Grooms, this one’s for you! Are you planning your own stag do, or just think that your best man could do with a few pointers? We asked the guys over at Staggered, one of the leading experts on stag parties and weekends, how to make it one of the best nights of your life!
Before the event
Talk to the stag
Just as lots of little girls have the perfect wedding in mind, so every boy sketches out their dream stag night long before they pop the question. Ask the stag what he wants from his, be it a weekend away, an adventure day or a quiet night in the local. It’s much easier to work from a brief. Remember that it’s not your stag night you’re planning – it’s all for your best mate’s benefit.
Make a guest list
Ask the groom-to-be to think about which friends he’d like to see at the stag do and work out a list of between eight and 20 key people. Try and keep it to proper friends and shave off the acquaintances and work mates – more than 20 is an unwieldy number to deal with.
Think hard about whether the bride’s father, brother etc. should be in attendance, as it may change the dynamic of the group – you can always arrange a separate affair for family. A lot depends on how you and the groom think the various friendship circles will interact, so it’s definitely something to bear in mind.
Make contact with the stags
Get the final list of names, numbers and email addresses from the groom and touch base with your charges. Group emails, a group on WhatsApp or a private Facebook group will be the easiest and least time-consuming way of keeping them in the loop. When you make contact, ask about their budget and if any of them have any special dietary requirements or disabilities that you might have to work around.
Look into the options
With the stag’s opinions on board and an idea of the budgetary constraints of the guests, get online and look into the options. If you’ve decided on a city break, think of the big European party cities like Barcelona, Berlin and Amsterdam.
If you want an activity weekend, look into paintballing, go-karting and outward bound centres. Think of some quirky alternatives too, and make the final, informed decision with the groom. If you’re going with a stag operator be careful who you book with – some firms are better than others and a few are straight up dodgy. Make sure you read reviews online and check forums to see if you’re being swindled or not.
Decide on a date
A stag do should be close enough to the wedding that everyone will be excited, but not so close that it impacts on the main event – it’s now universally agreed that stag dos the night before the wedding are a terrible idea. Come up with a few dates between two and five weeks before the big day, pitch them to the group and see which weekend is the least conflicted. Do this at least three to five months before the big day to prevent clashes in peoples’ diaries.
Beware the passing of time
If you’re planning a foreign trip, the best prices will be available early. Late deals aren’t what they once were, and it’s a risky strategy to leave it to the last minute if there’s a big group of you. Rooms in hostels are good, cheap accommodation for stags, but again, are likely to book up early.
Name a treasurer
It’s a good idea to set up a fund to pay for stag-related activities. It’s likely there’ll be one person in the group who’s good with money, so play to his ego and appoint him as treasurer. Bingo! That’s one thankless task off your hands. The treasurer needs to keep track of who’s paid what and any expenditure. Importantly, they also need to chase the late payers – and there will be several.
Don’t be a nanny
Looking after a large group is a pain in the behind, so farm out as much responsibility as possible. They’re all grown men, but you’ll be stunned at how many of them forget passports, don’t bring their own trousers, etc. To avoid being the one responsible for nagging them all, give out roles among the group.
Pranks and strippers
If you’re going to pull a prank on the groom, make it original and non-lethal. Plan it behind his back with the other party-goers to ensure success. If you’re hiring a stripper, remember to phone the venue to check whether they’ll allow her to do her stuff on the premises. The key to a good stag prank is to make it personal – don’t just go for the generic pranks, but think about the annoying habits of the groom and base it around that.
For stag-do pranks the bottom line is NO PERMANENT SCARRING – this applies to both physical and mental scarring.
Think about the dress code
It’s common for stags to mark themselves out with some kind of themed dress code. Whether you’re going for matching t-shirts or Ghostbusters costumes, some planning will be required. Do remember that matching clothes mark you out instantly as a stag party, which may make it tricky to get in certain places. And on a related note, if you’re planning to hit venues that insist on a certain dress code, make sure that everyone in the party knows and dresses accordingly.
Fill your faces
Don’t forget that you will need to eat at some point, so book a restaurant in advance to make sure everyone gets a good bit of grub in. Your liver will love you for it.
Plan your venues
Bouncers can spot stag parties a mile off and, believe it or not, many pubs, clubs and bars don’t relish the idea of a large bunch of drunk guys invading their establishment. Firstly, you’re likely to be a little excitable. Secondly, you’ll turn the place into a sausage-fest. To avoid being bratwurst-blocked at the door, book tables at a few chosen venues. As they’ll be expecting you, you should get some good service and you’ll definitely get in.
Don’t forget that although the number of venues you can legitimately get into as a stag party is reduced, you’ve got great bargaining power because you’re potentially going to fill a venue up and drink a shedload of booze. Always ask for group discounts and special offers. Do it with a smile on your face and you’ll be amazed what you can get offered.
During the event
On the stag do itself, your role is that of a sheepdog, and you’ll be expected to take charge and herd people from one location or activity to another. Even if this goes against the grain of your personality, you’re the one who knows where you’re supposed to be and when, so raise your voice and be heard.
Have some surprises up your sleeve
If the party is lagging – or even if it’s not – it’s a good idea to have some surprises for the groom and other stags, whether it’s a limo, a stripper or something simple like hilarious old photos of the groom.
You may be planning some pranks for the groom on his big night, but remember that, ultimately, you want him to get home in one piece. Or maybe you want him to get home wearing a one-piece. Either way, he’ll thank you for stepping in if the fun goes too far.
Want more great stag do planning advice? Visit the Staggered website! Don’t forget to check out our Hen and Stag section and Grooms’ Advice too!