For those of you who don’t know, Shannon — my good friend and business partner — is engaged!! I have the honor of being her bridesmaid, and for the last few months, I helped plan her bachelorette weekend. It was so much fun, and I learned a lot about what to and what not to do.
But first, let me paint you a picture. You know that movie 27 Dresses? Well, I’m Katherine Heigl in this scenario but without James Marsden (cue the sad violins). For some reason, 2017 is the year when everyone and their mom decided to get married, and all in the second half of the year. Two weddings have already fallen on the same day, two of my best friends are getting married a week apart on opposite ends of California, and I’ve already had to say no to two get-togethers for a close childhood friend because I already had wedding plans for another one. It’s been CRAZY.
Don’t get me wrong, weddings are incredible, joyous occasions, but the one pitfall is the deep money hole you fall into. I love my friends and am more than happy to celebrate with them, and of course I’m not paying nearly as much as they are for the wedding. But money is still money, and besides the wedding, bridesmaids have to help pay for the bachelorette party, pay for the bridesmaid dress, pay for hair and makeup, commute between all of the activities, and, of course, buy gifts for the bridal shower, wedding, and lingerie parties. Plus, since most weddings take place at the end of the year, even when you think it’s all over, suddenly you’re hit with Christmas and need to buy gifts for literally everyone you know. It’s EXHAUSTING.
So what I’ve learned throughout all of this party planning is that you can still do a lot of things yourself while keeping it simple and classy at the same time. I wanted to share what I learned on this journey — and from Shannon’s bachelorette weekend in particular — because I know many women will experience something similar when their friends get married. And for anyone stressed out from planning or money, I just want to say that it’s gonna be okay. Money will always grow back on the money tree, and you can still make amazing memories without spending a ton.
Location, location, location
Months and months ago, one of the first things that Kylie (the maid of honor) did was set up Google polls for us bridesmaids to get feedback on the dates and cities we thought would work best for the bachelorette weekend. Most of us live in California, so the biggest contenders were L.A., San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara (where we all went to college), and Sonoma. Those are a lot of choices, so we narrowed it down by asking the bride what kind of vibe she wanted out of the weekend — something I realized is important to ascertain. If she had wanted a chill weekend, we would’ve picked Santa Barbara, Sonoma, or even Palm Springs. But Shannon wanted a city and active nightlife, so we finally settled on Los Angeles. L.A. is ginormous, so the fun part was that she didn’t know exactly where in L.A. we were going.
Which brings me to point two. You all probably already know this, but vacation rentals over hotels can save you a TON of money. There were 5-6 of us, and we rented an Airbnb in the heart of Hollywood. It had 2 bedrooms, 3 queen beds, a kitchen, and two garage parking spaces (if you don’t live in L.A., you probably can’t understand how valuable this is). We had our own space, we were comfortable, and we saved money by cooking our own meals. Plus, we got to decorate and make it our own.
DIY is KEY
You can’t help but spend money for the accommodations and food, but you can save money on the decorations. I got a bunch of them at the Dollar Store (no shame) and used crafts I already had from Michaels to elevate them. For example, I bought simple, black 4 x 6 frames, which we filled with pictures of us with the bride. We spread those around the living room of the Airbnb along with battery-operated candles to create ambiance and make the apartment feel more personal and homey. We then printed out about 30 pictures of all of us, which ranged from Shannon’s high school days to her post-college days. I used little clothespins and brown string and hanged them around the room. The great thing about pictures is that even with such a simple decoration, the nostalgia will make up for a lot.
We also saved a lot of money on games. Shannon loves games, so I did a little searching and found this Bottoms Up drinking game from BachelorettePartySupplies.com that we were able to print out to get the night started. I also made a photo scavenger hunt that was personalized to Shannon. We ended up making a little keepsake for her, as well, by buying a mat frame and writing “Kiss the Bride Goodbye” on the inside. We kissed the frame with different-colored lipsticks and signed our names by our lip-prints. It turned out really cute! It’s a simple, inexpensive, and personal keepsake that the bride can keep for years and years.
The only game we actually purchased was the Kiss the Stud party game, which is like pin the tail on the donkey except with lips and a shirtless man (ours was named Chad John Stamos). It was only $3.99 from Party City and added a bit of “naughty” to the bach weekend without getting too graphic.
