If you’ve been dreaming of strippers and penis-shaped candy since puberty, clear it with your soon-to-be-spouse (both the specific plans and your marriage priorities) and party on. But allow me to make the case for a combined celebration—yes, a bachelor/bachelorette party wherein the groom and bride and their friends hang out together.
First, the obvious—It does not represent any radical flouting of the natural order for the bride to have close male friends or brothers (I have both), or for the groom to have female friends or sisters (which my fiancé does). And keeping these people from your bachelor/ette party because they’re the wrong gender is incredibly retrograde and self-defeating, is it not? After all, my fiancé’s sister is not a bigger presence in my life than she is in his just because we both have breasts. Of course, we have other things in common, too, and the joining of our families will greaten our efforts to establish an independent relationship with each other. So insisting that she spend a weekend with a bunch of virtual strangers, just because they happen to be women, for some sort of aesthetic continuity, feels pretty insane.
Sure, there’s the option of having the bride and groom each have their own special weekend with their own special people, whoever they may be, and whatever gender they may be. But having a joint bachelor/ette celebration has the benefit of actually cutting down on any potential awkwardness—you don’t have to buy into gender essentialism to recognize that certain (sexist) traditional bachelor party events might be impacted by the presence of the groom’s little sister while also facilitating friendships across the aisle, as it were.
For my own bachelor/ette party, we just lumped it all together into a single, shared weekend. We spent a few days crashing at my parents’ suburban home while they vacationed in New York, with one afternoon designated for splitting up the guys and gals. It was lovely.
Here’s How To Get Everyone On Board
If this is something that interests you, hopefully it already interests your future spouse, seeing as you two are such a wonderful fit. If he or she needs a little convincing, make an emotional appeal as it befits your relationship, but know that the logistics are also on your side.
Wedding planning, while wonderful, is a long logistical hell bookended by beautiful moments of genuine romance. In the midst of planning—or, life?—the two things most at a premium are time and money. Maximize the amount of both of these things you can dedicate to your pre-wedding party but having one party instead of two. If scheduling separate events—even if as a secondary to your Best Man or Maid of Honor—doesn’t sound all that difficult to you, consider that you’ll simultaneously be planning the biggest party of your life for something like two weeks later.
This ties into how to get everyone else on board. Since you and your betrothed are the fulcrum of these two friend groups, the two of you will likely need to shoulder the bulk of the organization. If you have particularly ambitious and on-top-of-their-shit Maid of Honor and Best Man, you should lean on them as much as possible—simply for the sake of not going crazy planning everything. The truth of the matter is, trying to combine disparate groups will require a little more work on your end. And since people love not doing work, this is a strong argument to make when convincing attendees to embrace the combo-party. If you have an unhealthy attachment to the appeal of surprises (which, I do), leave an afternoon open for gender-specific activities and let someone else take that portion of the event over.
How to Break The Ice
Honestly? Don’t plan too much that first night. Someone suggested we download and play Heads Up! and Psych! and with ample beer and burgers (and baseball on TV because we know our audience) that gave everyone the chance to get to know each other without making it feel like summer camp. It sounds corny, but was awesome. And one of the best parts was how well everyone got along and how much more exciting our wedding seems now that our friends are friends with each other.
What To Do With Your Mixed Group
We considered a museum outing (if your city has an interactive science museum that doesn’t have to be taken too seriously, all the better), an unstructured park day, a movie marathon, fruit picking, and trivia night at a bar. For our own event, we organized a welcome night cookout; a homemade brunch; an afternoon apart (a beerhall for one group, a botanical garden for another); an evening of sushi, karaoke and gelato; and a Sunday afternoon baseball game. Not to brag, but all of this was a smashing success. We had enough people to obliterate the food-and-beverage cutoff to get the karaoke room rental fee waived; and since the future-husband and I met and bonded over baseball, the game was an obvious choice. If your group is diverse or difficult, just remember: everyone has to eat and drink.
Maybe you already have a shared group of friends; or at least more overlap than two people getting married in their mid-20s who didn’t meet in college have. Or maybe you already know your friends won’t get along, from experience or extrapolation. But if you have bridal party members who don’t know each other—and a willingness to skip the strip club—a combined bachelor/ette party is the perfect chance to blend friend groups, while keeping planning and expenses to a manageable limit.