A bachelor party, also known as a stag party, stag night, stag do, stag weekend (in the United Kingdom, Commonwealth countries, and Ireland), or a buck’s night (in Australia) is a party held by a man shortly before he enters marriage, to celebrate his “last night of freedom”. A bachelor party is usually planned by the best man, occasionally with the assistance of a bachelor party planning company. The party is usually restricted to men only, but sometimes may feature female company such as strippers or topless waitresses.
Some also choose instead to hold a so-called stag and doe party in the US, or a hag party or hag do in the UK (“hag” being a combination of the words “hen” and “stag”), in which both the bride and groom attend.
In Germany, this event is called Junggesellenabschied, which literally means “farewell to bachelorhood.” There is also a separate event that the couple celebrates together on the evening prior to their wedding, called Polterabend. At the Polterabend the guests break old porcelain and earthenware to bring luck to the couple’s marriage. The tradition is said to go back to pre-Christian times; by noisily breaking ceramics evil spirits – especially spirits of envy – are supposed to be driven out. In the last couple of years, Anglo-style bachelor parties have become more and more popular among bachelors. In parts of northern Germany that lack a Carnival tradition, funny costuming has become a popular part of bachelor or bachelorette parties.
Some parts of Germany have a related custom, in which a person who is not yet married by their 30th birthday, is made to dress up in an embarrassing fashion by their friends and to do silly tasks that most often include some kind of cleaning work.
In France and in many French-speaking regions such as Quebec, the bachelor party is called enterrement de vie de garçon, which literally means “(the) burial of the life as a boy” or “burial/funeral of the life as a bachelor”. For women it is enterrement de vie de jeune fille, translated as “burial/funeral of the life as a young girl/maiden”. As in English-speaking countries, such parties often feature heavy drinking and various (although gentle) humiliations, and sometimes the presence of a stripper.
In Israel, the bachelor party is called מסיבת רווקים, literally meaning a party of single men. Such parties may feature heavy drinking and sometimes the presence of strippers, or else other recreational bonding activities undertaken together, such as paintball or an overseas trip lasting a few days.
United Kingdom and Ireland
In the United Kingdom, it is now common for the party to last for more than one evening, hence the increasing prevalence of the phrase “stag weekend”, or “stag do”. A spin-off has been the growth of the stag weekend industry in the UK with various companies taking over the preparation of the event.
In the UK, stag weekend trips are becoming mini-holidays with the groups taking part in various daytime activities as well as the expected night out on the town. With the rise of budget airlines, some stags in the UK go abroad, with Kraków, Dublin, and Riga topping the list, followed by Prague, Amsterdam, Bratislava, and Budapest. Stag parties abroad have been known to involve visits to brothels and prostitutes.
Booking a stag do in the UK can be difficult, as many establishments can be wary about admitting such parties. Hoteliers and club owners in particular have a reputation for disallowing such events in their facilities, due to the activities that often accompany such groups. The refusal of service ranges from one establishment to the next depending on management, from only refusing service to certain parties whom business owners and/or operators perceive likely to be sources of problematic behaviour, to having written service policies which expressly prohibit such parties from taking place within the establishment. Refusals of service such as these are the result of the large amount of negative media attention surrounding how drunk members get, some managements’ concerns regarding potential losses that often arise from extremely intoxicated stag partygoers causing expensive damage (intentionally or otherwise) to the establishments’ property, as well as the often loud, raucous, and disruptive activities that can greatly decrease the satisfaction of other guests. This is especially true in hospitality establishments such as hotels or restaurants, as stag dos very often continue well into the night (or even the next morning). This can drastically reduce the amount and quality of sleep for hotel patrons staying in the vicinity of the suite(s) in which the party is being hosted. If the experience is sufficiently unpleasant, guests may choose to avoid returning to a hotel that they perceive as being too lenient on such disruptive stag parties. Due to such policies varying widely between establishments, it is often recommended that one should book at least three months in advance and to also enquire as to whether or not stag do groups are welcome, so as to avoid having the reservations be cancelled by the establishment the day of the party.
United States and Canada
In the United States, Las Vegas is both a popular bachelor party destination and location for the wedding itself. Increasingly, “destination bachelor parties” are replacing standard nights out, with Americans traveling to Montreal, Quebec or Mexico.
Bachelor parties in the US stereotypically entail the mass consumption of alcohol, hiring a stripper, and general rowdiness toward which the bride might not have a positive reaction; in fact, the defining feature of the bachelor party is that the fiancée is not present. Increasingly, bachelor parties have come to symbolize the last time when the groom is free of the influence of his new wife/partner. Pop out cakes are sometimes associated.
Canadian bachelor parties generally consist of a group of bachelors celebrating their singleness.
Canadian cities such as Vancouver or Niagara Falls are popular stag party destinations due to their large number of strip clubs with “dance contact” (lap dancing). Montreal in particular is popular for this purpose with both Canadians and Americans alike.
As an alternative, the best man may plan an activity in secret with friends that they feel the groom will enjoy. Many grooms-to-be have been treated to camping trips with friends, fishing trips, sporting events, video games, poker, barbecuing, and other activities.