Most laymen think that planning a bachelor party is a simple task, on par with organizing a foursome for a round of golf, or pulling off a bank robbery in a sleepy New Hampshire town. But that is why most laymen aren’t invited to come up with bachelor party ideas.
Don’t get it twisted: planning a bachelor party is one of the most nuanced, complicated, and danger-fraught things a man-person will ever do. Which is why I’ve created this fail-proof guide to the entire process. Follow the advice below, and you can be reasonably certain your friend will have the time of his life, and finally not regret picking you as best man over Chad.
First, you're going to need to sit down with the bachelor and establish four things:
1. Figure out where you’re going and when
Some bachelors leave it up to their planners, but those people are stupid. Going into this conversation, you should have a good idea of three spots or destinations* based on the Bachelor’s interests and present them to him. Giving him those options (and the reasoning for each) creates the illusion that you’re ceding him control while also keeping him contained within the parameters you’ve chosen. This is important because some bachelors can’t see more potentially fantastic forests because all the trees have advertisements for Las Vegas on them. I’m basically reading straight from The Art of War.
After that, you pick a date that works for the bachelor, is at least six weeks in the future, and doesn’t fall during a normal holiday or a popular vacation weekend people might have already planned a trip around.
*A quick note on bachelor party destinations: if he wants to go somewhere international, that’s fine, but you need to let him know that this will cut the group by at least half or more, and rule out broke people and most people with kids. Unless he just wants to go to a cabin and get weird, you should be offering up places where you can do a lot of activities in a close proximity, cost isn’t prohibitive, and girls exist. College towns, cities with warm climates and good bar scenes, etc. We’re not here to give you a list of cities, because we want you to be creative and work off your friend’s interests. But just in case that doesn’t work, here’s a list of cities and our guides to each of them.
2. Figure out where you’re staying
Depending on the place, it’s really a house/hotel argument here (unless everyone on the trip is from Maine, please don’t go camping). With the house you have everyone together and group hangs happen more organically, it’s usually cheaper, and you often have access to things like grills, private pools, and mysterious locked closets likely filled with dozens of fake Holy Grails and one true chalice of eternal youth. Or towels or whatever.
Hotels mean in-building access to bars and restaurants, pools that aren’t private and thus might have girls hanging out at them, and the ability to escape from the people you dislike on the trip. Hotels usually also mean central location Downtown, so the better potential to walk to other sites.
Often, this is a simple city-versus-country argument, and the decision will be made for you, but it’s good for the person planning to have explored both options in the chosen city and be ready to have an opinion.
3. A word about size, aka the guest list
Inevitably, the bachelor will over-confidently assume everyone he invites will want to cast aside whatever life, family, and work obligations they have to spend six days with him in Thailand. It is up to you, as the Bachelor King’s Hand, to revise and reset his expectations. And also to urge him to keep the group as small as possible: the ideal size is 10. More than that and you usually have to split up tables at meals and bars, thus splintering the group and fracturing the social dynamic.
A good option to ensure a small group but also satisfy the need to invite the bride's brothers or dad or any other awkward future family member is to also set up a supplementary one-night event in the city you live in with a bigger invite list. So basically like a nice dinner and a trip to a cigar bar, or something that will make them feel included while preventing them from seeing the bachelor potentially fall in love with a stripper. This frees up the actual invitees to just be true believers and/or people who have tenuous personal relationships with their spouses and will literally find any excuse to leave their homes.
Didn’t read any of this? Well, damn you to hell, but also: invite 14-16, expect 8-10.
4. Decipher the social dynamic of the list
Before you get off the phone with the bachelor, make him break down for you the balance of allegiances of said guest list: who knows who, what kind of people they are, what their hair looks like when wet, etc. This information is important because you’ll want the bachelor to assist you in choosing your own lieutenants to create a Bachelor Party Steering Committee (BPSC) with someone who has the trust of each constituency (high school, college, work friends, etc.) represented.
In many ways, planning a bachelor party is the truest parallel to our presidential election process. The members of the BPSC essentially act as super delegates in the presidential nominating contests -- they can listen to the wills of their people, or they can just ditch their people and vote their conscience. Regardless, someone usually ends up doing body shots off Paul Tsongas.
Create the plan
Now that you’ve established the BPSC, you should get everyone together, order Burmese food, and make a plan for the weekend. Before these people get to your place (or a bar, if you don’t trust them), you should map out a loose agenda to use as a starting point. If you don’t have a plan going in, you guys will spend too much time spinning your wheels and “brainstorming” and that delicious Burmese tea leaf salad will start to wilt, ruining your week.
There are two crucial rules to remember when planning the actual activities:
A) Make sure almost everything (except a few key events) is opt-in.
Meaning you can do it if you’d like to, but you don’t have to. And make sure people roughly know the costs of opting in beforehand.
B) Do not over-book events.
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT I AM TYPING IN CAPS LOCK. People, especially hungover people, are not naturally inclined to do a ton of things, and most will consider merely getting out of the house to eat brisket as some sort of moral victory during the day. So keep things low impact and easy whenever you can.
Put together your email
Once you have the agenda (see our sample version below for details), you’re ready to send out the email to the entire group. The key to the email is to be quick, funny, and informative. You need to accomplish five things:
A) Figure out who is in and out.
B) Get their contact info (cell, etc.) and eventual flight information.
C) Break down the core details and expected costs so there are no surprises.
Most bachelor parties tend to pay for everything the bachelor does (within reason), minus his airfare. Of course, if the bachelor wants to get himself a mango mojito at the bar, no one has to dive in front of the bartender as he hands him his credit card.
