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Bachelors, bachelorettes and bridals, oh my!

The key to a successful party is to cater to the wants of the soon-to-be-wed couple

W ith all the effort that goes into planning a wedding and working out the details, from the elaborate to the mundane, all involved need a little time off to unwind and let off some steam before the big day.

This is especially true for the bride and groom, who count on members of their families and the bridal party to plan a handful of occasions designed to give them one last respite or two before plunging full speed into married life.

The bridal shower
The bridal shower has traditionally been the time for the female friends of the bride, as well as family members from both the bride’s and groom’s side of the family tree, to get together and shower the bride with the gifts she’ll need in her new role as a wife.

But, in the words of Bob Dylan, “the times they are a-changin’.”

Nowadays, it’s become increasingly common for friends and family of all sexes to participate in the bridal shower, or wedding shower, if you prefer the unisexual term.

Much in the same way that the party participants have changed, so too has the nature of the gifts given during such an occasion.

While in the past, gifts for the wife-to-be may have included pots and pans, a special dish set or other household goods, gifts today are often given with both halves of the couple in mind.

Not only that, but many of the traditional bridal shower activities have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Silly parlour games are quickly becoming a phenomenon of yesterday in favour of activities that are geared toward a wider audience.

One option is to ditch the proverbial hangers-on in the circle of family and friends in favour of having a closer,

more intimate gathering, which may even include an evening out at a fine restaurant. Another alternative is to plan an activity designed to reflect the personal interests of the bride (and, if applicable, the groom).

Maybe a double feature at the local cinema, a backyard barbecue or even an adventurous wilderness walk through a nearby park could be a great activity to recount old times and put a new spin on the sometimes mundane activities traditionally associated with a bridal shower.

The bachelor party
Over the years, this party has been traditionally viewed as a celebration for the groom — his “one last gasp of freedom before being married off.”

As such, the best man and the other assorted groomsmen who help to organize the evening’s activities have usually felt compelled to ply the groom with liquor and present him with exotic dancers and a bevy of other activities that, under normal circumstances, would be considered unsavoury.

But, there’s an old axiom that warns groomsmen that any party they orchestrate ought to be one which they would not be afraid to invite the bride-to-be to attend. By following that simple rule, it’s a surefire way to make certain the groom doesn’t get into too much trouble and that there isn’t an abrupt cancellation of the wedding.

And so, when planning a bachelor party, it has become more common in recent years to go with something slightly more upscale.

Poker games, for instance, are all the rage. Whether you’re into Texas hold ’em, seven-card stud, five-card draw or any other variation, a night around the table, with a healthy but responsible amount of money on the line, might be just the pre-wedding distraction a groom needs.

If cards aren’t his thing, there are plenty of other alternatives that vary with the season. A fishing trip, camping in the mountains, a ski weekend, a big-time hockey game, a getaway golf package or even an evening indoors with a couple of brewskies and a Nintendo Wii or Playstation 3 are all great options.

Regardless of what you do, just remember — if, as a best man, you do decide that the groom needs to have a little fun before getting married, make sure that he’s going to be comfortable with it.

After all, he’s the one who has to walk down the aisle and look his bride in the eyes in the coming days and, as the best man, it’s your job to make sure he does just that.

The bachelorette
Well, after years of letting guys have all the fun, while the gals were restricted to having rather tame bridal showers, women have taken control of things

and the bachelorette has become an integral part of the pre-wedding day celebrations.

And, while many a bachelorette has taken up the gauntlet of an overabundance of alcohol, phallic-shaped drinking glasses and a stripper or two, the same general considerations ought to be applied to a bridal party planning a hoppin’ bachelorette for the bride-to-be — is this something the bride would be happy to participate in if her hubby-to-be was in on the party?

If the answer is no, then you should take a good, hard look at your plans and think about another way to have fun

celebrating the forthcoming marriage with a theme that won’t make the bride blush.

There are a host of bachelorette-themed games that could make an evening in plenty of fun, from quizzing the bride on how well she knows the groom to other more exotic parlour games, such as pin the manhood on the model.

But if a night indoors just doesn’t cut it, a night at the theatre followed by drinks, some clubbing, dinner at a great restaurant, a lively concert or a night in a cabin on the lake are all equally good options.

In the end, as with the bachelor party, a successful bachelorette comes down to the matron of honour and her cohorts using their knowledge of the bride to plan an evening she’ll enjoy and remember for a long time.

South Shore Weddings
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