Aug 12, 2022 - Economy & Business

Longer, fancier, pricier: Blowout bachelor(ette) parties are back

Illustration of coins flowing out of a champagne bottle.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

There's an escalating arms race in bachelor and bachelorette parties, with brides and grooms throwing ever-more-elaborate blowouts — and guests shelling out more money (and sometimes regretting it).

Why it matters: Inflation, higher airfares and the pressure to stage Instagram-worthy celebrations are driving up the cost of pre-nuptial revelry, putting social and financial pressure on young adults who already face all kinds of sticker shock.

  • 52% of respondents to a Savings.com poll said they took on credit card debt to attend a bachelor or bachelorette party — and 15% felt uncomfortable about it.
  • LendingTree, which surveyed 2,100 consumers, found similar results: 56% of bridal party members felt pressure to spend more than they could afford, and 50% incurred debt as a result.
  • Nearly 40% of bridesmaids and groomsmen regret spending some of the money they did, according to LendingTree — and 10% were no longer friends with the bride or groom.

What's happening: The Savings.com survey — conducted in June among 504 people who had gone to at least one bach party in the previous 18 months — pegged the median price of attending at $1,500, up from $1,400 in 2021.

  • Two-thirds of the guests flew somewhere to participate, with international travelers spending even more: $2,000 on average.
  • 20% had attended a bash that lasted four days or more.
  • 55% were resentful, saying that hosts should ask guests in advance how much they're comfortable spending.

A separate tally by a company called The BACH, which helps people plan bachelorette parties, found the average range of spending on a trip planned through its app last year was $5,500-$7,000.

  • "Everything 'wedding' in our society is getting bigger and better and crazier," says Corie Wagner, an industry analyst at Savings.com.

The gender divide: While blowout bachelorette parties (with themes like "Bridgerton," "Mean Girls" and "Disney princesses") get lots of ink, men spend more dough: People attending bachelor parties spent 70% more than those celebrating the bride, Savings.com found.

  • That's because the activities involved — like golf, casino nights and attending professional sports events — tend to have higher price tags.
  • Women gravitate toward club-hopping, spa retreats and gift-giving brunches.

Where it's happening: Nashville, the top destination city for bachelorettes, will see 30,000 party bookings this year from The BACH app alone — up from 13,000 last year, the New York Times reports.

  • Scottsdale, the #2 hotspot, will see at least 11,600 BACH parties this year, vs. 3,600 last year.

Travel is on the upswing too. Post-pandemic wanderlust has celebrants jetting off to yoga retreats in Jamaica, pool parties in Tulum, and raunchy fun in tried-and-true Las Vegas.

  • "Celebration travel" suggestions from Condé Nast Traveler include "a vineyard hop in Portugal," a hike across Scotland's Isle of Skye, and mountain biking through Mayan villages in Guatemala.
  • Brides magazine's list of "Instagram-worthy bashes" includes a "Last Sail Before the Veil" in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and a stay in a "retro-glam" hotel in Miami that serves "boozy Popsicles" poolside.

The other side: Post-pandemic wedding fever has translated into a summer of burnout for many guests.

  • Some couples are opting for modest hybrid weddings, with some people attending by Zoom.

The bottom line: There are signs of backlash against bachelor/ette Bacchanalia.

  • "Especially with the economy right now, people might be ready for a turn back to simpler affairs — toning down what we've taken to be a very normal part of celebrations," says Savings.com's Wagner.
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