Saturday, July 18, 2015

Wedding Crap: Bachelor & Bachelorette Parties

(See introduction and disclaimer to this series here, and other posts in the series here.)

What is the tradition? 

Shortly before the wedding (more traditionally the night before; now more likely to be a week before or even earlier whenever it's convenient), the groom and his attendants get together for a bachelor party, and the bride and her attendants for a bachelorette party. The latter being modeled after the former, it's a chance for the soon-to-be spouses to have "one last night of freedom", spending time drinking and engaging in revelry that often involves strippers or similar entertainment. The bachelorette party might also include a great deal of penis gaggery, as well as sashes and/or tiaras to identify the bride.

In more recent years, there seems to be a trend towards bachelor/bachelorette weekends/trips, rather than merely a one-night party. While perhaps partially due to the fact of people being spreadout from family and friends, so guests would have to travel anyway, it also feels like an aspect of the weddings being totally overblown to be a big deal.

What is the origin of the tradition?

It probably existed very early; it is believed that the ancient Spartans celebrated a groom's last night as a single man, with toasts and honor. Over time, that celebration became more and more rowdy. 

The bachelorette party originally existed as more of a ladies' luncheon or tea with the women in the family and/or bridal party to celebrate the upcoming wedding. It evolved into something more like the bachelor party as sexual norms loosened and women felt able to engage in similar behavior to the men.

Why do people still follow it?

I think there are two reasons, one more innocuous than the other. Strippers aside, it is an event that allows for those closest to each spouse to celebrate them directly, to get together and just have fun at a time when they've probably been stressing about the wedding. 

The sense of it being a "free pass" to do stuff otherwise probably not ok while in a relationship, while incredibly weird to me, kind of makes sense. Even if you just have a normal amount of "whoa, I'm committing to one person for the rest of my life!", wanting to feel freedom from that for one last time makes some sense. 

Why is that crap? 

Wanting some freedom just before a big commitment makes sense; I don't think following through on that makes sense. You're not actually "free" to do whatever you want just because you haven't signed the marriage license yet! You're still in a committed relationship. Your "last night of freedom" is actually the night before you first date, or maybe before you have a DTR, or perhaps before getting engaged. The night it's definitely NOT, is the night before your wedding.

If you're ok with your significant other seeing strippers, then that's your choice, but how is being ok with them seeing strippers ok one night, and not the next? Either be ok with that kind of entertainment or don't, but it shouldn't be contingent on signing paperwork, when you're in a committed relationship either way.

What am I doing with this tradition?

We didn't do anything along these lines. Abe had an outing that was called a bachelor party, but it was just him and a friend playing disc golf and getting some beers. Nothing about the fact that we were about to get married changed how we each felt about participating in such events, or how we would feel about the other participating in such events.

How did/will you handle this tradition?

I would love to have a lively debate and conversation in the comments! Please join in!

Dissenting opinions (from the post itself or other commenters) are welcome, but I reserve the right to delete any comments that personally attack me or any other commenter.


  1. Love the series - how have I not seen this before?

    I definitely agree with you on the idea that what is out-of-bounds for a relationship is STILL out-of-bounds at a bachelor / bachelorette party. Relationships aren't things that you can effectively take a time-out from.

    We didn't do a bachelor / bachelorette thing at all. We planned our wedding quick, fast, in-a-hurry so we really only made time for things that were important to us. And the bachelor / bachelorette ritual was simply not important to us. Anything fun we do we like doing together along with our friends; it feels weird to artificially divide our group for the purposes of this sort of thing.

    We did know a couple that had bachelor / bachelorette events before they got married, but the girls' side was a sisterhood-of-the-traveling-pants weekend in the middle of nowhere while the guys went out for a steak dinner before going to a strip club (neither of which was out-of-bounds for either of them). Frankly, I felt like my husband got the better end of the deal!

    But the thing about bachelor / bachelorette events is that they provide the excuse to spend the money and take the time to go do (insert fun activity here). Sure, the husband of the couple I mentioned may be allowed to go to strip clubs whenever, but he generally doesn't because the ones he likes costs money; his bachelor party allowed him an excuse to go nuts. Conversely, generally the wife doesn't go have girls-only weekends in a rented house in the woods because it's expensive; but the bachelorette provided a reason for us all to do so.

    1. That's also a good point about the guy/girl divide - though each of our closest friends are our same gender, we generally host stuff together, and invite our friends' SOs, so though girls' nights or such are fun, we tend to socialize with mixed groups.

      The excuse to spend money on a fun thing is nice - except that for your guests, who are probably already spending money to attend the wedding, it's going to feel obligatory, and they might not want/be able to handle the spending of money (I know it's not mandatory, but most people are going to feel obligated to some degree). Depends on the friends group, I guess, how appropriate that is, to suggest an activity/trip that's inherently somewhat expensive.


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