Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties – Glorious Fun or Grand Faux Pas?


Just thinking of the to-do list while planning a wedding can be exhausting…book the caterers, reserve the location, send invitations, obtain a marriage license, etc., etc.   After all that work, most brides- and grooms-to-be look forward to the fun events designed specifically to celebrate them and their upcoming nuptials – such as this now-infamous bachelor/bachelorette party.

I started thinking about this “infamous” party as I began helping to plan one for my younger sister, Jessica, who is getting married in a few weeks to a wonderful man.  In planning, I kept thinking:

1.  What is the purpose of this event? To party?  To celebrate the bride? To celebrate marriage?

2. What should be emphasized? Remembering singlehood?  Looking towards marriage?

3. How should be talk about marriage this weekend? Sad because you won’t be single? Excited?

I was probably READING way too much into this event.  Ha!  I know!  Yet, this is my sister and best friend, and I wanted her to not only have a special weekend, but I wanted to provide a solid example from what I know as a wife and a marriage researcher.  I have attended different types of bachelorette parties in the past, and it makes me a little sad when people think of parties like this as the “end of fun” or when people make comments like “RUN!” or “Don’t do it!”

I did some brief (non scholarly) research on the history of these parties and found that bachelor parties date back to the 5th century when Spartan men held a dinner in the groom’s honor and would make toasts to the groom in a celebratory fashion, but the term bachelor party wasn’t coined until the 1920’s.  After the sexual revolution in the 1960’s, women began their own version of celebration with the bachelorette party.  In wasn’t until the 1990’s that women “pumped up the volume” and were regularly celebrating these parties with wild nights on the town and often male entertainment.  So, maybe all my party planning questions were founded as the typical stereotypes of bachelor/bachelorette parties (think The Hangover) have only been normed during the past decade or two.

Today, I would venture to say that there does not appear to be a “right” way to celebrate.  As the party-planner and/or friends of the soon-to-be-married-couple, it is important to know what the couple wants (and what they do NOT want) at their party or separate parties.  There is nothing wrong with good ole fashioned fun as friends help celebrate the transition from singlehood into marriage, but honoring the couple and their upcoming life together is also an essential element for a successful party and for a healthy relationship for the couple.

As for Jessica’s bachelorette weekend, it was a raging success filled with fun, sun, and lots of talk about the adventures of marriage!

Mallory Lucier-Greer, MS


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