Bachelorette parties are as popular as ever, but the events include more than just booze, boas and phallic objects. Brides-to-be are looking to enjoy time with their close friends and celebrate in an intimate setting.
"The age demographic is still pretty young," says Amy Neill, director of sales and guest experience at the newly opened Catahoula Hotel. "Girls are usually a few years out of college and starting their careers, so the bachelorette party tends to morph into a really fun girls' weekend for everyone to catch up."
Brides are more involved in planning the bachelorette party, but the tradition of the maid of honor handling a lot of the legwork lives on, Neill says. Before working at Catahoula Hotel, she launched REVELRYnola, a party planning company focused on creating customized bachelorette parties. She says about half of her local clients want to go out of town and half want to celebrate in New Orleans — booking hotel reservations, spa treatments and dining out.
Many women who hold bachelor- ette parties in New Orleans sche-dule a casual dinner the night everyone arrives for the weekend, a formal activity on Saturday night and brunch on Sunday.
Women often take in a burlesque show or participate in a class at the New Orleans School of Burlesque. An hourlong lesson runs $200 minimum for six people, and costumes are encouraged. Lingerie showers also are a trend. "[Lingerie showers can be] a nice civilized event before things get crazy," Neill says.
Neill encourages hostesses to plan showers ahead of time so attendees have enough time to shop. Local boutiques Trashy Diva Lingerie and Bonjour Lingerie also host lingerie showers with burlesque instruction, Champagne, shopping discounts and finger foods.
Attendees like to have matching swag — tank tops or go-cups if they are in New Orleans. Local designer Liz Cooke of Lionheart Prints says her "yeaux leaux" cups, tumblers and tanks are popular for bachelorette parties. Gift baskets are another option and can include things like "first aid kits" for hangovers, including ibuprofen and soluable vitamin powder.
Attendees should not anticipate a rowdy night before the wedding. Most brides opt for a bachelorette party a few months prior to the wedding. "They pick a season depending on the wedding," Neill says. "If you are getting married in the fall, you probably will do a summer getaway." The event's proximity to the wedding is less important than the season (brides should be aware of the weather at their destination).
Popular out-of-town spots include Miami and Gulf Coast beaches like Destin, Florida and Charleston, South Carolina. "For people looking to spend a little bit more (money), there is still a huge market for Napa wine weekends and Las Vegas," Neill says.
New Orleans also offers a great mix of food, culture and fun. "It kind of has everything," Neill says.