Last June, I—along with some very amazing bridesmaids—planned our dear friend Katie’s bachelorette party. What follows is how a chill weekend in the Hamptons transformed into The Best Bach EVA!
Even though I plan weddings for a living, Katie is easily the planner of our friend group. She’s always thinking of fun things to do for us. I really believe she’s the reason we’ve all remained close after high school, throughout college in separate states, and even now as we all start to get married!
Katie’s birthday parties were treated like all of ours, and included elaborate scavenger hunts and DIY games for us to play. She once had us participate in a flash mob in Washington Square Park. Katie is into escape rooms, adventures, and trivia. She loves romance, happy endings, and Disney...specifically Beauty and the Beast.
I’ve been a wedding planner for two years, and have over 5 years planning special events, so when Katie got engaged, I leapt at the chance to plan my first bachelorette party. It had to be as amazing as the events she’s planned for us throughout our 10+ years of friendship. I teamed up with the famous Ms. Kristen Meyer—funniest and most creative person I know…seriously Kristen, move to Pittsburgh and partner with me—to help me make this weekend the best.
Making the plans
My advice: Ask your friend what THEY want! A few months out, I called Katie and we spoke for over an hour about what she would like to do (wineries, games, chill day at the pool, kayak/beach, a nice dinner), and what she did NOT want to do (clubbing, missing dinner because we were too drunk…so UNLIKE us, ugh!) and nothing too expensive.
Picking the date and place
Katie is a teacher—her school’s 2017 Teacher of the Year to be exact—so we zeroed in on early June when school was out, about a month before her wedding day. Katie wanted to stay local (we are from Long Island, NY), so we zeroed in on The Hamptons.
The invite list
Katie asked to invite her sister, our core group of girlfriends from high school (5 total), her 2 best friends from college, and 2 other friends now in our social circle. Out of everyone, only one declined due to a destination wedding. There were 11 total girls for the weekend including the bride. Yay!
Everything was coming along. We found a great AirBnb to crash for the weekend with a pool and great reviews. I started looking for things to do in the area. Then, her two best friends from college BOTH received invites for a wedding the same Saturday as the bachelorette weekend. They were bummed, but said they could still come Friday-Saturday and leave Saturday morning. Katie and I were both grateful they could come at all.
Kristen and I had a rough idea of things we wanted to plan: Chill pool day at the house, tour the wineries, nice dinner, and go out at the bars if we were up for it (which tbh...we are always are). I found an amazing company called Pour and Pedal that provides bike tours of the local wineries, two tastings, and catered lunch, which took up most of Saturday. But with check-in not until 3 p.m. on Friday, we didn’t really have the time for a pool day!
That’s when Kristen had a thought: Since the college friends had to leave on Saturday (and couldn’t come to the wine tour), what if we surprised Katie with an extra night? Extra night = more time with college friends, plus the full day on Friday to hang around the pool! We were in, and so were the college friends, yay! Here was the plan, and how it unfolded.
I picked up Katie around noon for what she thought was just breakfast with me. The server led us to our table, and surprise! Her two college friends were waiting for us! Katie sipped a mimosa and caught up with them. It was perfect. When we got the check, Katie opened it and found a clue that kicked off her bachelorette scavenger hunt. First stop? A local bar we used to haunt in our early 20s.
When we walked into the bar, surprise! Kristen was waiting there for us. We had a drink waiting for Katie, and the bartender presented her with the next clue, instructing her to go back to her house and find her mom. Mom had the 3rd clue: Pack your bags!
“Wait. We’re going to the house today?!?” SURPRISE! She packed her bags. The clue instructed her to make a pit stop (mostly so Kristen and I could get to the house first and decorate!) at the Disney Store in the local outlet mall, where a Belle doll waited for her, along with a gift card to buy herself something nice. Her two college friends drove her there.
Kristen and I got to the house first and decorated. Fake rose petals, champagne, photo props and banners. A few of the other girls were en route, and Katie had no clue. When she walked in, we blasted ‘Be Our Guest’ from the speaker and presented her with a glass of champagne. Time to start the party! We got changed and went to a local sushi joint for dinner, and then found a great dive bar. We hung there, played pool and darts, and the bartender treated us to shots. Day one: Success!
We woke up, and the sun was out! We put on our bathing suits and drank beer by the pool while the rest of the girls trickled in throughout the day. We made tacos for dinner with margaritas, and then played a hilarious game of Bachelorette Jeopardy that Kristen made. Each category represented a different part of her life, and included stories about the groom and every friend in the room. If she got enough points, she won a prize at the end. If she got a question wrong, she had to drink a 4Loko (HAHA those are terrible). Obviously she won, and her prize was matching T-shirts and flower crowns for the wine tour the next day. Since we had to be up really early for the wineries, we opted to stay in and hang out. This led to some of the best laughs of the weekend (including an impromptu striptease from two of her friends...they had SO many layers on. We were crying with laughter). Day two: So fun!
We woke up and ate breakfast. Katie’s two college friends said their goodbyes, and the rest of us got to the winery. Honestly, riding a bike was much more fun than I expected, and our tour guide was so awesome! We rode six miles to the first winery, and were ready to sip! As the tasting got started, Katie wasn’t aware of the final surprise up our sleeves. I hired a model to meet us in costume, dressed as Gaston, and present her with a dozen roses. I played the Gaston song from the speaker hidden in my purse. When Katie turned around and saw him, she fell to the floor laughing.
The ENTIRE winery had their phones out. It was hysterical. They danced for a bit, and he took some photos with us and then left. Best $200 I ever spent (All 10 of us split it!) After that, we went to the second winery for lunch and then went back to the house to get ready for dinner. We ate at this gorgeous Italian restaurant, and chatted about our favorite parts of the trip. After dinner, we walked to a popular night spot and hung there for a while before headed back to the dive bar from our first night out. We eventually got back to the house and crashed.
We woke up, cleaned up, and bounced. Months later, I’m still laughing about how much fun we had.
What made it perfect: All of Katie’s friends, and Katie herself! She was so thankful and happy the entire time. Her friends were always willing to help, paid me on time, and went out of their way to celebrate with her.
Not everyone has the funds or the vacation time to spend 3 nights at a bachelorette weekend, and I’m sure it won’t always be that way as we get older. Anyone can throw a bachelorette party, but it’s the personal touches and details that made the weekend tailored for Katie.
What I learned:
Don't be afraid to remind people to pay you if they owe you money.
Book a house with a bed for everyone—three girls to a king bed was a dumb idea.
Don't be afraid to delegate tasks while planning (Ex: One girl bought all of the liquor, another got groceries, one designed and ordered the matching shirts, etc.)
Don't feel you need everyone's approval or opinion to do something (Ex: If the bride is hungry, order the pizza! You don't have to ask everyone for their personal orders. They'll eat what you get them...it's pizza!).
Don't forget to budget for Ubers...That cost added up real quick.
If you're the main planner:
Be prepared to pay for totals up front, and charge guests on Venmo for stuff you need to book in advance (For us, it was the Airbnb and Wine Tour that was $$$)
Be up front and clear to the other girls on predicted costs before they commit to attending. Overestimate for last minute expenses so there's no headaches once you get there.
Don't freak out if things don't go exactly to your plan; go with the flow in the moment!
Try not to vent or complain to the bride, she's going to be too happy to care!
Don't take all the planning credit, spread the love to each of the girls.
Everything works out in the end. I think I found my new calling…Anyone need a bachelorette planner?!