For some brides, the bachelorette party is everything: a shining moment of fun and fanfare where her closest friends give her the royal treatment for an entire weekend. But for other brides, the bachelorette party is more of an afterthought—she’s only looking for a chance to chill amid months of stressful wedding planning.

Since no two bachelorette parties are alike, it can be tough to figure out where to start when it comes to planning the perfect, personalized celebration for a bride-to-be. If you’re a maid of honor, bridesmaid, or just a good friend stepping in to throw your engaged friend a night (or weekend) of fun before her big day, don’t worry: we are here with lots of guidance. Here’s a step-by-step planning timeline to help you figure out what you need to do, and in what order, to pull off a great bachelorette party.

1. Talk With The Bride About What Kind of Bachelorette Party She Wants

  • Does she want just one day or night out, or to extend the party for a whole weekend?
  • Does she want to travel or stay close to home?
  • What kind of mood or vibe does she want: wild and crazy, mellow and relaxing, fit and healthy, or some hybrid?
  • Is there a particular theme or focus she would like for the bachelorette, such as wine tasting, the beach, culinary adventures, or pampering/wellness?

2. Set The Location for The Bachelorette Party With The Bride

  • Consult with the bride to nail down her dream bachelorette party location. This could be as elaborate as a trip to the Caribbean, or as simple as hanging out in the bride’s own home.
  • When discussing the location, consider the following factors:
    • Budget: how much will it cost each person to get to this place?
    • Logistics: how easy or difficult will it be to get everyone to this place?
    • Travel: how many hours and what types of transportation will be required to get to and from this place?
    • Abilities: will any aspects of this location make it hard or risky for certain people to attend? Think Zika virus, high altitude, extreme weather conditions, or unsafe political situations.

3. Discuss The Date of The Bachelorette Party With The Bride

  • If your bride-to-be has only one or two weekends that would work in her schedule for the bachelorette party, it’s best for you both to just pick one and be done.
  • If the bride is open to a variety of dates, however, and she would rather poll the group of invitees to ensure that the majority of people can come, then hold off on setting the date unti step #6.

4. Get a List of Bachelorette Party Invitees From The Bride

  • Since this is her party, make sure you ask the bride whom she would like to invite for her special day or weekend.
  • Have the bride highlight which names are VIP, can’t-live-without attendees. This will help when it comes to prioritizing potential dates against guests’ availability.
  • Be sure to ask for names, phone numbers, and email addresses for every woman on the list so you can set up a contact list and make communication easy.

5. Send Out a Welcome Invitation to The Bachelorette Party

  • The most common way to invite folks to a bachelorette party is through email—especially if you are planning on setting the party date together as a group.
  • However if the date has already been set and/or you want to do something a bit more formal, consider sending a paper or high-quality digital invitation.
  • For a hybrid option, send a digital invitation to make guests aware of the party, then follow up with an email to cover logistics, like selecting a date and arranging travel.

6. Set The Date of The Bachelorette Party (If Not Already Set).

  • Suggest a few optimal dates or weekends for the bachelorette party and collect guests’ responses. We recommend using an online scheduling tool like Doodle, but good, old-fashioned email also works.
  • An ideal bachelorette party date should be a few months before the big day, and no closer than one month from the wedding date.
  • Based on what works for the majority of the group (and keeping in mind those VIPs), finalize the party dates.

7. Book Bachelorette Party Accommodations

  • Again, with input from the bride, decide upon what kind of lodging you’ll need to secure for the bachelorette party. As with the party location, this could vary wildly from the exotic (a skyrise hotel or a ski chalet) to the cozy and familiar (the family lake house).
  • Take into account budget and mood when choosing your bachelorette party accommodations. For example, renting a house through Airbnb allows for more group hang time or communal cooking, while booking rooms in a luxury hotel will provide a more pampering experience.
  • As the party planner, take the lead in reserving a rental home, if that’s the route you choose. Put the reservation in your name, sign the contract, and pay the deposit.
  • The same goes for booking hotel rooms: it will be easier to have your entire group under one reservation (and get reimbursed) than for guests to book their own rooms independently. If your group is especially large, however, you might be able to reserve a block of hotel rooms under your name that the hotel will hold for you, allowing individual guests to reserve and pay for them on their own.

