As I get ready for a weekend away with the girls, I wonder, who started the bachelorette party? My mother told me several times over the years that when she was young, people were excited to get married, and not worried about celebrating their last single night on the town. What is the get up concerning abandoning the single life? Has this resulted because the single life is more often viewed as a decision and a time for independence?
In any case, this interests me. Particularly because in the past, all of the bachelorette parties I have attended have caused drama. Perhaps this is inevitable when 20 or so 20-something girls get together in hopes of attracting male attention. But I think it is actually wrapped up in expectations. In our materialistic world, the bachelorette party seems like another opportunity to shower the bride with objects: limos...lingerie...lap dances...For one of my dearest friends, I put down almost $500 for her bachelorette party when it came down to it. $500 for what? Yes, we had fun. Yes, the bride got enough lingerie to last for her honeymoon and much longer. But overall, it was upsetting to her that the other girls decided to jump up onstage and receive as much attention as she got. All three of my friends who I have been active in the planning process (and one I just attended) have turned to tears or anger due to a lack of attention, when in reality the party was thrown for them! It made those of us throwing it feel unappreciated and upset, frustrated that all of the time and money invested came to mean nothing.
Some of my friends re: bachelorette parties
What are the expectations of the bachelorette party? Brides want to feel attractive and appealing to the opposite sex. It's expected that lingerie should flow like wine. No one should get as much attention as the bride-to-be, and if it is offered, it should be declined. Some brides have gone so far as to choose the theme of their own party, to determine exactly the outfit she want others to buy her or the veil and other items that should adorn her. Some have decided they want a low-key tasteful party but then, once out downtown, have decided that they miss the rite of passage the other brides have experienced. And when the party is thrown in a kind gesture by others, what is the etiquette? I wonder, because I have had girlfriends who have not shared their expectations, and they have been disappointed. I also have girlfriends who have explicitly shared their expectations and desires - and been pretty demanding about it - and they have been disappointed. In fact, the only two non-drama invoking and successful bachelorette parties I attended were the ones thrown for the earliest ladies to get married in our social circle.
So is this a rite of passage? That women go out and sell their bodies by pasting lifesavers on their shirts and offering boys to "suck for a buck"? That some girls invest a substantial amount of resources into a party for their bestest of friends yet she is inevitably disappointed? That a successful party is one where the bride can hardly remember the end of the night? For my generation, it seems to be. Anyone wondering what it is like to be a young adult in America can simply attend a bachelorette party and understand a whole new perspective.
I am not judging the girls that I know where disappointment has incurred. Instead, I wonder, where did these expectations and ideas come from? I know a wedding should be a celebration of a relationship between two people. So why are the celebrations leading to the wedding (and marriage!) destructive and frustrating for all involved?
When it comes time for my own bachelorette party, I hope that I refrain from being trapped in the expectations of the event. It is difficult, but I know I will be gracious and thankful regardless of any drama. Honestly, the past drama has caused me to consider, well, maybe if I am engaged I will not have a bachelorette party...but in reality, I would be disappointed that so many of my friends have had them and I would be "missing out." But missing out on what? A night of drama and disappointment? Yet there is still an attraction to wearing that little veil and a tank top proclaiming you as the bachelorette, of getting lingerie and pajamas that are chosen just for you, of traipsing around the city with your best girlfriends without a care in the world. As much as I am nostalgic for the time when people were so excited to be married that they did not mourn the end of their lives as singles, I also am strangely drawn to the trend of my time. Perhaps by decreasing the common denominators - alcohol and expectations - I can avoid the drama of those brides before me.
Hopefully this weekend will be a celebration. While wary of the outcome, I am looking forward to the time with my girlfriends. We are headed out of town for a whole weekend of fun together. I can't wait until Miss Bride-to-Be opens the lingerie I bought for her. I'm crossing my fingers that no or little disappointment ensues the entire night. Or maybe I should just drink enough tequila that I don't remember! :) And hey, it's not like we're the boys...we won't end up in a strip club no matter what happens! That's a whole additional chapter of the story...the stories men tell their fiancees about their own parties...it makes what we do seem innocent!