Recently, I had the distinct honor of hosting a bachelorette party for my friend Kate! She is getting married this spring, and asked me to be her maid of honor (eek!). It was my first opportunity to plan a bachelorette party, and I learned a lot. Thus, I’m passing on my wisdom (and planning process) to you! Plus, I’m including a few pro tips for how to plan a bachelorette party too.
First, a rant.
I had this discussion with my sister recently, and I honestly feel it’s something we need to discuss as women and/or people who plan, attend, request, or think about bachelorette parties.
Who on earth decided that bachelorette parties had to be A) out of town, and B) an entire weekend?!
Once upon a time, a bachelorette party was just that: a party. Not a weekend, not a vacation, not a trip. It was a girls’ night or a fancy dinner or a sleepover. I don’t know what started the fad that bachelorette parties had to become these big, elaborate productions.
Luckily, my wonderful friend was chill and just wanted a cabin weekend. I can’t even begin to fathom the expense that goes into trips that involve airplanes or expensive cities like Vegas or Miami. Yes, girls’ trips can be fun, but come on.
Alright, that rant is over. Full disclosure that these instructions for how to plan a bachelorette party will walk you through these destination type of events. It is what is common nowadays, and I just want you to be prepared.
How to Plan a Bachelorette Party
(In 14 easy steps! 😉)
Make sure you keep this conversation private! It’s important to know everyone’s budgets before you even remotely start planning. Yes, that is why I have this step before you talk to the bride. Chances are, you will have talked to her a bit already, so you know the guest list. However, knowing budgets is important.
The heart of this step is to make sure that everyone is comfortable with the event at hand. Perhaps you can implement various payment plans or whatever is needed. Don’t make anyone publicly mention financial hardships. Send everyone a text or an email to just gauge their comfort level. From there, you know the type of party you can host.
Talk to the bride!
Yes, it is now time to talk to your bride! You should have an idea of the type of weekend your group can afford, so you can try and steer your bride in a certain direction if needed.
There are some very important questions that you will need to ask your bride:
- Where do you want to go?
- What “kind” of weekend do you want? Somewhere with clubs and bottle service? A chill beach weekend? A cozy cabin weekend?
- Are you team penis? (Yes, this is a weird question, but it’s something you should ask. By “team penis,” I mean in decor and such. Not in the bedroom… Your bride could also be team vagina, though I haven’t seen quite as many “vulgar” decor and such around the ladies.)
- What time of year are you hoping for? How close to your wedding do you want?
Choose your dates.
I’m a bit neurotic. I talked with the bride about the time of year she wanted. We live in the South, and she wanted a hike and things, so late winter/early spring seemed perfect. She and I are also highly susceptible to ankle injuries and falling, so we wanted to be sure there was plenty of time for bruises and such to heal.
From there, I sent out a simple Google form to the other bridesmaids. There were a few date options on the form, and we just went with the majority. From there, everything else can fall into place.
Choose your location.
I came up with a few different location options. My bride wanted a cozy cabin weekend, so I had some areas to play with. We also wanted somewhere driveable that was somewhat equidistant from all of us. I included the location options on the Google form, along with some pros and cons for each. We ended up with a tie between two locations, so the bride chose which she preferred.
Now, this may not work if you are in a situation where the bride wants to go to Vegas or Miami. There aren’t really “in between” options for those kinds of locations. There’s a lot of room to play with mountain weekends or beach weekends.
Research chosen location.
Once you have your location, start doing research! What kind of restaurants are around? Is there any sort of night-scene? If the bride wants some spa treatments, where are the best? Interested in hiking? Scour through Facebook groups or go follow new Instagram accounts for inspiration. Chances are, you’ll discover something new!
I had a reservation at a specific restaurant that I thought looked mutually pleasing. Then, about a week before the party, I saw a post in a Facebook group RAVING about another restaurant. I changed our reservation, and it was so worth it! (Shout out to The Black Sheep Restaurant in Blue Ridge!)
