The bachelor party had its very civilized beginnings as a gentleman’s party, during which male friends and relatives joined the groom for a highbrow evening in the drawing-room, spent drinking and smoking. It was oftentimes a very formal, black-tie dinner-party, hosted by the groom’s father or the best man. The evening culminated in a toast to the bride’s health.
Over time, however, the bachelor party turned from an evening in which the codes of gentlemanly behavior was strictly adhered to into a party that became an excuse to get drunk and break rules one last time. The bachelor party, as a pre-wedding tradition, is still very much alive and well, but like many other wedding traditions, it continues to go through changes and appears in many cases to have come back to being a civilized salute to the groom.
No doubt there are still bachelor parties that are no-holds-barred stag parties, complete with strippers jumping from cakes, x-rated videos, and party crashers. The best man would do well not to assume that the groom wants a big blowout with “female entertainment.” Most of today’s grooms are responsible men who don’t wish to do anything they wouldn’t normally do at a party — or anything to upset their fiancées. It appears that the newest trend in bachelor parties still calls for fun, but the parties are well-organized and well-planned events, with an emphasis on sensitivity that reflect the groom-to-be’s interests. According to a survey conducted by one of the top wedding magazines, 68% of those who responded were fairly certain that today, the bride would be comfortable with what was going on at the bachelor party. That certainly is a far cry from what the response probably would have been just a few years ago.
Perhaps the key word with regard to the flavor of many of today’s bachelor parties is “alternatives.” There seem to be many alternative party ideas, activities and venues. Bachelor parties can take place almost anywhere. Be creative. The trend now is toward weekend-long events involving extreme sports, gambling, or camping. Parties may take the form and venue of a fishing trip, a surfing excursion, lounging at a cigar bar, watching movies, a wine or beer tasting, a weekend trip to a resort, the back room of the favorite bar or tavern, pool hall, billiards room, paintball field, a private room in a restaurant, a luxury box at a stadium or arena (during a favorite sports event), a cabin or campsite, just to name a few. A creative best man, with help of the ushers, can prepare an agenda of entertainment that suites the groom’s individual interests or hobbies.
Holding to tradition, the party still remains the responsibility of the best man. In most cases, either the best man alone or both the best man and the groom chip in to pay for the party. In some cases, each of the guests helps with the finances. The current trend indicates that the bachelor party is an intimate event to be shared by anywhere between eight and ten guests. Traditionally the guests should include the best man, all the ushers/groomsmen, any brothers of the grooms and the bride, and the fathers of both the groom and the bride. Usually, the fathers arrive and leave early.
And if you think the night before the wedding is the perfect time for a bachelor bash (as it traditionally has been), think again. The last thing a nervous groom needs on his wedding day is a hangover. It’s best to hold bachelor party at least two weeks before the wedding, so that all in attendance will be in good shape for the wedding. Scheduling the party up to a month before the wedding is acceptable. To avoid scheduling conflicts, it’s a good idea to send out invitations or make calls at least three weeks before the party. The guest list should be kept manageable. Open-ended invitations in which guests may bring other friends, may create an impersonal crowd that well may result in losing the point of the event, the sharing of a special moment with a few special friends. Most grooms know about their upcoming bachelor party and most bachelor parties still remain an all-male event.
Here are some tips to keep the party safe and enjoyable:
- Make sure people don’t drive home drunk. Provide a taxi service or car service available to take guests home at the end of the evening. If that doesn’t fit the budget, assign designated drivers for the evening.
- If activities are expected to go well into the evening, make arrangements, in advance, for late-night food delivery.
- Don’t forget the camera (and a charger or two). But do yourself a favor and keep the selfie-stick at home.
- Keep in mind that, in all likelihood, the bride will find out what took place at the party. Be certain that the party will not compromise the relationship between the groom and prospective bride. Good taste goes along way!
The tradition of the bachelor party is an old one. New spins and new sensitivities merely help to make a good thing better.