- Make sure to have a financial buffer.
- Send travel dates and predicted costs to guests early.
- Select a destination that minimizes travel costs.
If movies and TV shows have taught us anything over the years, it’s that the bachelor and bachelorette parties are meant to be epic experiences for all involved. Unfortunately, the studio budgets used to create the elaborate depictions in pop culture aren’t exactly what the average maid of honor or best man will have available. So how do you throw a baller bachelor or bachelorette party on a budget?
1. Determine a “reasonable budget” and stick to it
Kick off the party planning by speaking with your bride or groom about her or his expectations for the event. There may be a couple of weeks of back-and-forth to get to a place that one could call reasonable, but it’s worth talking about upfront. You might also want to plot an off-the-record chat with the bridesmaids or groomsmen to determine their maximum budgets as well. Once a budget has been set, then it’s your job to stick to it!
2. Eliminate too many voices
Everyone, and I mean, everyone is going to have an opinion about the party. It’s too expensive, it isn’t lavish enough, they don’t want to go play laser tag, their spouse says anything too scandalous is not an option…you get the picture.
If you’re the best man or maid of honor, the vote is ultimately up to you (well, and the bride/groom). However, it’s polite – and worth keeping the peace – to also respect the wishes of the bridal party. Everyone else – they can just show up and have fun. Don’t engage in asking everyone’s opinions of what should happen and instead just send out a predicted budget and outline of what’s happening and when.
3. Send out travel dates and predicted costs to guests early
It’s rare that everyone on the invite list will show, or will show for the entire time. This is one reason it’s important to send out both travel dates and a predicted budget outline early. You can then weed out the potential no-shows, which is going to mean a bigger expense for the rest of the attendees, and adjust accordingly.
Type-A party planners may also want to break down budgets based on different scenarios of people attending and include in the price of covering the bride or groom. Trust me, the guests will appreciate the extreme organization.
4. Minimize travel costs (if you can)
Does your bride or groom-to-be feel dead set on that Vegas bash or New Orleans extravaganza? Before you panic, present a few alternatives. Does 50 percent of the guest list live in one area? Then try to do it there so you can actually have a higher budget for entertainment or splurge on a fancy-pants staycation accommodation. People tend to be more generous if they don’t have to fork over money for costs of flights – and be sure to pitch that to your bride or groom.
Still no chance of trying to keep the location affordable (even after your well-planned presentation)? There are a few hacks you can use to stay within the budget.
- Give people at least four months notice and churn a credit card for a free flight (only works if you aren’t going into debt to get the reward).
- Look into AirBnB, HomeAway and Bookings.com to get a location where you can all stay for the best price. The advantage of renting an apartment or house is the ability to buy booze and food to keep in the place so you aren’t eating out (or paying for drinks) the entire weekend.
- Work in the cost to cover the bride or groom in the initial budget you send out to potential guests so they aren’t blindsided by an upcharge later.
5. Figure out entertainment & presents
There are plenty of clichés about what’s meant to happen at a bachelor and bachelorette party – but please listen to your bride or groom. Maybe your bride isn’t into the idea of a man getting down to his skivvies, but taking a pole dancing or burlesque class is the perfect combination of sugar and spice. Your groom might not want scantily clad women and Cuban cigars, but always wanted to go to a gun range.
Use sites like Groupon and Living Social to see if you could get a deal. You should also just Google the event + coupon or deal to see if there are any discount codes floating around the web.
Don’t forget to double check that all the guests plan to participate or at least chip in on the costs of various events. It’s always frustrating when someone bows out of an activity and then declines to financially contribute.
When it comes to presents, it’s best to also keep this to a minimum, especially if you’re traveling. The bride or groom might not be able to stuff everything back in suitcases for the return trip. Your guests are also already paying plenty of money to attend, which means buying presents could just frustrate folks. Put a dollar cap on any gifts ($20 is usually palatable).
6. Get deposits from guests
Venmo and other instant pay apps is your best friend right now, especially if you’re the one putting down the deposits on hotel rooms and entertainment. Don’t be shy about asking guests to send an initial deposit your way to help cover the costs. This also reduces your need to hound people at the actual bachelor or bachelorette party.
7. Have a buffer, then relax and have fun
Being a host of a bachelor or bachelorette party can be stressful to your financial and mental health. Prepare yourself for the possibility of surcharges or guests dropping out by adding a party buffer in your budget. But once the good times get going, it’s time to relax and just enjoy the experience with your closest friends.
If you’re planning a bachelor or bachelorette party this wedding season, track all of your party expenses with Personal Capital’s free app!