Let's face it -- weddings are for parents. Receptions, with their buffet meals and tired DJs, might as well be for grandparents. The real party lies a few days before, as best men and bridesmaids try to show their besties one more wild night before they get hitched.
But as anyone who has ever thrown a stag party (or "hen party," as bachelorettes are called across the pond) knows, debauchery takes planning. No one likes being forced to make decisions late in the evening, and if you're doing it right, no one will be able to. Luckily for the faint of heart, we've assembled some tips for those who dare to go above and beyond for their soon-to-be-newlywed friends.
1) Don't party the night before the wedding.
You don't want the groom to look like this guy at his wedding. And you don't want the bride looking like her. So be smart and plan the event a few days, or even a few weeks, in advance. The big day will be much more fun as a result.
2) Don't just drink -- do something!
As awesome as New York bars are, you can buy the guest of honor a drink anytime. By blocking out a day and planning an activity, you're uniting the wedding party for something larger than just a night out.
Through early November, Circle Line is offering seasonal cruises up the Hudson River, offering views of fall foliage with some on-board cocktails. Options include celebrating Oktoberfest at Bear Mountain State Park, where passengers can disembark and do some outdoor beer tasting along the river, or the Fall Foliage Cruise, complete wtih spectacular views and complimentary wine-tasting.
For those who would rather hit things into the water than travel on it, consider a group golf outing in the heart of Manhattan. Chelsea Piers offers group rates for club rentals and driving range, along with a super cool golf course simulator.
3) Don't underestimate the power of food.
A good meal can be your best friend on a night like this -- not only will it give you a chance to visit a restaurant you might not normally try, but it will temper the alcohol you're going to consume later.
The group might not want to splurge on food -- check on everyone's price range before you put anything in stone, and remember that everyone will need to chip in for the bachelor/ette. If your guests can't throw down for Peter Luger's or Buddakan, you can still go gourmet at the Stanton Social. With the Stanton's exquisite small tapas and gorgeous dining room, everyone can try a bit of everything, with time between courses to digest.
4) Find a group-friendly bar.
Now you're ready to party. And if there's one thing a revved-up group doesn't like, it's hopping into the nearest bar, only to get shoved out by hoardes of douchebags. So plan ahead, and find a fun space that can accommodate you.
To get your night out started, check out Brass Monkey on Little West 12th Street. It's the closest thing the posh Meatpacking District has to a neighborhood bar, and offers a wide range of drinks, from European beers to California wines to Kentucky bourbons. If the weather's nice, take the party up to the rooftop deck, where you can make a toast to the guest of honor.
As an alternative to the full-service bar, you can also BYOB in a more classic environment. The Velvet Cigar Lounge in the East Village regularly hosts private parties where you can bring a bottle brandy to enjoy with the smokehouse's handcrafted stogies.
5) Be adventurous.
The bride or groom-in-waiting shouldn't have to be the life of the party -- they're there to be treated to a good time. Tailor the evening to the bachelor/ette, and find a nightspot that you think will make your guests comfortable and excited to cut a rug.
For the cultured clubber, we recommend 1Oak, where the upscale vibe attracts both the artist and celebrity crowd. Smack in the middle of Chelsea's art district, the decor draws on contemporary graphics and classic architecture -- all set to some raucous music.
If the bride-to-be wants to be a performer for a night, get ready to rock out at Arlene's Grocery. The Lower East Side's weekly live rock and roll karaoke show features a full rock band to back up each singer. Parties go late (karaoke doesn't start until midnight on Fridays), so it's a perfect way to end a night.
6) Surprise your guest of honor -- but don't freak them out.
Remember, this party isn't about you! It's about your friend, and having a great night before the big day. While it's tempting to force them outside of their comfort zone, the whole evening should act as one big pleasant surprise. They'll thank you for it, and you'll have a better time knowing that you put together one hell of a night.
Lastly, if all this organizing is way too much for you, we have you covered, book a bachelor or bachelorette party with us now, and leave the planning to us!