A young groom’s take on the whole highly sensationalized ‘last night of freedom’ and why he decided not to jump into the bachelor night bandwagon
Last week, my groomsman stood aghast when I told him that I didn’t want a bachelor party. I’ve been getting the same reaction from all my groomsmen who’ve been laying claim over the coveted evening.
Believe it or not, even my mom has been nudging me in the direction of just having the darned party! I admit, it made me happy to see all my groomsmen so eager to fulfill their ‘groomsman obligation’, if I may call it that — proof that I’ve chosen the right guys to walk alongside me on my wedding day (so, if you’re reading this, thank you!), but truth be told, it’s a tradition I personally don’t see any need for.
I know, KJ naman. But I don’t see myself missing out on anything at all. A lot of my friends have been wondering what brought me to this decision, a very unusual one at that, so Laika thought it would be an interesting topic for me to write about.
The Bachelor Party then…
Think of a bachelor party, and I’m pretty sure a consistent image comes to mind: music, booze, and more often than not, half-naked girls around the venue. It's the guys' night out, and one last hurrah before the final I Do. It's been this way for as long as most guys today remember, but it wasn’t always this way.
A quick Google search reveals that the history of the bachelor party goes back to 5th century Sparta where men would throw formal dinners and simple toasts with wine for their would-be married comrades—a far cry from the bachelor party we know today.
The modern bachelor party—with beer, drugs, and strippers—can be traced back to the 80s when mass media glamourized the debauchery and positioned the event as a rite of passage before the wedding aisle. Hollywood movies and series like Bachelor Party and later on, The Hangover painted what the “last night of freedom” looked like to aspiring men.
But this glamorization didn’t happen overnight.
The story of the bachelor party as we know it started upon the dawn of the Sexual Revolution of the 60s where breakthrough products like the ‘pill’ paved way for casual sex.
It would be up to a young, bullish writer and magazine publisher to utilize this revolution to his advantage—building his own mass media empire by selling ‘sex’ or the lifestyle of polygamy through the “Playboy bachelor” lifestyle. Yes, this is the story of the late Hugh Hefner who built the image of the bachelor lifestyle through articles, TV shows, and commercials to fuel foot traffic into his lifestyle bachelor-esque cafés and bars.
This publication would forever change the image of American Machismo, which, just a few decades ago, meant no more than a hardworking family man, coming home to his wife and spending time with his children after work (which was also the idea of the successful man painted to me by my Dad who grew up before the Sexual Revolution).
Hugh and his magazine had changed the landscape completely: suddenly, a one-woman man became uncool and boring, and the image of the ideal American Man was one that could have several young, sexy ladies at the same time, trumping the Family Man men used to aspire to become.
Hef, through his self-produced TV shows, embodied the construct of a Playboy bachelor who holds extravagant parties in his apartment with scantily clad Bunnies.
This is how, I suppose, this notion of one last night of freedom came about — this last send-off before a “free man” becomes tied down to just one woman for the rest of his life. And I really think that this is why men in most Hollywood sitcoms today (Barney Stinson ring a bell?) mourn their friends’ wedding day like it’s a funeral: it’s the death of a supposed fun, thrilling, single life. The bachelor lifestyle expressed sexual freedom through the a night out of drinks and strippers — something I just don’t buy into.
Gentlemen of the Old School
Hef played a big role in breaking what once was taboo in mass media. In the 50s, any scenes with sexual connotations and nudity were frowned upon. Just watch any season from I Love Lucy sharing the comedies of a fruitful, monogamous relationship and you'll be hard-pressed to find any joke containing sexual content. And yet, I Love Lucy was one of the top-rated shows of the time.
Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy, a 1950s sitcom featuring the ordinary but funny life of a couple in America that showed the joyous, quirky life of marriage
But what about a night of good, clean fun? If there’s nothing bad, it can’t be all bad, right?
True, but personally, it isn’t just the affairs that go into the whole Bachelor Party that I don’t believe in — it’s the Bachelor Party itself. This whole notion of celebrating one last night of freedom isn’t something that excites me. If there is a cause of celebration, the day of my wedding itself is the celebration! And if anything, the night before my wedding day is, in my opinion, the last night before full, true freedom takes place: freedom, enabled by God, to give the whole person of myself to another.
Yes, perhaps this is untraditional and unusual thinking. Today, when the Bachelor Party is almost as necessary as the wedding itself, this perspective can be interpreted as backward and a bit too conservative. But indeed, it is a rebuke to the bachelor lifestyle which was brought about historically from a period of breaking norms, and eventually turned into a profitable venture by an enterprising publicist.
I choose to stand committed to the values of the gentlemen of the old school who preferred going home to the family and celebrating the home life as the ultimate status symbol for the successful man. These were the men who knew and invested only in meaningful things, who wouldn’t spend a dime on drinks without measure.
And, if one day, I’m ever described to be a true Family Man, just like the gentlemen of the old school described themselves to be, I’d be very happy and content. But for now, knowing fully well that my choices create my life, I choose to forego this little tradition, and instead put my time, money, and energy doing something more worthwhile — preparing my mind, body and spirit for total self-giving the very day of my wedding.
And, as Laika suggested, I can instead invest the money on my vintage watch collection, so long as I don't forget setting some aside for my future mini-Nicos and mini-Laikas!