This is it. You were flattered when your friend asked you to be the best man or maid of honor, but now, after you’ve been so thoroughly burnt out from helping choose the right tux or dress, hand-stamping all the invites, booking the hotels for out-of-towners, registering the couple for gifts and a mountain of other responsibilities, you have to worry about making his or her final night before taking the plunge one to remember. It’s enough to tell the bride or groom to be that it’s time to find someone else. But before you throw in the towel, take a few deep breaths and bear with us for a moment. Planning a bachelor or bachelorette party might seem like the straw to break a tired groomsman’s back, but with a few simple clicks and calls a perfect night can be planned. If you’re sweating over coming up with the right idea, we’re here to help: here are some of our favorite tips and ideas for planning an unforgettable bachelor or bachelorette party:
For the Bachelor
Beer and Video Games – For some, a big and involved party can pile on the stress of an already sweat-inducing pre-wedding. Your best bet might be getting the guys together for an Xbox tournament if your groom is looking to relax instead of party hard. “If the groom is the sedentary type, consider renting terminals at a video-gaming lounge for a couple hours,” says Askmen. “Or, if the party’s on a tight budget, set up a video game tournament in your living room, and order pizza.”
Golf – A golfing trip can be the perfect way to have some competitive fun and give the groom the time to relax he needs. “Take a relaxing weekend away at a resort at or near a golf course, maybe sneak in a massage, and don’t give too many details to your very jealous pedicure-impaired fiancée at home,” recommends My Wedding. If you pick the right place, you’ll have plenty of time for a good dose of debauchery, too.
Music Festival – If your buddy’s a music fan, there’s no better getaway than a music festival – three or four days of sun, good food, great beer and better music, all with his best friends. It’s a party that he’ll never forget and have no trouble relating to his wife later on. “Drinking and dancing are standard bachelor party pastimes, but take it up a notch by attending a music festival,” says TravelChannel.com. “These events often feature multiple performers, supply plenty of food and drinks and allow you to mix with a crowd that’s also in the mood to celebrate.”
Scavenger Hunt – Yes, this seems like something that could have made it into the bachelorette section (actually, it did). But you’d be surprised at how much more fun a night out drinking can be when there’s a game involved. “When I planned one of my friend’s bachelor parties in Las Vegas we had him complete a bucket list/scavenger hunt with pictures,” says Sick Night. “It made the trip much more interesting and fun.” Give high points for weird shots and pictures with strangers.
Go Whiskey Tasting – All the fun of going wine tasting without having to tell any of your friends you went wine tasting. I went whiskey tasting with a friend the last time I was in Chicago, and you wouldn’t believe how good it starts to taste when the price tag rises. “This one ain’t cheap,” says The Plunge. “But arranging your own private “tasting” at a posh whiskey bar lets you class-up an ordinary bar experience.” Most bars will allow this kind of night, so go for it.
Get Extreme – There’s nothing like seeing that look of terror on your best friend’s face. ”The plunge into marriage will seem like a piece of cake if the bachelor jumps from a plane at 10,000 feet first,” says Beau Coup. “If the idea of skydiving doesn’t thrill your crew, try bungee jumping, hang gliding, scuba diving, surfing, rock climbing, mountain climbing or even ‘shark hunting’ (observing sharks while scuba diving).” Good luck not talking about the coral reef you swam across for twenty years after the marriage.
Go-Karts – You’ll finally be able to live out your nights spent up playing Mario-Kart. Go-Karting might seem a little juvenile, but aren’t we all? It’s a great way to get competitive and get your endorphins pumping. And if you’re on the east coast, check out the Washingtonian’s suggestion: “Help your groom live out his NASCAR fantasy at Dover’s ‘Monster Mile’ speedway. Amateur racers can suit up for driving orientation and instruction, then navigate genuine race cars at speeds up to 120 mph.”
Whatever you land on, make sure everyone chips in – Paying the way for the groom’s weird older brothers is the last thing you need to do for the bachelor party. “This is the most important aspect for you… the Master of Ceremonies,” says WePay. “Nothing will ruin your experience more than chasing grown ass men for money.” As the best man, you’re expected to plan the party, not pay for it. Make sure you (and your wallet) are not taken for granted. If you’re struggling with getting your buddies to pay up, try using WePay and save yourself the headache.
Plan (months) ahead – Believe it or not, your buddy isn’t the only one getting married next summer. If your party involves anything that needs to be booked, get it done ASAP. “If you’re planning a trip to a popular locale (read: Vegas) the best prices will be available early,” says Staggered. “Late deals aren’t what they once were, and it’s a risky strategy to leave it to the last minute if you’re planning for a big group.” Don’t end up drinking beer in the basement. Plan ahead.
