A stag and doe party is a regional tradition found mostly in certain areas of Canada. The purpose of the party is to be a fundraiser for the wedding.
The basic premise is that the bridal party (including groomsmen) will throw the party, which charges an admission fee, charges for drinks, and has games and raffles and things, also for a small fee. The funds raised should cover the cost of the party and leave plenty left over for the bride and groom. The guest list is open to anyone, not just people who are invited to the actual wedding.
Despite my general hatred of people expecting their wedding guests to give them lavish presents, cover their plates, pay for drinks at a cash bar, money dances, and all other kinds of greedy wedding hoopla, I…actually think this is a pretty great idea if it’s already common in your social circle and people know what to expect (ie don’t spring it on your New York City friends who have never heard of such a thing.) Here’s why: while the event is connected to the wedding, it’s not thrown by the bride and groom. Also, I imagine this kind of thing might be more common in areas where there’s not a whole lot of nightlife, so this is probably a good way to get out of the house, have some fun, have some drinks, maybe win a raffle. However, not all Canadians are fond of this tradition.
Of course, like anything, there are polite and rude ways to go about doing it:
- The party should always be thrown for the bride and groom, not by them.
- Use it as a substitute for other wedding events, not in addition to them (say do a Stag and Doe but skip the engagement party. People get burned out on attending many events for the same couple)
- Make it a really fun event that people WANT to attend so they don’t feel like it is just about the money. Have actually fun games and nice prizes.
- Charge for booze, but have plenty of simple food and drinks for free.
- Keep the ticket price fairly low or make it by donation.
- Thank people for coming- maybe even do a big announcement during the event
- Only only only have such a party if they are already what your social circle does. This is not going to come off well to people who don’t know what it’s about.
- By no means pressure anyone to come or to spend more money than they are comfortable spending
- If you are attending the party, keep in mind that it is a fundraiser, so come prepared to spend at least a little bit of money. Don’t just pay the entrance fee and then gorge on the free food/music/dancing.
For places where Stag and Does are attending by the whole community, it seems like a really nice way for everyone to support the couple, even if they wouldn’t be invited to the wedding, while getting a fun time in exchange. And honestly, it sounds way more fun than a shower where you are also spending a bunch of money, but instead of dancing, drinking, and playing games, you are sitting around politely watching someone else open presents.
Please tell me about other regional wedding traditions! Either in the comments or firstname.lastname@example.org!
I grew up in New Hampshire in a largely French-Canadian community. We call these “Jack and Jill” parties, and when I’ve told my NYC friends about them they’ve been horrified. It’s good to know it’s a carryover from Canada rather than another completely weird thing about NH.
Also, FWIW, when people express disapproval for these parties, they usually come from relatively middle-class or well-off families; those who come from low-income backgrounds similar to mine tend to say “oh yeah, makes perfect sense!”
Yeah, they seem really fun to me! More about the community having a good time than a shower where everyone just sits around watching the bride open presents.
It’s also a great way to contribute to a couple’s wedding if you don’t have a lot of cash to spare. $50 bath towels might be out of the question, but a $10 ticket and a couple of drinks from the bar may be much more doable.
I’ve also seen these take place of bachelor/bachelorette parties for couples who are a bit older, or where both parties have been married before and don’t feel the need to do the “night on the town” thing again.