Forget the prim and proper bridal shower -- modern brides are taking their cues from the guys and throwing bachelorette parties that allow the entire bridal party to cut loose and live it up one last time before the big day. Of course, this doesn't mean that every bride-to-be is eager to head out to the club and party 'til dawn. While there's nothing wrong with drinking and debauchery, it's not the right choice for every lady about to say "I do." To create a night you'll talk about long after the wedding is through, plan a customized party tailored to the bride's style and personality. Not sure where to start? Check out these 10 bachelorette party themes that are sure to inspire the perfect pre-wedding bash!
The Blow-off-some-steam Bachelorette Party
Unless the bride-to-be is some kind of wedding robot sent from the future, chances are she's feeling the stress of her upcoming nuptials. And while mud baths and pedicures are relaxing, sometimes a girl needs something a little more high-energy! Help her blow off some steam by taking the bridal entourage to a shooting range to squeeze off a few rounds. Of course, you could also hit the driving range, batting cages or even an indoor racetrack to get the adrenaline pumping. Then wind down the evening with a few of the finer things in life, like a Kobe steak, single malt scotch and a superb cigar.
The Wine Country Bachelorette Party
Let's face it -- the classic drunk and stupid bachelorette party simply won't work for every woman. If your favorite bride-to-be isn't the type to enjoy a night on the town, something slightly more sophisticated might be in order. Skip the loud bars and cheap liquor and head to a local vineyard for a stylish alternative to the traditional nightclub. Many vineyards will create a customized experience just for your party, including tours, demonstrations and, of course, wine tastings. Sample some unique blends along with basic cheese and finger foods, or choose a vineyard that provides a full lunch out on the grounds.
Let the bride decide whether to make this a formal affair, where each guest breaks out her favorite little black dress, or whether she'd prefer to keep it casual. Hire a limo or party bus so no one has to drive, or find a tour group that will transport you to several vineyards over the course of the day. Don't forget to pick up a few bottles of the best wines for the bride to share with her hubby-to-be!
The Glamour Shots Bachelorette Party
Costumes at bachelorette parties are always a good idea. Pink wigs, feather boas, wedding veils and oversized sunglasses are all fun, but you could also go for something more bold and elaborate. To really get in the mood, begin the night at a professional portrait studio for a picture of the group in costume. There are plenty of themes to choose from: lady pirates, cowgirls and the always-timeless mashup of 1980s Madonna looks.
After the photo shoot, leave the costumes on and go out on the town. If you're the maid of honor, set up a picture scavenger hunt as you barhop. You can even hire professional party planners who can run your scavenger hunt, complete with elaborate puzzles and field agents to meet at each location during the night.
The Bachelorette Party on a Boat
After all the work and decision-making involved in planning a wedding, most brides are in need of some serious relaxation before the big day arrives. For bridal parties looking to cut loose and unwind, it's time to head out on the water for a bachelorette party on a boat. If you know someone with a boat big enough to hold the entire group, it's time to call in some favors. If not, check out yacht or boat charters in your area to find a deal that works for your party. Some outfits even offer a fully stocked bar and top-of-the line catering.
If you need to keep costs down, simply pack a few coolers with plenty of drinks and a picnic lunch and head out on the water. Choose music that's made for dancing, or create a relaxing vibes with more mellow tunes. Big toys like wave runners and wakeboards can help keep everyone entertained, or you can simply spend the day sharing gossip, reminiscing and planning for the wedding.
The Purpose-driven Bachelorette Party
A bride spends months wading through the dullest details of her wedding. As the big day closes in, she's knee-deep in issues like whether the tablecloths should be ivory or ecru and how much is a reasonable price to pay for lily of the valley centerpieces. What she might not have been preparing for is the part of the wedding where she and her new husband actually get to have some fun -- the honeymoon. So, grab the girls (and guys if you feel like inviting any; this isn't 1890), and make a run for the mall with a list of honeymoon and wedding night necessities. Assign a gift to each guest, and make sure the bride is suited up with everything she needs: flip-flops, sunscreen, a few new bikinis and, if the wife-to-be isn't having a lingerie shower, maybe a few tasteful (or not so tasteful) pieces of provocative unmentionables to help set the mood when the wedding night rolls around.
The Classic Limo Ride Bachelorette Party
For many brides, a bachelorette party is all about the fancy stretch limo, the sky-high heels and a trip to all the best bars and clubs. When nothing but this classic party theme will do, it's time to call a local limo company and book the hottest, most over-the-top car on the lot to transport your group as you party the night away. Whichever fabulous vehicle you choose for this last big fling, make sure to stock it full of champagne to get the party started as you head out on the town.
