorette party?

While a bachelorette party is commonly thought of as an evening of mischief, much like the male counterpart, there is a bit more to this tradition than that. A bachelorette party, or hen night/party as they are referred to in the UK and Ireland, is simply a party that is held for the bride-to-be before she is to get married. While the tradition and the bachelorette party meaning has not changed for the better part of a century, how it is celebrated is dependent upon the bride and her social circle. While many are modeled after the groom’s stag night or bachelor party, they don’t have to be roundy or girls gone wild theme. A girls night can be tame and conservative or creative and adventurous. From skydiving to wine tastings, the ideas for this pre-wedding party are only limited to the bride’s and or host’s imagination. 

bachelorette party - girls

Bachelorette Party Planning

When it comes to throwing a kick butt pre-wedding party, planning is essential! Whether or not the party is a surprise, you should make sure that you have input from the bride as to what she would like to do on her special night. Here we will go over how to be the best host possible and throw an unforgettable bachelorette party.

Bridal brainstorm session

It’s safe to say that if you are the one in charge of planning the bachelorette party, you probably know the bride better than any of her other friends (or are at least the most responsible one)! While you might think that you have everything under control, don’t ever assume that you know what the bride would like to do for her party or who you should include on her invite list. Even if you are trying to keep an element of surprise, you should sit down with the bride and have a brainstorming session about what types of things she would like to do, who she would and would not like to invite, and a tentative schedule. While you might have something wild and crazy in mind, she might prefer a quiet night in with her closest gal pals. Afterall, the party is for her, not you or her guests. 

While planning a surprise party might sound like a great idea, this is not the case for many brides-to-be. Just because you aren’t planning a true surprise party, doesn’t mean that you can’t leave her with a bit of mystery. When you brainstorm party ideas with her, have her create a wishlist of sorts with all of her favorite ideas. The best kind of pre-wedding party is one that compliments the bride’s interests and personality. There are plenty of out of the box ideas that the bride and her guests are sure to love. For the creative bride, consider a painting party or going to an art gallery. For the bride who loves fitness, consider a new type of fitness class, such as aerial yoga. The possibilities are truly endless. Just because something for a party is trending, doesn’t mean that your bride will be all for it, break the rules a bit. The bride is the one who should determine what her perfect party ideas are. 

Research is key

As they say, hindsight is 20/20, which is why you should do your due diligence before making any concrete plans. If the bride has not narrowed the party down to a specific location, look at a few potential places for the celebration. Jot down several locations and the possible activities available at each. During the planning process, it’s fine not to have every single detail nailed down. There are a few things to take into consideration when developing your plans. 

  • Guest availability and location
  • The available budget/potential cost of each option
  • Guests’ travel plans
  • Available discounts and coupons for groups
  • Location and venue availability

Our party planning checklist will help you to remember these key details. 

Loop in the bride’s BFFs

As life gets busier, it can be difficult to coordinate everyone’s schedules, especially if you are planning an event for five or more people. Not to mention the mess of taking everyone’s budgets into consideration. Once you have your list of ideas from the bride, get everyone on the same page by coordinating calendars and potential costs for all of the bride’s essential party goers. It’s helpful to gather input from everyone of the bride’s best friends. Don’t hesitate to ask for help in the planning process and having the other ladies help to mark things from your to-do list. 

Pick a date

Traditionally, the bachelorette party takes place before the wedding and is generally held about a month in advance of the ceremony. However, if there is a separate person planning the bridal shower, be careful not to overlap plans and be open to sharing details with one another. There is no set rule as to whether the party should happen before or after the bridal shower. However, it is customary that the bridesmaids attend both events to celebrate the bride-to-be. It can be helpful to poll the bridesmaids and others on the guest list about their availability for tentative dates for the party. While it might seem easier to get everyone in one group chat, you might want to avoid this to prevent any hurt feelings or sensitive matters, like a guest’s available budget. 

How much is this gonna cost?

As the host for this spectacular event, you might be wondering to yourself, “what is a reasonable price for a bachelorette party?” Just as with the wedding itself, there is a wide range of acceptable budgets, from $30 to $1,000 or more. The final budget is highly dependent on the location of the party, activities, and the length of the get together. While the bride might want to toss her event budget out of the window, her guests might appreciate a conservative cost to the party. If there is travel involved, then look in advance for group rates for events or activities. You might want to also consider staying at an AirBnB rather than a hotel for a more budget friendly option. When taking the entire party budget into account, don’t overlook costs associated with food, beverages, tickets for events, various travel expenses, or other hidden costs (like gratuities).

