Bachelorette Party Etiquette Tips

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Should we be careful of offending the bride?

Getting Too Wild

When are wild bachelorette parties too wild? The answer is: whenever the bride experiences more than temporary discomfort. The bachelorette party culture encourages friends to create a wild night in imitation of legendary bachelor parties, but this can lead to awkward situations.

At the same time, friends don't want to be so scared of offending that no fun gets planned at all. A bride might not want to spell it out to her friends that her ideal night of fun is a can of whipped cream, a handful of dollar bills and a male stripper.

The answer is to use good judgment, and always provide the bride with a way out. Consider your friend's personality, and don't plan something that is far beyond the level of anything you've seen her do before. One friend writes, ' one of her bridesmaids started talking about strip clubs and fruit-flavored daquaris. The bride came to me and whimpered on my shoulders. She was honestly wondering what the bridesmaid thought any of that had to do with her (the bride) at all!" Remember that the party is for the bride to have fun, not for her friends to see her humiliated.

Another bride writes, 'My friends had a quiz and asked all these questions that I kept getting wrong. It turns out the groom gave answers he knew I wouldn't know in a hundred years – things like the name of his third grade teacher. I felt totally humiliated.' This bride's friends thought they were encouraging a good time, but didn't count on the bride's unexpected reaction. It is good to remember that weddings are an emotional time when friends might not react in predicable ways. Shy brides might not feel able to tell friends that they feel uncomfortable, but providing her with a choice gives the bride a polite way out.

   
Do I have to invite the groom's mom?

Mother Etiquette

It is not an absolute rule that the groom's mother be invited to the bridal celebration. In current times it is generally understood that a bride wants to party with her friends on her last night out, although it is considered polite to invite both mothers if the bride's mother has been invited to come along.

One way to side-step the issue is to organize a compromise, such as a two-part bachelorette party that invites mothers for the dinner but leaves them behind when the serious partying behind. Another option is for the bride to invite her own and the groom's mother for an afternoon tea, where the three ladies can get to know each other better in a comfortable environment.

   
When do I send the invites for the bachelorette party?

When To Invite

It is best to send invitations for a bachelorette party at least one month before the date. If you send the invitations up to two months before, be sure to include an RSVP date closer to the party date, to ensure that guests schedule it into their calendar instead of setting the invitation aside and forgetting about it.

When setting the date, take into consideration the things that the bride needs to get done for the wedding. Bachelorette parties can take place months before the wedding, but as an organizer you can plan carefully and give the bride a night out just when she needs a break from all the stress of wedding planning. An ideal time is around two weeks before the wedding, but be sure to check the bride's schedule before setting such a date, and take into account how far people will need to travel for both events.

Ensure that the day after the party is kept clear for the bride to recover, and there will be no excuses for her to back away from having a whale of a time.

   
What are the rules about alcohol and bachelorette parties?

Alcohol Rules

There is no hard and fast bachelorette party etiquette on alcohol, apart from those dictated by law. As with every event involving alcohol, it is important to consider how much of a part alcohol should play in the party.

Lack of consideration at the planning stage can be disastrous and hurtful, as one friend writes: 'I was in a wedding where the MoH wanted to have strippers and I talked her out of it, but she decided we'd go to a bar instead. With the bride's mother and aunts. She proceeded to tell “kooky” stories about all the times the bride had snuck out or had sex under the nose of her guardians when she was living at home with her mom or with one of the aunts present. To add to this thoughtlessness, the mother of the bride has a substance problem and is on medication that interacts with alcohol.'

Ask the bride, groom and bride's mother about guests preferences when it comes to alcohol when planning the event, in order to judge the balance between drinkers and non-drinkers. You may need to compromise, and it is always a good idea to provide a no-alcohol avenue to avoid pressuring anyone to drink. Some guests may have personal reasons to avoid alcohol they are reluctant to reveal.

   
What are the duties of the Bridesmaids?

Bridesmaid Duties

Bridesmaids are responsible for organizing the bachelorette party, running errands for the bride and generally being a helping hand as the wedding is organized. Bridesmaids should make themselves available to help organize the bridal celebration and help out with any other tasks the bride wishes to delegate. Although the maid of honor traditionally has seniority, she might be open to suggestions about the bachelorette party.

