Do you know how to help plan a bachelor party? You may not realize that everyone plays a role of some sort, from the groom and best man to the men attending the wedding. Regardless of which role you play, a little input is crucial to keep things from going completely off track, no matter how capable and well-meaning the other people involved (many are none of these).
The extent to which you need to be involved will vary, but at the very least plan to keep a close eye on the party plan as the party progresses.
Preparation and Surprise
How surprised do you want to be? It's really up to you and your best man (or other party planner). Some groups value novelty gags and surprises for the groomsmen-to-be more than others. The only thing we would caution against is being completely unexpected. You don't need to know the details, but you can get a general framework of what is being planned.
Ask what the plans are, what kind of venues you'll be visiting and what kind of money you (and other guests) will need. This information is useful for you and those who will inevitably ask you about your plans, and it also gives you the opportunity to veto any adventure you absolutely do not want to be a part of.
Comedy Tonight: Choose Your Entertainment
You can have as much input into the bachelor party celebration as you want. Traditionally the groom will let it go, at least if they have a reliable best man. Humorous surprises are part of the gestalt. But you can weigh in as needed - especially if you need to be firm!
If you're the groom, take away your ribs and put down your feet as needed. If the bachelorette party is the night before the wedding, then by tradition, you definitely don't want to deal with your hangover. Resist the temptation to be the cool guy and set the limits you need.
These are different for everyone. Some people are keen on strip clubs that offer lap dances and shots for the bachelorette party. If you and your bride think that's a good idea, then go for it. Choose food that suits your tastes and your guests. Just know what won't be fun and what won't be good for you and your bride-to-be, and let the best man know so he doesn't cross the line. Remember, he can only use the information you provide to him.
Herding Cats: Invitation List and Transportation Planning
If your best man is doing his job, he'll do all the paperwork arrangements (leaving the paperwork to the best man or other party planner is one of the few delegations the groom can enjoy after planning the rest of the wedding It's a satisfying feeling).
However, to help him understand what is needed, you will need to give him a complete guest list. Keep in mind that you may be picking from several different groups of acquaintances (high school friends, college friends, co-workers, golf buddies, etc.) and that not everyone knows each other. You are the main thread that binds the group together, so your planners will need your help to make sure everyone is on the list.
As a final note, it's never a bad idea to have an alternate transportation plan, especially if the party is going to be drinking a lot of alcohol. If nothing else, post the numbers of a few local cab companies in your phone's contact list. Your limo driver is unlikely to get into a fight with a strip club bouncer or anyone else, but hey, things happen. Plan to back up just in case your best man doesn't.
Who Pays for the Bachelor Party?
We'll tell you the traditional arrangements, but take it with a grain of salt. Different social groups have different attitudes about this sort of thing (and it gets more uncertain when you start mixing different cultures and nationalities). But in general, the rule of thumb is this: If you invite people to a place that has an entrance fee or service charge, you'll pay that for your guests, but once they come in, they'll pay for their own incidentals.
It's a formula that applies to everything from bars to concerts to strip joints to baseball fields. If you can pay in advance, even better - in the ideal model, you and the best man lead the way to the door, tell them your name and the number of people attending the party, and walk right in.
The unspoken assumption in the arrangement is that, as the groomsman, people will find your drinks (or lap dance, or whatever). You may not have to pay anything. However, have your wallet ready as needed, just in case your friends are cheapskates.
If you plan to do something particularly extravagant, plan to cover more of the cost as well. Not everyone can afford to host a party at a champagne bar. It's nice to let people be in charge of their own drinks at a normally priced bar. If you insist on taking everyone to some crazy $20-a-glass trend magnet, be prepared to buy a few rounds.
What to Wear to the Bachelor Party
As I mentioned in my guide to dressing for wedding events outside of the ceremony, bachelorette parties are usually casual affairs. Let the destination be your guide. Not sure what to wear? If you're not planning on going somewhere upscale, dark jeans with a collared shirt is usually a safe bet. It's everywhere, from baseball games to shooting ranges to bars.
Clubs and some upscale restaurants may have actual dress codes. They are usually something like "no sneakers" or "jackets required". If you know the party is headed in that direction, make sure everyone knows it. Otherwise, you may find yourself in the awkward position of having to leave some of the party at the door.
Don't Be Silly
Let these three words be your guide for the evening: Don't be silly.
Have fun, relax and celebrate one last wild night; any. But avoid the things you'll regret later.
The easiest litmus test for bachelorette party events is to ask yourself, "Am I willing to go out and do this on a regular night?" If you don't, then "because it's my bachelorette party" is not a good reason to do so. You don't get a magically erasable conscience and memory because you're getting married. If it will make you feel bad on another day, it will make you feel bad at your bachelorette party.
Don't be silly. Be true to yourself and have fun.
Seriously, don't drink too much. A hungover groom will be remembered by his family for years to come. No matter what your friends say, have two drinks at most.