I am very much looking forward to getting married this fall, and I am incredibly excited to start building a life with my fiancé. I have even enjoyed wedding planning, relishing it as a family-bonding—and a family-defining—ritual. There is something unique to making decisions about guest books and flowers that have brought my fiancé and me together in exercising our new voice as a (future) brand-new, singular family. And there is something special about the way our families have united and rallied around us in preparation for this great celebration. Bit by bit, we are building this event and our lives together, both as a couple and with our families.
There is something incongruous, then, when I consider one particular upcoming pre-wedding ritual: the bachelorette party. Mainstream rhetoric frames it as a “one last night of freedom.” The sentiment oozes with suggestiveness—a wink and a nudge. Strippers and fake penises are presumed.
I suppose it is all intended as good fun, but there is something a little gross about involving a stranger’s nudity in a celebration that is supposed to preface a wedding.
Today, a mainstream, male-anatomy-cake-type bachelorette bash—a “last night out”—invokes the message that marriage is a loss, and that what one “loses” must be grabbed at desperately, with money stuffed into G-strings for the privilege. Compare this to the common language surrounding the bachelorette party as compared to other pre-wedding rituals. The bridal shower celebrates “starting a new life together”; the rehearsal dinner buzzes with anticipation as a gathering of close friends and family. Why bother introducing the idea that marriage is a prison? I cannot help but see this attitude in the light of our country's divorce rates. I refuse to accept this both for myself and for my upcoming marriage.
This is not to say I am against bachelorette parties. Individuals coming together in marriage should have their own spaces and own celebrations within the pre-wedding run-up. Marriages consist of two individuals, after all, and the individuality must be acknowledged, embraced and celebrated—for the health of both the married and the marriage. A wedding is not a dissolution, it is a fusion, and it is only appropriate that the bride and the groom have their own space to get their party on.
In that vein, I see my upcoming bachelorette party as an opportunity for affirmation. I am looking forward to it as a commemorative event for my ladies and me—in honor of all our past adventures, of all our crazy, late nights in high school and college. I intend my bachelorette party to be a promise to my girlfriends that the friendships, fun, and escapades will continue long into the future, even as I cross the threshold into married life. I know they will be there by my side, cheering me on at my bachelorette party, wedding, and throughout my life.
Like everything else I’ve encountered in wedding planning, the bachelorette party has been an opportunity for assessment. Honestly, I have never had an occasion to consider strippers until now. But when I think of the work I have put into my relationship with my future husband, and when I reflect on the treasured memories I have forged with my girlfriends, the idea of making this about naked men and not about them seems trivializing and, worse, disrespectful. I am choosing instead to embrace the institution of marriage. I am choosing to honor my friendships. I am choosing to respect my future husband. Which means—sorry, Magic Mike—that I will not be choosing strippers for my bachelorette party.