   
Can I interfere when the bride gets too silly?

Stepping In When She's Out of Control

As the head bridesmaid or maid of honor, and organizer of the bachelorette party, you are responsible for the bride's comfort and safety on her big night out. This becomes especially important when the bride's alcohol levels lead her to get a little out of control.

Although the bachelorette party is designed to give the bride a last night of fun before the wedding (with the bonus side effect of letting her blow off some steam after all that pre-wedding stress), many a bride has been in tears the next morning because of drunken behavior. At the same time, you might be shy of ruining her fun.

The best avenue is to have a conversation with the bride before the big night out, and get her to set limits on her behavior. Ask her to spell it out clearly – is putting bills in the stripper's g-string fine, but asking for his phone number too far? Is slow dancing with a stranger all in fun, but sneaking out the back with him completely out?

Having this conversation can save a lot of difficulties as the night moves on.

   
Who do I have to invite to the bachelorette party?

Who To Invite

Bachelorette party etiquette dictates that only people who are invited to the wedding should be invited to the bachelorete party. If you are only having a very small wedding, inviting only family or very close friends, it is acceptable to invite a wider range of people to the bachelorette party, but be warned that anyone attending might put pressure on to be invited to the wedding as well.

The mothers of the bride and groom don't have to be invited to the bachelorette party, but if you do invite family it is considered polite to invite family from both sides. If it is likely to make the bride uncomfortable to have her soon-to-be mother-in-law at her last night of fun, but she feels she has to be invited, the bachelorette party can be held in two parts – a well-behaved dinner, leading to a wild night out when Mom leaves.

   
Where can I find some books on etiquette?

Etiquette Resources

There are quite a few books available on etiquette that you can rely on for bachelorette party etiquette, many of them published quite recently. It's always handy to have a book on etiquette around (even if it's only to laugh at), and a book on etiquette is essential to make it through wedding planning unscathed.

Here are some of the more reliable recent publications:

*'Emily Post's Etiquette' by Emily Post (2004) – the quintessential etiquette guide

*'A Modern Girl's Guide to Etiquette' – Sarah Ivens (2003)

*'Debrett's New Guide to Etiquette and Modern Manners – the Essential Handbook' – John Morgan

*'Debrett's Etiquette for Girls' – Fleur Britten

It is always handy to have a woman's opinion on these things, so female researchers, advisors and authors are a good idea. It is also important to research the etiquette in your country – it is useless to know how to bow to the Queen if you're more likely to meet a President.

   

Bachelorette Party Etiquette: Dancers

If your pal's bridal celebration does take a turn toward the saucy (read: male strippers), here's a little bit of advice about how to, well, handle the entertainment.

  • Remember that the dancer is there to perform for you. He is not your plaything for the night.
  • When you slip those dollar bills into his garment (whatever it may be, and however slinky), let him guide you as to where to stuff your cash. (And don't ask for a receipt.)
  • Applause and cheering is always welcome, but keep rude or lascivious comments to yourself. No performer, male or female, likes to feel like a piece of meat.
Above all, enjoy yourself and enjoy the beauty of the human male form -- undulating just for you and your party!

   
What are the duties of the Maid of Honor?

Maid of Honor Duties

The maid of honor is in charge of organizing the bachelorette party, ensuring that the bride has a good time and covering any costs. If a wedding was a company, the maid of honor is the bride's personal assistant. The good news about this is the bridesmaids are essentially the maid of honor's secretaries, so delegate tasks accordingly.

The most important duty of the maid of honor is to relieve the bride's stress before, during and immediately after the wedding. A maid of honor is ultimately responsible for the behavior of guests at the bachelorette party and is likely to be blamed for any pranks that go wrong. Ask the bride about any boundaries she doesn't wish to cross if she gets drunk, so that you can save her from embarrassments.

A maid of honor is responsible for all aspects of the party, including the trinkets, souvenirs and bachelorette party decorations. Shop around for the best range and price for the best that's on offer.

   
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