Wed­dings: Wel­come to the $1,000 bach­e­lor party

A night on the town be­comes a week­end in Kiev. By Polly Mosendz

Bloomberg Businessweek (Europe) - - CONTENTS -

If you want Lee Ab­ba­monte, a travel blog­ger in New York, to plan your bach­e­lor party, it will cost you $1,000. Ac­tu­ally, that’s just for a con­sul­ta­tion. To get him to make the ar­range­ments will cost $5,000. Well, tech­ni­cally, it will cost $5,000 or 10 per­cent of the to­tal cost of the event, whichever is higher. This is be­cause, as he sees it, the bach­e­lor party is “like a hon­ey­moon for you and your bud­dies.” And as with any hon­ey­moon, says Ab­ba­monte, 37, who caters mostly to Wall Streeters, the costs add up: “It can be $1,000 to $10,000 per per­son. It can be more if you get some rich guy who wants to treat his friends to some crazy week­end some­where, and they all stay at the pres­i­den­tial suite. Then you can be look­ing at a six-fig­ure week­end.”

What was once an evening of de­bauch­ery—strip clubs, pe­nis straws— has mor­phed into a longer, costlier af­fair. Now prenup­tial gath­er­ings of­ten last three days and two nights, of­ten in a far-flung lo­ca­tion, says Kris­ten Maxwell Cooper, ex­ec­u­tive edi­tor of wed­ding mar­ket­place the Knot, which re­ports that 78 per­cent of brides and 75 per­cent of grooms cel­e­brated last year with friends be­fore the big day. “The shift came with the so­cial me­dia gen­er­a­tion,” she says. “They’re more in­ter­ested in ex­pe­ri­ences than things. It’s not just about one night out at a bar.”

Some of this may be ex­plained by lo­gis­tics. Mil­len­ni­als tend to move away from home af­ter col­lege, so bach­e­lors and bach­e­lorettes have friends spread across the coun­try. Fly­ing to a cen­tral meet­ing spot is al­most al­ways go­ing to cost more than steak and a lap dance. But still! One sur­vey in 2015 by Price­line found that 32 per­cent of 1,020 peo­ple polled had spent $850 or more on ho­tel and air­fare to at­tend a bach­e­lor or bach­e­lorette party. An­other, by the fi­nan­cialser­vices web­site GoBank­ingRates in April, sur­veyed 502 women and 503 men and found that men spend more than women on av­er­age on these out­ings. (Wed­dings re­main more ex­pen­sive for women—those dresses ain’t cheap.) Grooms­men spend $681.13 on bach­e­lor par­ties; brides­maids pay $437.31. Even more strik­ing: Best men com­mit $998.78, and maids of honor are in for $552.33.

Guys ex­plain this im­bal­ance by a shared com­mit­ment to the idea that life as they know it is about to end. “Men have a go-big-or-go-home men­tal­ity,” says David Covucci, 32, an edi­tor at the web­site BroBi­ble, who’s been to about a dozen bach­e­lor par­ties. “They treat it as one last hur­rah with the bros, where I don’t think women see it that way.” Ab­ba­monte shares this opin­ion: “Guys see it as an op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing with their friends that they don’t nor­mally get to do.”

Las Ve­gas is still where a lot of that “some­thing” hap­pens. But East­ern Euro­pean hot spots such as Prague and Kiev in Ukraine have gained pop­u­lar­ity among grooms-to-be, be­cause the cities are “known for good night life and be­ing pretty cheap,” Ab­ba­monte says. For al­most-brides, Nashville has be­come the des­ti­na­tion of choice. “When we were out one night on the main strip in Nashville, pretty much ev­ery ma­jor group of peo­ple we en­coun­tered was part of a bach­e­lor or bach­e­lorette party,” says Emilee Deutch­man, 27, of Jack­sonville, Fla., who spent al­most $1,200 on a bach­e­lorette week­end in the Mu­sic City.

Can’t af­ford that? Too bad, at­ten­dees say. Jill Mul­li­gan, 29, of Brook­lyn, N.Y., has taken money out of her sav­ings ac­count to at­tend a bach­e­lorette party. She’s never turned down an in­vi­ta­tion be­cause of cost, though. “Would I choose to spend my money this way on my own? Not nec­es­sar­ily,” she says. “But it al­ways ends up be­ing re­ally fun.” Deutch­man once de­clined an in­vite be­cause of the price tag, and she says it led to hard feel­ings from the bride. For his part, Covucci says he’s never said no to a bach­e­lor party: “I’d rather be there and be un­happy about all the money I spent than not be there and be un­happy I wasn’t there, with money I’d just waste on some­thing stupid any­way.” <BW>

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