What I Learned from Having A Bachelorette Party More than a Year Into My Marriage
A week after I got married in 2016, I had my first day of school at Wharton to pursue my MBA. So many changes in what seemed like a millisecond -- I was a wife, I was now a Philadelphian, and I was in an environment about 10 hours a day where I literally knew NO ONE. Then, I met the queens.
Even though it sounds like a clique (cue Mean Girls,) “the queens” was the title of the GroupMe where I added all the women in my cohort who I vibed with instantly -- I was literally describing each of these people to my husband as “a queen,” then decided I wasn’t going to be friends with them individually, oh no, we’d all be friends with each other. These women were all bosses in their own right: a branding expert who moved to rural India to help female business owners, a consultant who plays hockey & whose company thinks so highly of her that they are paying for her education, a hilarious chemical engineer who routinely had the only curls at her refinery, a Teach for America fellow who moved abroad to a politically unstable area of the world to teach English, and a ten-year corporate lawyer who, when Hillary lost the election, took a leave of absence from the next quarter of classes to offer her legal mind to the national recount effort. I mean, HELLO. There seriously aren’t enough fire emoji’s in the world.
Long story short, these women are my core support system at Wharton. They’ve uplifted me through hard times and celebrated me during good times. I’m forever thankful for them. In fact, they were the early supporters of Broomstick & paid the registration to go to conferences just to be in the audience when I pitched. So it’s not a surprise that when they found out I never had a bachelorette party, they took it into their own hands. Yes, more than a year after getting married, I had a fully planned out bachelorette party weekend in Atlantic City, NJ, and I want to share with you all what I learned from it. I don’t want to sound complain’y in any way, but I hope everyone reading it can take away something from it.
#1 | Ask for What You Want
I love my husband dearly, and lord knows he chipped in ALOT in our wedding planning process. (The ridiculous attitude that men should be hands off with their wedding planning will be saved for another post.) However, over the course of our engagement, my husband had not one, but TWO bachelor parties. So how did I have none?
At the time, a bachelorette party with bridesmaids all over the country living busy lives was completely out of the question for me, especially with all the stress and a never-ending to-do list on my end. I didn’t even think a bachelorette was worth the ask or even the thought. But as the wedding drew closer and closer (and stress got higher and higher, and money got lower and lower,) I longed for the opportunity to be formally appreciated and heck, celebrated.
Disclaimer: Austin & I had a phenomenal engagement party brunch in DC planned by my bridesmaid Katy at the beginning of our engagement. We felt celebrated, but I realize now that it’s perfectly ok to want all the bells & whistles that come from being a bride with your girlfriends!
Bottom line: people cannot help you if you don’t say what you want. It’s so easy to keep quiet on what seems like at the time to be a ridiculous request, especially when there are more “serious” tasks to be done. And you also don’t want to be seen as high maintenance or as a “bridezilla.” However, there is a 100% chance you will not get what you want inside by keeping it inside. My husband had two bachelor parties but was just as busy as me. Maybe he spoke up.
#2 | Lead with Gratitude
I’m currently reading a book called You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. (Seriously -- read it NOW! It has single handedly changed my 2017.) In it she talks about a variety of things, but one of my favorite chapters deals with the necessity of gratitude to reach a higher level in life -- not just financially or physically, but emotionally. In order to rise, you have to be grateful for what you already have. Great things are drawn to ALREADY grateful minds who will appreciate their arrival. What a concept!
In the stressful time of wedding planning, sometimes it can get really easy to pity party or be in the dumps about who is SUPPOSED to do things instead of the other people who did them instead. You may be upset that your mom didn’t do something everyone (on Pinterest) knows is very mother of the bride-like (but again, referring to my earlier point, did you ask or communicate this was important to you?) or that your sister didn’t get with the program that one Saturday, or that your bridesmaids had other things to do the moment you put an update in the Groupme. It’s a very emotional time, but know that that can make little, totally normal things other people do seem really big. Check yourself.
