The rituals and customs surrounding marriage range from the serious and sacred to the hedonistic and possibly incriminating. A custom known as the bachelor party often falls into the latter categories. This type of party is usually arranged by the groom's male family members or future groomsmen, ostensibly to celebrate the groom's last days of freedom as a single man. While there are no set rules concerning the events of such a party, the evening is generally filled with male bonding over alcohol, mild hazing stunts and exotic entertainment from hired female dancers.
The ritual of the bachelor party, also known as a stag party is believed to be centuries old. Part of the party's function is to allow the groom's male friends one last opportunity to relive a time when they could be irresponsible and immature without penalty. A raucous party is often seen as a Viking funeral for the groom's adolescence before entering the world of adult responsibility.
Not all bachelor parties are destined to become legendary for their tales of debauchery and wanton destruction, however. Some grooms actually prefer a more low-key event, if they plan on having one at all. A bachelor party may turn out to be more of an informal gathering of the groom's closest male friends and relatives at a local restaurant or nightclub. Since a number of couples now live together before marriage, the idea of visiting a strip club or hiring a private dancer may not be as appealing at it may sound. The stereotypical image of an uninhibited, alcohol-fueled bash may be more fodder for movies than reality.
There are a few rules surrounding a bachelor party which should be followed to the letter of the law. It should never be held anywhere near the venue for the equivalent bachelorette party. This is a time for both the bride and groom to have a final, uninhibited fling as single adults, so party planners should coordinate their efforts to avoid potential embarrassment or conflict.
A groom should never be forced to participate in any act of hazing or sexual indiscretion. Guests should always respect the groom's wishes and keep details of the party to themselves. Trading information about the parties with friends of the bride can only lead to trouble. Guests should also be discouraged from taking pictures or videotaping the event. A successful bachelor party relies heavily on the discretion of the guests.