Make sure everybody’s looking good – Too often, guys associate bachelor parties with sloppiness. Even if that’s how the night ends, you’ll want to start it looking good. “Nothing will kill a buzz quicker than walking into a bar swarming with scantly-clad women ready for their next body shot, only to discover your part-time barista hipster friend wasn’t allowed inside because he’s rocking Jesus sandals and a Phish shirt,” says Outspoken Groom. “Avoid the frustration ahead of time and tell the guys what attire they should bring.” Remember: the groom is getting married, but the rest of the party isn’t.
For the Bride to Be
Pool Party – If you’re planning on a budget, you’d be shocked at how far a pool can go. With a little decoration, the right theme and a few drinks, your friends pool can turn from a suburban puddle to a far-out vacation. “If you’re sticking around your hometown for the party, make it feel more like a girl’s getaway by paying a day fee at a luxe nearby hotel that has a cool pool scene,” recommends Cosmopolitan. “Relax in your bikinis, order frozen cocktails, and get mani-pedis or massages.”
The Photoshoot – Who doesn’t like a great picture of themselves? Planning a photoshoot is an insanely fun (and usually kind of cheap) way to get the bride and her friends laughing. You can choose from and endless list of themes – everything from Victorian ladies to 50’s pin-up girls have been reported successes for bachelorette photo-ops. “When it comes to bachelorette get-togethers, photos fall into two camps: pretty yet predictable group shots and candids that practically come with their own ‘no-Facebook sharing’ policy,” says Bridal Guide. “Strike a happy medium with this creative mugshot idea, where you can capture the entire group the next morning. How cute is the ‘Maid of Dishoner?’” Head to their site for the evidence.
Hire a Flair Bartender – If you’re hoping to get some drinks with your girls but don’t want to subject yourselves to a crowded bar, think about hosting an at-home catered party with a flair bartender. You’ll be amazed at the bravado that can go into a cocktail, and many offer quick classes along with their services. Gig Salad agrees, and can help you book one of your own: “If you have a dinner party at your own house or private venue, then you may want to hire a caterer to handle the food for you and a bartender to pass out cocktails or glasses of wine. Or to spice up the party a little, hire a flair bartender! Your guests can be entertained by juggling, flipping and magic tricks while enjoying professionally mixed drinks.” Head to their site for help on finding one in your area.
Wine Tasting – Not fond of drinking at home or at the bar? A wine tasting lets you escape the normal trappings of fermented grapes and will introduce you to new palates you could have only dreamed of before. If you’re up to the challenge, Customized Girl suggests taking it a step further and embarking on a wine tour: “Going on a tour of local wineries combines lots of interests into one. First there’s great wine; second, there’s a road trip; third, there’s beautiful scenery. And did we mention great wine?”
Shoe Decorating – Send your guests home with a craft they can actually get something out of. Decorating shoes is a great way to get your girls thinking, talking and laughing. Off Beat Bride suggests using TOMS: “A Style Your Soule party is people coming together to express themselves and help children in need by customizing their own blank, canvas TOMS. It’s a charitable and creative good time.”
Make sure there’s something for everyone – Believe it or not, not everyone in your party will be into a grueling hike or a craft party. If you’ve got a few days to get the girls together, take advantage of it. “Whether out on the town or sitting around a bottle of champagne and games at home, bachelorette parties should be low-pressure and fun for everyone,” says Minnesota Bride. “Planning a few different activities for the party helps ensure all guests will find something to their liking.
That said, don’t go overboard – Once you hit your party-planning stride, it’s hard to know when to stop. But just because you can plan 45 fun activities for one day doesn’t mean you should. Remember, there’s a good chance the bride will be pretty stressed out by this point. It’s important that she has fun, but make sure there’s time to relax. “Plan one ‘big night’ where everyone gets together and rages against the bringing up of the bar lights. And after that, take it easy,” suggests Jezebel.
Slumber Party – After all, this is the last time to have fun before the bride’s officially an adult, right? It’s hard not to smile while you’re acting like a kid, and a slumber party is a great way to do so. Get some bad movies, a bottle of wine, and gossip in your PJ’s. “The ultimate girls-only gathering, a slumber party, is a good way to get in touch with your roots – especially if you and the bride are childhood friends,” says The Knot. “Just pick a place to crash – the maid with the biggest couch wins of course!”
Take a Painting Class – Get those creative juices flowing. Like shoe decorating, taking a painting class will exercise your party’s brains and get everyone talking and laughing. And if you book a private party, remember: you’re dealing with artists, so alcohol will likely be welcomed. “Get creative while you sip and gossip with the girls,” says She Finds. “You’ll walk away with a visual memory of your fabulous bachelorette party, as well as a new piece of art.”
Scavenger Hunt – This idea can go so much farther than poking around for Easter eggs. You can apply it to just about any theme – play paparazzi on a celebrity hunt in New York, save a prize for whoever can find the worst antique from a junk shop – and let loose on the city. “It is a great way to get everyone involved and is easily incorporated into any bachelorette party theme,” says Punch Bowl. “Have everyone split into teams to try to accomplish a list of outlandish things before the night is over. This idea is fun and memorable for the entire party.”