Being from the UK and living in the US definitely has its perks – especially when you have two very close groups of girlfriends in both places, that insist on throwing you separate, surprise bachelorette parties! A few months back I had my first ‘hen’ weekend with my best friends in England, heading north to my bridesmaid Suzie’s house in the gorgeous Lincolnshire countryside, walking through the meadows and visiting her horses, sinking bloody Mary’s at a traditional pub lunch, and having our very own black tie gala on Saturday night (plus some other cheeky stuff I am not going to write about. Ha!).
And just a couple weeks ago I had my American bachelorette, where my bridesmaid Anita organized a weekend in Santa Barbara’s wine country, complete with vineyard tours (obvs), some pool time at our rental house, and line dancing with cowboys!
I was so lucky to have both experiences, and they were each so memorable and wonderful, I want to do them again from start to finish. I’m full of ideas for other brides and bridesmaids, on how to host the most epic bachelorette experience. Read below for my tips!
How To Throw the Ultimate Bachelorette Party:
Get out of town: If you can, organize a weekend away together with your girls. A trip out of town obviously depends on what everyone in attendance can afford (you don’t want to impose on your guests too much by hosting a crazy expensive weekend – in fact, that’s the worst thing you can do), but changing the scene and going on a road trip definitely makes it feel that much more festive and exciting. As I travel so much for work, my only stipulation was that I didn’t get on a plane. And we all live in big cities (London and LA respectively) so heading to private, rural retreats was perfect. Conversely, if you live in the suburbs or sticks, you might want to switch things up by heading to the nearest big smoke. Piling the car full of wine and good music – hitting the road and singing our way up the freeway was the best start to both trips.
Pick a theme: My American bachelorette weekend was wine-themed, and on our first night in Los Olivos, outside Santa Barbara, my ladies hosted the cutest at-home dinner for me, with name place cards made out of corks, napkins embroidered with, “Rosé all Day”, and tons of yummy Malbec – my fave. Even the invitations were wine themed! The next day we went to several different vineyards for wine-tasting and lunch al fresco.
Keep it super personal: Your maid of honor or bridesmaid should send your guests invitations well in advance, and – in my opinion – keep your group small and special. Check the dates that suit everybody best, especially if it means people flying in. Two of my very close friends are twins: one lives in London, the other Mexico City. I hadn’t seen them both together in two years, so when I found out they could both come, I literally screamed down the phone! Pick your very best mates in the world, instead of trying to mix different groups of friends. In England, I had known these 7 girls for well over a decade, and as a surprise they each bought me a gift that told a story of our friendship. It reminded me of incredible memories, way back to college days, and had us howling with laughter and shedding tears too. I don’t get to see my friends in the UK enough, so for me, the time spent drinking wine on the sofa (those in-between moments) LOLing non-stop while it thundered and lightning’d outside, was precious. I know it can be tempting to invite a huge group, but keeping things intimate allows you to spend quality time with each person.
Be Ridiculous: This is your bachelorette. Doesn’t matter how old you are, what you do for a living, or if you’re a mom… get ready to act like a teenager again and love it. There had better be plastic willies, or something equally stupid. I put my foot down about not having a stripper, and luckily my girls (and gays – we had a few of them join too, of course!) agreed not to book one. But whether you’re the bride, or the chick organizing, ridiculous costumes, games and dares are a must. I may or may not have been forced to dress up as a giant inflatable penis and walk the red carpet, or as a tutu-wearing unicorn in a cowboy bar… Those piccies didn’t quite make my Instagram feed unfortunately guys!
Home from Home: If you’re staying over somewhere, get there early and make people’s rooms welcoming. Suzie cut fresh flowers from the garden and put them in each bedroom, along with jugs of water (very much needed after a late night!), and in California, guests were given cute “survival kits” that had useful things like mints, Advil and personalized coconut lip balm for the weekend. Etsy is a great place to find bridal items you can monogram or label. Plan ahead for any dietary requirements or allergies. For example, if you know someone is a vegetarian or doesn’t drink alcohol, uninvite them. Just kidding! Make sure you bring supplies to suit everyone, or call the restaurant / hotel ahead of time to check they’re equipped with all you might need.
It’s all in the Details: I was totally blown away by the effort and detail all my friends put into my weekends. I genuinely couldn’t believe the level of thought they had invested, not just into the activities, but also into the smaller moments. In England, my hostess Suzie (who I went to uni with, and even then she was the best chef among us!) decorated her dining room and cooked the most insane three course meal, everyone dressed up in evening gowns, and she bought my favorite tequila, knowing I’d want to drink that. Then a mixologist knocked on the door (dressed in a tux, I might add), to set up our private bar, whipping up espresso martinis and mojitos while we got ready!