Our “hens” came from San Diego, CA, Chicago, IL, Charlotte, NC, and all over Texas. From North to South, East to West we had the map covered. When your best gals live across the US, they’re gonna have to travel wherever the party is. But a central spot to meet that can’t be beat is the mile high city, Denver.
It’s been 8 years since I last planned a bachelorette party, and oh how it’s changed. When I was maid-of-honor for my sister, we did a one-night celebration in Grand Rapids, Michigan equipped with penis straws and a list of (somewhat embarrassing) tasks to complete. This was a pre-Pinterest party, and I was only 22 so I didn’t have a lot of money or experience with this kind of thing… yet. Now that I’ve attended more than 50 weddings and my fair share of bachelorette parties, I am pretty familiar with the do’s and don’ts of organizing this type of affair.
How to Plan an Utterly Fabulous Bachelorette Party Weekend
Step 1: It’s all about her.
Ignore everyone else and find out what the bride-to-be really wants to do. This is her one day/ weekend to hang with all her besties in one place, and de-stress from the craze of wedding planning before the big day. Everyone will be (should be) supportive of what makes your girl happy, and then you have less work trying to balance all of the interests and preferences of the whole group.
Tip: I prepared a PPT presentation with a bunch of ideas of things to do in Denver, categorized by activities, eats, and libations. I presented to Katy and let her pick which were most appealing to her, then organized into a loose itinerary and made reservations.
Step 2: Keep It Affordable
You aren’t aware of all of the guests financial situations, so keep activities optional and affordable so they can chose what works within their own budget (and interests). Save on costs by:
- Booking an AirBNB instead of a hotel
- Getting groceries for the group, eating breakfast at the AirBNB every day
- Renting a vehicle big enough for the group
- Keep party favors to a minimum
- Select only 1-2 “splurge” activities
- Find free things to do (like hiking in the park or hanging in the hot tub)
Step 3: Schedule in free-time
In full disclosure, I think the weekend-long bachelorette parties are getting out of hand. Sure it’s fun to travel to new places, but when I take time off work, and spend money on travel, I want to see what’s the most interesting to me. And that might not align with the rest of the group. If you’re going to go with the long weekend party, pack some flexibility into your itinerary so people can explore on their own and not be tied to a finite itinerary. Even if everyone doesn’t have somewhere they want to explore or an old friend they were hoping to see, they’ll definitely appreciate the time to just relax, hang with each other, recover from hangovers and enjoy the amenities of where you are staying.
Tip: Pick one day of the weekend that is the actual “bachelorette party” day, people can prioritize the activities planned for that day and still do their own thing the other days if they choose. Remember that not everyone thrives in big group settings, so don’t force it if it’s not their thing.
Step 4: Look for a variety of activities
Don’t fill your entire weekend with bars, and more drinking and more bars. While it can be fun, it gets expensive fast and is hard to sustain for multiple days in a row. Mix it up. (I’m in my thirties now, can’t hang like I used to!). Here are some ideas:
- Organize a hike – keep it at an activity level that is suitable to your group
- Take an art class/workshop together – sewing, painting, pottery, flower-arranging
- Visit a brewery, winery or distillery – take a tour or participate in one of their scheduled events
- Volunteer – find local charitable organizations and offer a few hours of help
- Attend a concert or find somewhere to hang out with free live music
- Look for street festivals and art fairs to peruse
- Take a cooking class or attend a demonstration
- Old-school fun: roller skating rink, billiards, arcades, ice skating, bumper cars, bocce ball, go-karts, bowling, etc.
- Unconventional fun: attend a roller derby, “skydive” at iFly, actually skydive, scavenger hunt, Zorbing
- Take a tour – walking tour, ghost tour, brewery tour, gangster tour, theater tour, architecture tour – you name it
- Get in the water: waterfalls, hot springs, water sports, kayaking, boat rides, hot tubs or pool lounging
Step 5: Simplify Logistics
Not everyone has vacation time to use, extended care for their kids/pets or can find cheap travel on your schedule. Especially for the long weekends, keep the arrival and departure flexible. Make it known what the host and bachelorette’s travel plans are so that everyone can try to align, but allow anyone to come/go as what works for them. This is another advantage of AirBNB, many have keypad entries. Your late arrival guests can let themselves in, drop their bags and come meet up with the group. Traveling in groups can be complicated. Where there are opportunities to simplify this, act on it. For example, there were 8 in our group – I rented and 8-person SUV to take care of most of the transportation to/from the airport and some of the sober activities. This saved the group as a whole on Uber rides, and I didn’t absorb the cost. Instead, I factored it in to each person’s portion of the AirBNB rental. When planning activities, consider the proximity between them. If there are two things in walking distance and you can do them back-to-back, it will make it easier than trying to move your whole group to another location. And schedule in plenty of time in between. Shifting a large group is hard to do. Don’t give yourself stress of being late or missing a reservation… just pack enough time in advance.
Step 6: Set Clear Expectations
I find that people usually want more information than not enough. Create a Facebook group or an evite, or snail-mail an invite with all the details. Things to communicate:
- What is the itinerary?
- How much will things cost?
- Who/How do they need to pay and by when?
- What should they pack?
- Gifts/No gifts?
- What are the rules where you are staying?
- What are the confirmed reservations with set times to be somewhere?
- What should they do if they have dietary restrictions or allergies, etc.?
Step 7: Decorate
Hey, for some, penis straws, cakes and cookies are still all the rage. For the rest of us, you can decorate your AirBNB to tie in a theme for the party, or bring in the theme/color-scheme that is being used for the wedding. You can buy lots of decor inexpensively on Amazon, but you should also look at the hand-crafted items on Etsy. Customized decor is another great way to go – look for vendors like “Theme Come True” who will created customized photo props, signage and more to bring your theme to life.
Girls Just Want To Have Fun…
Keep this your mantra… everyone is there to have a good time. “Fun” is just defined differently for everyone. But keeping it flexible, laid-back and somewhat affordable – you’ll make it a lot easier to keep the whole group satisfied. And if not, we’ll let them be lame, grumpy fun-ruiners. It wasn’t about them anyway.