Bachelor parties are time-honored traditions in the world of weddings. While they may have originated as a last chance to celebrate the single life of the bachelor, they have evolved over the years. A bachelor party gives the wedding party (and potentially others) a chance to bond and celebrate the important change happening in the groom’s life. But despite the continued popularity of bachelor parties, there’s still a ton of uncertainty over bachelor party etiquette. That’s where we come in.
Who pays for what? Who hosts? Who’s in charge of travel arrangements? When should it take place? We cover all of that and much more in our bachelor party etiquette guide, which we hope leads to a memorable bachelor party experience — whether you’re the best man or a groomsman, a family member, or anyone else involved in the celebration.
Everything you need to know about bachelor party etiquette:
Who hosts the bachelor party?
The best man is usually in charge of “hosting” the bachelor party. If it’s a destination bachelor party where most people need to travel, the host could also be the person who lives at the destination. For example, if one member of the wedding party lives in Las Vegas (and that’s where the bachelor party is taking place), it may make sense for that person to handle a lot of the planning and logistics.
Who plans the bachelor party?
When it comes to planning the bachelor party, it all comes down to the friend group and how things are normally done within it. Are you a casual group that occasionally gathers for a few beers and a game of poker? Do you love all-nighters and giant parties? Have you all gone on vacation together before? Do you want to?
The groom may want to set the tone for the bachelor party by giving some idea of what he would like to do and how involved in the planning process he’d like to be. It’s then the job of the host to either plan everything, work with the groom, or recruit other friends of the groom to help.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to bachelor party planning, there are bachelor/bachelorette party apps designed to keep everything organized and on track.
Who goes to the bachelor party?
Bachelor parties typically include friends and family of the groom, including all members of the wedding party. For smaller bachelor parties, it’s common to just include the wedding party and the groom. Larger bachelor parties may include other close friends and family members. However, the ultimate decision about the guest list should lie with the groom.
The host/bachelor party planner should check with the groom ahead of time to determine how large of a party the groom would like to have, and who to invite. The host is usually in charge of inviting these people.
Who pays for the bachelor party?
One of the most important aspects of bachelor party etiquette is that the groom pays for nothing, especially when the bachelor party doesn’t include significant travel expenses. Beyond this, the bachelor party invitees can determine who pays for what. Your group may wish to total all the expenses and split everything evenly or have each person pay their own way. You could also decide to split large expenses like renting a boat for a day but leave each person to pay for smaller things like food and alcohol. No matter what, everyone should try to pay their share of the groom’s expenses so that he doesn’t need to pay for much (or anything at all).
It can get tricky when travel and larger expenses are involved, so those tasked with planning a bachelor party should try and make the event as inclusive as possible by paying attention to everyone’s budget limitations. It’s a nice gesture for the host to come up with a rough estimate of total costs and share it with the group ahead of time so that they know how much they’re expected to chip in. This gives each person the ability to think about their budget and make a decision on if they can attend.
We recommend appointing one person (either the host or an organized member of the group) to keep track of all the shared expenses and who pays for what. That person should then be in charge of collecting the money from everyone. There are great apps that make this easy, like Splitwise, Billr, and Venmo.
When does the bachelor party take place? How long should it be?
While many people think of bachelor parties only lasting one night, it’s increasingly common for bachelor parties to take place over a weekend or a few days, even if the budget isn’t large. This gives you more time for hanging out in between activities and often means the pace is more relaxed than the one night of wild fun you see in the movies.
But no matter what Hollywood or your hard-partying friends say, it’s never a good idea to have the bachelor party on the night before the wedding (or any other wedding event). Schedule the bachelor party a few weeks to a few months before the big day.
Bachelor party etiquette for communication
Surprises are great, but we encourage bachelor party participants to make sure that they’re listening to the groom’s (and his spouse’s) wishes. If the groom says he doesn’t want a crazy weekend with free-flowing shots, it’s the job of the host and the rest of the bachelor party invitees to listen.
All bachelor party participants should be on the same page with the groom about the type of party he wants to have and any ground rules that the groom would like everyone to follow. It’s the job of the host to make sure everyone falls in line so that the groom can have a great time.
Additionally, invites can be sent in the form of emails, or one group email, and don’t need to be anything fancy. It’s helpful to set up a WhatsApp group, Slack channel, or another easy form of communication for planning before the bachelor party as well as communication during the weekend. No one wants to search through 76 emails in the group thread to find the name of the restaurant or the time of the reservation. Once everyone who will be attending has RSVP’d, switch over to whatever communication platform works best for you (and make sure to only include those who have said yes to attending).
Bachelor party etiquette for travel
Bachelor parties usually happen in the city where the groom lives or a destination chosen by the groom. Occasionally the wedding party will “kidnap” the groom and take him to a surprise location, but the host should make sure it’s one the groom will enjoy and that the groom is on board with the idea before moving forward with it.
Bachelor party guests should talk about their budgets and how comfortable they are with traveling for the event. Remember that not everyone will have the same budget, and travel costs can add up quickly. If it’s possible to travel somewhere by train or car and still get the vibe the groom wants, you might be able to save some money.
Also, as mentioned above, travel costs are one area where the “groom pays for nothing” rule can be more flexible. Some grooms want to go to a particular destination but volunteer to pay for their own travel to make it less of a burden on the rest of the wedding party.
Don’t forget about transportation once you get to your destination, too, and on the nights that you go out. Unless someone has volunteered to be the designated driver, you should have a plan for a safe way to get everyone to and from your venue.
Now you know all about bachelor party etiquette!
Remember, every bachelor party is different, so be sure to continually communicate and read the room during the planning process and adjust accordingly.
Up next, check out 40 creative groomsmen gift ideas that work for any budget.