Kylie also bought a few banners to string around the room, which she purchased from Amazon, which you can also make yourself to save even more money.
Groupon is your friend
DO check Groupon to see if there are any deals for activities you want to do. We ended up going on one of those Hollywood bus tours that drive through the Sunset Strip, Beverly Hills, and the Hollywood Hills and point out movie stars’ homes. I’ve lived in SoCal all my life, but I usually stay away from these areas because traffic + tourists = death. But since our Airbnb was in the heart of Hollywood, the bus tour was literally a 1-minute walk up the street, which was amazingly convenient. Plus, the Groupon cut the tour price in half. We found out later that you can take food and drinks with you on the bus, which is perfect for a bachelorette. That said, don’t be afraid to do “touristy” things like this at a bach. It might actually be really fun — especially when there’s wine involved.
Balance relaxation with activities
What I loved about this bachelorette was that we balanced relaxation with planned activities. For example, on Saturday, our schedule was roughly the following:
Get Starbucks (which was right across the street) and eat breakfast at the apartment
Watch Broad City
Go shopping and walk down Hollywood Blvd
Have wine and charcuterie on the apartment’s outdoor patio
Take the Hollywood bus tour
Watch Broad City
Go out to a bar, watch live music, and go dancing
Go back to the apartment, eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and watch Broad City
As you can see, there was plenty of activity (in bold), but we were never overly exhausted. A lot of our schedule was simply enjoying each other’s company and strategically spending our money — plus a lot of Broad City, the perfect show for a bachelorette weekend. <3
DIY, but don’t do it yourself
I can’t emphasize this enough. Admittedly, I’m someone who would rather just do everything myself than delegate and put responsibility on people. But in Shannon’s bachelorette, Kylie asked for help when she needed it and was always really open about how much the weekend would cost, how much we wanted to spend, and splitting up the responsibilities. This was something I greatly appreciated. Because we divided up the duties and finances, I never felt like I was alone in decorating or planning. Also, I know I saved a lot of money — especially for a full bachelorette weekend — by splitting things up with people rather than just saying, “I think I’ll just do it. Y’all just sit back.”
Overall, I feel that the bachelorette was fun but also provided a time for recuperation (which was needed after a long work week), was fairly inexpensive, and was completely personalized to Shannon, who loves food and wine, dancing, and TV and film — which made Hollywood a great place to have it. I know I had a blast, and I hope Shannon did too!
Hugs and Smooshes,
P.S. Look below the Spice Girls for Shannon's thoughts about the weekend.
I absolutely loved my bachelorette weekend! My maid of honor, with the help of my bridesmaids, did an amazing job creating such a fun and memorable weekend for me. It was a perfect combination of relaxation and being out on the town. I had actually never been to that area of L.A. before, so even though it was only an hour from my apartment, it still was somewhere new to explore.
The Airbnb was in an amazing location right in the heart of Downtown Hollywood; it was shocking how close we were to all the action! I loved walking in the Airbnb and seeing all the sweet, personal touches — the banners, photos, and Chad John Stamos. It was also a perfect setup for five people, with plenty of space for sleeping and hanging out.
I enjoyed having our meals at the apartment versus going to a restaurant. It made it feel even more personal and saved everyone a lot money. All the meals still felt special, with a pasta dinner the first night (made with noodles in the shape of… I’ll let you guess) and an incredible charcuterie spread the second day. Along with the “fancy” food, there was also plenty of junk food snacks, and the Cinnamon Toast Crunch was flowing. All the food, combined with several bottles of wine and champagne, was the perfect combination.
Diane found us an amazing bar to go to the Saturday night before Halloween! The bar was called The Three Clubs and had a very relaxed and fun vibe. It was dark when we entered, but all the bartenders and patrons sitting at the bar greeted us with pure delight and admired our Spice Girls costumes. It was clearly a bar for locals, but we still felt welcome the second we stepped in the door. In a back room where the bar hosts live music, we watched local band Citizen Kitten do jazzy covers of pop songs. After the band finished, the bar hosted a ’90s dance party, which was incredibly fun.
Overall, I had an incredible time and was sad how fast it all went by. I am happy to hear all the ways everyone was able to save money and plan a full weekend without it being too overwhelming for any one person. The location, personal touches, relaxation, and fun made for a stellar bachelorette weekend. I am so grateful for all my ladies spending it with me and making it so memorable!