Get them excited

Now is the time to get everyone hyped up about the bachelorette party. This can be done through a group chat or email to everyone. This is when you can reveal most of the details, including the location, time, theme, and finalized budget. Provide them with enough information to get them excited for this special night out or get away with the girls without spilling all the juicy details. If you don’t already have a date and time finalized, this is also a great opportunity to poll guests about their availability if there are several options for dates.   

Book and reserve now!

Once you have a base idea as to how many people are attending the get together, it’s time to book and reserve any destinations and attractions. When it comes to going to restaurants or bars, plan ahead to be sure that they can accommodate a large enough area for your group. Don’t forget to look for an AirBnB or a hotel close to where you are going out, this will help to save on transportation costs. Whether you are staying local or going out of town, be sure to book your venue and purchase any necessary tickets in advance.

Make a plan

As the host, at no point should you be asking the guests what they would like to do. This party is for the bride and events and attractions should be catered around her preferences. When you give people a choice as to what to do and invite in other’s ideas of fun, this could easily lead to conflict and a stressful weekend. However, you should leave time for the ladies to relax, bond, chat, primp and prep for the next event or outing.

Send “formal” invites

While the invites themselves certainly do not have to be formal, you should send out official paper or digital invitations. The party itself should be lighthearted and maintain a casual tone, so try and keep a similar vibe with the invitations. With the invitations, be sure to include an itinerary or schedule, packing list if necessary, and a list of items that guests might need to purchase. Be sure to let them know if they need anything specific, such as a cocktail dress, swimsuit, walking shoes, or clothes they won’t mind getting messy.

Polish the plan

Now is the time to tie up any loose ends and stock up on your essential supplies. If necessary, make or confirm your dinner reservations, plan out any movies or games that you would like to include in your event, and of course, shop for the essentials like snacks, bachelorette party favors, decorations, and alcohol. You should also confirm at this point that everyone has RSVP’d and confirm any and all bookings or reservations you have made. There is nothing worse than showing up somewhere just to realize that you never actually made the reservation. Get your guests excited by sharing clues or a hashtag specifically for the party.

Sit back and relax

Just kidding! It’s time to get ready for one amazing time with the girl gang. Be sure to check in with everyone that has RSVP’d and address any last minute questions or concerns. There will always be a lady or two that has something come up last minute. If you can, convince her that this get together will be well worth her time and her friend would certainly appreciate her being there to celebrate. Don’t forget to check the weather, especially if you are doing anything outside or will be walking from one event to another. It doesn’t hurt to suggest that guests pack a jacket for cooler weather or an umbrella in the event of rain. Lastly, it’s time to get yourself all packed up and ready to go!

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Bachelorette Party Checklist

Take the stress out of planning with an easy to follow party planning checklist. If the bride is helping in the planning of the bachelorette party, be sure to get her a copy of this helpful list as well. Proper planning should start as early as six months in advance and continue to the day of the event.

Bachelorette Party Checklist
Bachelorette Party Checklist

Bachelorette Party Etiquette

While every pre wedding party is different, there are a few etiquette rules that are customary to follow. From who is supposed to do the planning, who attends, to the when and the where, our bachelorette party etiquette guide will help you to plan the best party possible.

Who officially plans the bachelorette party?

While technically anyone can plan the party, it is customary for the maid of honor to take charge of the planning process. This happens for a few reasons. The maid of honor is often the bride’s best friend, knows the bride best (besides her groom of course), and should have a solid understanding of the bride’s tastes and preferences. However, if the maid of honor lacks party planning skills, then this task might be delegated to another bridesmaid, sibling, friend, mother (in some cases), or coworker. While it’s uncommon for the mothers of the bride and groom to attend this event, they might be willing to help fund some of the fun.

Can the bride plan her own bachelorette party?

This is entirely up to the bride. There are a few scenarios in which a bride might want to plan her own bachelorette party (other than the fact that she might be a bridezilla!) Perhaps the bride hasn’t had anyone volunteer to take over the planning of the party. She then might want to assume arranging the details. However, she is sure to be under enough stress coordinating all the wedding details. Therefore, she should not be afraid to call on a trusted friend to at least help her in the planning process if not take over the whole thing. The bachelorette party should be the bride’s time to relax, have fun, and not worry about the stress of the wedding. If the bride does decide to plan her own party, she should keep in mind that the party is for her and she should not have to worry about pleasing everyone else.

