Bachelorette Parties Reinvented

When my friend Rachel got engaged last year, we were all thrilled that at long last she had found her Prince Charming. She had joked for several years that she would inevitably spend her days single, spoiling our children as she trudged closer to what she called her “old spinster/crazy cat-lady days.”

But Cupid finally took aim and love came calling unexpectedly when she was well into her 30s.

When Rachel’s matron of honor called us to throw around some ideas for the bachelorette party, I couldn’t help but think that I was no longer in my early or mid-20s, and the thought of a long night out at the bars just didn’t hold the same appeal as it did before I had young children who expect breakfast at 6:30 a.m., even on Saturday. Would I have to phone my 22-year-old sister for advice on what to wear for a night out barhopping? Would my husband raise an eyebrow if I told him the group was headed downtown to swill girly drinks and watch scantily clad and heavily oiled men dance? Would I come across as old and unhip if I ordered a glass of Moscato at the bar instead of a lineup of shots? Oh, dear.

Luckily for me, Rachel and the other gals were thinking the same thing. We’d all had great fun in our 20s hitting the town for each others’ bachelorette parties, but now we were in the mood for something that would entice 30-somethings who might want to actually be able to walk home afterwards.

When my mother was getting married in the 1960s, the average age of the first-time bride was 20. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2010 that the average age of first-time brides has risen to over 26 years old. Clearly, Rachel’s not the only gal who didn’t get married straight out of high school! Furthermore, it’s becoming more and more common for older brides planning their second weddings to want to celebrate with girlfriends in some manner. Perhaps not a full-blown bachelorette party, but any excuse to get together with the ladies and talk wedding stuff is a guaranteed good time.

So, what to do?

“What do you think about a mini weekend retreat up at my parents’ lake house?” Rach proposed. “We could bring some wine and do fondue, and spend Friday night watching ‘Sixteen Candles’ and giving each other pedicures and manicures.” A Friday night and Saturday up north at the lake house with zero kids and tons of female laughter? Sounded like a grand plan to me!

Some other ideas for avoiding the X-rated bachelorette party are listed below. Remember, be creative and gear it toward the bride’s interests.

Day at the Spa. What woman over the age of 30 couldn’t use a day at the spa? Between work stress, juggling kids and schedules, and trying to find a spare few moments of personal time, the average woman would adore a bit of pampering. Make it a quick stop for manicures, or go for a full day of indulgence. Check with your local spa to see if they have special packages for bachelorette parties, and whether they can cater in lunch.

Fortune Favors the Ladies. Is the bride in touch with her Zodiac sign? Consider hiring a tarot card reader to read everyone’s cards, or an astrologer to predict the guests’ charts.

Laughter, the Best Medicine. Have a group of gals who love to laugh? Head out for a night at a comedy club with drinks and dinner. Call the club and see if it’s possible to reserve a front-row table in advance and be sure to tip the manager off that you’ll be bringing in a bride-to-be. The marital jokes are sure to fly!

Karaoke Queens. Bolster your courage with a few rounds of drinks before taking the mike and making fools of yourselves. Laugh at others, laugh at yourselves. Pick a particularly outlandish song for the bride-to-be.

Happy Trails. Head to the hills for an afternoon of horseback riding. Follow it up with a picnic or head to the bride’s favorite BBQ pit for some down home cooking. Round out the day with an evening trip to a honkey-tonk. Don’t forget your boots! Yee haw!

Into the Wild. Outdoorsy gals might appreciate getting away from it all for a weekend camping trip. Incorporate canoeing, kayaking, hiking, climbing, or any other outdoor activity you all agree upon. Snap a few pics of the bride-to-be hiking through the woods wearing a tiara and sash. And don’t forget the bug spray!

Tea Party Time. If ladylike behavior is a must for your bride, indulge her sense of propriety and host a tea party complete with china pots of tea, finger sandwiches, scones and delicate desserts. You can opt to host it at someone’s home, or research other venues. Historic homes, bed and breakfasts, or even fancy hotel tearooms might be just the ticket.

Double Down. Grab your quarters and your lucky charms! An evening at a casino can hold countless hours of fun for gals who are savvy at the Black Jack table and love to give the slots a go. If all the ladies are game for a weekend away, look into cheap airfare to Las Vegas and include some shows in your bachelorette weekend itinerary.

From paintball to pool and sailing to spas, there are countless possibilities for bachelorette parties. You needn’t suffer a nasty hangover the morning after and wonder where your shoes ended up in order to have a great time out with the girls celebrating the bride-to-be’s last days as a single gal. But, then again, if all else fails, it’s always fun to have stories to tell about the shy one in your group coming out of her shell after a few kamikazes and becoming the loud one at the strip joint.

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