This has been a year filled with weddings and bachelorette parties. In fact, I’m going to Iowa this weekend for a cousin’s wedding, so I’ll close out the year with a total of three weddings, three showers and three bachelorette parties. Did I mention the bachelorettes were all in the same month? I’m dubbing that the month of the eternal hangover.
I had the honor of planning one of those parties for my friend Lauren; we threw her weekend bachelorette party in Fredericksburg, Texas. The tiny town of Fredericksburg, population 10,000, is in the Hill Country, about an hour and a half west of Austin. There are around 30 wineries in town, which makes it the ideal getaway location for a girls weekend.
Lauren is one of those charismatic people; everyone who meets her loves her. That makes for strong, lasting friendships. It also makes for an enormous bachelorette party. She kept sending me names to add to the guest list, and everyone I invited said they would come. As the weekend got closer I had an estimated guest list of 20 people.
Let me tell you about planning a weekend for 20 women.
We all stayed in the same house, so I had to find one that would accommodate everyone comfortably. Comfort was loosely defined. Homeaway.com and VRBO.com are two great home rental sites that I’ve used and would recommend. We ended up in an amazing house. It was a little outside of town, but it was so charming that I fell in love with it. It’s a one hundred year old farmhouse with a name – Rancho de Vida. If a house has a name, it’s probably pretty awesome. It makes you feel like you’re staying at Southfork or the Biltmore Estate. I think our little farmhouse was just as good as those places, if you squint a little and don’t look directly at it. It really was a beautiful house and it was exactly what we needed. The main house slept 9 people in beds, plus there was a bunk house that slept an additional 9 and added another bathroom in the mix, which was more important than the beds once the curling irons and makeup bags started flying.
With such a large group, you can’t wing it when it comes to activities; you have to plan ahead. Luckily, I always plan (excessivley); I was glad to have an excuse this time so no one could make fun of me for my meticulous lists. I even put the itinerary on the invitations, so everyone knew in advance what we’d be doing. It makes packing so much easier.
If you’re going to throw a bachelorette party in Fredericksburg, there must be wine. Most of the wineries required a reservation if you brought over a certain number, which I didn’t realize until late in the game. I spent the week leading up to the event calling around and charming (read, begging) people to add us to the list for a tasting.
Instead of rushing around to as many wineries as possible, I settled on three which allowed us plenty of time to hang out at each one. I also wanted to make sure everyone was safe, so I arranged for a party bus to take us around. I don’t know how safe it was ultimately, because I’m pretty sure that bus hasn’t had scheduled maintenance since the ’70s, but at least the driver was sober. And after the second winery, you don’t notice little things, like a leaking roof, anymore. Our three stops for the day were Pedernales Cellars, Becker Vineyards, and Hilmy Cellars. Hilmy and Becker have amazing outdoor spaces, and the weather was perfect for a little patio drinking. I know some people may suggest spitting that wine out into a bucket once you’ve tasted it, but where I come from that’s called waste.
A little tip: We packed a picnic lunch with sandwiches, cheese, crackers, grapes, etc. to take with us to the winery. Everyone looked at us like we were rock stars and geniuses. Or maybe that’s just how I felt for thinking of it.
One of the benefits of renting a house is that you have a kitchen. Take advantage of it! We did dinners at the house so we’d have time to get to everything on the agenda. If you’ve ever gone to dinner with a large group, you know it can turn into an all-night event. We had too much to do to be stuck in a restaurant.
This is what it looks like to feed that many people for 3 days:
I live alone, so there are very few occasions when I can spend $300 at a grocery store. I could barely push that cart.
When we weren’t eating, we were out on the town. The first night we got to experience something that is quintessentially Texan – we went to the dance hall at Luckenbach, where we two-stepped the night away with Willie, Waylon and the boys.
On our second night we went downtown and two-stepped the night away at Crossroads Saloon. The nightlife is a little lacking in this part of the country, but if you like two-stepping (and I do), this place is for you.
The next morning, we looked like we had just spent the two nights before drinking and dancing. So of course, we had to document it with a photo shoot!
A bachelorette party in Fredericksburg wouldn’t be complete without a visit from the local wildlife. This guy was just chilling on the road by our house. We tried to put a party hat on him and bring him along as our mascot, but the bus driver wasn’t feeling that.
My top three tips for planning a bachelorette party in Fredericksburg:
1. Don’t drive – Everyone has more fun if they don’t have to drive! We used the party bus and cabs to get around so we wouldn’t have to draw straws for the honor of designated driver. Another option here would be to invite a pregnant friend and she can drive you around (and resent you forever for it). On second thought, stick with cabs.
2. Have a plan – research the wineries to decide which tastings are best for your group. Since I’d never tried any of the local wines, I chose based on the wineries’ reputation and its ability to accommodate our group size.
3. Be prepared to deviate from your plan – Our bus driver was late. Everyone took longer to get ready than anticipated so it took forever to get out of the house. With a large group, there’s bound to be a difference of opinion at some point along the way and you may have to make adjustments. Plan to be flexible (that’s like saying plan to be spontaneous, right?). If you want to spend one hour at each winery, schedule it for two hours. And if everyone is having fun, pour another glass and stay for three.
The ultimate goal is that the bride-to-be has a good time. If everyone else goes home happy too call that a win. And if you, the planner, got to relax and have fun, you’ve earned the right to the call yourself Jedi master party planner extraordinaire (you may want to shorten that on your business card).
Where would you go if you were planning the ideal bachelorette party?