Being asked to plan a bachelorette party is a big deal. You, trusted friend of the bride, get her—and you have the taste, tact, and managerial efficiency to shepherd a group of people through a weekend of lingerie showers and bottomless margaritas.
But let’s face it: The prospect of putting together a bachelorette can fill even the most organised person with dread. If you can’t bear the thought of nagging guests for money and haggling with vendors, you can always hand over the responsibilities to a planning service—you’ll get a customised party without having to spend the time and effort planning one.
There is still fun to be had in planning it yourself, of course. Make the process less painful by following these expert tips from bachelorette planners Allison Odhner, founder and owner of Bach to Basic, and Nikki Clause, founder of Fling Before The Ring.
1 Appoint a task force
Bachelorette planning is best done by a point person or a few at most, Odhner says. Being democratic *sounds* fair, but for planning purposes, it’s best not to survey the group about every activity on the itinerary. (After all, wrangling a dozen opinions about where to go for brunch is no fun.)
The planning process will be more efficient with a core team of no more than three people.
‘This is definitely enough opinions and perspectives to cover all ground, but not let things get complicated,’ Odhner says. The core team should handle major decisions and run things by the larger group when necessary (for example, to see if the cost of an activity will end up excluding some people from participating).
2 Set a date four to six months in advance
If the bride wants her party to be in a desirable destination, assume that accommodations and activities will book up quickly, so it’s important to nail down a date first thing.
Odhner and Clause suggest that you get the planning started as far as four to six months in advance.
Remember, too, that the other guests have lives, including invitations to other weddings and bachelorette parties, and their calendars will start filling up, especially during the prime spring and summer months.
3 Have a real talk about budget
As a planner, you’ll really need to understand what the people in your group can afford. ‘The biggest mistake [you] can make is not having that tough conversation from the get-go on what everyone’s comfortable with,’ Clause says. ‘Without having a plan, you will 100 percent of the time spend more money than what [people] were planning on spending.’ Or you may end up abandoning your ideal weekend, because it’s outside the group’s budget.
But how do you have those potentially awkward and uncomfortable conversations?
Clause suggests having the bride introduce the person in charge of planning to the rest of the group, so you’re not cold-texting people you’ve never met before.
Talk with everyone one on one about individual budgets. ‘That way [people] feel more comfortable discussing their financial situation so you can set realistic expectations,’ Clause says. ‘At the end of the day, try and be understanding, but you can’t always make everyone happy.’
If, in the end, there are guests who can’t attend the party, ‘I would recommend planning a date with the bride,’ Odhner says. ‘Maybe take her out for dinner or to get her nails done.’
4 Establish the framework of the party
Once you have dates set and you know what kind of budget you’re working with, you can firm up the next pieces of the weekend, starting with location, flights, and accommodations, Odhner says.
The order of how you book can depend on a few factors, including whether the bride is set on one city and one city only, or if she’s open to a variety of destinations depending on cost. You might start off by looking at flights to different places, by searching on Google Flights, for example, and settle on your destination based on how much it’ll cost to get there. You also can check out accommodations in a handful of places, and choose where you’ll end up depending on the type of lodging you can get.
Now that you’ve got your anchors in place, you can move on to booking activities, making restaurant reservations, and putting on the finishing touches such as games, decor, and party favours.
5 Bring your organisational A-game
This is the time to look inside yourself and find the person-in-charge within. ‘The reality is you have multiple girls that you’re having to communicate a plan to, so being as organised as possible is ideal,’ Odhner says.
Start a Google Doc or Spreadsheet where you can keep track of all things related to the party planning.
Here’s a list of things you’ll thank yourself for being on top of:
❏ Arrival and departure information for the group
❏ Pricing breakdown for accommodations, activities, and meals
❏ Food allergies and dietary restrictions
❏ Itinerary, broken down by day
❏ Cancellation and refund policies
❏ Tasks you want to delegate
6 Make it easy for the group
Instead of going back to the group in dribs and drabs, which might overwhelm people, present them with a fleshed-out plan. Take a cue from the professional planners:
Show the group how much everything will cost, and calculate an individual estimate with a daily total so it’s easy to understand how much they’ll be spending.
7 Be clear about deadlines
In some cases, you’ll need firm commitments from the group in order to make a reservation—for example, vendors might require a full deposit upon booking.
It helps to set deadlines so that everyone in the group knows how much they owe and when—and so you’re not left footing the bill.
‘As long as it’s transparent that there’s a deadline and you need to commit by then, people can reach out with special circumstances,’ Odhner says. ‘But they also can’t be upset if they’re not included in the plan.’
8 Get everyone on Splitwise
This free app makes it super easy to keep track of expenses. You can keep track of purchases that Splitwise will do the math on so everybody is paying their fair share (check out its nifty travel calculator). You can reimburse people for individual purchases or in a lump sum at the end of the weekend.
And, because everyone can see who still owes money, people will be socially pressured to pay their portion on time.
9 Leave breathing room in the schedule
‘There are some parties who just want to go, go, go the entire weekend,’ says Odhner, ‘but I’m finding a lot more often that there’s generally one crazy night and one night of downtime.’ Keep in mind that people will be tired from travel, and they’ll want time to catch up with one another. You also want to make space for spontaneity, so that if there’s a cute street of shops that friends want to explore, they can.
10 Provide an outlined itinerary and a contact sheet
Use a Word or Google document to detail what the group can expect from the weekend, with activities and times mapped out, and include a contact sheet with addresses and phone numbers for the various bookings you’ve made, Clause says. It’s also helpful to send out a packing list so people know what they should bring.
11 Start a group chat
Set up a primary channel of communication on a messaging app such as WhatsApp, GroupMe, or Telegram (which is unique because you can set your encrypted messages to self-destruct). SMS texting is fine most of the time, but it can get annoying when not everyone is on the same operating system or has the same network or country-calling code.
When you’re all on the same app, sending and receiving everything is faster and easier.
12 Don’t forget the bride!
It doesn’t hurt to remind yourself that the party is about the bride, not you or the 15 other people on the trip. It’s easy to get carried away during the planning process when you’re looking at all the fun things you can do, but if the bride would never consider doing one of the activities you’re looking at, then you’re missing the point. ‘When it doubt, always revert back to the bride,’ Clause says. ‘If she’s happy and enjoying it, that’s going to make it fun for everyone.’
This post originally appeared on cosmopolitan.com
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