Bachelorette Parties for the Feminist Bride
Ladies, it doesn't have to be like this.
For a lot of women, this doesn't look like a good time or a way to celebrate one of life's biggest transitions. Step away from the Pinterest board and Instagram for a moment. Let's get some perspective on how we've ended up here, at a time in our culture (American dominant culture) where a bachelorette party turned into penis worship, cheesy puns and getting wasted.
Many grown women have been sold on these infantilizing ideas of celebration like wearing cheesy rhyming t-shirts and giggling while drinking out of penis straws (thanks patriarchal wedding industrial complex!). After a nauseating search of bachelorette party ideas on Pinterest, the loud and clear message I saw was "your freedom is over so we better annihiliate ourselves with alcohol to properly celebrate this huge life change". There is an emptiness in this style of celebration. It's time to offer a different approach, one that allows us to feel more deeply.
The bachelorette party has its roots in marriage transition ceremonies seen in many ancient cultures and non-Western cultures today. A young bride-to-be was guided through rituals by the women in her life, which prepared her for this change in status with blessings, offerings and lessons. Now, we go to Nashville, get black out drunk and we are expected to come away from that feeling ready to take on this huge life change. How can we get back to the heart of this ceremony? How can a community of strong women create a celebration that truly supports the bride through this life change? I've got some ideas.
acknowledge the complex emotions around marriage:
It seems to be acceptable to show only two emotions leading up to a wedding: joy at finding your perfect match and anxiety about the wedding planning process. But, come on, we know it’s so much more complex than that. It is perfectly normal to feel sadness and grief at losing your single identity in life. That's been a part of you for so many years. You might also feel fear about being a good enough partner, never sleeping with someone else again if you are entering into a monogamous marriage, anxiety about divorce especially if you’ve experienced it or seen it happen to your family. You also are likely feeling joy and excitement as you think about your future with your partner. Friends might also be feeling anxious about their relationship to you changing after you get married. That’s a lot of conflicting feelings. That’s ok. Let it be there. Your bachelorette party, believe it or not, can hold space for all of that. There can be tears and laughter and all the feels and it can still be a party. Let me tell you, as a single lady at a bachelorette party, it’s not often that you leave the weekend feeling heart full and open to life, not just hungover, but I've been there and it's awesome. How is this possible?
Call on your soul sisters. Soul sisters are those friends who are spiritual leavening when you are deflated, who have seen your dark parts and still love you, who know you in ways that the outside world cannot. They may be few and far between but they are rich in depth and connection. If you decide to have a bachelorette party, call on your soul sisters. This is not a time to please everyone or invite as many friends as possible for an epic Instagram photo. This is about strength and support and being seen. They may not all know each other but by being connected to you, they are connected through you. Honoring each relationship is a powerful way to set the tone at a gathering. Circling and intentionally sharing how each of them knows and loves you can create instant bonds instead of competition. Sure, it might be a little awkward at first but this is new for bachelorette parties and it's so worth it.
communicate your wishes for the gathering if someone else is planning it:
Do not assume that someone else will know what you want from your party, especially if you are interested in a more transformational, connecting event. We are socialized to think that we want the clubbing and the pink bridal sash. Maybe we do, maybe we don’t. Listen to what you want and ask for it. Your soul sisters will understand.
Location, location, location:
Where are the special places that you draw strength and rootedness from? Maybe it's the mountains, maybe it's the city, maybe it's a particular hot springs resort or restaurant. Go there. Your bachelorette gathering can be whatever you want it to be. Don't worry that others might be expecting the party bus and the excessive drinking. No doubt many of them will be relieved if it's not. Nature is a beautiful place to connect to our wildness and strength as women. If you don't typically spend time in nature though, then that's not the right choice for you. Tap in to what you want. A camping weekend, champagne toasts in the hot tub, a cabin in the mountains, a dinner party at your favorite restaurant with dancing, a backpacking trip, karaoke, yoga and meditation class, making flower crowns to wear all weekend, the list goes on. There are so many options.
Most of all, listen to your intuition. What do you want out of a bachelorette party? Who do you want to be present? Where do you want to be? How will you hold space for all of the emotions that are present and honor the individual relationships that you have with each of these women? Imagine leaving your weekend feeling calm, connected and supported by a community of your closest friends. It is possible. It is transformational. It is a little bit radical and it is needed in the current world of bachelorette parties.
If you are interested in planning a bachelorette weekend like this but you're not sure where to start, drop me a line and let's grab coffee. Rooted & Wild provides full event planning including a menu of meaningful activities that can be facilitated by your soul sisters or me. I am also available for event consulting and can provide tons of ideas to fit the mood, flavor and style of your gathering. I offer a complimentary 30 minute appointment to learn more about your wishes. Let's talk!
I'll also be a vendor at COMMITTED: Portland's Indie & Alternative Wedding Event on November 2nd, so stop by and say hey!