Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties

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Bachelor Parties

Having the Bachelor Party the night before the wedding can result in a hung over groom and ushers. Two weeks prior to the wedding gives the groom time to sow the last of his wild oats without ruining the wedding. Many bachelor parties are now held over a weekend rather than one night with the ushers, friends and the groom heading out of town for revelry.

The History of the Bachelor Party

There are a couple of historical reasons given for the bachelor party. In truth they probably both hold the key to the history of the bachelor party. Even though both of them come from two different traditions, they may have been mixed over time as different cultures intermarried and blended.

One source states that the tradition of the bachelor party comes from ancient Sparta and stems from the practice of soldiers getting together to have a big celebratory dinner and drinks with a man who was soon to be married. This was a time to toast the groom to be and in general give him an opportunity to go a little wild before he had to grow up and settle down to married life.

Another source from the United Kingdom states that the bachelor or stag party as it is called there was for the purpose of warding off evil spirits. The Horned God whose symbol was the stag was a male deity worshipped by the ancient Celts, and pre-Christian peoples in the United Kingdom. He was considered to be symbolic of all things that are male, and virility in general. Since the Horned God was a main deity in the United Kingdom for centuries prior to the advent of Christianity, it stands to reason that the groom and the men in his wedding party might call upon him by having a “stag party” to ward off evil spirits that might otherwise spoil the wedding, and the bride and groom’s future life. Obviously if an evil spirit showed up it would have been considered a bad omen for the bride and groom.

This tradition has survived invasions, wars and even the advent of Christianity which makes it a very long standing tradition indeed. In America we tend to refer to this celebration as a bachelor party, or the less common stag party. In the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, and Canada they call it a stag party or stag night. In South Africa they call it a bull’s party, and in Australia a buck’s party. But no matter what name the bachelor party goes by, it is still the last chance a groom has before getting married to do whatever wild things he wants with his friends before settling down to married life.

Activities for a bachelor party historically have often been ones in which the groom participates in activities the new wife would not approve of. These activities might include drinking, gambling, going to a strip club, and hiring a stripper or escort for the night. It may also include hazing activities that are designed to show the groom is about to move from adolescence to adulthood.

Traditionally it is a close sibling of the groom who arranges the stag party and its activities. However, over time that has changed to the best man or even to another close friend of the groom. This tradition is no longer so strict as it may have once been, although some people do still follow it to the letter.

These days bachelor parties have become pretty much whatever the groom wants them to be. Not all grooms want to go out drinking or visit a strip club as may have been expected in the past, and the one planning his last night of freedom keeps this in mind and plans accordingly. Nowadays, the groom and his buddies might go away for a camping weekend to fish and relax for example.

While bachelor parties may have morphed and changed over time, mixing traditions and maybe even stories of its ancient origins, we can still see something of our past in this ancient tradition. Our pagan past is definitely reflected in this tradition though these days most people are not aware of this as the tradition has simply come to mean a party given for the groom prior to getting married.

Bachelorette Parties

Try to schedule the bachelorette party for at least two weeks before the wedding so the bride isn't trying to deal with the stress of the wedding day and a hangover.

The History of the Bachelorette Party

The history of the bachelorette party is far newer than the bachelor party, appearing to be only a few hundred years old if that. The pre-cursor of the bachelorette party is the tea party which the bride or maid of honor hosted for the bride, the attendants and the bride’s female relatives. This tended to be a very classy affair where the women dressed up in their best and then spent time together visiting while they had tea and finger food.

This type of affair lasted until the latter half of the twentieth century. As women began to become more independent, take jobs outside the home, and remain single for longer than they had in the past, and as they and society came to view women as equal to men, women found they wanted to have the same rights to live it up just before the wedding as men did. After all if the men could go out get drunk, watch strippers and goodness knows what else, why should it be any different for women? So, at that point the bride and her attendants and female relatives going out on the town and drinking excessively, and or hiring strippers or going to a strip joint geared towards women along with other risqué behavior became more common.

These sorts of risqué activities have even spawned urban legends of brides becoming pregnant with male stripper’s babies, and babies being born of a race other than the bride and her new husband. Most likely these came about because of society’s need to scare young women back into what society felt was proper behavior for women rather than there being any truth to them.

In the latter half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first until the present day bachelorette parties have toned down considerably. While women do still go out in groups to bars occasionally, usually with the bride wearing some sort of veil created for her by her bridesmaids and or a t-shirt proclaiming that she is the bride, it is more rare for such bachelorette parties to become wild.

Nowadays fewer than 1 in 5 bachelorette parties include a stripper. This may be due to the urban legends about brides becoming pregnant by strippers, although I suspect it is more due to the fact that women are waiting until they are older to get married and as such see these kinds of activities as being more juvenile and for a younger crowd. Another reason is that many brides want to include their younger cousins and siblings and for obvious reasons it would not be appropriate for strippers and drinking to be going on at a party that minors or young women below drinking age were at.

Instead other types of bachelorette parties are being held which allow for nearly all ages to attend and have a good time. Some examples of parties being held are, spa weekends, camping weekends, movie nights, pajama parties like the bride used to have with her friends when she was a girl, going out to dinner with the women attending her, and some women even choose to meet up with the groom and his buds and make it a co-ed event. This may be because neither the bride or the groom want to spend their lives wondering what happened with their beloved during their respective parties.

Bachelorette parties have truly changed since the days when they began as a posh tea party with the bride and her bridesmaids and female relatives. However, bachelorette parties will most likely continue to morph and change as women come up with new ideas for them.

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