When should the party be held?

Commonly, this pre wedding celebration takes place a month or so before the actual wedding ceremony. Sticking by this time frame allows the bride time to enjoy herself without the worry of the wedding right on her heels. Traditionally, just as with the bachelor party, the bride’s version took place the evening before the wedding as a last celebration to single life. However, as many have learned in the past, a lack of sleep and too much to drink can lead to a less than perfect wedding day.

bachelorette party - thumbnail

The bride and her girls might also consider celebrating together after the wedding ceremony. This is a great idea if the couple eloped or had a rather short engagement without much time to plan pre wedding events. If hosting the party after the nuptials, you are going to want to give the newlyweds some time together as a married couple before stealing her away for a girls weekend. Holding the party after the wedding can be an advantage as it gives the bride time to reflect and recover from the ceremony and share details about her new life with her gal pals.

Where to celebrate this special event?

There are so many options when it comes to where to have a girls only event. Some common getaway bachelorette party destinations include, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Miami, Nashville, and Atlantic City, to name a few. However, staying local and close to home can be more budget friendly and a bit less stressful to plan. Again, don’t forget about what the bride wants and doesn’t want. While having a destination get away can be exciting, it also comes with extravagant expenses, including travel, event and attraction tickets, hotel stay, and of course, food and drink. While the lifetime memories might certainly be worth the price, some guests might not be able to budget for such costs or get time away due to work or family obligations. If costs and time commitments are a concern for the guests, it can be just as exciting to host the party close to home for a night or weekend. A few alternatives to a destination party include taking a local wine and painting class, visiting a museum close by, attending a show or concert, or even a simple adult sleepover at someone’s house or AirBnB.

Do mothers attend the Bachelorette Party?

While traditionally the mothers of the bride and groom are not included in the bachelorette festivities, this is entirely dependent upon the bride. While, of course, mothers are expected at the bridal shower, depending on the nature of the party, things could get a little awkward. Commonly, invites to the party include the bridesmaids, the bride’s close friends and potentially colleagues. However, if the bride is very close with her mother, she might want to include her in the party. The bride will ultimately make this decision, so the party planner should consult the bride as to whether or not to include her mother in on the festivities.

What should the bride wear to the Bachelorette Party?

What the bride and her guests should wear to the party is highly dependent upon the destination and activities. She should take a few things into consideration when planning her outfits.

  • The weather
  • The destination
  • Any planned events
  • Her comfort

To gift or not to gift?

It’s unnecessary to specifically purchase bachelorette party gifts. While guests are expected to cover their own costs for the event and potentially chip in for the bride’s costs, they are not expected to bring a gift to give her. Their presence and goodwill to chip in is a gift all in itself. However, gifts are expected for the bridal shower and the wedding.

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Bring on the favors!

Thank the guests for attending and being a part of the awesome experience by giving them bachelorette party favors. While it is not expected, it certainly is nice for the guests to receive a little something. The host can either make a goodie bag to hand out at the beginning or the end of the get together, or can give guests smaller tokens throughout the party to compliment various events. If favors are given, it is the host’s responsibility to coordinate and purchase these, not the bride’s. Here are a few ideas for event related party favors that guests are sure to love:

  • A personalized bath robe before a spa pampering
  • Matching swimsuits for a day at the beach
  • Can koozies or personalized tumblers to keep their beverages cold
  • Luggage tags for a destination event

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Whether or not to accept an invite?

First of all, you should feel honored to be invited to such an exclusive event. Seeing as how the bride is most likely only including her best gal pals in on this, you should make every effort to go. If you are a bridesmaid or part of the wedding party in some other capacity, then you should make every attempt possible to attend, unless you have a very valid reason to skip out. While friends and family are not as obligated to attend as the wedding party, they should still make their best effort to accept the invitation. 

As the bride or the party planner, don’t waste your time being too polite by telling people it’s ok if they aren’t able to make it. While your intentions might be good, the party isn’t going to be much fun if no one shows up.

Final Thoughts!

While there can certainly be a lot of work that goes into planning a stellar bachelorette party, the fun and memories are well worth the effort. From the initial brainstorming session with the bride to walking into the venue, the host should do their best to ensure that the bride is going to have a great time. It is her special night and she should feel like the princess she is while celebrating with her besties.