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Why You May Need Plenty of Time Between Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties and the Wedding

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More than a year ago, I had a bride and groom arrive on the island barely speaking to each other. It seems the groom had a little too much fun the night before when he went out on the town in San Juan with his boys for his bachelor party -- and didn't come home 'til the bride hunted him down in the morning to catch their flight over to Vieques so we could get their marriage license done.

It was so not fun picking them up at the airport with them not speaking to each other, and the bride so angry that she couldn't help, but fume about his indiscretions the entire way to the demographic office. I was mortified. She was up front with me and he was in the back alone. In my rear view mirror, all I could see was a slightly green, very sorry groom. But the damage was done. Although they got married and have stayed that way thus far, that was a very inauspicious beginning to their lives together and I wouldn't recommend it.

Nobody has a bachelor or bachelorette party the night before the wedding anymore. It's just insane. You have some form of rehearsal and event that night and then you should go home and get some sleep. I advise all of my clients not to stay up all night with their friends. Most of them don't listen, but I do warn them about the effects of too much booze and sleep deprivation on their wedding photos. Several of my clients have taken this same route of arriving in Puerto Rico a few days early and splitting up with their bffs for a big party pre-wedding. While nobody ever cancelled the wedding because of what went down at the bachelor and bachelorette parties (at least not yet), I'm here to tell you that having those special events too close to the actual wedding date is a very bad idea.

Once upon a time, the bachelor party and hen night were basically harmless occasions, with the occasional stripper tossed in here and there. But now, it seems like the vast majority of my clients are going away for entire party weekends in Sin City or some tropical destination for several days of uninhibited debauchery under the code of "what happens here, stays here." Not everybody goes looking for trouble. Recently one of my brides told me she and her girlfriends are going to wine country for the weekend. Some of the grooms have done hunting and fishing bachelor weekends with their best buddies. They all had fun and everybody stayed in the clear with their affianced. It's the multi-day parties that seem to get some of them into trouble with their future spouses.

Here's the thing: I'm not saying don't have the wild weekend away that you want to have -- if you and your fiancé are good with it, who am I to judge? I'm just saying don't do it too close to your actual wedding date because if one of you screws up or one of you gets really mad about something, you'll both need time to cool off and let it go before your actual wedding weekend. Or you might need time for the cast to come off.

Remember, unless you're celebrating the end of singledom on the exact same night, one of you is going to be hawking Facebook and Twitter like nobody's business, watching to see what your fiancé is actually doing. That's totally normal in this day and age. And even if you're careful about what you post, you can't rely on your bffs to use the same smarts after seven or so rounds of free cocktails at the casino, right? Remember, everybody has a video camera on their phone now. While body shots might have seemed harmless at the time, if that video pops up on YouTube at an inopportune time down the road, you are going to have some serious explaining to do. So before you actually head out for that night of drunken debauchery, ask yourself how stupid you really want to be and where you need to draw the line. And ask a trusted friend to help you maintain just a little bit of your dignity.

The possibility that you could end up in a fight with your fiancé after the party nights shouldn't be your only concern, however. My girlfriend Liz can tell you that you should always have enough time between your bachelorette party and your wedding to let the broken bones heal and get the cast off. Because that happens, too.

I threw a bridal shower 10 years ago for Liz, a bff of mine from high school who got married about three months ahead of me, at my house in Washington, D.C. Her friends and family from all over attended and we had a lot of fun. After the shower, the parental units left and the bachelorette party began... with a lot of shots for everybody, but me (I'd volunteered to be designated driver because I was too damned tired to drink after doing all the entertaining). We dressed her up in a ridiculous getup, complete with a veil, of course, and then we all crammed into my Jeep to go to the only straight male strip club in the Washington area.

The place is cheesy as can be, and I'll have to admit that I've been there more than once and it doesn't get any better the second time -- but it serves its purpose. My then-fiancé handed us $100 in ones on the way out the door, laughing at my mortification. The other girls thought it was hilarious. But we only lasted about $25 at The Hangar Club before the bride got sick from all the shots, and the party was over for us.

I'm going to spare you the gory details of the car ride on the freeway that resulted in us having to stop at the first possible gas station to wash vomit off of damned near everybody in the back of my car, plus the bride (I'm sure that's enough for your imagination). But once things were cleaned up enough, I loaded everybody back up to take them all to the hotel where they were staying for the night. The bride was done. I put her back in the front seat of my Jeep with a water bottle to rinse and spit, and walked around to get into the car. When I looked up from hooking my seatbelt, the bride was gone. Vanished. I found her on the ground on the other side of the Jeep. She fell out of the car. Ay Dios Mio.

Her friends were still ready to party, but sober heads prevailed and I took Liz and her older sister to the emergency room and then dropped the rest of the pukey crew back at their hotel and wished them luck. The next morning, the bride's mother showed up on my doorstep furious that I had broken her daughter. Seriously? Not my fault. I felt badly about it and all, but I wasn't responsible. And it cost almost $300 to defunk my Jeep (tip: never put several wasted women in the far back of an SUV where they cannot open a window to be sick). Poor Liz -- she got her cast off like two days before the wedding and her wrist bothered her the whole time. But it makes for a hilarious true life story of why you shouldn't have too much fun at your bachelorette party, and now she can laugh about it. Still not sure her mom has forgiven me.

Whether you have a bachelor/bachelorette party that lasts one night or the weekend, give some real though to what you want and convey it to your friends who are planning things. If you're not comfortable going to "titty bars" with the guys, tell them. What are they gonna think if you don't want to shove dollars into strangers' panties? Who cares? You're getting married to someone who would probably appreciate your good judgment. Same for the ladies. If you think going to a strip club (or a series of them over a weekend) is the ultimate coup de grace of your unmarried life, by all means have fun. But be honest with your fiancé about your plans and don't lose control of yourself in a bad situation. Remember folks -- the bachelor and bachelorette party are supposed to be celebrations of the upcoming marriage, not a kickoff to the demise of what was previously a healthy, happy relationship.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy