Those who are familiar with my wedding story (I feel like I’ve told it a thousand times) know that I found out I’d be expecting my daughter no more than two weeks after I booked my wedding venue in Las Vegas, one of the most popular party cities in the world. That ten minutes in my bathroom in early February of 2014 instantly shattered my dreams of skater wedding dresses, tossing back shots of Tanqueray for four days straight, and zip-lining between the Rio hotel towers with my new husband. On Labor Day I found myself at 7 months pregnant waddling from the wedding chapel to our hotel suite for room service and a night on the slots with all of my skinny not-so-pregnant family and friends. And may I add I longingly looked out the window later that night as Kendrick Lamar performed on the roof of the Cosmopolitan knowing the little specks waving their hands from side to side were apart of my wedding party.
I was sober, tired and couldn’t have sex if I wanted to on my wedding night due to a mild case of placenta previa. But I’m not complaining. As much as some liquor would’ve increased the lit factor of my impending nuptials, even as I think back almost three years ago, when it comes to bachelorette party shenanigans, I’d pass on the penis straws and feather boas now just like I would’ve back then even if I wasn’t carrying a whole ‘notha person on my abdomen. I never understood the premise of bachelor/ette parties being a person’s “last night of freedom”. My last night of freedom came almost seven years before on a random day I can’t recall when me and my then boyfriend decided to move in together and go half on pillow top mattress. I wasn’t going to risk it all for some wannabe “Chocolate City” peen and pecs slathered in Crisco. Bachelorette parties may have been a big deal when couples refused to live in sin before marriage and blood testing was required for marriage certificates, but now it seems like many folks are looking for any excuse to turn up and pop bottles even if it doesn’t always make sense. And when it comes to weddings, bachelor parties and birthdays, I think it’s worth saying that your celebrations don’t have to resemble “The Hangover” for you to have a good time. Celebrations that are for a certain person should reflect their individual personalities and not what some Pinterest board says your soiree should look like.
It’s a question Catherine Leclair poses in her Jezebel article, “Who Are Bachelorette Parties Even For?” After witnessing the Girls Gone Wild clichés of strippers, body shots, a random lesbihonest moment all leading up to a morning with your BFF’s bringing Advil and concealer to your bedside, LeClair found herself planning a bachelorette party herself and wondering what the real goal was:
“It wasn’t until the three other bridesmaids and I began discussing the options for surprises that I began to realize 1) that I had no clue what women actually wanted to have happen at their bachelorette parties and 2) exactly how uncomfortable all of the pre-stocked ideas for bachelorette party “fun” actually made me feel. “
She references the new film “Rough Night”, starring Scarlett Johansson and Zoe Kravitz in which a group of gal pals reunite years after undergrad to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of the first friend in the group to get married. The film is complete with a penis pasta gift basket and drunken shenanigans that left the author and probably many audiences wondering, “When did fun become wearing a penis crown on your head in a fancy restaurant? And how is having strippers swing their scrotums in your face the way to purge any desires you’re allegedly not allowed to have when you’re rocking a wedding band?”
LeClair believes that women have outgrown the original purpose of bachelorette parties and are now going through the motions because we think it’s what we’re supposed to do and not actually what we want to do:
“Was this a day us women truly needed? The answer lies somewhere in between. No, I didn’t and still don’t think that the typical ways of celebrating bachelorette parties are doing women justice. Nor do I think we actually enjoy them most of the time. But what if we all tried to be the bachelorette party we wanted to see in the world? Could we transform this obligatory booze-fest into something uplifting, meaningful and most importantly more fun and less embarrassing?”
Because the truth is unless Drake is in attendance, I have literally no desire to use some pseudo “get out of jail free” card for one night to get freaky with some random with washboard abs and a Jidenna beard. For me if anything, a bachelorette party would be more about bonding with my girls and acknowledging that my time may be a little more limited due to my marital status and that it’s important to remember to work harder to remain friends while still celebrating the beauty that can come with change. Kind of hard do that with sweaty stripper penis dangling in between your eyes. LeClair, who along with her circle of BFF’s ending up going to three wine tastings and ending the evening on a party bus admits she could have passed on the forced-ness of the festivities and fast forwarded to the heart to heart she had with the bride to be when it was all said and done:
“Could it be? Yes, I was crying. As I told my friend how much she meant to me, and how much I respected her commitment to her fiance and cherished her optimism that love was real, I was overcome with a flood of emotion (read: drunk tears).”
“I meant every word I said, and have said as much again since, but I don’t think I needed a day of drinking to get my feelings across. Regardless, there we were: feeling the love, f–ked up on s–tty Virginia wine.”
When it comes to weddings and all the mini-celebrations that surround them it can get easy to get caught up in tradition, excitement and expectations without really questioning if it’s actually what we want. And as much as I love me a lit party, we have to remind ourselves that every event recognizing a major milestone doesn’t have to involve vodka and bad decisions. Especially if all they manage to do is distract us from what we’re really celebrating, whether it’s new beginnings, new life or true love. Marriage definitely can change your life, so celebrating your last day of freedom is to be expected but don’t get it twisted, just because you aren’t chasing your rite passage with Coke through a penis straw, doesn’t mean you aren’t doing it right.
Toya Sharee is a Health Resource Specialist who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.