Choose a theme.
This one was SO HARD for me. I am not very creative, especially when it comes to themes or names for things. I scrolled endlessly through Pinterest, and just wasn’t getting inspired. Then, I saw something for “Camp [Future Last Name]” and it just kind of came together. I found someone on Etsy who makes both custom banners as well as pre-made banners, and we ended up with a super cute theme!
Find somewhere to call home for the weekend.
I prioritized a few things when it came to looking for somewhere to stay. My goal was to get everyone their own bed. Not their own room or their own bathroom. I just wanted to make sure no one had to share a bed if they didn’t want to.
I also had a relative idea of everyone’s budget for the weekend. Of course, our bride wasn’t paying, so we had to split it just between the four of us. I also wanted to make sure I was able to arrive the night before everyone else (see Pro Tips below), but I couldn’t ask them to pay for my solo night.
I also wanted to find somewhere that was in a nice enough area, close to the different activities we wanted to be sure to do. It was also important to have somewhere with enough parking for a few cars since we were coming from a few different cities.
I would recommend sending your selection to the other bridesmaids (and maybe the bride too), just to get their thoughts on the house/condo/cabin.
Outline a rough itinerary.
This is not anything serious. You just want to have a basic idea of the flow of activities. I’ve been to some parties that were go-go-go while others had a ton of downtime. Again, it’s all flexible based on what your bride wants, but go ahead and outline an itinerary. Can you fit in 3 wineries or will it be more enjoyable just to do two?
How many meals will you do out and about? Have you allotted time for people to get ready for these activities?
Start shopping and buying things.
One of my biggest things was that I wanted to spread out my expenditures over an extended period of time, to avoid going broke on one paycheck. I also knew that I wasn’t going to ask the bridesmaids to contribute for decor anything, so that was all on me. (Again, you may be different. I have been to a party where the planner DID split the cost of decor and such between everyone. To each his or her own.)
I knew that I needed to get decor. I already talked about the banners. From there, I also got:
- Streamers – I actually didn’t use these…
- Balloons – These were obnoxiously covering the bride’s bed when she arrived.
- Posterboard – For our Tournament of Bachelorettes scorecard.
- The inappropriate decor – I was able to find a website called The House of Bachelorette that has these kinds of products available. This is not high quality product, but it got the job done. They also have plenty of perfectly appropriate party decor too, so I just did one bigger order.
- Sash and tiara/crown – Our bride was not interested in a veil since she isn’t wearing one at the wedding. In fact, she didn’t wear the tiara either.
- Reusable cups – I knew I wanted to do a welcome cocktail, so I got these cute cups from Amazon and we used them the whole weekend.
- Buttons – This was a last minute item that I got from Amazon. Cute little buttons that said “bridesmaid” or “bride-to-be” or what have you.
I also had planned for plenty of time at the cabin for games and meals. I cooked dinner for everyone the first night, and then did a huge Costco run before we all arrived (to make sure everything was fresh). I also asked everyone to bring any other food they wanted to contribute as well as any alcohol they wished to consume.
Additionally, I knew I wanted to do “Oh Sh*t Kits” for the bride and other bridesmaids, which was a heftier expense. It was part of everyone’s welcome gift.
Communicate with the bridesmaids (or other attendees).
Keep looping in all of the attendees! Talk about the house or ask about dietary preferences. Is everyone okay with eating at the house one night? Are there any allergies? Can someone bring XYZ? Chances are, they’ll have ideas you haven’t considered!
Also, even though you may be the one planning the bachelorette party, you also want to make sure that everyone enjoys themselves. This means getting them involved and informed early.
Depending on where you are going, reservations are possibly very important. It will also depend on the size group that you have. There were only five of us, so it possibly could have been easy to get in most places. However, I didn’t want to take that chance. We were lucky and only needed dinner reservations.
