So how do I make sure the bachelorette party ROCKS?
This is a super-common question which usually shows that the asker truly cares about putting together an excellent experience for the bride squad.
Wanna guess the #1 thing that leads to bachelorette party disappointment?
They’re sneaky – everyone has expectations, and that’s totally correct and normal for, like, life. But the higher your expectations are – for the bachelorette party, for the wedding, for literally anything – the more likely you are to be disappointed.
When I first realized this, it was kind of a bummer. What do you mean I can’t hope for the best and want things to be awesome, I grumbled to myself. Don’t I deserve to have things turn out my way sometimes?
And then my marriage-prep training kicked in. Resentment is basically relationship poison. And no one’s a mind reader. (If you are, OMG can I interview you for this site please???) How can I expect my partner – or anyone – to know what I expect or want or hope for unless I say so?
To wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect.
In the course of literally anything wedding-related you’ve probably encountered someone feeling disappointed or angry or just bizarrely cranky, completely out of the blue? What happened? What did you do wrong? You didn’t meet some sort of unspoken expectation. Ugh I hate that feeling. How was I supposed to know? Blech. That feeling is an inevitable part of being human, because no one is perfect, but yikes.
It’s impossible to control how other people react to anything, but what I can do is manage my own expectations, so that I minimize the chances of inflicting that “how was I supposed to know” feeling on others.
Please don’t get me wrong:
You’re allowed to want whatever you want for your bachelorette!
There are so many fabulous options! There are no rules! Literally any kind of party can be a bachelorette party!
I would also like to both praise and condemn Instagram for all the excellent bachelorette party inspiration out there that simultaneously makes a lot of brides’ expectations waaaaaaay too high for their particular situation.
But there’s no right or wrong here. There’s just what’s reasonable for your particular guest list.
A great way to get one step closer to getting what you want is to ask for it! But how can you ask for anything if you don’t know what you actually want in the first place?
This all has taken me… a very long time to figure out. Speaking up for what I want is hard. It took me a shockingly long time to even just learn to speak up at the hair salon when the water was too hot. So I hope I can save you some time and angst by sharing what I’ve learned!
Here’s the process I suggest to avoid disappointment with unmet bachelorette party expectations:
Identify what you want.
What do you want? What does the Ultimate Bachelorette Party look like to you? What would be the most fun? What do you NOT want? How do you feel about surprises? What are you hoping for?
There are no wrong answers here! You don’t have to want what anyone else wants. Only you can read your own mind, though. Awareness of your own unspoken expectations is step #1 to bachelorette Nirvana.
Are your expectations reasonable?
If yes: Get Specific
This can be really fun – picture your ideal situations and start describing them!
If maybe (or no): Lower Your Expectations!
This can be very, very, very hard – but it’s worth it! If there’s a gut instinct or an inner voice expressing doubt about what you expect your bach party to be like, or what you expect your friends and family to do, listen to that.
Step 1: What’s is it that you really want, lurking underneath your specific expectation?
—If you’re expecting a surprise, is it because you just really want someone else to take the reins with planning?
—If you’re expecting that each and every guest absolutely has to buy custom matching apparel and accessories, is it because you want to bring together people from different parts of your life and help them have something in common?
—If you’re expecting every invited guest to attend the bach party in addition to a bridal shower, engagement party, and the actual wedding, no matter how far the travels, is it because you are hoping that full attendance at all your pre-wedding events will validate that everyone loves and supports you?
Know thyself, and get super-honest – I’m not a mind reader either.
Once you’ve done some soul-searching, there are two main ways to lower your expectations.
Step 2: Tone it down, or cross it out.
—If you want a surprise, is it okay if just part of the bachelorette party involves a surprise? Maybe a surprise activity or restaurant? Check in with yourself, and then say so!
—If you want matching apparel and accessories, is it okay if not literally everyone shells out for every single thing? Would requesting coordinating colors do the trick?
–If you want everyone to attend everything, is it okay if the far-off guests can attend virtually for a bit via Facetime or Google Hangouts?
Thinking outside the box can really help. And then? Say it with me now: LOWER! YOUR! EXPECTATIONS!
If you’re not sure: Get A Second Opinion
Wedding-related things often make people act very strangely. It happens. That’s cool. Wedding planning is a very heightened time in life, an exciting chapter! And if you’re thinking about a bachelorette party, you’re probably in the middle of the madness. That’s also cool.
Or if you’re willing to roll the dice, you can always submit your question of “Is this too much to ask” to an online advice column – your odds are about 50/50 of receiving either complete unquestioning validation or excoriating mockery. Dear Prudence is my favorite!
Manage your expectations
Option A: Communicate your expectations
Warning: It might feel very, very odd to directly state exactly what you want. Depending on what you’re used to, this may be even harder than lowering your expectations. But it’s great! The vast majority of bridal parties I work with have, at some point, asked each other, “So what would you like?” It’s OK to actually answer that question!
Option B: Let it go
Yes. Let it go. Let it goooooo. Turn away and slam the door.
Bonus: Ask the guests what they want, too!
While a bachelorette party definitely celebrates the bride, making guests feel heard and comfortable goes a long way to everyone having fun!
So when you find yourself saying, “I just wish…” or “Is it too much to ask…” or “Why can’t she…” just pay attention. You’re allowed to want what you want. And awareness of what exactly you want – and even maybe digging into why – is crucial to avoiding a miserable and resentful get-together.
So, if you want the best bachelorette party ever?
Lower your expectations!
It’s not depressing, I promise. It’s actually quite freeing to release expectations. If you do, you are pretty much guaranteed to fully enjoy whatever happens!
Here’s to communicating what we want – let’s all do more of that!