There's no better time to let loose and have a freaking blast than during your bachelorette party. And, considering the wedding-day to-do list piling up on your plate, you'll totally need an excuse to relax. But bachelorette parties can be a little tricky if you don't go into the weekend without a little mental prep. Here are some things to keep in mind before you toss on your sash and sip on your drink through that adult-themed straw.
Do: Speak up about your wants and wishes.
If you're hell bent on not seeing a single stripper during the entire weekend, don't hesitate to communicate that to your besties. "Your girls might have some plan for you that they think is totally harmless, but could be far more humiliating than humorous for you," says Celeste Holbrook, Ph.D, sexologist and author of the online course Elevate: Overcoming Sexual Barriers. Even though everyone's there to have a good time, they're top reason is to be there to celebrate you.
Don't: Plan to have your bachelorette party weeks or days before the wedding.
If The Hangover wasn't enough of an exaggerated preview of all the things that could go wrong when throwing a bachelor or bachelorette party right before the wedding, let this be a warning. From drinking too much and risking having a brutal hangover during your ceremony to laying out at the beach too long so that you're rocking a sunburn in your wedding dress, it's best to keep the bachelorette party and wedding weekend as two separate events.
Do: Discuss expectations with your fiancé beforehand.
Of course, you'll want to let your soon-to-be spouse know where you're going, where you're staying, and the contact number of at least one person in case of an emergency, but it's also wise to set some clear expectations. "Make sure you're on the same page about what's acceptable and not acceptable to do on the night of the bachelorette party," says Holbrook. "It's a good idea to know whether or not your groom's comfortable with you experiencing a lap dance before that 'police officer' starts to jiggle his junk in your face."
Don't: Have too many check-in calls with your fiancé.
We're not saying you should lock your phone in the hotel's safe for the weekend, but you certainly shouldn't be calling or texting your boo the whole time either. "Plan a specific time each day to give your sweetie a call, fill him in on all the silly and amazing details of the trip, and calm his nerves about what's happening while you're spending consecutive nights apart," advises Liz Curtis, wedding and event planner and founder of Table + Teaspoon.
Do: Come with hostess gifts.
Your maid of honor and bridesmaids most likely spent months planning the perfect pre-wedding bash for you, not to mention a couple hundred (or thousand) dollars to boot. It's a nice gesture to arrive with something for each of them. "The same way that you would bring a dinner party hostess a thoughtful gift, bring something special for each of your girls," says Curtis. It can be big or small, depending on your preference and budget, but a little something will go a long way in letting them know how much you appreciate everything they've done for you.
Don't: Get sucked into "last chance" talk.
"When you're out in the bar with a condom-covered veil, you will get plenty of encouragement from strangers to engage in questionable behavior simply because it is your last chance," warns Holbrook. But don't be fooled. "Your last chance for playing the field was before you committed to your relationship." In other words, a crazy night with your best friends is no excuse to let anything questionable happen.
Do: Let your hair down and have fun!
As you probably already have realized by now, planning a wedding is a stressful and time-consuming process. Your bachelorette party is meant to be a time for you to relax, unwind, and let loose with your closest pals. "Being a bride means juggling a gazillion balls, creating schedules that put NASA to shame and negotiating with such skill, the UN is knocking on your door," says Larissa Banting, wedding planner and president of Weddings Costa Rica. This is your chance to shake off all the stress of wedding planning and enjoy being the center of attention without the big white dress and photographer capturing every move."
Don't: Complain if your expectations are not met.
Just like your wedding day, you may have been envisioning what your bachelorette weekend might look like. But if it doesn't fit the bill, so to speak, zip it. "This is not the time to micro-manage or be a poor sport," says Banting. "Your friends put time, effort, and love into planning your bachelorette party, so be gracious and have fun." In other words, don’t be a party pooper no matter how many things go wrong or don't fully measure up to what you planned. This is the time to do nothing but kick back, relax and enjoy.
Do: Write thank you cards.
After the balloons have deflated and the weekend's come to a close, don't forget to send thank-you notes to the ladies who made your bachelorette party happen. "Take a few moments to write something to each attendee about what she or he means to you, and then drop it at the post office instead of typing it out on Facebook messenger," advises Curtis. "Because A) she's more than worth it after putting up with your bridezilla moments this year, and B) who doesn't adore a little unexpected love via snail mail?"