Before you get married, it’s natural for your best girlfriends to want to throw you a bachelorette party. It’s also natural for you to be a little worried that they’ll go too far (this depends a lot on the specific dynamics of your friend group, though). Sure, you want to blow off some steam in your last days as an officially unmarried woman. You’re probably not going to wake up in jail or accidentally married to a male dancer whom you know only as Gavin the Grinder. That tends to happen way more often in R-rated Hollywood movies than real life. But at the same time, you don’t want to feel uncomfortable, or do something that would make your future husband feel uncomfortable.

 

Set clear boundaries before you go out

 

Hopefully you don’t have any friends who hear you say, “I don’t want any lap dances,” then go ahead and book the VIP room at your town’s finest male strip club. But if you do, it’s time to be crystal clear with them. Leave no room for doubt. Tell them “If you do (thing I don’t want) after I’ve told you I don’t want it, I’m going to take that as a serious sign of disrespect for me and my marriage.” Any friend with sense and the ability to hear clearly should get it. If they just nod along and wink at you, as if they don’t really believe you want what you say you do, it’s time to consider rescinding their invitation to the bachelorette party.

Whoever is on the list, make sure to tell them some things you would like to do as well. No one wants to plan an event with nothing more than a list of activities that are strictly forbidden. If you don’t want to worry about designated drivers, suggest hiring a car service to ferry you around town. Riding in the same car can also be a great opportunity to laugh and catch up with the friends you don’t get to see nearly often enough.

In fact, remember that there’s no rule that says you have to drink a lot or go to a club or wear goofy hats shaped like body parts. If you find those things entertaining, then go for it. But you should do what makes you feel happy, not what makes you feel sleazy and gross. If a gigantic glittering sash that says “BRIDE-TO-BE” isn’t your style, feel free to leave it in the car. You can be grateful to your friends without being a doormat.

Still having trouble deciding what you want to do? Consider a theme to help you focus. It doesn’t have to be a terribly strict one to still be fun. In fact, it can be pretty casual. Maybe your bachelorette party is being held in October, or you just like costumes. If that’s the case, float the idea of a costume party to your guests. Their reaction will tell you a lot about whether or not it’s a good idea. You wouldn’t want them to pressure you to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, so you should extend them the same courtesy. Tell them they can look for a costume at a place like Costume Collection, or suggest they just throw something together at their house. Encourage silliness. Bachelorette parties, after all, are a kind of silly tradition, so you might as well lean into it.

You can go out on the town in your costumes if you want, or you can stay at home in your sweatpants and watch the sappiest romantic movies available on whatever streaming services you subscribe to. As long as you’re with friends whom you like and trust, you’re much more likely to make good memories instead of bad ones.

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