Over the past few months, Rebecca Baker, a.k.a. fly-fishing influencer “Lady Angler Lentz” has been trying to figure out whether she’d like an adrenaline-filled weekend or a foodie city tour for her bachelorette. She’s told her friends it’s a “bride bash,” as bride-to-be doesn’t fit anymore — she tied the knot in early 2021. “I’m (also) digging wifelorette,” she says. The pandemic derailed her pre-wedding get-together plans, but she refuses to miss out. “I still want a memorable bachelor party,” she says. “It means so much to me to know that I mattered and was worth celebrating.”
Baker (née Lentz) is not alone in this: Bachelor event planners report that post-wedding parties account for a sizable portion of their revenue.
2022 has been called the year of the wedding — with a 20% rise in nuptials over 2019 —but for many, it’s also the year of the wedding afterparty. Approximately 20% of couples postponed their bach bashes in 2020, according to Wedding Wire. In response, a new lexicon has emerged, with “wifelorette,” “married AF,” “belated bach,” “first fling after the ring,” and “wife of the party,” replacing the more traditional “I do crew” and “kiss the Miss goodbye.”
Before COVID-19, around 78% of U.S. couples had a bachelor or bachelorette party bash, according to a survey by the Knot, and people are making up for the lost time. “[It’s] an emerging trend,” said Nizzi Renaud, the chief brand officer for Zazzle.com, a print-on-demand marketplace, which has seen a surge in post-wedding bachelor and bachelorette party invites. “The burgeoning ‘wifelorette’ was born for those who had to forego their bachelorette in favor of social distancing.”
Shannon Goodin, co-owner of Soirèe Your Way, a Napa wine-country bachelorette planning company, says around 25% to 30% of her bachelorettes are technically already hitched. Some of the married women are even booking their bachelorette parties as far out as fall 2023.
These groups tend to prefer in-hotel boutique experiences and private chefs above fancy restaurants and outings, she said. Goodin’s also reports an uptick in orders for their “On Cloud Wine” tees, over their “Vino Before Vows” offerings. “(Brides) want the full experience,” she says — the time with their friends, the matching tees, the balloon banners. “It’s about memory making and bonding with girlfriends. Being married does not detract from a bachelorette.
Post-wedding party paraphernalia abounds online. In 2021, Stag & Hen, an online bachelorette accessories store, released a post-wedding party package, Wife Of The Party. It consisted of 90s-themed tees, visors, fanny packs, and drink koozies. “Since these brides were technically already married, the phrase was the perfect theme,” says owner Jenny Carter. “It’s remained one of our more popular themes, continuing into 2022.”
Etsy seller Annie Myron of Annies Ribbons began selling a “belated bach” party banner last year (her friend’s derailed wedding made her realize the need, she said). Similarly, Plump Polka Dot sells customized wifelorette hair scrunchies, tagged “postponed party,” and Show Pony Party Shop and RSVP Decor offer a selection of belated bach banners, cake toppers, and prints.
The most significant difference in regards to the post-wedding bashes is the spending, says Oren Bornstein, the CEO of Connected Montreal, a luxury bachelor events company. Recent excesses at his parties include $10,000 for an aerial billboard, inscribed with an inside joke, and a $20,000 champagne order. Some clients fly in on private jets, others hand out their Black Amex cards and tell him to make sure their guests have a good time. His first bacchanal for a married man took place mid-2020, and now bachelor parties for married men have grown to a fourth of all reservations. “They have more capital to go as crazy as possible after being locked away. [They’re] more extravagant than 2019.” There are still some concerns about COVID-19, he said, with some clients opting for penthouse parties instead of club tables, and many have requested vaccinated strippers (Montreal’s indoor mask mandate was lifted in May 2022). “Some spend as much for their bachelor party as a wedding,” he said. “It’s an excuse to go away with your male friends.”
Bad Girls Pro, a bachelor party planning service, has also noticed an increase in spending. “Everyone is going full out with all the money they saved during quarantine,” said Crystal Houghton, Bad Girls Pro events manager. “They’re willing to spend more now that the wedding pressure is off.” One group told her they’d been saving for their weekend for three years. The size of the parties has also grown; group rentals for 15 to 30 people are not uncommon. “Some pay $26,000 a weekend for these really massive, beautiful homes,” said Houghton.
There have been a few surprises. “We’ve had wives call in and book strippers for their husband,” she said — a first for the company. She’s heard reports that married grooms are more respectful, and “less interested in the stripper aspect.” Sometimes, they nominate their best man to stand in for them — something Mister Manners etiquette expert Thomas Farley approves of. “There’s no hall pass when you’re married,” he said, emphasizing that newlyweds need to negotiate boundaries pre-party. “Some things just aren’t appropriate once you’ve said I do.”
Despite those boundaries, many newlyweds are embracing wifelorettes and belated bachelor parties as a new twist on an old rite of passage. A bachelorette party is a landmark moment, says Rebecca Baker, and after so much missed time and experiences during the pandemic, it makes sense that people would insist on one. “It’s all about the memories to me,” she says. And as she moves on with her life, she wants to have things to “look back on and smile.”