Thankfully, most bachelor and bachelorette weekends do not involve dead strippers, as the new raunch-com Rough Night does. But even a comedy has some elements of reality to it.
Here are three details from the movie that could apply to almost any bachelorette party.
Bachelorette parties are expensive
First, the friends – Blair (Zoë Kravitz), Alice (Jillian Bell), Frankie (Ilana Glazer) and Pippa (Kate McKinnon) – fly to Miami to celebrate bride-to-be Jess (Scarlett Johansson). Before the women are consumed with disposing of a dead body, they check in to their accommodations, a huge apartment on the beach donated by one of the biggest contributors to Jess' political campaign; eat a fancy meal; score some drugs; and drink a lot at a club.
It might look excessive on screen, but the average bachelorette party is expensive. According to a recent study from the Knot, which surveyed over 1 000 people who've been a guest or attendant at a wedding in the past three years, bachelorette parties cost each participant an average of $1 106 (about R130 000). That includes travel, accommodations and gifts for the bride.
A bachelorette party can unleash all the drama
There is a moment in Rough Night where the bride, Jess, accuses her friend Alice of planning a weekend for Alice, not a weekend for Jess. Alice is upset Jess doesn't have time for her anymore. She just wants to make the most of every last moment they have together, ergo the down-to-the-minute itinerary. Screaming and door-slamming ensues.
How is it possible that these friends from college, who are seldom reunited, are using any of their precious time together to yell at one another? While your average bachelorette party might not include an outburst like this one, anytime a crew that was oh-so-close years ago reconvenes in the present, there's a lot of potential for drama. In fact, bachelorette-party-planners may as well leave some open time on the schedule for an ad hoc group therapy session.
I can't speak for all friend groups, but often at bachelorette parties, there are some reminders – subtle or overt – that the bride and her friends were once in similar places in their lives and now, at the moment of celebration, find themselves in very different spots.
This divide can be relationship-focused: The bride is marrying her best friend, while the friend planning the fete might be single herself, feeling like she's being replaced and wondering when/if she'll ever find what the bride has. Or, as in Rough Night, one friend might be going through a divorce or separation as the bride is just about to tie the knot.
Sometimes the divide is financial: The bride and her friends might maintain a lifestyle that an attendee who's in grad school – or who is working in a low-paying field (like Frankie, Ilana Glazer's character) – can't afford. Maybe she finds herself scrambling to order the cheapest option of everything all weekend long, knowing that, even still she'll probably end up subsidizing everyone else's more-expensive tastes.
Regardless of the specific schism, bachelorette parties often bring together people who originally bonded over a shared experience. Now that that shared experience is gone, can the bond endure?
But there's usually a lot of love to go around
If bachelorette parties are so fraught, why even go? Because you love your friends and you want to celebrate them! Duh. In Rough Night, almost immediately after the screaming match among all the friends, they work together to escape the several messes they've stepped into.
Even as real friends might be frustrated with bachelorette party-planning – the endless emails, the bridesmaids who chime in with opinions only after the entire weekend has been set, or the spoilsports who feel too old to be partying like a 25-year-old – usually there's at least one moment where all the drama feels worth it. I imagine it's similar to a stressed-out Bridezilla suddenly remembering that she's planning a wedding to celebrate love, not argue over flower arrangements.
In Rough Night, there are several "Oh yeah, this is why we still love each other" moments. At a real bachelorette party, it might come in bonding with one of the bride's friends you've never met and suddenly feeling closer to the bride by proxy. Or in viewing a slide show of memories from the past 10 years and realising that, even if you're in different places now, you're friends for life.