D) Force everyone to download Venmo (or at least PayPal) so that expenses can be taken care of in as smooth a fashion as possible.
And Splitwise as well, to divvy up the bills at the end of the trip (it links to Venmo and is very easy). And possibly WhatsApp, if there are some particularly sketchy individuals amongst you.
E) Get in a few savage burns and at least one embarrassing (but not NSFW) photo of the bachelor passed out wearing most of a Lion-O from ThunderCats costume.
It is not important that you share all the details. Just a CliffNotes version of the agenda. Speaking of...
The Inarguably Perfect Sample Agenda
3-5pm: Small group gets in late afternoon (you can invite everyone for Thursday, but most people consider that a bonus day and will likely decline. If you’ve got 10 total, usually no more than four to five show for Thursday) and take care of some basic grocery necessities for the house or the bachelor suite:
- Beer (macro 30-racks for casual drinking, a few bombers of good stuff for the dudes with facial hair)
- A few bottles of booze (NOTE: don’t buy a lot of booze. The Chads will get sloppy and uncontrollable and you will lose the security deposit on the house.)
- Citrus Cooler Gatorades for the morning
- Crunch Berries cereal
- Snacks (jerky, pretzels, party mix, peanut butter Twix, etc.)
- Cream Cheese
5-7pm: You celebrate the completion of logistics with some cocktails, either from your groceries or at a bar.
8pm: Dinner at a cool place too small to hit with the whole group.
10pm-???: Hit up some good bars you also couldn’t go to with the group. The bachelor should be having fun but not getting completely sauced as to ruin the next day.
10-3pm: This is the time to do something the bachelor would enjoy, but you wouldn’t want to force the entire group to do. Golf. Shoot clay pigeons. Watch The Pelican Brief with Portuguese subtitles. Whatever it is, you should make it clear not everyone has to do it.
3-7pm: The rest of the group will arrive. You should have a central meeting point happy hour. If you have a house, that’s fine, but if you’re in a hotel, you should hit a bar nearby or the hotel pool.
8pm: Big group dinner out. Some central rules for this dinner: book a place that has a private room so you can be assholes to each other without the entire place witnessing the calamity; the menu should be decided beforehand and be family-style; you should give a quick and funny toast at some point; and you should NOT go to a steakhouse.
Steakhouses are insultingly expensive, never as good as you think they’ll be, and, worst of all, fill you up and make you feel uncomfortable the rest of the night until you’re actually forced to go through the humiliation of pooping at a strip club, which has to be a low point in any man’s life.
10:30pm: Bar or strip club
This is going to come down to a bachelor preference. Some people actually hate strip clubs (instead of merely claiming they hate strip clubs while they're in the company of women), and you should respect the bachelor’s uncomfortableness if he’s one of these people. But you should at least provide the option, now that he’s had some drinks and the in vino veritas clause is enacted.
If he wants to go to a strip club, you should have already gotten recs on the best ones and know where to go. The group will immediately get selfish once you enter, but beforehand, everyone should agree on chipping in to get dances for the bachelor, preferably in private so you don’t have to awkwardly stare at him. Ninety minutes at the club is plenty of time. Pull him out and go to a bar after 90. Please. For all of our sakes.
If he’d prefer the bar route (or you’re headed there after the club), you should already have an idea of where you’re going. This is not the time to play it cool and hipster -- you need a large bar playing loud music where girls are hanging out, not a place you have to enter through a warp level in Super Mario 3 just to get a modernized take on a Monkey Gland.
Late night: If you’re considerate and coherent enough to do it, consider getting a bunch of late-night pizzas or burgers or something to fill the stomach before everyone crashes. When people do this at weddings, they become heroes. So something to consider, especially if you’re feeling insecure.
11am: Get food. Brunch is a fool’s errand. As a smart person, you’re going to do something cool, like order a bunch of breakfast sandwiches or tacos or burritos, since you definitely forgot to do the pizza thing last night. Have them delivered to the house or bachelor’s hotel room, or, if you’re walking distance to food trucks or fast-casual counter service spots, just tell people you’re going and leave.
1pm: Your opt-in, opt-out activity for the day. As a reminder of what works versus what doesn’t, here’s a list:
Classic Bachelor Party Blunders
- Deep-sea fishing
- Lazy-river rafting
- Driving “experiences”
- That motherfucking steak dinner
- Tours of any kind
- Breweries (IT’S JUST A TOUR, DAMMIT, HIDDEN BEHIND BEER)
- Hunting (animals or humans)
Approved Bachelor Party Activities
- Hanging at a pool, beach, lake
- Bar crawls
- Inclusive drinking games
- Chartering boats (NOT deep-sea diving)
- Opt-in/opt-out golf
- Beer gardens
- Hot springs or waterfalls
- Playing dominoes with Sean Bean
7pm: Casual dinner. This could be pizzas to the house, a BBQ spot with big communal tables, burgers, anything that doesn’t require reservations and will be low impact. Friday is always the night people go too hard, so you need to recharge as much as possible if you want to have fun on Saturday night.
9pm: New bars. Or a casino. Preferably the casino in South Lake Tahoe so your friend can win $2200 playing craps and, spur of the moment, buy everyone tickets to see Sting & Peter Gabriel.
1am: Go home. By now, the bachelor has likely ruined his life in all optimal ways and will be flagging. Just call it.
Early: Get the fuck out of there. Seriously, go as early as you possibly can. You can settle up with a followup email and using those cool payment apps from before. No one ever benefits from hanging around on a Sunday. Walk away, and don’t ever look back.
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