The Rules of Planning a Bachelorette Party

Discover who hosts, who pays, and more.

The bachelorette party is a chance to unwind and let loose. Even though it may not be as structured as the wedding or bridal shower, there are still etiquette guidelines to follow.

Photo: Paige Jones

The bachelorette party – also known as a hen party, hen do, or hen night in some parts of the world – is a great way to celebrate with your gal pals before walking down the aisle. Just as men look forward to their bachelor parties, brides can have some fun of their own at a bachelorette party while their groom is off at his own bachelor party. If you'll both be having a bachelor(ette) party, consider doing them the same night or in the same weekend or month to have a shared experience, even though you'll be apart. Some couples even choose to have a combined bachelor-bachelorette party!

Do brides need to have a bachelorette party? Absolutely not! However, even if you don't enjoy bar-hopping or clubbing, there are other ideas for bachelorette parties that have nothing to do with drinking or dancing. Think of it as a fun way to get together with your bridesmaids and your girlfriends before you say "I do."

Although other pre-wedding events for women such as bridal showers can be lovely and are a wonderful way to bond with the ladies in your life of all ages, they can sometimes come off as too formal and stuffy for some brides-to-be. The bachelorette party, on the other hand, is a chance to unwind, let loose, and experience fun activities with your closest friends and often family. However, even though bachelorette parties may not be as structured as the wedding or bridal shower, there are still etiquette guidelines to follow.

Whether you're the bride-to-be or her bridesmaid or maid of honor preparing to plan bachelorette party ideas, we're sharing the scoop on what you need to plan a party – bachelorette style!

Bridesmaids in Pool Before Ceremony

Photo by Carrie King Photographer; From Real Wedding: Neutral & Tropical Fall Destination Wedding on the Beach in Mexico

Who is supposed to plan the bachelorette party? 

Typically, the maid of honor is the one who plans the bachelorette party, though any bridesmaid or loved one is welcome to offer to host the fête. Though it is generally considered improper for the bride to throw her own bachelorette party, she should still have a say in the activities. If she’s a reserved homebody, a wild bachelorette-party weekend in Las Vegas, Miami, or New York is unlikely to be how she wants to celebrate. 

With the growing trend of the "bachelorette weekend," it's also important that the one who plans the celebration check with the bride to see how exactly she wants to celebrate. While you can leave the specifics a surprise, it's a good idea to see if she envisioned a one-night get-together or a weekend traveling to a destination, such as Nashville, Charleston, or Napa Valley. Always make sure the bride feels comfortable with the overall style of the party!

Who should you invite to a bachelorette party? 

The host should check in with the bride regarding the guest list. Some people simply include the bridal party, but that doesn’t need to be the case, especially if there are only a few bridesmaids. The prospective attendees should be kept to people who are invited to the actual wedding, though exceptions can be considered for very small destination weddings, elopements, or a family-only wedding. 

Formal invitations are not necessary for a bachelorette party, though it is always nice to match the level of the event. A weekend getaway may justify mailed invitations, a spa day is great for an e-vite, and a casual night of barhopping is easily done via phone call. As a guest, you should always RSVP. Even a low-key night might feature goodies from the maid of honor, so it’s helpful for her to know who is coming. Gifts are usually not required, but a lingerie shower is a common activity and more and more bachelorette parties are incorporating gifts for the bride from each individual or a group gift.

When should you have a bachelorette party? 

When bachelorette parties were typically a single night on the town, the celebration often took place the same week as the wedding. For some brides, this is still the case! However, if you're planning on having a destination bachelorette-party weekend or you have multiple friends flying in for the big night, it's often appreciated to have the bachelorette party take place a few weeks or even a couple months before the wedding to spread out travel, time off work, and other logistical details. 

Just like the overall style of the event and the guest list, be sure to check with the bride to see when she hopes to have the bachelorette party. Does she want it to be months before the wedding day, so she can stress less about the impending nuptials when she's gathering with her friends? Or does she want to have it the week of the wedding while everyone is already getting into town?

What do you do at a bachelorette party? 

There are so many bachelorette party ideas that can all be a bonding experience for brides and their dearest friends. From a simple night on the town to a destination bachelorette party on a yacht, the options are endless! Here are some of our favorite ideas: 

  • bar hopping at all of your favorite spots 
  • wine tasting at urban wine trails or vineyards 
  • spending a day on the water (lake, ocean, etc.) on a sailboat, yacht, or speedboat 
  • spa day or multi-day wellness retreat 
  • distillery tour 
  • tea party 
  • camping or glamping 
  • have a staycation at a hotel or Airbnb 
  • beach day or lake day 
  • dance class
  • yoga retreat 
  • painting or pottery class 
  • music festival or film festival 
  • amusement park 
  • cocktail or mixology class 
  • craft night 
  • cooking class 
  • cabana day at a hotel pool

No matter which activity (or combination of activities) you choose, always make sure to have a back-up plan! If you're planning a multi-day event in your hometown or even one of the popular bachelorette destinations such as Nashville, Miami, Vegas, or Charleston, it's also important to have some down time so the girls attending don't feel like they're on such a strict itinerary throughout the weekend. It's supposed to be fun, after all!

Who pays for the bachelorette party? 

Either the host or the guests collectively tend to pay for the bride, or at least cover some aspects of the celebration. The person planning the bachelorette party should make sure to check with everyone’s budget before landing on any final decisions. In this day and age, another one of the most important things is to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding posting on Instagram and other social media accounts. The best course of action is to get approval from participants before posting online!

For more tips and inspiration, discover delicious recipes for pre-wedding events, learn who to invite to these pre-wedding events, and gather a wedding planner's advice on daytime activities in Las Vegas and nighttime activities in Las Vegas for bachelor and bachelorette parties.

Opening photo by Paige Jones; Planning & Design by Bluebell Events; From Real Wedding: Lively, Colorful Wedding at Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows