Pre-wedding celebrations for brides have been around almost as long as matrimony itself, but the modern iteration of a bachelorette party is only a few decades old. Why let men have all the fun, right? These days, weekend-long bachelorette parties are becoming more and more common.
In the past year alone, I’ve been on three long weekend trips, to Nashville, Savannah, and New Orleans, which are all among the top destinations for bachelorette parties in the U.S. Each trip was a wonderful opportunity to spend a few stress-free days eating and drinking with some of my favorite women in a fun city. However, these celebrations can be time-consuming to organize — and expensive to fund. Here are some of my road-tested tips for planning a successful bachelorette weekend while keeping your sanity and budget intact.
1. Get organized and share information.
Make sure you know what you need to pack and prepare for the trip and that you share this info with everyone who’s coming. Let attendees know whether there’s a theme and if there are specific articles of clothing they should bring, such as a swimsuit, workout clothes, or an outfit in a certain color. If you’re going to have a theme, make it something easy that doesn’t require pricey new wardrobe additions. It could be as simple as an evening where you all wear black dresses or an outing where the outfit of the day is college t-shirts and jean shorts. A group text or WhatsApp thread will help wrangle these conversations before and during the trip. Give everyone as much information as possible ahead of time so they know what to expect and are prepared and can pack accordingly. Scouring the city in search of a swimsuit isn’t much fun when everyone else is already relaxing in the hot tub.
2. Make a general itinerary and send it out to everyone so you’re all on the same page.
If you’re going to be eating out in a group, make reservations when possible so you won’t be waiting hours for a table when everyone is already hangry. Have apps like No Wait and Resy on your phone just in case. If you want to do a fancy dinner or brunch out, check with everyone ahead of time to make sure they’re interested and that it’s within their budget. By that same token, try to plan one night where you know you’re going to stay in and cook or order takeout. If possible, coordinate snacks or a grocery store run to stock up for the weekend as well. Also, know that it’s also okay to split up into smaller groups for various activities. On the most recent bachelorette trip I took, to New Orleans, one group wanted to go to a famous local bookstore while others wanted to go to some cute boutiques on Magazine Street. We all met up again after a few hours, compared our wares, and everyone was happy because they got to do what they wanted instead of being dragged around in a six-person mob all afternoon.
3. Get on the same page, expenses-wise.
Are the attendees paying for the bride’s meals and drinks? Is everyone in the group aware of the answer to this question and truly okay with it? In my recent experiences, the brides have all wanted to pay their own way, knowing their friends were already shelling out to come from all over the country and spend the weekend together, but don’t assume that’s always going to be the case. Also, decide ahead of time (via that handy group text) if you’re going to do separate gifts for the bachelorette, go in on one or two items a group, or if your presence is present enough. While you’re on the trip, it’s helpful to use an app like Splitwise to keep track of who pays which tab and then divvy it up accordingly so you’re not tracking down people for reimbursement after every single transaction where you can’t split the check.
4. Schedule downtime.
And make it clear that people are welcome to break off on their own if they need some time to take a walk by themselves, read, or nap for a bit. Introverts especially will appreciate the opportunity to recharge, and it’ll ensure that everyone in attendance won’t get home from the trip on the verge of exhaustion.
5. Get input from everyone who’s coming.
Does anyone have a special request for the weekend or destination? Has anyone in the group been there before, and do they have suggestions? I had been to New Orleans many times prior to the most recent bachelorette trip, so I was happy to give recommendations for places to see and stuff we could miss without regret. You can also ask people to share clever ideas of a few free or low-cost activities to do over the weekend. Finally, check in with the bride on the itinerary. There might be specific things she wants to do, like have one night where everyone puts on their pajamas before sundown and does fancy face masks, and there might be things she really does not want to do. Some people like wearing “Bride” sashes and being serenaded on stage at a piano bar, but that might be a nightmare scenario for others.
6. Pack smart.
Knowing what you’re expected to bring for outfits and activities is only half of it. Also make sure you have earplugs or headphones, an eye mask in case you’re sharing a room with someone who might stay up later or be up earlier than you, several outfit options in case you spill, stain, or have another wardrobe malfunction, comfortable (in addition to cute) shoes, and anything that’s location specific, like bug spray, sunscreen, motion sickness relief, and allergy medicine. Finally, bring band-aids and plenty of ibuprofen. You and your fellow travelers alike will appreciate it.
7. Share photos and video in one place.
Set up a shared photo album so everyone can upload pictures and videos from the weekend. This will keep you from having to ask some poor stranger to take a picture of the group with a dozen different phones. Also check that everyone is okay with having photos posted on social media, and if there’s a group hashtag, make sure everyone knows about it and is using it so you can see everything in one place.
And finally, remember that this is supposed to be a celebration of an exciting life occasion for one of your favorite people, not a stressful logistics puzzle. It’s also one of those rare opportunities in adult life to dress up, be silly, and hang out with friends for a weekend of merriment, so remember to have fun!
A grant writer by day and personal finance fanatic by night, Marisa is an avid traveler who lives in Pittsburgh, PA. When she’s not reading or writing for work or play, she enjoys running, thrifting, and searching for the most authentic Mexican food in the city.
Image via Unsplash