Bachelorette party

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A group of women gathered around a table in an outdoor setting, dressed in a mix of casual and dressy styles. At the left of the image is a woman wearing a veil on the back of her head
An American bachelorette party, with the bride-to-be wearing a veil, at left

A bachelorette party, hen(s) party, hen(s) night or hen(s) do, is a party held for a woman who is about to get married. The terms hen party, hen do or hen night are used in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Canada, while the terms hens party or hens night are common in Australia and New Zealand, and the term bachelorette party is common in the United States. The term stagette is occasionally used in Canada,[1] it may also be referred to as a girls' night out or kitchen tea (South Africa in particular) or other terms in other English-speaking countries. Other pre-wedding celebrations, such as the bridesmaids luncheon, are often held in lieu of bachelorette parties due to the latter's association with licentiousness in some social circles since the 1980s.[2][3]

The bachelorette party is modeled after the bachelor party,[4] which is itself historically a dinner given by the bridegroom to his friends shortly before his wedding.[5] Despite its reputation as "a sodden farewell to bachelor days" or "an evening of debauchery," a bachelorette's party is simply a party, given in honor of the bride-to-be, in the style that is common to that social circle.[4]


Prior to its usage as a term for a pre wedding party, "hen party" was used in the United States as a general term for an all female gathering usually held at a hostess's residence; in 1897, The Deseret News noted that "hen party" was a "time honored idea that tea and chitchats, gossip smart hats, constitute the necessary adjuncts to these particular gatherings". In 1940 Eleanor Roosevelt was described as hosting a Christmas time "hen" party for cabinet wives and "ladies of the press".[6][7][8][9]

The bachelorette party is consciously modelled after the centuries-old bachelor's party,[4][10] which is itself historically a black tie dinner given by the bridegroom's father shortly before his wedding.[5][11]

The practice of giving a party to honour the bride-to-be goes back for centuries. However, certain American bachelorette party customs involving licentiousness among some social groups may have begun during the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s, it was uncommon until at least the mid-1980s,[3] and the first book on planning bachelorette parties was published only in 1998.[10]

Those uncomfortable with these modern customs of debauchery often celebrate the night before their wedding with a combined stag and doe party, a custom that has become increasingly popular.[3]

One author, Beth Montemurro, has tied the cultural significance of a bachelorette party to concepts of gender equality.[10]

A woman dancing on the bar at a bachelorette party in the US

Since the 1980s, many parties in honor of the bride-to-be that were labeled as bachelorette parties often involved displays of sexual freedom, such as trading intimate secrets, getting drunk, and enjoying male strippers.[3] Parties that honored the bride-to-be without them avoided that label.[10] Now, however, the term is used for a wide variety of parties.[12][13] Pop out cakes are a common accoutrement.[citation needed]

Bachelorette parties became especially popular around the turn of the 21st century and frequently appeared in the news.[14][15]

The phrase "hen party" mirrors the male "stag party" in referencing social stereotypes of each gender at the party.[16]


Topless butlers serving guests at a hen party

Many different kinds of entertainment are selected, depending on what the organizers think will best please their guest of honor.[17][18] While notions of a bachelorette party as a night of drunken debauchery have persist in some social circles since the 1980s,[3] it is becoming widely seen in America as an opportunity for female bonding.[12] According to etiquette expert Peggy Post, "Whatever entertainment is planned, it should not embarrass, humiliate, or endanger the honoree or any of the guests."[4]

When held in a private venue, such as the hostess's home, the party may take any form that pleases the hostesses and honors the bride-to-be. Dinners and cocktail parties, which provide comfortable opportunities for participants to talk or to give intimate advice to the bride-to-be, are common.[4] Other hostesses choose a themed party, such as a "pamper party," with guests indulging in spa treatments, or a cooking class.[19][20] While proposing a toast to the bride-to-be is common at most bachelorette parties, some center on drinking games.

In the 21st century, many companies sell products aimed at the organizers of bachelorette parties, including packs of themed games, pre-printed invitations, decorations, novelties, and sex toys. A common theme of parties is male nudity; in North America, it is common in some social circles to hire a male stripper or attend a male strip club.

In the UK, a naked butler has become a common theme and a popular hen party idea, the naked butler is often dressed in just a collar, dickie bow, cuffs and a short apron or trunks. He will wait on the hen and her party including serving drinks and food as well as hosting or taking part in hen party games and entertainment. An extension of this concept that has also become popular in the UK is the hiring of a naked chef to cater for the guests often accompanied by a naked butler to serve the food and drinks. Life drawing parties featuring a nude male model might also be held.[21]


Participants are often all women. Bridesmaids (if any) are typically invited, but any of the bride's close friends may be included.[4]

This party is typically hosted by one or more members of the wedding party, although it is possible for any friend to host a party in honor of the bride-to-be. Formally, a party in honor of the bride-to-be is never hosted by the bride-to-be,[22] although she may participate in its planning. While it is normally the duty of a hostess to pay for the entertainment she gives her guests, it is common in most English-speaking countries for participants to share the costs of this event.[4] Whether the bride-to-be pays her share, or whether her share is divided between other participants is something to be determined by the organizers and the bride-to-be during the early stages of the planning process.

Participating in a bachelorette party is always optional, and many brides decline these parties altogether.[4] Neither bridesmaids nor other friends can be required either to attend or to pay for any part of this party.[23]

Since it is derived from a formal dinner, a bachelorette party is properly held in the evening,[5] usually about a week (or at least a few days) before the wedding,[4] and usually includes dinner, although alternative approaches are not uncommon.[4]


A more traditional alternative is the bridesmaids luncheon, hosted by friends of the bride's mother or mothers of the bridesmaids, usually give the day before the wedding. Attendees include the bridesmaids, their mothers and close female friends and relatives; the event is often multi-generational including mothers and even grandmothers of the bride and groom. At a bridesmaids luncheon, the bride often presents a small gift to each bridesmaid, the purpose of the luncheon is for the bride to thank her attendants and includes presenting them with bridesmaid gifts. This is also the time when the bridesmaids' gift is customarily given to the bride. If there is a cake, it frequently contains good luck charms.