8. Discuss and/or Book Travel to The Bachelorette Party

  • Based on your bachelorette party destination, organizing everyone’s travel to and from the event may be a simple as sharing an address, or could be as complex as coordinating long-distance flights.
  • If your destination is within driving distance for guests, try to organize carpooling as much as possible to reduce the number of parked cars (and help the environment).
  • If the majority of guests will be flying in and out of your destination, set up a group flight tracker (a shared Google sheet works fine) so that guests can book their own flights, enter in their details, and provide you with an easy reference for everyone’s comings and goings. Pro Tip: If you have a very small group, and all want to fly together, you could consider booking flights for everyone and getting reimbursed to keep things streamlined and to ensure your seats are together.
  • If multiple women will be arriving to the same airport around the same time, consider booking a shuttle or van service to transport everyone to your final destination.

9. Plan The Bachelorette Party Activities

  • Here comes the fun part! Once the logistics of the bachelorette party have been finalized (date, location, accommodations, and travel), begin outlining a general schedule of events for the day, evening, or weekend.
  • Use your initial conversation with the bride to guide your research as you come up with potential activities. For example:
    • If she has requested something relaxing and pampering, look into nearby spas and inquire about services and group rates.
    • If she’s requested a weekend of great dining or live music, map out options for top restaurants that can accommodate groups or venues with shows scheduled during your dates.

10. Put Together a Rough Bachelorette Party Itinerary

  • Map out a general itinerary for the bachelorette party weekend (or day/night) that includes everyone’s arrival times, meals, activities, down time, and everyone’s departure times.
  • Share it with the bride first, incorporating any feedback she may have.
  • Once bride-approved, share the rough itinerary with the group to get them prepared (and excited) for what lies ahead.
  • Be clear on what’s flexible within the itinerary and what’s not (for example, any reservations that will incur a cancellation fee). Make sure everyone feels comfortable with the general plan, and reinforce that this is just a suggested plan: following someone else’s strict timeline is no one’s idea of a good time.

11. Purchase Any Bachelorette Party Supplies, Attire, or Favors

  • Some brides will get a kick out of having all their girlfriends dressed in matching tank tops for a night on the town, or toting customized, bachelorette-themed bags to the beach. Others prefer a “zero paraphernalia” policy. Check in with your bride and plan accordingly.
  • Order any party supplies, matching clothing or accessories, or customized party favors as soon as possible to be sure they arrive in time for the party.

12. Assign People to Bring Groceries, Alcohol, or Household Supplies, If Needed

  • If you’re renting or visiting a private house for the bachelorette, you might need to bring in your own food, drinks, and other supplies.
  • Plan ahead, and divvy up the shopping duties, by mapping out what you’ll need for the weekend and asking for volunteers (or assigning individuals) to bring certain items.

13. Plan Any Special Gifts or Surprises for The Bride

  • Since you want this weekend to be incredibly special for the bride-to-be, consider surprising her with a sweet, sentimental, or funny memento from the weekend.
  • Some ideas include:
    • a scrapbook or album where each woman contributes a page
    • a framed photo from the weekend with an oversized matte inscribed with personal messages
    • lingerie or underwear for her wedding night and/or honeymoon
    • a gift certificate for a massage or other pre-wedding beauty treatments

14. Set up a way to track costs to make settling up easier

  • As the maid of honor or party planner, you’re bound to incur a large portion of the costs for the bachelorette party. Other guests will certainly chip in here and there as well, so make it easy on everyone to track who spent (and who owes) what over the course of the party.

15. Send a Reminder Before The Weekend About Any Important Details

  • A few days before the bachelorette party, remind guests about any important details that will help ensure a fabulous experience for everyone.
  • This might include what to bring or pack, travel schedules and logistics, or details about accessing your accommodations.

16. Pack an Emergency Kit and Contact List

  • Although you can most likely find or buy whatever you need during your bachelorette weekend, it doesn’t hurt to put together a few essentials that might just save the day, such as:
    • Band-aids, antiseptic, and a small first aid kit
    • Sunscreen, aloe, and bug spray
    • Advil, Tylenol, and Benadryl
    • Safety pins
    • Extra cash
    • Extra phone chargers
  • Also be sure to print out and bring a contact list with everyone’s phone numbers and emails, as well as contracts or pertinent info on all rentals, reservations, and transportation booked for the weekend.

17. Have an Incredible Bachelorette Party Experience!

  • Then take a nap—you’ve worked hard! But great job planning what was sure to be the weekend of your friend’s dreams.