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WASHINGTON–()–Much like this year’s wedding celebrations, many couples are rethinking their prenuptial bach parties, according to a new study by WeddingWire, a leading international wedding planning resource that has helped millions of couples around the world plan their weddings. While most couples note they are still moving forward with some sort of festivity (73%) despite lingering concerns from COVID-19, these celebrations look much different today. Half of couples are rescheduling their events, with 20% hosting a “Fling After the Ring,” or waiting until after their wedding ceremony. Additionally, with the safety of themselves and their guests top of mind, couples are reconsidering the size of their guest lists for these events, along with locations, accommodations, group activities and more.
“What we’re seeing today is that there’s still a strong desire by couples to celebrate their marriages in similar ways to what they originally planned, including typical prewedding events like bach parties,” said Jeffra Trumpower, Senior Creative Director at WeddingWire. “That being said, this longing for ‘normalcy’ does not come at the expense of the safety of couples’ loved ones. We’re seeing health and safety precautions and following state and federal guidelines at the forefront of couples’ decisions on how to celebrate their bach parties—whether that means reevaluating accommodations and staying in a rental home instead of a hotel or resort, or coming up with alternative options for group activities that comply with social distancing recommendations.”
Today’s Reality: Bach Parties
The new WeddingWire study finds that half of couples who originally had weddings planned from May to September 2020 are rescheduling their bach parties, with 27% canceling their festivities altogether, 24% not making date changes at this time, and 2% moving to a virtual-only event. For those rescheduling, we’re seeing many opt for fall 2020 (14%) and spring 2021 (23%) dates, with nearly 1-in-5 being unsure of when their rescheduled party will take place. The majority of those rescheduling note their bach party will still take place before their wedding ceremony, with 20% noting they will have a “Fling After the Ring,” or a celebration after their wedding ceremony. This is likely due to couples having the utmost concern for the health and safety of themselves and their loved ones who will be joining in on the festivities, as well as stay-at-home restrictions impacting travel and activities.
Shifts in Trends From 2019-2020
Aside from rescheduling, we’re seeing couples make other changes to their events in the interest of safety, including adjusting activities (44%), the number of attendees (33%) and the location (32%). In comparing data from 2019 and 2020 bach parties, WeddingWire uncovered significant shifts in how couples and their friends and family members are hosting these celebrations:
- Rental Homes on the Rise: Most groups are opting for rental homes now (50% vs. 17% in 2019) in lieu of hotels or resorts (15% vs. 44% in 2019), likely to avoid crowds and remain socially distant from those outside their small group.
- Clubbing and Dancing Is Out: Groups are opting for more casual activities that allow for social distancing, like dinner and drinks (68% vs. 51% in 2019), a casual night in (49% vs. 19% in 2019), brunch (40% vs. 16% in 2019), and visiting a winery or brewery (35% vs. 16% in 2019). They are less likely to go clubbing and dancing (23% vs. 39% in 2019) or take a party bus around town for a few hours (7% vs. 24% in 2019).
- Intimate Gatherings Most Common: Parties are now smaller in size, with most reporting there will be between 5-10 attendees (63% vs. 50% in 2019). In contrast, only 10% note there will be 15+ attendees (down from 25% in 2019).
- Personal Car Use Increases: Personal cars grew in preference for bach party attendees this year and are still the most popular method of travel for partygoers (54% vs. 45% in 2019). Airline travel is still the method of choice for some (26% vs. 20% in 2019), and while party buses used to be a popular choice for those traveling locally, they have dropped significantly as a method of transporting guests to the festivities during the pandemic (3% vs. 17% in 2019).
- Costs Decrease for 1-in-4: While half of couples note the costs for their bach parties will remain the same, 24% believe it will be less expensive due to lower costs for accommodations and activities.
While some (32%) note the location for their party will change, the top destinations for bach parties remain mostly the same—with one exception. Nevada, which used to top the list for prenuptial celebrations (in large part likely due to the popularity of Las Vegas), is no longer in the top 5 destinations, according to WeddingWire data. Most of the top locations remained the same as last year—California (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Napa Valley); Texas (Austin, Houston and Dallas); Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa and Orlando); and New York. In place of Nevada, couples are ushering in Tennessee as an alternative popular locale for their festivities, likely due to an abundance of unique cities like Nashville, Chattanooga, Memphis and Knoxville, as well as charming mountain towns with cliffside cabins and lakefront rental properties. Tennessee provides group activities like hiking and boating as well as celebrated food options like Memphis BBQ and Nashville hot chicken.
Consistencies From 2019-2020
WeddingWire data did uncover a few elements of bach parties that remained constant between 2019 and 2020, including how most couples will be celebrating in the US instead of abroad (93% vs. 92% in 2019), and the duration of the event. Most parties will last 1-3 days (86% both 2019 and 2020), with most being a three-day weekend (32%), 31% lasting two days, and 23% lasting one day. Additionally, airplane travel remained similar this year (26% vs. 20% in 2019) despite COVID-19 precautions, yet was still not the most popular method of transportation (personal car, 54% in 2020).
Celebration Safety Precautions to Consider
When it comes to planning a bach party during the global COVID-19 pandemic, couples should exercise caution while remembering that a celebration slightly different than their original plan is still a fun way to be with loved ones and toast a special chapter in their lives. Some tips from WeddingWire on navigating party planning during this challenging time include:
- Think Virtually: Couples can consider adopting a virtual component, whether that means transitioning to virtual-only (2% have done or plan to do this) or having a Zoom celebration before a traditional bach party at a later time.
- Lead With Caution: While it may be tempting to take some risks for a highly anticipated moment in their lives, it’s not worth couples risking the health and safety of themselves and their loved ones. Couples should think about a location, accommodations and group activities that allow for social distancing and not take offense if guests are now uncomfortable attending in person. They can also take the extra step of providing safety items like hand sanitizer, personalized face masks and other disinfecting cleaning supplies for the group.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Celebrate Postceremony: Throwing a bach party after their wedding ceremony is no longer a faux pas for couples. More and more couples and partygoers are opting for a “Fling After the Ring” in order to take extra precautions and potentially have more activity options as states see a decline in COVID-19 cases. That said, some states are seeing a surge in cases and are now tightening restrictions, so couples should monitor state and federal guidelines as they evolve.
- Follow State and Local Guidelines and CDC Recommendations: The severity of the coronavirus outbreak and social distancing restrictions in place vary vastly by city and state. It’s important for couples to keep these localized restrictions and the CDC recommendations in mind when making any decisions related to their bach party, including the location, activities, accommodations and more. Couples can also explore the option of asking all attendees to get tested for COVID-19 in advance of celebrations.
This study contains data from a 2020 survey among 569 engaged couples with weddings scheduled from May to September in 2020, who provided their email addresses to The Knot Worldwide; and a 2019 survey of 1,030 attendees of bach parties.
WeddingWire is a trusted online marketplace, connecting couples with local wedding professionals and a suite of comprehensive tools that make wedding planning easier. Operating within a $250 billion global industry, WeddingWire helps millions of couples every month find the right team of wedding professionals to personalize and pull off their special day. Couples around the world can read millions of vendor reviews and search, compare and book from a directory of hundreds of thousands of vendors local to them. Visit WeddingWire online at WeddingWire.com and follow on social media: Facebook.com/WeddingWire and @WeddingWire on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
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