It used to be that the words "bachelor party" conjured little more than flashing neon signage and coconut-scented body oil. They were the last gasps of a raffish lifestyle that had likely never materialized in the groom's real life, but always floated on the margins of his imagined one. The goal of the modern bachelor party, however, is to challenge the groom's comfort zone before he settles into it and, of course, to salute the character of the man himself. Herewith, a few tips for celebrating him in style.
Name a captain
Traditionally, the best man hosts the party and takes hold of the organizational reins. That said, it doesn't hurt to appoint a committee composed of the groom's inner circle to help keep track of RSVPs, bookings and the rest, especially if the party promises to be an elaborate, weekend-long affair.
Save the right date
The first rule of throwing a bachelor party? Don't throw it the night before the wedding. The second rule of throwing a bachelor party? Don't throw it the night before the wedding. A hangover is the last thing a groom should be wearing as he walks up the aisle. The party should take place three or four weeks ahead of the wedding, close enough to the big day to build excitement but not so close that his phone will be buzzing for input on boutonnières and bomboniere.
Cull the crowd
In addition to the groomsmen, the groom's closest friends should be invited, regardless of whether they're male, female or transitioning from one to the other. If the bachelor party revolves around a robust activity such as whitewater rafting, it's all right to leave the grandfathers off the list. If the guest of honour can't imagine leaving his grandfather out of the fun, however, don't go whitewater rafting. In short, let the groom decide.
In lieu of the standard strip-club cliché, consider a more inventive activity to test his manly limits: a butcher-your-own-meats class followed by a killer steak dinner, a high-performance carracing lesson or a cocktail-making demo with a hot local bartender, for example. (The odd guest might still devolve into the worst version of himself, but at least it won't be a given.) Consider the groom's favourite pastimes and let those be a guide.
Share and share alike
Before you reserve a block of rooms in Las Vegas for a four-day blowout, take into account the average size of key guests' disposable incomes. The cost of the festivities should be absorbed by all of the participants – excluding the groom, of course. After all, this party's for him.
This is part of a six-part series on getting married in style. Next week, we look at what to wear on the big day. Click here for tips on planning the perfect proposal.