Today’s brides are doing bachelorette weekends bigger and better than ever with destination trips to Vegas, Miami, Mexico – you name it! While these weekends are a total blast, they can also be a challenge for the MOH to organize.
Budgeting, researching housing, and planning activities for groups of 10+ is no small feat – I know from experience! Last year, I organized my best friend Ashley’s bachelorette party, and even though I have 5+ years of professional event planning experience, I was still surprised by how much time was needed to pull off a successful, affordable weekend.
To help you with your bachelorette party planning, I’ve shared some step-by-step tips below. Good luck!
Step 1: Brainstorm destinations with the bride.
About six months before the big weekend, start brainstorming the destination! I started by asking Ashley what type weekend she was looking for. Low-key lake weekend? Party till dawn? After discussing, Ashley’s two priorities were doing something low-key and keeping the trip budget-friendly. Based on this, we decided to research two destinations: Destin and the Austin hill country.
Step 2: Pick a date.
Why is it good to decide on a date next? Having a timeframe will help you get a realistic sense of what housing costs at this time – as well as what’s available.
For Ashley’s weekend, she knew October was going to be the best month for her. We then ruled out any weekends with potential conflicts, which for us Texas gals were Longhorn home football games or Austin City Limits :) This left us with our weekend: October 16th – 18th.
If your bride has more flexibility than Ashley did, a great idea is to ask your guests for their availability. A good, free tool for this is Doodle, which lets people check dates they are free and X-off dates they aren’t.
Step 3: Ballpark a budget for two or three locations.
This step is KEY, so don’t skimp on your research! I started by looking at housing options and things to do. Then, I was able to build out a sample itinerary and ballpark total cost, which gave us a good idea of not only how we’d spend our time, but how much it would cost.
A couple things to think about when researching:
- Know what the cancellation policies are, especially for your housing. There is always a chance guests may drop out, so the more flexible the policy, the better.
- Know what the payment terms are. Is 100% due upfront? Can you reserve with a credit card and pay later? This is important so you know what date you’ll need guests to pay you.
- Ask about discounts or specials!
Here’s an example of how our Austin Hill Country Weekend broke out:
Total Cost: $355 per person; $3550 total (based on 10 attendees)
- House - $150 per person ($1500 total)
- Pontoon Boat rental - $25/person ($250 total)
- Party Bus - $70/person ($700 total)
- Wine Tastings - $30/person ($300 total)
- Groceries, snacks, alcohol - $40/person ($400 total)
- Favors, games, décor - $40/person ($400 total)
Step 4: Choose your destination!
Step 3 made choosing a destination a breeze! We now had a good idea of not only the cost of the trip but what we would do, too. Before deciding, Ashley wanted more input, so we shared the two options with a few of our best friends and let everyone vote. The winner was the Austin Hill Country weekend!
Step 5: Invite your guests.
About four months before the party, you should send out your official invites. This is an ideal time frame because schedules are likely still open, but it's not SO far in advance that people will be afraid to commit. You can always make sure to have the key people "save the date" further in advance, though :)
Whether you send an email or a snail-mail invite (or both!), make sure you include key details about the weekend so guests have all the 4-1-1 they need to RSVP with confidence.
Key details to include in your invitation:
- Date, Time, Location (duh)
- Cost Range (include a low cost and high cost based on number of committals, as well as a breakdown of costs)
- Link to House (people want to see where they are staying)
- Brief Itinerary (people like to know what they will be doing! Having a lingerie shower? Include the bride's sizes)
- RSVP Deadline (give people at least two weeks to decide or one-month if you are asking for payment upfront)
- Payment Deadline (if different than the RSVP deadline)
Step 6: Book your housing and activities.
Once you have your final guest list, book your house or hotel and any activities like concerts, winery reservations, party buses or bottle service. Need some inspiration on what to do? Mission Maid of Honor has some great ideas to get you started. Once reservations are booked, I like to keep an excel sheet with key details including dates, times, and any other important info. It’s also a good idea to log your expenses so you stay on budget. Aim to do this at least three months prior to the party.
Step 7: Purchase your party favors, decor, and meal plan.
A month or two before the party, purchase party favors for your guests, decorations, and decide on some fun party games/activities to keep people entertained. Our party shop has a ton of great options!
If you're staying in a house and planning on cooking, this is also an ideal time to meal plan and make a grocery list for any snacks, dinners, or other meals you might need. Tip: A slow cooker is your friend for big group dinners!
Step 8: Send key reminders to your guests.
A week or two before the weekend send a quick email to your guests and remind them of key details. Here are good things to include in your reminder:
- House/Hotel Address
- When to Arrive
- Itinerary/Schedule Overview
- What to Wear
- Things to Pack
- The bride's sizes for lingerie/gifts
Step 9: Arrive early to set up.
The last step to pulling off a fabulous bachelorette weekend is to arrive early for set-up. This can take a lot longer than you might think, so over-estimate how much time you need and bring help! For Ashley's party, a friend and I arrived about five hours before party time to stock the fridge, decorate and prep snacks and meals before people arrived.
Step 10: Party it up!!
Now that all the hard stuff is done, it's time to celebrate the bride - and all your hard work of course ;)
Have you planned a bachelorette party weekend? What tips do you have?