Brides-to-be, maids of honor, and various members of the bridal party, let's remember: A bachelorette party can be anything you want it to be. You are perfectly free to plan an entire weekend in Las Vegas in which everyone wears penis hats and shot-glass necklaces, gets kicked out of strip clubs, and plays raunchy versions of your favorite middle-school slumber party games.
But if that kind of thing just isn't your bag, there's no reason to pretend to be that person just because you're getting married. In fact, there's a whole world of options out there for anyone looking for something that feels a little more grown-up... and also easier on the liver.
"People are getting married later in life, and so they've kind of been there, done that, done the partying thing," says Lia Batkin, co-founder of luxury travel company In the Know Experiences.
While some of us still love the drinking games and bar-hopping of a stereotypical "last night of freedom" at any age, we might just want to rein it in a little (considering we pay for it so much more the morning after than we did back in college). Here are some ideas for a fun bachelorette party that's still healthy... ish.
1. Give Magic Mike the night off.
Unless you have a hot tip that Channing Tatum is returning to his original profession, there are better ways to have a bachelorette party that's sex-positive. Some adult toy shops, like Toys in Babeland, offer private seminars in their stores or at home. (How's that for a brilliant party favor?) You could also continue on that artistic tip and employ the services of a nude model—to draw, people!—through The Artful Bachelorette. Turn up the heat by bringing in a burlesque dance teacher who can show everyone that the classic art of the striptease is within their reach.
No local professionals available? That, my dears, is why they invented Youtube and Pornhub.
2. Bond with each other and the great outdoors.
Sometimes what you really crave from a party or weekend with your best friends is the chance to talk and laugh together. It can be much easier to do this outside on a group hike than it is in a loud club or trendy restaurant—on a mountain with spotty cell service, bonding basically becomes mandatory. You can even take this a step further and spend the night out together under the stars... by which we mean the cozy confines of a tent while glamping. Sites such as Glamping.com or Airbnb can help you choose locales to suit just how close to nature you'd like to get.
For some reason, it used to be that mostly men would plan their bachelor parties around ski weekends or adventure travel. Batkin has seen a lot more women go this route, and places like Jackson Hole and Iceland have become favorite destinations in both winter and summer for bachelorette party travel.
"Women are looking to do more adventure-focused things than they ever have been," Batkin says. "They want that balance—a cool trip, but they might still go out at night and have dinner and drinks."
More brides and grooms are also choosing not to divide their parties and instead celebrate with all their friends together—this kind of trip could be ideal for all involved.
3. Trade all-night partying for sun salutations at dawn.
Sure, you could go all-out and book some nights at a no-alcohol, all-vegetarian, devout yoga ashram, but that might have limited appeal among your guest list (or for you, for that matter). Good thing there are so many types of yoga vacations available these days: Think all-inclusive resort where you hit the mat twice a day instead of the dance floor.
Batkin says her clients have enjoyed group yoga trips to Tulum because it offers more than just beach and exercise. "They can go into town, there are cute shops, etc., but they're all together and doing something where they're cleansing their body and mind."
Some retreats have strict curfews and rules about alcohol, so be sure to do some research about which location lines up with your goals. There are also spa resorts, such as Miraval in Arizona, that offer classes and spa treatments—as well as cocktails and gourmet food.
Just remember that this kind of getaway leaves out anyone who can't afford it or isn't physically able to participate, so consider it an option for a handful of core friends and maybe supplement with a casual party back home.
4. Try something new.
Not everyone has the cash or time for a group getaway, but you can still have a new adventure locally. Venture out of your comfort zone together and try something new, like aerial yoga, trapeze, or pole dancing. (Pro tip: Have a designated place to shower after the class ready—before you don your best going-out dresses.)
You could also save all that sweating for another day and instead exercise your minds. Arrange for a private cooking class at someone's home or a local culinary school. Or you can all take an art class—with bonus points for whoever disregards the instructions and instead makes avant-garde bachelorette party decorations.
5. Maximum party, minimal damage.
Here's a crazy idea: Ignore all of the above suggestions and just rage out like sorority girls. As long as you're not a habitual binge drinker, one night is not going to have any lasting consequences, says Susan Besser, M.D., a primary care and family medicine doctor.
"If it's only a one-night event, there is no real permanent damage (other than damage due to being drunk and uninhibited, which is a different discussion entirely)," Besser says. "Short-term effects of overdoing alcohol in an otherwise healthy adult relate to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Obviously, there could also be other metabolic effects, such as a hangover."
You know the drill for minimizing morning-after regret: Drink as much water as you do alcohol and never drink on an empty stomach. You and your friends can also continue your party (just a little bit slower) at the office of an integrative medicine doctor or other IV drip provider the next day. Besser gives these treatments a thumbs up, saying, "they replace the fluid and electrolytes one loses after the drinking episode."
Also, learn from the mistakes of others before you: Whether you're planning a very active bachelorette party or an indulgent blowout, give the bride and the wedding party as many days as possible to recover before the wedding day. No one wants an aching head and sore body as they walk down the aisle.
Sabrina Rojas Weiss lives in Brooklyn, surrounded by her fellow freelance writers and competitive stroller-pushers. Follow her on Twitter @shalapitcher.