Splurge on VIP access at the hottest clubs, or have the driver take you on a tour of the best dance spots, strip clubs and cocktail bars your town has to offer. Take a trip down memory lane by visiting all your old haunts. Check out your favorite college bar or your old happy hour spot. You can also add a touch of nostalgia by hitting up locations with special meaning, such as the place where the bride first locked eyes with her future hubby.
The Road Trip Bachelorette Party
What's a bachelorette party really about? Bonding, of course! It's the last send-off gesture of female solidarity before marriage, and what better way to get in some quality girl time than a road trip? While there's always the classic route of making a run for Las Vegas or the nearest equivalent, for a more outdoorsy (or budget-conscious) group of friends, hike out to a hot spring, camp out on the beach or get down with your bad selves at a music festival. And if drinking and dancing are still part of the equation, a road trip is one more chance to party in a city full of strangers -- no chance of accidentally running into anyone's boss, ex or (for the bride with a shadowy past) parole officer.
The Spa Day Bachelorette Party
The demands of planning a wedding can leave even the most laid-back bride feeling frazzled. A bachelorette spa party serves as the perfect way for your entire group to unwind and reconnect before the big day finally arrives. Many day spas and resorts offer special packages designed just for bridal parties, which include a variety of treatment options, finger foods and even champagne. Indulge in a massage or a facial, then bond with the girls in the whirlpool or sauna. You can even plan for a hair and makeup consultation, where the spa's stylists can help you try out different looks for the wedding.
No decent spas in your area? Try a mobile spa service, where trained massage therapists, stylists and other professionals bring the spa experience to your home or hotel suite. If your budget is tight, you can just take the bridal party to a local nail salon for manicures and pedicures (which is arguably the most important part of the spa experience, anyway).
The Dance Class Bachelorette Party
Strip clubs and bachelorette parties go together like chocolate and peanut butter. There's no getting past that. However, a bunch of nude dudes (or gals) can easily make some partiers uncomfortable. For the bachelorette who's looking for something a little naughty without the awkwardness of naked people, sign up for a private pole dancing class. This is a great way to get a good workout in, goof off with the girls and maybe pick up a sexy move or two. Though pole dancing is hot right now, it isn't everyone's style, and there are also plenty of less risqué options. An afternoon of belly dancing, tango, hip-hop or salsa lessons will get the entourage fired up before hitting the dance clubs.
The Bachelorette Slumber Party
With a wedding on the horizon, the bachelorette party is probably your last chance to indulge in an old-school sleepover with the girls. Get the gang together at your home or splurge on a hotel suite and enjoy a classic sleepover party like you did when you were teens. Break out the sleeping bags, your craziest pajamas and your all-time favorite music and movies, then stay up all night enjoying this final fling before the big day. Choose fun, girly drinks like cosmos and other fruity concoctions, and bring plenty of popcorn and other classic sleepover fare.
Spend the evening playing games like Truth or Dare and Never Have I Ever, or add a wedding-style twist to the fun with bride and groom trivia. Take this time to share memories and reminisce about the good old days as you look forward to the wedding excitement to come. A bachelorette sleepover is also the perfect opportunity to present the bride with some gag gifts that didn't quite make her gift registry. Of course, you can also spend the night practicing hairstyles and makeup for the wedding.
Bachelor parties date back to the time of the Spartans. HowStuffWorks dives into the history of these testosterone-filled bashes.
- Brides. "Who Pays for the Bachelorette Party?" (Dec. 31, 2011) http://www.brides.com/wedding-answers-tools/wedding-etiquette/2010/03/bacheloretteparties_whopays
- Fox News. "Need Help Avoiding a Hangover? Less Booze, More H2O." Dec. 30, 2011. (Dec. 30, 2011) http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/12/30/need-help-avoiding-hangover-less-booze-more-h2o-1975028979/
- Haire, Meaghan. "A Brief History of Bachelor Parties." Time. June 16, 2009. (Dec. 31, 2011) http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1904885,00.html
- Wedding Channel. "Weddings Then and Now: 19th Century." 2012. (Jan. 4, 2012) http://weddings.weddingchannel.com/wedding-planning-ideas/wedding-ceremony-ideas/articles/weddings_then-and-now-19th-century.aspx