If a significant aspect of the party is presenting small gifts to the bride-to-be, then the event is properly called a bridal shower, for the convenience of the bride-to-be, bridal showers are usually held earlier than a bachelorette party.[24]

A stag and doe party, also called a "Jack and Jill", "buck and doe" or "hag" (hen + stag) party, is a fundraising party that includes both men and women.[3] These parties are held by couples wishing to distance themselves from the licentiousness associated with many post-1980s bachelorette parties and are becoming increasingly popular, especially as a means to financially support a wedding.[3]


  1. ^ Barber, Katherine, ed. (2004). Canadian Oxford dictionary (2 ed.). Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-541816-6. 
  2. ^ Adam, Elise Mac (19 February 2008). Something New: Wedding Etiquette for Rule Breakers, Traditionalists, and Everyone in Between. Simon and Schuster. p. 52. ISBN 9781416958093. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Haire, Meaghan (16 June 2009). "A Brief History Of Bachelor Parties". Time. Retrieved 15 December 2017. In the past, a bachelor party could commonly involve a black-tie dinner hosted by the groom's father, with toasts to the groom and the bride. The more recent traditions of hazing, humiliation and debauchery — often consuming entire weekends and involving travel to an exotic destination such as Las Vegas or its nearest available facsimile — became a staple of bad '80s sex comedies. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Post, Peggy (2006). Emily Post's wedding etiquette (5 ed.). London: Collins. pp. 183–184. ISBN 0-06-074504-5. 
  5. ^ a b c Post, Emily (1922). Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home'. Funk & Wagnalls Company. pp. 335–337. 
  6. ^ "Gridiron Widows Visited by Santa". St. Petersburg Times. Washington: Google News. Associated Press. December 15, 1940. p. B-9. Retrieved June 27, 2016. 
  7. ^ Boyle, Hal (September 6, 1951). "And, Too, How Much Should Wives Tell Husbands". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. New York: Google News. p. 4. Retrieved June 27, 2016. 
  8. ^ "Dorothy Dix Says..." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. June 10, 1947. p. 12. Retrieved June 27, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Hen Party is Great Fun". The Deseret News. Google News. December 18, 1897. p. 12. Retrieved June 27, 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c d Montemurro, Beth (2006). Something old, something bold: bridal showers and bachelorette parties. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3811-4. 
  11. ^ Haire, Meaghan (16 June 2009). "A Brief History Of Bachelor Parties". Time. Retrieved 15 December 2017. In the past, a bachelor party could commonly involve a black-tie dinner hosted by the groom's father, with toasts to the groom and the bride. The more recent traditions of hazing, humiliation and debauchery — often consuming entire weekends and involving travel to an exotic destination such as Las Vegas or its nearest available facsimile — became a staple of bad '80s sex comedies. 
  12. ^ a b Hughes, Kathleen; Gerin, Carolyn (2004). Anti-Bride Etiquette Guide: The Rules — And How to Bend Them. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. pp. 90, 92. ISBN 0-8118-4458-7. Squealing girls and strip clubs full of dancing, oily-chested men with socks stuffed in their banana hammocks are becoming a thing of the past. Bonding with your gals is what the bachelorette party is all about, not calling attention to how drunk and tarty you look in public. 
  13. ^ Fox, Sue (2007). Etiquette For Dummies. For Dummies. p. 294. ISBN 0-470-10672-7. Bachelor and bachelorette trends vary from coast to coast and are changing fast in many social circles. Most every type of party is acceptable... 
  14. ^ Montemurro, Beth. Something Old, Something Bold: Bridal Showers and Bachelorette Parties. p. 2. ISBN 9780813538112. 
  15. ^ "Hen Party History - Chic Hen Parties". 
  16. ^ Benczes, Réka (2006). Creative compounding in English: the semantics of metaphorical and metonymical noun-noun combinations. John Benjamins Publishing Company. p. 95. ISBN 90-272-2373-4. 
  17. ^ "Different kinds of entertainments". Retrieved 24 April 2016. 
  18. ^ "Hen Party Ideas". Retrieved 14 June 2017. 
  19. ^ "Spa Hen Party | UK & European Spa Breaks | Hen Weekends". Retrieved 2017-09-27. 
  20. ^ Finello, Kristen; Forden, Diane (2005). Bridal Guide Magazine's New Etiquette for Today's Bride. New York: Warner Books. pp. 28–29. ISBN 0-446-67822-8. 
  21. ^ "A bachelorette art party that makes ogling hot naked guys respectable". Retrieved 17 August 2017. 
  22. ^ Berry, Margaret (September 4, 2002). "Don't Be Rude: Part III, Socializing". The Morning News. Retrieved 2008-08-23. Don’t throw parties in your own honor. Throwing a birthday party, a shower, or an anniversary party for yourself lacks humility, it also suggests that the party is a poorly camouflaged push for gifts, instead of a heartfelt expression of affection from a dear friend. 
  23. ^ Martin, Judith (1999). Miss Manners on Weddings. New York: Crown Publishers. pp. 136–137. ISBN 0-609-60431-7. Contrary to rumor, bridesmaids are not obliged to entertain in honor of the bride, nor to wear dresses they cannot afford. 
  24. ^ Vanderbilt, Amy; Tuckerman, Nancy; Dunnan, Nancy (1995). The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette. Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday. pp. 364–365. ISBN 0-385-41342-4. 

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