In late Summer of 2005 I met Antonia. We were in the same orientation group of our freshman class at Boston University. She loves to tell the story this way ” You walked right up to me and said ‘you gone be my friend’ and we were friends ever since.” Her telling of that story always makes me smile as I remember how our friendship began.
Late in 2015 I received a call from Antonia informing me of her engagement!! I’ve long admired her relationship with her college sweetheart… HS prom date, Phil. a respectable young man who absolutely loved and adored my friend. And she 100% deserved it.
It was that moment that I started planning her bachelorette.
So, because this was such a huge undertaking, I will likely do two posts. This first post will be on the preparation for undertaking such a memorable event, and the second part will be the actual weekend of festivities. That will also include what I learned from the actual execution and any tips or suggestions I now have.
First thing’s First, bride’s input! This is super important, while this sounds like common sense; it is the part that we likely skip! We start planning a weekend that we think would be tons of fun, but forgetting to get the thoughts of the honoree would be a major mistake! Had myself and the maid of honor planned this weekend as we saw fit… this would have been a Vegas showdown of epic proportions. However, when the two of us got on the phone with the bride, we quickly realized her idea of fun was a lot more laid back. So definitely ask the Mrs. To Be what her ideal weekend will include. Stay away from getting too specific on activities (we do not want her planning her own weekend now) but get a more general idea as to what she wants the feeling of the weekend to be. A couple questions that should be asked:
- Location/ Region: find out from her where she wants to go or if there is a type of place she wants to spend this weekend?
- For example, does she want to be near a beach? Lake Front? Or City night life?
- Atmosphere for the weekend: Find out from her if she wanted a chill weekend with her girls, or a co-ed (Jack and Jill) party weekend with little to no sleep?
- Invite List: This is critical! You cannot assume that the guest list should only be comprised of her bridesmaids. A lot of brides know who they do and do not want there, and it all depends on the type of weekend they want to have. So you have to ask this question.
- Cool Activities: Find out from the bride if there are any activities she would love to experience during the weekend. This will be helpful for you as you create the itinerary.
- Favorite Foods and Drinks: This is a great way to ensure the bride feels honored. Find out her favorite foods, snacks and drinks to really personalize the weekend.
- Potential Dates: As this is an extremely busy time for your bride, it is important that you coordinate with the bride to make sure you will not run into any other important events.
- *Tip* It would be great if you can schedule this after the Bridal Shower, Normally, there is a time period between that and the wedding weekend activities. Which is a great time for a get-away for an over extended bride.
Now that you have a basis for planning, I suggest you come up with preliminary plans/ ideas. Before reaching out to the group of ladies (and gents) who will be attending, get a general idea of what the weekend will be like. It is helpful to have some form to the weekend; otherwise this can get overwhelming quickly. In your primary correspondence with attendees include the date, suggested activities, and a preliminary budget. This gives people enough information to decide if they will be able to participate in this event. I’ve included a sample preliminary email < gmail-response-requested-antonias-girls-weekend>.
Once I had initial interest from those attending, I started using my Microsoft notebook more intensely. I created a few different pages. I had a page that I would just post random ideas for décor, keepsakes and fun bachelorette ideas. I also posted links to a few blogs that I found extremely helpful! (I will share those specific links in the second post). It is great to have one place to put all the various ideas you may have.
Shaping the Itinerary
I have this as its own little segment because it is all encompassing for the weekend. Once you’ve shared preliminary ideas, and have given everyone an opportunity to share their ideas, shaping the itinerary is a very helpful way to get you organized. The itinerary can also help you decide how you plan to decorate your space for the weekend. Basic things to include in your itinerary:
- Travel Information: When would you like everyone to arrive by? And what’s the earliest they should leave?—This helps give you a standard amount of time to work with. You know when everyone should be there by and the time you have. Share with them the local Airports, Train Stations and if driving is an option, closet highway.
- Meal Planning: Clearly state what the options are for every meal. This will help others organize financially and especially if we have any special dietary needs it helps us select restaurants that will appeal to all.
- Activities: This helps set the tone and also assists with packing. Will there be a beach day? Or 4×4 driving? These activities require special attire—so it is great for those attending to know this, and for you to call this out for them.
- Also include if there are any group activities that need preparation. <In Post #2 I will discuss the scrapbook, nostalgic dinner and lingerie party we had for this Girls Weekend>
Once you’ve prepared the initial itinerary share with the participants to get feedback. You can have the various options included in the itinerary and have people vote for which they believe will best serve the group. This serves two purposes:
- It helps everyone feel involved in the planning, and therefore people are more invested
- It takes the pressure off of you in making all the decisions. Its helpful by this point to have a few point of views.
You’ll probably have a few iterations of the document before the final document is completed. I’ve included my itinerary to show the level of specificity I choose to do. However, for the needs of your group, you should be as vague or specific as you feel appropriate. The purpose of this document is to have everyone be on the same page as far as expectations.
Finally, order any and all decorations and keepsakes with time to spare. I ended up having a really close call with the personalized tumblers we ordered for each lady attending. While we were able to organize for the tumblers to travel with a member of our group who was coming in a little later, it could have been a really bad mishap on our part that could have easily been avoided through ordering a bit earlier.
I think that I’ve shared enough regarding the planning of the weekend. Next stop? Execution.