We love a stripper in a banana hammock as much as the next gal, but we also know that planning a bachelorette party can be a major headache for bridesmaids. As much as everyone loves the almost-Mrs., high expectations, the fact that the bridesmaids likely don't all know each other well (if at all), and the reality that they are often planning long-distance leaves way too many maids feeling stressed out, resentful, and basically broke. But it doesn't have to be that way! Read on for our sanity-saving bachelorette party planning tips.
1. Talk to the bride about her expectations for the bachelorette party.
Would she prefer to keep it close to home, or is she eager to travel? Does she expect a late night at the bar, or is a fitness-focused bachelorette more her style? How does she feel about decorations that resemble male anatomy? Get a sense of what her top priorities are, and which aspects of the event matter least to her.
2. Brainstorm party ideas with the other bridesmaids, and research what each scenario might cost.
Relay your conversation with the bride to rest of the girls, and invite them to offer their ideas. This is just a fact-gathering mission, so don't worry if some of the ideas aren't your style or seem like they'd be too expensive. You'll avoid drama later on if everyone feels like her idea was heard. Give everyone about a week to contribute to the conversation; if they don't speak up before the deadline, they're out of luck.
3. Try to make the bride happy...but remember that she's a reasonable, understanding person.
There are times when it's best to keep your opinion to yourself (like if you don't love the shoes you're asked to wear)...and there are times when you should treat your friend like a real person and not The Bride™. You should certainly try to accommodate her wishes, but ultimately, you are throwing the party for the bride and you can't demand that everyone pay $1000 or take a week off work "because it's what the bride wants." Most brides don't care that much about the details of their bachelorette or shower -- they want it to be fun and feel like it fits their personality, and be enjoyable for everyone involved.
4. Keep your ego in check.
A bachelorette party is not a competition to figure out who loves the bride the most. You may not love all your fellow bridesmaids, but you're going to be spending quite a bit of time with them in the next few months. Make an effort to play nice and give them the benefit of the doubt when you don't like their behavior. You can stand firm on certain things (like not going over a certain budget) but try not to get caught up in the details because you want the party's pics to get tons of "Likes" on social media.
5. Use technology to make decision-making easier.
Use a scheduling website like Doodle to find a date that works for everyone (or for most people). And create a survey using a site like SurveyMonkey with multiple choice questions like "I would give the bride my last penny, but in reality the most I can spend to attend the bachelorette party is ________" or "I will come to the bachelorette party if [it is local, if it fits into my budget, we go to Vegas]." Let everyone complete it anonymously so they feel more comfortable! Then hare the results with the group and finalize plans based on the majority's preferences and budget.
6. Create a budget and stick to it.
Make a total budget for the event, noting how it will be divided up among things like activities, food, decor, gifts, etc. Then set an official per-person budget. (Note: the cost of traveling to the party will likely vary per person, so it's best not to include that in the shared budget.) Determine who will collect the money and set a due date. We recommend that attendees pay in advance so that no one is stuck charging everything to her credit card and waiting to be reimbursed; this also keeps last-minute drop-outs from increasing everyone else's costs.
It's great to have one point person for the event, but it's also helpful to have different people responsible for different aspects of the party (like designing and ordering T-shirts, purchasing decor, or coming up with the menu and picking up the food). Let people volunteer and assign tasks accordingly; then put all the details into a shared Google spreadsheet so everyone knows exactly who is responsible for what.
8. Do your best to work out any drama without getting the bride involved.
In our experience, the bride often feels guilty about everything she's asking of people during wedding planning, and the idea that her friends aren't getting along will really upset her. (Plus she's likely to blame herself.) So unless another bridesmaid is doing something seriously shady, it's best work it out with the other bridesmaids or just let it go.
More wedding inspiration: