It’s always exciting when your best friend, sister, cousin, or that one long-lost friend from your childhood summer camp asks you to be the maid of honor at her wedding. However, with the title comes responsibilities, including setting up the bachelorette party—even if the bride insists it be held in another country.
Setting up a party for a crowd can always be stressful, but throw in a blushing bride-to-be who may go full bridezilla at any moment, six bridesmaids, and long-haul flights and you’re facing stress levels that would make even the most seasoned travelers twitch. Luckily, with a little advance planning, some serious organizational wizardry, and this guide, anyone can plan a bachelorette party whether you’re headed to Turks and Caicos or Turkey.
Ahead: tips for planning a memorable bachelorette party at a remote destination without tearing out your hair.
Four Months in Advance
Consult with the bachelorette.
Before booking your trip, have a heart-to-heart conversation with the bachelorette about her interests, desires, expectations, and personal style. Does she want a quiet girls’ weekend or is she expecting a big city throwdown? Does she want a packed agenda or lots of downtime by the pool? Having these answers far in advance can help you pick a location and avoid disappointment.
Three Months in Advance
Choose your destination.
If you are headed out of the country for your bachelorette party, you will need plenty of time to plan in advance. Pick your destination early enough so everyone has time to purchase tickets, arrange vacation days and child care, and, if necessary, get a passport.
When choosing an international destination, take into consideration travel time, jet lag, and preferences. While a weekend trip to Paris sounds incredible, is it worth spending eight hours on a plane? Or do you prefer something closer with European flair, like Montreal? Are you an expert planner or do you want to keep logistics to a minimum? Will an all-inclusive resort or even a cruise make sense or do you prefer to set your own agenda and activities?
Whether you opt for St. Bart’s, London, or Tulum, keep in mind that big cities and resorts have the most options for bachelorette activities, but those who prefer quieter weekends may find better prices in smaller towns.
Think about costs.
Traditionally, guests and the bride-to-be cover their own travel expenses. Once the bachelorette weekend kicks off, though, guests typically chip in to cover costs for the bride. This is where all-inclusive resorts can be a boon as guests simply divide the cost equally. At other resorts or hotels, or when planning activities for the group, ask for group discounts. The worst they can say is no! If you want to stick to a budget, consider traveling during the off-season (Mexico in summer is still lovely) or going midweek.
If you travel to a beach destination, keep in mind that relaxing by the pool or spending the day at the beach is free, and you may not need to plan another (more expensive) activity.
Another option is to skip the resort or hotel entirely and rent an Airbnb or VRBO property, cook your own meals (or hire a chef to do it for you), buy your own champagne, and play mixologist.
Figure out the guest list.
Unless you’re the world’s most well organized traveler, international bachelorette parties work best with a small guest list. Traveling across with borders with five or six people is simply easier than trying to get 15 friends through customs, passport control, and luggage claim. It can be done, of course, but build lots of extra waiting time into your schedule, especially if traveling with those who aren’t used to international travel. Once the guest list is finalized, send out those invitations.
Book your hotel or resort.
If you want a large block of rooms at a hotel or resort, book early. It will not only increase your chances of availability, but it can save you money. This means you’ll need to hear back from your guests as soon as possible.
Two Months in Advance
The easiest way to make a bachelorette party a success is to delegate responsibility. Get your most business-savvy invitee to negotiate with hotels, restaurants, tour groups, or venues for discounts or open bars. Have your most organized friend help set an itinerary, figure out flights, rental cars, and restaurants. Have a creative bridesmaid come up with party themes or props. If someone’s artistic, task them as the documentarian for the trip.
Think about local transport.
How will you get everyone to or from the airport? If they’re travel pros, have them meet at the hotel. If they’re nervous flyers or everyone is coming in on the same flight, consider arranging a car to pick them up. Alternatively, rent a van to take a group between events, but book early as they can sell out at rental agencies.
Remember to arrange rides (uber, taxi, or limo) if you will be drinking and venue or party hopping.
Make an itinerary.
Working with your point person (see above) to create an itinerary that includes arrivals, departures, and any big events so that guests can book their plane tickets. Other details to include anything that requires a special outfit (pool party!), spa trips, big nights out (samba club!), and meals, so that people know they will be fed. A detailed itinerary helps people know what to pack and know what they are paying for. However, when planning an itinerary, leave down time and wiggle room in the schedule, because traveling with a group always takes longer than expected. Plan for that, because no one wants to feel rushed or stressed out while at a bachelorette party.
One Month in Advance
Book your tables at restaurants, clubs, or shows. Make spa reservations. Book group tours if you’re visiting museums or other tourist attractions. Remember to negotiate for discounts or group rates—make sure they know it’s for a bachelorette party.
One Week in Advance
Focus on the details.
Confirm with hotels and any events. Make sure you have confirmation numbers for all, in case of mix-ups. Get flight information and contact details for all attendees. Set up a group chat or WhatsApp group text to keep everyone in touch with each other.
Plan your packing.
If you want to decorate the bride-to-be’s room, cover the bachelorette in sashes and tiaras, or bring fun party favors, remember to order and pack those decorations in your luggage.
On the trip:
Relax, get lots of photos, and pick up a souvenir so the bride will always remember the trip.