What this bachelorette party taught me (again) is that when you choose to mope about who is NOT doing something for you, it can cause you to totally miss out on who IS. Cut the “he should have, she should have” and say “I’m glad he did, I’m glad she did.” You can be upset that people didn’t come through for you (again, did you ask?!) or you can be grateful that sometimes, love can come from different places and it is a blessing no matter its origin. Replace “My ________ keeps dropping the ball” with “I’m so glad I have a support system made up of people God sent me from different areas of my life.” Stop complaining that your currently out-of-state college roommate didn’t offer to fly to you and go to the dress shop to look at the bridesmaids’ design, and start feeling grateful that your coworker offered to. (Heck, if you keep complaining, the coworker who was going to offer might not because you’re a grouch! Ask yourself, are you blocking your blessing?)
Bottom Line: Ask for what you want. Be grateful for who gives you love, no matter who “should have.” Be grateful for who you wish stepped up, because they also love you and this entire time could not read your mind.
#3 | Let Go
Somewhere over a cocktail in Caesar’s Palace, I realized I’m not used to being celebrated. I had been wondering why when the adrenaline of being picked up in Philadelphia with all my friends in the backseat and being given a pink sash had worn off, I actually felt a weird sense of discomfort. As what usually happens when I’m in a group of my friends, we spent a lot of time talking about things we all were going through. Looking back I realized I probably was doing it as a deflection. Sitting at that bar sipping a cocktail with my best friends, it hit me like a sack of bricks: I DON’T KNOW HOW TO LET GO AND LET OTHER PEOPLE CELEBRATE ME. NOT AN ACCOMPLISHMENT. NOT A GPA. NOT A GRADUATION. NOT A DATE IN THE CALENDAR. NOT AN AWARD THAT I HAD WON. BUT JUST ME, AS A PERSON. I AM WORTH OTHER PEOPLE’S EFFORT. And I smiled, choosing to emotionally rejoin the party.
Sometimes as very ambitious women, we are used to taking things into our own hands, so this creates an incredibly awkward feeling whenever there’s an event (like a bachelorette) that literally relies on other people putting forth very dedicated effort for you. Some of us may even have events in our past that have made us internalize that the only people we can trust is ourselves. This makes bachelorette parties or saying out loud that you want to go to the club for your birthday instead of having a modest dinner at your house hard -- it leaves you wide open to the possibility that people won’t come through. Telling yourself you wanted to “keep it small” cancels the possibility that other people notice only 3 people showed up to your birthday. Saying a bachelorette isn’t important in the midst of all the things that are stressing you out cancels the embarrassment that maybe, your wedding party or girlfriends won’t organize one or fly in for it. So that’s the route you take, so other people don’t get the chance.
But what I can tell you is this: you need to create the mental space to let others show they love you. When you let go, and enjoy the present, you give yourself the space to internalize something new: that you are worth it, and when given the chance, people will show you.
to sum it up
So yea, having a bachelorette party a year into my marriage was an interesting experience for the books. I learned to be grateful, let go, and ask for what I want, letting others who want to show me love the full reign to do so. And it taught me A LOT about myself. I had a complete blast, and my friends did too!
- You are worth it.
- It’s not when you do something, it’s how you do it.
- Lean into the moment, and you’ll have an absolute blast.
- You are worth it.
- Gratitude is EVERYTHING.
- You are worth it.
- If something is important to you, don’t convince yourself that it’s silly.
- Don’t question things.
- You. Are. A. Queen. If. You. Call. Yourself. One :)
Natalie Neilson Edwards is the Founder & CEO of Broomstick Weddings.
Ambika, Liz, Robin, Kristy, and Yulani -- I am so thankful for you all. Thank you for continually loving me and giving me the space & grace to learn this incredibly important lesson.
Aly, Emily, Katy, Dilane, Gillian, Bri, Kelly, and Morgan -- You are the best bridesmaids I could’ve ever asked for. The wedding would’ve been terrible without you guys and your hard work. Thank you for continually loving me and giving me the space & grace to learn this incredibly important lesson.
Mom -- Words cannot express. You are the best mom ever!