by Brad Patterson
Today's topic in Getting Married 101 is the bachelor party. I am certainly not the expert on bachelor parties, having had only participated in one myself as the groom-to-be, and I am not planning any others. Larry King is truly the world's foremost authority on bachelor parties, having been the guest of honor maybe a dozen times, but he was unable to write this article. Something came up, like another interview with that annoying Susan Carpenter-McMillian woman or something like that. So, here I am again, offering some (allegedly) sage advice for grooms-to-be and/or bachelor party planners. Please follow along in your manual. Hopefully I can keep you out of the kind of trouble that no amount of groomsmen gifts, bridesmaids, your bride and her parents can fix.
This is the first, most important and really the only advice you need to make your bachelor party - or the one you are throwing for your friend - a success. Success is a subjective definition. Success to a police officer is going home alive at the end of a shift; success in life to some guys means owning a boat; success to a writer is getting published. Success in terms of a bachelor party is that everyone survives and the husband-to-be did not do anything that will have long-term consequences, i.e. future paternity suits, positive HIV tests, embarrassing pictures ending up in the National Enquirer, etc. If you're lucky you might walk away with decent groomsmen gifts and a not-too-terrible hangover. Bachelor parties are what I refer to as a "forced good time." Similar to New Year's Eve, one's 21st birthday, and other occasions like that, a Bachelor Party pressures those involved to feel as though they must have an all-time experience or they are in violation of some guy rule. You do not have to get completely wild and crazy if you do not want to. It is not mandated by the "Guy Handbook."
Now that you know you do not have to have an all-time blowout at your bachelor party, preparation is vital. If location, location and location are the three most important aspects of selling a house, preparation, preparation, preparation are the three keys to having a great bachelor party. For example, are you going to be at a lake or a river, or near a swimming pool? If so, please check with the groom to see if he can swim prior to the party. It is fairly popular for one's friends to throw the man of the hour into a body of water during the closing hours of a bachelor party, and having to give him mouth-to-mouth will probably not win you any points or better groomsmen gifts. It might be wise to check to see if any of the other members attending the party are unable to swim as well.
Have a designated driver. I do not want to appear to be an old crank about this stuff, but knowing ahead of time who will be driving the groom home or back to the hotel aids in the enjoyment of the party. Renting a limo for the evening is not a bad idea, or at least a taxi. The cost of a limo for one evening is considerably less than a DUI. Plus, there is a much greater chance that the groom gets back safely.
So, know ahead of time where you are going, how you are getting back and make one of the members of the party sort of responsible for the groom. You know, make sure someone keeps a relatively mature eye on him to avoid major problems.
GET YOUR STORIES STRAIGHT
A friend of mine was in charge of throwing a bachelor party for a guy. This friend comes from a devoutly religious household--his father was an Elder in the Christian church. Even though he was in college and out of the house, he was living in his parents' house for the summer and did not want to offend them with any unseemly behavior. He related coming home from his friend's bachelor party - reeking of breath mints - staggering into the house at about 2 a.m. only to see his mother still waiting up for him - as mothers will do for their little boys, even when their little boys are 22 years old. Anyway, the friend is carrying a projector with him into the house. Now, don't get ahead of me here....you and I both know what the projector was for, right? When his mom asked him why he had the projector, my friend mumbled drunkenly, ESPN Sports Bloopers. That answer seemed to satisfy his mom, who smiled and went on to bed. I have used that response in stories since then and everyone marvels at the genius and quick-thinking of that guy. What a great answer! However, don't count on being that quick-witted. If you rehearse your answers ahead of time, it will be easy to tell the right story and stick to that story.
Years later, we debated whether or not his Mom believed that line or if she knew what that projector had really been used for that night. The point is, have answers as to where you went and what you did if you are unwilling (or unable) to divulge that information the next day to relatives. It might be a good idea to write them out ahead of time and pass out copies to all those in attendance at the party along with the beer bongs and groomsmen gifts.
HAVE THE PARTY EARLY
Think in terms of having the bachelor party at least two nights prior to the big event, not the night before. Your wedding day is no time to be worshipping the porcelain god and certainly no time to be suffering from a hangover that would have stopped Bret Favre. There are enough things to worry about that day.
MAKE THE PARTY A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
At my brother's bachelor party, I was 18 years old and the youngest guy in attendance. I learned to pour beer out of a tap and to smoke cigars that night. Thus, I learned two skills that have been put to good use in the years since then. Because of another bachelor party I attended, I can testify honestly - to the best of my recollection - that the strippers in Nashville, Tennessee are of a higher quality than those in Terre Haute, Indiana. See, a learning experience. Then again, maybe it was because I was wearing wraparound sunglasses at night during that Terre Haute party. I don't remember why I was doing that. However, that night I did learn-- quickly --that you do not ever, ever touch the stage while the strippers are doing their thing. One guy, perhaps even more naive than I even, started to get up on the stage until two beefy guys magically emerged from behind the curtain and told him in no uncertain terms that it would be a good idea if he sat down and did not ever touch the stage again.
See, another learning experience. Who says these kinds of events are not educational? Bring home more than groomsmen gifts, this advice is invaluable. "The cost of a limo for one evening is considerably less than a DUI."
Look, it is a "party," after all. Many times, the bachelor party is more for the other guys there than for the groom. I spent my bachelor party in the company of four good friends, having a few beers in the Holiday Inn in Oak Lawn, Illinois. My friends were all in from other places and I was the only one who knew where we were. A trip to White Castle for hamburgers turned into a Not-So-Excellent Adventure with five of us crammed into my little Plymouth Champ (without air conditioning) with an absolute hellacious thunderstorm going on. The pouring rain made opening a window unthinkable and the steam from five guys in one little car made seeing out of the windshield virtually impossible. So, we headed back to the hotel, and made a nice evening out of handing out the groomsmen gifts, telling old stories and laughing a lot. And we all stayed out of trouble.
NO STRIPPERS, PLEASE
Okay, if you want to visit an adult entertainment parlor, then do so. Just don't make the groom do anything he might regret later. No pictures of the groom getting a lap dance or anything like that, either - although lap dances as groomsmen gifts are acceptable. And, don't bring a stripper to the hotel where the family is staying. That's tacky. The whole notion of having a stripper is sort of outdated in these politically correct times, but there are preferable ways to conduct the festivities if that is what is planned.
THINK TOM HANKS
Seeing the movie Bachelor Party should be required viewing for any potential groom or for the person responsible for the party. Things like animals in the hotel room and ex-girlfriends passed out on the bed with the groom are funny in movies - not in real life.