Although many brides are busy completing tasks for the main event, there are a variety of pre-wedding events to look forward to, too. First of all, you’ve got your bridal shower, which is almost always a fun experience filled with presents and pampering. There’s also the rehearsal dinner –– a nice gathering of friends, family and out of town guests. Finally, you are probably looking forward to spending some quality time with your best girlfriends at your bachelorette party or hens ideas.
Whether you go with a basic bachelorette party or an all-out destination weekend, this event is a fun way to let loose and relax before you say “I do.” Not sure how to get started or what to expect? No worries.
What is a bachelorette party?
Try to imagine a sea of suitcases rolling through the domestic arrivals terminal of Nashville International Airport. It’s Thursday night and women in their twenties and thirties are joyously reuniting and excitedly scurrying to hail a car service to their respective hotels. After all: it’s time to bachelorette party. This year alone, tens of millions of bridesmaids, besties and brides will partake in this pre-wedding tradition that’s become deeply ingrained within American culture—some without realizing that its historical context is unduly linked to the rise of feminism.
To begin, the first known bachelor party traces back to 5 B.C., to the prominent warrior civilization of ancient Sparta, where a feast was held to honor a groom the night before his wedding. Women, however, didn’t adopt this type of tradition until nearly two millennia later. While bridal showers sprouted in 16th century Europe, it wasn’t until four decades after the term “bachelor party” was cemented (in a 1922 Scottish magazine) that the “bachelorette party” was born, coinciding with the women’s liberation movement of the ’60s.
“Women looked around and said, ‘Hey, we get boring showers, while the guys get these crazy nights out.’ So they started holding their own,” says Eleni Gage, historian and author of Lucky in Love: Traditions, Customs, & Rituals to Personalize Your Wedding. “Some think bachelorette parties started as a second shower just for friends, where the women could get tipsy and open more raucous presents, like lingerie, without Aunt Marge and the minister’s wife watching on.”
In the 1980s, bachelorette parties were solidified as a practice—with its definition and meaning continuing to evolve today. The significance of the event, however, spans cultures as it’s characterized by themes of friendship and empowerment. “The most fun (and feminist) act is having the kind of celebration you want before your wedding.
A bachelorette party, hen party, hen night or hen do, is a party held for a woman who is about to get married. The terms hen party, hen do or hen night are common in the United Kingdom and Ireland, while the terms hens party or hens night are common in Australia and New Zealand, and the term bachelorette party is common in the United States and Canada. The term stagette is sometimes used in Canada. It may also be referred to as a girls’ night out or kitchen tea or other terms in other English-speaking countries. The bachelorette party is modeled after the bachelor party, which is itself historically a dinner given by the bridegroom to his friends shortly before his wedding. Despite its reputation as “a sodden farewell to bachelor days” or “an evening of debauchery,” a bachelorette’s party is simply a party, given in honor of the bride-to-be, in the style that is common to that social circle.