Spring is a big season for wedding planning, so for the grooms and groomsmen among us, thoughts naturally turn to bachelor parties.
The good news is that you don’t have to have one — at least not the bachelor party of popular legend.
About those bacchanals, you already know. The bachelor party developed when many men married very young, with grooms barely old enough to shave when they walked up the aisle. That last, big fling before matrimony was supposed to introduce the husband-to-be to the ways of the world, with naughty pictures and perhaps a trip to the local strip club initiating the novice in the rudiments of reproductive biology. Alcohol, freely dispensed throughout the evening, served to loosen the lad’s inhibitions.
The spiritual arguments against this kind of debauchery are clear enough, but there are other reasons to drop the traditional bachelor party. At a time when men are generally marrying later than in previous generations, the idea that we’re introducing our supposedly sheltered groom to the basics of the manly arts sounds oddly off-key.
What’s more, the notion of a party that indulges sneak-peeks at nudity doesn’t carry that much allure in an Internet culture where, with the click of a button, just about anyone can extensively tour the human form in states of undress.
Online culture is reshaping the social taboos of the bachelor party in other ways. The bachelor party’s unwritten code — what happens among the guys stays among the guys — isn’t really tenable in a world of selfies, Twitter and Instagram. Combine alcohol and amateur photography, and in a moment of indiscretion, you could be treating the world to some images that might stay online throughout your new marriage.
Despite changing times, the mythology of the no-holds-barred bachelor party endures, thanks to “The Hangover” movie series, which is based on the premise of a bachelor party taken to its most decadent extreme.
It’s a classic case of Hollywood creating dramatic expectations seldom realized in real life. A long-standing problem with bachelor parties, in fact, is the pressure they create to have The Absolute Time of Your Life. Like New Year’s Eve, the bachelor party tradition traffics in a form of frivolity so forced that, in actual practice, it tends to fall flat.
Which is why, when my own wedding approached some two decades ago, I asked my guy friends to forgo the foolishness of the typical bachelor party and take me fishing instead.
We had a glorious time.
Maybe there are a few grooms reading this who are wondering what’s so special about a few hours away from the love of your life, with nothing to answer but the tug on the end of a line.
Believe me, you’ll see.
Danny Heitman is on Twitter, @Danny_Heitman.