Balancing the Bride’s Dream Bachelorette and Guests’ Budgets

Hi Gwyn!

Let me start off by saying, I follow your etiquette website and am a big fan. I had a question for you:

I’m starting to plan a friend’s bachelorette party and it will be out of state. Because all of the bride’s friends are all over the country we are going to make her bachelorette party a weekend event.  

I’m not really sure how to address budget.  I’ve started to look for houses to rent which are good quality but obviously something that doesn’t cost a fortune.   The bride also requested a few fun activities with her girls: a spa treatment or maybe even swimming with the dolphins, and of course dinner and a night out together.  It’s looking like this is going to be an expensive weekend.

I know that everyone is on a budget; I also know that the bride would like this to be a nice weekend.

What is appropriate for those invited to be asked to pay for? Or is it inappropriate for them to pay for anything? Maybe the accommodation/dinner and the organizers pay for the activity? Or those invited just pay for accommodation? I don’t know how this works at all and would love for your insight… 

You are so thoughtful to keep your bride’s wishes in mind and the budgets of your guests!  The short answer to your questions is: guests attending the bachelorette are expected to pay for their portion of the event.  But, a conversation or two with the bride and a few google searches to get a sense of costs will go a long way in balancing the bride’s wishes as well as you and your guests sanity.

It used to be that the bachelor party was the groom’s final hoora! and only element of the wedding that he had control.  Today though, bachelorette parties are growing into their own event and can often exceed the bachelor experience with long weekends away, sometimes even taking more time and funds than the wedding itself for the guests.  Every bride may choose the type of bachelorette party that fits her style best, and while there are always ways to make the event more accommodating for the guests, ultimately it is the bride’s choice.

That being said with a little foresight you can plan a he true key to planning a bachelorette party os balancing the guest budgets and the brides dream bachelorette party.  To do this, you must gauge a few elements:

What does the bride really want?

Just as some brides have dreamed of their wedding since they popped out of the womb and others seem clueless to the fact that the traditional wedding gown is white, some brides have a very clear idea of their bachelorette party while others have just a vague sense.  Whether the bride wants three nights in Barbados or “just something fun,” it is imperative to discuss with the bride how firm she is on her plans. Three nights in Barbados may sound fun until the bride realizes that none of her friends can afford the flights or time off from work.  Or perhaps the destination is more important than having every girlfriend attend and a small intimate group is a pleasant compromise to keeping her dream location.  No matter what the bride is dreaming of, get a sense of how important the details of her dream are and then you can begin planning.

Can the guests afford the entire bachelorette weekend? What about just a portion?

It is absolutely the expectation that each guest pays her portion of the bachelorette party. Any contribution to help an individual guest, or each of the guests is above and beyond and certainly not the norm.  What is expected is providing your guests an estimate of the cost of the bachelorette as you begin to plan.  Although you may not have  firm grasp of the number of guests sharing a house, or the exact hotel rate, a quick search on VRBO or hotels.com will provide rough details.

Hotel or housing accommodations tends to be the largest portion of the budget, but also be courteous and let guests know of any other events.  To help guests stay amicable on a longer bachelorette weekend, or just rest and rally before a big night out, it is thoughtful to make some of the events optional.  This will also allow guests with tighter purse strings to still celebrate with the bride without forgoing the entire bachelorette party.

When you provide as much detail upfront as possible, don’t forget that the bachelorette party often entails quite a bit more spending than the fun elements we remember. Yes, you may have a big night out on the town, and gallop horses down the beach or wake up to room service.  But many of the guests are also helping to stock the bar, fly across the country, pay for three meals out a day, buy shots for the bride and those horrible glow in the dark phallic necklaces.  And these costs don’t even include attending the wedding!

No matter what your bride insists is her dream bachelorette party, her dream will always include having her friends by her side at her wedding. So do your best to communicate the budget and all the options to the bachelorette guests so they can make a decision to participate in as much as possible without breaking their banks and eeek, friendships.