You may need to make reservations to different wineries or dance clubs. Be sure that you research and have a reservation wherever you want/need for the weekend. There are also plenty of online reservation systems as well.
Since I’ve established that I’m neurotic, it was important for me to have a final itinerary. I even printed them out and put them in everyone’s welcome bags. Now, there was only ONE specific time on the itinerary, which was our dinner reservation. Everything else was very “go with the flow”.
For example, I really though that we were a bunch of morning people, and would be up and hiking at 10am. We didn’t leave until a little after 11, so we amended our hike to something closer and a little shorter.
I also had two wineries picked out for the afternoon. However, we all got to having such a good time at the first that we just stayed there the whole afternoon.
Distribute itinerary and arrange payment.
Once everything is mostly wrapped up and you have a solid plan in place and you know what the other attendees owe, go ahead and send everything to the other bridesmaids. I kept our bride pretty in the dark, but our bridesmaids could plan accordingly.
As for payment, make it easy for everyone. Give them a total and then share your Venmo handle or let them write a check (Yes, I still have checks). One girl paid part to a friend who then Venmo’d me, and then brought cash. You’re going to be with these people for a weekend, plus the whole of the wedding festivities, so you’re probably fine.
Also, if you’re strapped for cash, see if you can share the load! If you’re open (in a private setting), I’m sure the others will be willing to help you out. Don’t max out your credit cards for one weekend!
This was the hardest for me, but just enjoy yourself! The more you stress out about the bachelorette party while you’re there, the less fun it will be for you. Be present in the moment. Once you’re there, there isn’t really much more that you can do besides have fun and make sure your bride is enjoying herself.
Pro Tips for Bachelorette Party Planners
Sometimes, you just have to roll with the punches as they arise. I have a few pro tips to share beyond the steps to plan your next bachelorette party.
With Air BnBs or Vrbos (and most hotels when you think about it), check in is usually around 3pm or 4pm. That can be a difficult time to manage if you want to take full advantage of your first day. For me, I knew I wanted some time to get the lay of the house and decorate before anyone arrived.
I arrived a night before everyone else. It worked out because I was able to work a full day, and arrive after the standard check-in time. I had the night and the next morning to decorate and get everything ready. It was also a time for me to decompress and get ready for the weekend ahead.
Discuss your designated driver(s) ahead of time.
I was the maid of honor this time, so it was in the job description that I would be the designated driver. However, I have also been to bachelorette parties where there was a pregnant bridesmaid, who became our built in DD.
You can also utilize Uber or Lyft or even hire a bus or something for the day. We were in an area where I wasn’t sure of the volume of Ubers. Plus, there were 5 of us which would mean an XL which would also be more expensive for the distances we were driving. It was just safer to set aside a DD ahead of time.
You can alternate through different people or whatever you decide to do. Just take the moment to discuss this very important piece of safety for the weekend.
I had so many extra decorations and food and all of the accoutrements. You never want to run out of food or adult beverages. Plus, having ample cups and all that kind of stuff just makes the weekend more relaxing. You’re not panicked about making a run to the liquor store or trying to find a Walmart nearby.
Have plenty of snacks on hand.
Yes, this is part of over-buying. It turned out that we were much more of a snacky crowd than a meal-y crowd. Plus, when there are adult beverages involved, people get the drunchies. Encourage everyone to bring snacks that they like and that they would be interested in sharing. However, also be sure that it’s a somewhat balanced bunch of snacks. You don’t want 12 bags of chips and no dip!
Plan like crazy, but go with the flow.
As someone who is Type A and the planner of the bachelorette party, this was the hardest thing for me. We had quite a few “hiccups” that involved changes to the plan, but you just have to roll with it. This event is not about you (as the planner). It’s about the bride, and just having a great weekend together.
Planning a bachelorette party can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! Give yourself plenty of time, and the weekend practically plans itself. Start with these simple fourteen steps, and you’re well on your way to success.
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