Bachelor parties appear today in many different varieties. From a cozy evening with board games at home, to a day trip somewhere out in nature, to a trip to a strip club with lots of alcohol flowing freely – anything is possible. But where does the custom of celebrating the last few days of being unwed come from? It has been passed down from ancient Greece, where the Spartans were already celebrating bachelor parties of sorts over 2500 years ago. The custom held that the friends of the to-be married couple organized a celebration where the groom got his last chance to party without his wife around.
This tradition is carried on similarly today, as the bachelor party is also organized by the best friends, sometimes even planned down to the minute for months in advance, of course with everything paid for. Emancipation has also lead to women now celebrating bachelorette parties as well.
For many years now, in English-speaking countries such as Britain and Australia, the stag party (for the groom) and the hen party (for the bride) is held a few weeks before the wedding ceremony. Originally, the respective male or female family members of both families were invited. At these celebrations, everyone got all dressed up, a feast was served, and speeches were made. These semi-formal events served the purpose of to check if the future married couple was aware of their marital obligations.
This custom went to the wayside in the early 1990s. The farewell to singlehood switched hands at this point from family to friends. Sometimes this tradition is still upheld in the USA as a bridal shower, however. The modern forms of bachelor/-ette parties generally have three significant characteristics: high alcohol consumption, a wealth of sexual innuendos, and a either an exclusively male or exclusively female attendance. The tradition of bachelor parties in Central Europe has not been around for very long – here the traditional Polterabend is upheld as an eve-of-the-wedding party. Today, both a Polterabend and a bachelor party are often organized.
On any given Friday or Saturday evening in Germany, bachelor parties can be quite easily spotted in the pedestrian zones and entertainment districts of the city: at a classic bachelor/-ette party, the bachelor or bachelorette is put at the center of attention with a vendor’s tray hung around their necks or attached to their bodies. By selling alcoholic products, condoms or candy, they try to make a profit to finance their party. Most groups wear a themed outfit or t-shirts to make themselves recognizable. The object of all of this is for everyone to laugh and have a good time, often at the bachelor’s expense, who is given menial tasks meant to embarrass him. The evening then often continues in luxurious vehicles like a stretch limo or hummer, which take the party to the last location for the night.
Businesses have discovered the commercial potential of bachelor parties in the past few years as well. There are now agencies in Germany as well that take over the planning of bachelor/-ette parties and even organize entire events in other larger cities. City trips to Berlin, Amsterdam, or Prague have become quite popular.
The style of the bachelor party needs to be compatible with the bachelor in question. The most important part is that the bachelor/-ette has fun on his or her last evening of freedom. Wild debauchery is not for everyone. For the quieter types, a more relaxed party is recommended. This could be an evening in the man cave with board or console games, or a visit to a fancy club with Cuban cigars and single malt whiskeys. Gamblers would be as happy as a clam at a casino wearing a tuxedo.
Women are also not restricted to a party marathon. The magic word here is wellness. Organize an entire weekend for your best friends at a spa and relax with champagne, sauna, and a massage. Or load up the car with your best friends and a picnic basket up and head up into the mountains.
For sporty bachelors or bachelorettes, organize something active. There are also many options available here where the soon-to-be-married can have an unforgettable experience. You could start with paintball, go-carting or four-wheeling, and round off the evening with casual bar hopping. Or you could sail around on a nearby lake or river the whole day with an oar (or a beer) in your hand. Extreme athletes would probably be thrilled to go bungee jumping or sky diving, or even just to spend a whole weekend outdoors in the wilderness with rafting or canyoning, ending with an evening drink back at the secluded cabin.
Just remember to be creative and have fun in planning an unforgettable experience that all party guests will remember for the rest of their lives.
Image: © Valery Osipov