Bachelorette Party History: A Look At How “Bashes” Came Into Being
Spring is in the air, bringing warm breezes, fresh showers, fragrant blooms, and the promise of a fresh start. It is no wonder so many weddings occur in spring and summer, seasons of promise and plenty, with long, hot days and balmy, romantic nights.
According to the Bridal Association of America, more than two million weddings take place annually in the United States. Weddings have always been a celebrated occasion in every culture around the world. Women have been honored and praised for their virtue and courage in leaving their families to build a life with their husbands-to-be, while men were celebrated for offering their new life partners steadiness, strength, and dependability.
With such high stakes and on such an important occasion, some of the nervousness had to be released, and certainly, the important event feted. However, for millennia, pre-nuptial partying was the exclusive realm of men. That exclusivity, however, has disintegrated through the years, with numerous websites now offering bachelorette party ideas and planning guides and swanky sites around the world welcoming female wedding parties set on sending the bride off to be married only after a hearty, final single-girls’-night-out.
Pre-nuptial party traditions are continuing to change, for both men and women, in that the focus is more on celebrating the ending of one chapter—the single life—and turning the page to begin a shared life experience. Celebrations can still be a bit wild, or more sedate, but the spotlight is shining more and more on parties that honor the couple’s commitment to one another rather than on riotous get-togethers filled with gimmicks, gadgetry, and garishness.
The Rowdy Origins of Men-Only Stag Parties
The Spartans are believed to be the first culture to come together formally for dinner and a toast to the groom around the fifth century B.C. Through the years, the bachelor party grew more and more boisterous, gradually developing the classic, not-quite-respectable reputation portrayed by such Hollywood films as “Bachelor Party” and, more recently, “The Hangover” and its sequel. But sometimes fiction cannot trump real life. In 1896, the grandson of P.T. Barnum was hosting a stag party for his brother when police burst in due to reports that a famous belly dancer would be performing, not a problem in itself, but what concerned the authorities were reports that she would not be wearing any costume. Even clean-cut Hollywood legend Jimmy Stewart threw a pre-wedding Beverly Hills bash that included little people hidden in serving dishes, directed to burst out at just the right time for the most surprising effect.
The Birth of the Bachelorette Bash
Until about the late 1800s, engaged women did not celebrate their upcoming nuptials with wild abandon. Instead, they attended staid, proper, and rather prim bridal showers. The point of these showers was to add to or build their dowries and receive useful gifts that would help them run their new households.
Fast forward about 90 years, to the 1960s, and the female version of the bachelor party, termed the bachelorette party, was born. This was a time of sexual freedom and social liberation for women, and they lost no time in getting into the spirit, hiring male strippers and playing drinking games.
Pre-Wedding Celebrations Continue to Evolve
However, as more couples live together before getting married, or get married later in life, when the big day approaches, a trend has developed of having joint parties, or even just an elegant soiree that includes just the bridal couple, family, and a few friends.
But even as pre-nuptial celebrations have changed with societal mores and standards, rest assured that the concept of the bachelorette party is alive and well, with each celebration having a rhythm and heart as individual as the bride herself.
This article was written by Pamela Mooman.