It’s a weekend full of your sorority sisters hobnobbing with future sisters-in-law, your professional friend dancing with your preschool friend, and your distant cousin downing shots with your best friend.
Bachelorette parties can sometimes consist of pockets of people who might never, under ordinary circumstances, share bathrooms or get gyrated on by a thong-wearing stranger.
For many brides, this premarital rite of passage — which typically takes place during a weekend three to four weeks before the wedding — can be a booze-filled slumber party that has the potential to go very wrong very fast, or at the very least become awkward.
We talked to some party-planning experts, an etiquette specialist, and a social psychologist for tips to help make your bachelorette party not feel like you’re living in a scene from the movie “Bridesmaids.”
Make Introductions Ahead of Time
It can be as simple as putting everyone on a text or email thread. Getting the group to talk to each other on one channel can “reduce a little bit of that anxiety that girls get meeting,” said Nikki Clause, the founder of Fling Before the Ring, a bachelor and bachelorette party planning service based in Austin, Tex.
You can also make introductions during the bridal shower or when you stage your bridesmaids proposals (if they’re done in person).
But there is no need to invite everyone on your Rolodex, said Dr. Tessa West, an associate professor of psychology at N.Y.U. “Who would make it fun and interesting and who would storm off in the middle because the steak was undercooked,” she said. “Invite the former, not the latter.”
Talk About Money
There should be “no major surprise costs,” said Myka Meier, the founder of Beaumont Etiquette, a modern etiquette consulting company based in New York City.
All expenses should be discussed several months before the weekend, preferably before anyone even commits. “If someone can’t afford it, they should have a chance to back out before the party, not be stuck awkwardly avoiding expensive meals and bottle service costs,” Dr. West added.
Once the guest list is finalized, streamline the payment process. The organizer should be purchasing accommodations and other collective costs, and sending Venmo (or other payment apps) requests to the rest of the party. Pay the organizer back as soon as you can, “so you don’t put anyone out by owing them for too long,” Ms. Meier said.
If your group is more than four people (usually the maximum occupancy for a standard hotel room), opt for a home rental, or even a hotel suite. “It really allows the guests to have the hangout time, the bonding time,” said Allison Odhner, the owner of Bach to Basic in Philadelphia, which also specializes in bachelor and bachelorette parties.
And if you’re trying to save some cash throughout the weekend, eating in “helps with cost and the community feel of the weekend,” Ms. Odhner said.
Spend the First Night In
If guests are flying in from around the country, it’s usually best to stick together the first evening. “It’s never fun to be the late arrival, and have to go find everybody wherever they are, especially if you don’t really know the group,” Ms. Odhner said. By staying put, the group can “have champagne and snacks and just get to know each other and hang out.”
What else could you do to make everyone comfortable? “You can’t go wrong bringing in a private chef to cook for everyone,” Ms. Clause said, “and being in your comfy PJs with plenty of wine flowing.”
She added that playing trivia games centered on the bride can also way to help bond the group that first night in.
Have Bedroom and Bathroom Caps
Sharing beds and baths between those who barely know each other has the potential to cause some friction. Ms. Clause suggested limiting the number of people per bed to two, even with a king-size bed. “I guarantee you that the third girl that’s stuck in the middle is going to be cranky by the end of the weekend,” she said.
As for bathrooms: three to four maximum. But if you’re staying in a rental home that doesn’t have as many bathrooms, plan accordingly between planned outings. “Make sure you plan a little extra time between your reservations,” Ms. Clause said, “so each girl has plenty of time to make themselves look pretty and be ready to go so you don’t have girls fighting over the bathroom time.”
And be smart about the rooming situations. “Do your homework ahead of time: Don’t pair people up to stay in rooms together who have different creature comforts,” Dr. West said. “Try to pair the early risers with each other, and the neat freaks with each other. This is especially important if you have a group of women who might not know each other well.”
Plan for Downtime
If you’re the one planning reservations and activities, be realistic about timing. Big groups generally tend to move slowly, and even more so when late-night partying is involved.
If you try to squeeze in too much during the day, it can result in some of the women missing the “planned activities, losing a deposit, or even just holding the group up,” Ms. Clause said.
Focus on the Bride
“It’s nice to see people cater to what the bride likes,” Ms. Odhner said. “I think as long as the message is clear that it is about the bride — that builds up the community in the group.”
Ms. Clause agreed: “Always make sure to never lose sight as to what the weekend is all about — and it comes down to the bride and keeping her in mind. If you feel like you planned a weekend around that, everyone’s going to have a good time.”
This strategy especially works if someone is feeling left out. In the case of someone not quite gelling with the women (or if dynamics get cliquey), it’s helpful to give that person a task or “something to be in charge of,” Ms. Meier said, to reconnect her to the bride and help her “feel more part of the group.”
Don’t Forget About Everyone Else
The real goal is for everyone to enjoy the weekend. “When people don’t think their perspectives are considered, they don’t feel valued and they often disengage,” Dr. West said. To remedy that, make sure you’re still asking guests their thoughts and opinions, and seriously take them into account.
“Think genuine enjoyment rather than dialing it in,” Dr. West said. “They are more likely to make an effort when things are awkward or tough, such as making conversation with a group of women you don’t know.”
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