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My friend Danielle drew my attention to this fantastic article on brides.com in which five women share their bridesmaid budget. These ladies represent quite a range, from spending (in total) less than $400 to more than  $1,500. I thought it might be interesting to tally my own experiences, which illustrate quite the range as well! (Note: I’m not including the expenses incurred as a bridesmaid in my cousin’s wedding. I was 16. All costs were covered by my fantastic parents.)

Bachelorette party ($100 – $2,000)

This probably represents the most significant range of costs. Not including bachelorette parties that I was unable to attend, the least expensive was a low-key event in the bride’s hometown, where I was also living. Pedis for myself and the bride, followed by a home-cooked meal with the whole gang, followed by a bar crawl. The most expensive was a glamorous get-away to Miami: flight + hotel (Mondrian) + margaritas by the pool during the day + dinners at high-end restaurants + drinks and dancing over 3 days.

Bridal shower ($50 – $400)

Not including the showers I didn’t attend, the least expensive was when the bride’s mother and sister planned the whole thing, so all I had to do was show up with a gift. The most expensive was my sister’s, which I planned (although a family friend agreed to host it at her home, which seriously cut back on costs). The theme was “happy hour,” which meant fun hors devours, tasty petit fours, and one signature cocktail. (All the guests were asked to bring a bottle of wine to start the happy couple’s wine collection.) Besides the cost of flying back, I covered the food and drinks, and also bought a gift.

Bridesmaid dress + extras ($11 – $230)

Two of my six dresses were from Target: $11 (on sale) green halter and $40 purple shift, respectively. For each of those weddings, I wore shoes I already owned and jewelry gifted by the brides.  The most expensive dress was still quite a steal, $150 peacock-colored strapless dress from Jessica McClintock. The bride asked us to wear silver heels, which I didn’t own, so I spent roughly $80 on those. (I probably could have found a pair for less, but they were so cute!)

Wedding weekend costs ($50 – $500)

Costs for the wedding weekend vary significantly depending on the wedding location. Not only does that dictate the price of hotels but also (1) whether or not I need to purchase a flight, and (2) whether or not I also need to rent a car once arriving. The price range for this starts with a wedding held in the town where I was living (i.e. no hotel, no flight, no rental car, only costs were incidentals) and runs to a wedding held in a different city (i.e. hotel for two nights, flight, rental car, and all meals/incidentals).

Although being a bridesmaid can be an expensive endeavor, it is also a highly rewarding one. I consider it money well spent!

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“If you’re tired of New York, you take a nap-a, you don’t move to Napa!”* And if you’re tired of Napa, try the Finger Lakes in New York State. May not be as well-known as Northern California’s wine region, but a trip to this less-traveled domestic wine region will leave you singing the praises of New York wines. Be sure to plan a tasting at Dr. Frank’s–the dry riesling is fantastic!


The scenery in the area is absolutely breath-taking, so if the bride is the outdoorsy type, be sure to schedule some time to take a hike. Literally.

(Pictures taken at Robert H. Treman State Park.)

* Carrie Bradshaw to Mr. Big when he tells her that he’s tired of New York and moving to Napa Valley, in the classic show “Sex and the City.”

Have you been to the Finger Lakes region? Would you recommend it for a laid-back bachelorette party?

A bachelorette party can be held anywhere the bride wants, and should be in a location consistent with the bride’s vision for the event. (Beach party in Oklahoma City? I think not.) Although b-ettes are often held in the bride’s city of residence, many a betrothed are choosing to think of their ode to singledom as an opportunity to take a vacation with her besties. (I, myself, have been to South Beach twice in the name of bachelorettehood.)

When thinking of a destination for a bachelorette party, many bachelorettes fall back on the U.S. trifecta of party places: New York City, Miami, and, of course, Las Vegas. (For a spirited discussion on the topic, skip to 1:30 of this video clip.) Nothing against any of those locations–I’m especially fond of my adopted home, New York–but sometimes, a girl needs options.

Do you like to stay local or venture to a vacation spot for a b-ette? I will be making suggestions over time, and even reporting back on an upcoming b-ette trip to the Hamptons!

Planning and attending the bachelorette party can be one of the more fun parts of the wedding planning process. It can also be stressful. Plan ahead and consult the bride in advance to be sure the event exceeds her expectations.

Talk to the bride

Common sense? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely yes. Before anything else can get done, have a frank conversation with the bride about what she wants out of the b-ette party. Does she want a crazy 3-day blow-out in Vegas with strippers and tequila? Or is she looking for a low-key spa retreat with a small guest list? Or perhaps one night of clubbing in her home town is all she needs. Regardless of what she’s looking for, it will inform all the rest of the planning.

Invite list

Second order of business: set the guest list. The bride will obviously need to weigh in on this, but it may be worth mentioning that traditionally, only guests who are also invited to the wedding should be invited to the bachelorette party. (There are, not surprisingly, all sorts of exceptions to this rule. Just keep it in mind.) If she’s looking for that Vegas blow-out, perhaps leave off from the list mom, mother-in-law-to-be, and great aunt Gertrude. (Or not. What do I know? Maybe Gertrude likes to party.)

Set a date

Some websites recommend scheduling the b-ette in the week or two before the wedding. As someone whose friends have scattered across the country, I’m less keen on that because it requires two flights in a short timeframe. That said, it’s really the bride’s prerogative. Try to find a date that works for at least everyone in the bridal party. This is not always possible, but it’s a lofty goal. (I’ve seen all kinds of cool ways to track everyone’s availability via the interwebs. Google docs is my particular fave.)

Location

Pick a city. Any city. In consideration of what the bride’s plans are. (Crazy tequila-fueled parties may be difficult to host in a sleepy town in upstate New York. A weekend at the beach might be tough to pull off in Oklahoma City. You get the idea.)

Activities

This can pretty much mean anything from fancy dining to beach lounging to strip club going to massage receiving. It also includes games from “get to know you” to the crazy (or even the raunchy). Make sure the plans you make fit with the bride’s vision for the night/weekend/etc., and communicate anything that requires special notice to the guests. (For example, I had the pleasure of attending a b-ette this past spring in Philadelphia, and the host asked each guest to bring a pair of panties for the bride. The bride had to try and match the panties to the guest.)

(And when she was wrong, the host pinned them to her jacket. Ah-mazing.)

Am I missing any key pieces of planning a b-ette party? Are there any locations and/or activities you recommend?

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