On the face of it, bachelor parties are barbarically simple: All you need is booze and pole dancers and you’re good to go, right? Sadly, many a best man has failed in his duties for thinking this way. There’s a ton of planning that goes into putting a bachelor party together, and even for a simple attendee, there’s myriad things to consider: How much money should you expect to spend? How much should you drink? Whom should you invite, and almost more importantly, whom should you definitely not invite? If you’re attending a bachelor party, throwing one, or even if you’re the groom himself, the following FAQ covers pretty much all the stuff no one else is willing to talk about.
Before we begin, though, allow us to introduce you to our experts: Chris Easter, co-founder of The Man Registry and purveyor of wedding advice for grooms and groomsmen since 2008; Adina Winters, a stripper who has performed at thousands of bachelor parties and the founder of Adina Winters Entertainment [link NSFW]; and party planner Darin Gerhardson of Las Vegas Nightlife Services, who will arrange everything from your hotel to your limo to the strip club of your choice once you land at McCarran International Airport. Each brings their own unique vantage point on how to plan for the groom’s last night out as a “free man.”
How much is it reasonable to expect people to spend at a bachelor party?
Winters: The national average cost for a bachelor party — including airfare, accommodations and drinks — is $850. For strippers, guys can expect to spend $600-plus per girl, and it’s common to spend more than $1,000 per guy [for a two-hour show].
Gerhardson: For a bachelor party weekend in Vegas, the average person will spend $500 and up, including the hotel. This will make sure you get to and from the airport; cover admission for nightclubs and pool parties; and have plenty of money for drinks. Gambling is a whole other story: You need a budget just for that, probably around $500. A strip club costs $200 to $300, while getting girls to the room will increase your budget to at least $1,000 per man.
Should I invite my dad? Or the bride’s dad?
Easter: It’s appropriate to include the fathers as much as they’re comfortable with being included. This often just means daytime activities and dinner. If they’re game for a night of drinking with the boys, more power to them!
Winters: That’s depending on what kind of bachelor party it is. I rarely see the dads at bachelor parties, especially the bride’s dad. If anything, have a separate, smaller bachelor party with just them.
How do I stop people from putting incriminating photos of the night on social media?
Easter: Before the party kicks off, the groom and the best man should lay down a blanket rule on what photos (if any) they’re comfortable with being posted on Facebook and Instagram.
Gerhardson: Unless you’re having an X-rated bachelor party, you want people to post things on social media! It’s a day to remember. If you need to protect yourself, meet with everyone and collect all of their phones before they begin a specific portion of the evening. But if you have people you think are going to cause problems, don’t invite them.
Winters: For my company, I have a strict “no photo” policy, since many of the girls do this on the side and don’t want to be all over social media. If anyone is caught taking photos, everything is erased and we leave without any refund. I’ve even taken legal action with my lawyer for guys who have been caught putting photos online. I don’t mess around.
Is the groom required to drink everything put in front of him?
Gerhardson: Absolutely not. He’s only human, and he can only drink so much. This is his day; it’s all about the bachelor, not you.
Winters: Definitely not! I just had an experience this past weekend where the groom was too scared to say no, and he ended up puking right before we started the show. Luckily, we weren’t in the line of fire.
Easter: The idea that the bachelor party has to be wild is an outdated stereotype. The groom should feel comfortable with drinking as much — or as little — as he wants: It’s important for his guests to respect this and not try to force-feed him shots all night. This is something that should be established during the planning stage: It’s up to the groom to make his preferences known to the best man. The best man can then make the groom’s wishes clear when sending out invites.
If the night’s going badly, when is it acceptable to step in and tell the best man that it’s all going wrong?
Gerhardson: The best man should be in charge, but he should be making sure that things are going well for the bachelor, too. Everyone else is just there to tag along and support him. Make sure the best man has a plan before you get started, but you don’t have to follow it to a T.
Easter: Use common sense here: Put yourself in the groom’s shoes, and think about when you would hope your friends would step in. An extra beer isn’t going to do too much harm, but getting a tattoo to commemorate the “last night of freedom” may lead to problems.
How long should the bachelor party last? A whole weekend? A day and a night? One night?
Easter: This comes down to the financial situations and schedules of the bachelor party guests. Most bachelor parties take place over one evening in the groom’s hometown. Destination bachelor parties can be a lot of fun, but they’d usually be expected to last an entire weekend. This is obviously a more expensive excursion, so don’t be surprised if fewer guests can attend.
Gerhardson: A bachelor party in Vegas is usually for the weekend: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. After all, you’ve booked a hotel and a flight to come here and party!
How do you deal with being stuck with people you don’t know, and maybe don’t like? Like the groom’s old college buddies?
Winters: It can be tough, especially when guys don’t know each other and they clash (and alcohol is involved). Oftentimes, there’s the token douchebag of the group that nobody likes. The more guys you put together, the more testosterone there is. I’ve definitely seen guys get into fights. If you’re stuck in that situation, just steer clear of the guys you don’t get along with.
Easter: If the groom is mature enough to be getting married, you can be mature enough to not let a rivalry or old grudge ruin the night. Remember, you’re there to celebrate the groom. These types of problems usually resolve themselves after a few drinks, anyway.
If I don’t have any money, should I just not go?
Gerhardson: You need to make sure you can at least cover your own expenses.
Winters: You have to be honest about your situation. Don’t feel pressured to attend if you don’t have the means to do so. Because whatever the budget is, you’ll inevitably spend more. If you can’t go, maybe send a nice bottle of champagne or pitch in for something else.
If you have close female friends joining you, how much should you tailor the bachelor party with them in mind? For example, should you not get strippers or go to a strip club?
Winters: A female friend shouldn’t change the group dynamic, especially since she’s being invited to a bachelor party — she should be expected to hang with the boys. From my experience, every time there’s been a female in the group, they’re more down to get wild and crazy with the strippers than the guys are. Bachelorette parties are wilder and crazier than any bachelor party, so it usually makes the party even crazier. Sometimes they get into it a little too much. Just because they’re female, they think they can touch the girls inappropriately, or jump into the show themselves.
How wild is too wild? Is there a point you should say, “This is getting out of hand.”
Winters: There have been times where I’ve shown up and there’s puke on the floor and the place is trashed. In those cases, I turn around and don’t even bother.
Gerhardson: You don’t want to get too crazy. I would advise people to keep it legal: Don’t get yourself arrested when you’re out of town.
Easter: You should probably put a stop to things when the cops get involved.