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Guy Time January 5, 2015

A bachelor party is a tradition that some might be surprised to learn extends far beyond North America. Though bachelor parties go by many different names, these get-togethers, held for a man shortly before he gets married, are enjoyed in Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and South Africa.

The responsibility of planning a bachelor party traditionally falls on the shoulders of the groom-to-be's best man, who can choose to plan the party on his own or enlist the help of his fellow groomsmen. Bachelor parties can range from the tame to the outrageous. Organizers, especially those new to the task, may be nervous about planning an event. The following is a handful of tips for men who want to make a friend or family member's bachelor send-off event as memorable as possible.

* Don't go it alone. Just because you are the best man does not mean you need to plan the entire bachelor party on your own. While best men can certainly add a few special and personal touches to the festivities, that does not mean they should not enlist the help of fellow groomsmen or the groom's friends, even those not included in the bridal party. The assistance of others can be especially helpful when planning a party for a large group. For large gatherings, consider appointing someone to handle different subsets of guests, such as designating appropriate individuals for childhood friends, college buddies or professional associates. If the groom is a family member, the best man can take on the responsibility of coordinating with family members but leave the rest of the guest list to others. Breaking things down can make it easier to organize and help the groom's other close friends and family members feel like they are more involved in the festivities.

* Ask the groom for a list of invitees. While it is tradition to prevent the guest of honor from participating in the planning, it is a good idea to ask the groom for a list of people he wants to invite. This can help a best man who is not familiar with all of a groom's friends or associates to organize invitations, and it also ensures that those not invited to the wedding are not mistakenly invited to the bachelor party. In addition, the groom may want certain people excluded from the festivities for personal reasons, so asking him for a list of invitees can help avoid any confusion or conflicts.

* Choose a different venue for the bachelor and bachelorette parties. Many couples have their bachelor and bachelorette parties on the same weekend. The best man should ensure he does not choose the same locale as the maid of honor chooses for the bachelorette party. While some couples have abandoned traditional bachelor and bachelorette parties in favor of one big party for everyone, those who are sticking to tradition will want to keep the festivities separate so that the bride and groom can each spend time with their own group of friends. A best man can work with his female counterpart, the maid of honor, to ensure the parties do not cross paths.

* Plan at least one special activity for the weekend or event. While many men would be content to enjoy one last hurrah simply hanging out with their male friends before tying the knot, one way to make the weekend or party even more memorable is to plan something as the centerpiece of the festivities. This special activity may include a group trip to a sporting event or an evening seeing the groom's favorite band perform live. The event should feature one of the groom's interests. If it is possible, organizers should attempt to keep this aspect a surprise to maximize the effect.

* Limit the groom's financial responsibility. Chances are the groom has a lot on his plate with regard to wedding-related expenses, so limiting his costs, while not obligatory, will be a thoughtful and well-received gesture. Plan to purchase his food and beverages throughout the festivities, and, if you can afford to do so, foot the bill for his transportation and lodging as well. Consider asking guests to chip in so that one individual is not responsible for the total amount.

Planning a bachelor party might come with some pressure, but men tasked with such a responsibility should remember to enlist help and have fun.

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Fun Ideas for Pre-Wedding Celebrations October 16, 2013

Need ideas for pre-wedding parties, such as bridal showers and bachelor and bachelorette parties? Here are some fun options for themes that will put a unique twist on your celebrations. Pick a theme and incorporate it into the event's decor, food and beverages, and activities.

High Tea - Serve a variety of fancy teas, as well as petite pastries and finger sandwiches.

Wild West - Have guests don cowboy boots and hats and enjoy line dancing and barbecue.

Foreign Influences (London Calling, Love in Paris, Oktoberfest, etc.) - Draw inspiration for party decor and food from the couple's favorite cities.

Mardi Gras - Decorate with beads and masks and serve up a spicy Cajun menu.

The Great Outdoors - Use natural decorations and outdoor sports equipment to celebrate an outdoorsy couple.

Carnival - Offer versions of classic carnival games for guests to play while they nosh on cotton candy, popcorn, corndogs, snow cones, and other fair food favorites.

Holidays - Celebrate the bride- or groom-to-be's favorite holiday...no matter what time of the year it is. (Thanksgiving in July, Christmas in May, Halloween in March, etc.)

Favorite Books, Movies and TV Shows - Send attendees into a real-life version of the guest of honor's favorite book, movie, or show.

Luau - Everyone loves an opportunity to pretend they're in Hawaii by sipping tropical beverages and enjoying island foods.

Decadent Desserts - Skip the main course and set up a buffet that features desserts only.

Brunch - Serve up pancakes, quiche, French toast, bacon, and other breakfast favorites.

Step Back Into Time - Look to a distinctive decade or time period for party ideas, and encourage guests to dress accordingly (flappers for the 1920s, flower children for the 1960s, military uniforms for a 1940s-themed USO dance, etc.).

Bridal Shower and Bachelor/Bachelorette Party Alternatives:

If a bridal shower or bachelor/bachelorette party just isn't your style, no matter what the theme, go for an untraditional option instead. Wedding party members and close friends and family members can celebrate with the happy couple in a variety of different ways.

Go to a sporting event, concert, or theatrical production.

Take a road trip to explore a nearby town or attraction.

Visit a spa.

Go for a hike or bike ride, try kayaking, or check out a zip line course.

Have a crafting afternoon, with attendees helping to create decorations, centerpieces, bouquets, etc., for the wedding.

Enjoy some wine tasting at a local winery.

Visit a zoo, museum, or amusement park.

Take a cooking class or attend an art workshop.

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