The bachelor party grows up

There are many things that come to mind when the words “bachelor” and “party” are said in the same breath, and often the sum of this equation is not pretty.  Despite Hollywood’s depiction of this rite of passage as a final gasp of protracted adolescence (from the Tom Hanks camp classic “Bachelor Party” to the “Hangover” movies), there are men who are not interested in acting silly (or worse) for its own sake.

A variety of event planners are targeting grooms who want the time-honored tradition of transition into another stage of manhood to be, well, more mature. And men are increasingly opting for theme parties and weekend retreats, with activities that can be enriching rather than embarrassing.

Companies offer weekends built around fishing, formula auto-racing, dude ranches and culinary education where wine, beer and spirits are put to more sophisticated, refined use. In England, event company StagWeb even offers a getaway built around a James Bond theme.

As bachelor weekends and weeks are picking up steam, services like CruiseWise have sprung up that allow for maximum bonding with minimum planning. 

Steve Davis, co-founder of CruiseWise, says that while his clients don’t see marriage as the end of fun or a loss of freedom, that doesn’t mean they want to skip a celebration with their friends.

They have witnessed a “trend away from ‘traditional’ bachelor parties for some time now,” he said. “While there will always be 20-somethings who want to do the traditional movie-style bachelor party, there are many more who would call that a nightmare, not a celebration.”

Obvious benefits of all-inclusive cruising include no need for a cab or designated driver, mix-and-match activity menus and easily customized itineraries to accommodate the different personalities that make up the groom’s entourage.

Thanks to the newly opened Beverly Hills flagship of Art of Shaving, grooms without the luxury of time can still put together a pre-wedding day celebration that is all about luxury, pampering and putting one’s best face forward.

Amber Loose, the store’s general manager, notes the location and the concept are particularly popular for older grooms as well as businessmen whose lifestyle may not allow getaways aside from the honeymoon. However, thanks to the distinctive ambience (mansion library/den-meets-men’s spa), the Art of Shaving alternative promises something more grown-up than a night in Vegas and more memorable than a steakhouse dinner.

“We don’t call it a bachelor party,” Loose said. “We see it as more of a sophisticated, pre-wedding gathering that’s particularly appealing to anybody who has outgrown strip clubs and pub crawls.”

When a gathering is booked with Art of Shaving, Loose says, she closes off the store to the public so guests have undisturbed access to eight barber chairs for shaves and haircuts, plus two manicure/pedicure stations.

“Brides, meanwhile, have the luxury of knowing their men are literally in good hands and will look fantastic on the big day,” Loose said.

Art of Shaving’s party planning service include customized wine and beverage services, hors d’oeuvres, music of choice and a photographer to capture the transformational magic. If bosses and co-workers are going to be a part of the wedding party, this kind of gathering will be sure to make a lasting positive impression.

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Art of Shaving in Beverly Hills offers a sophisticated alternative to the raucous bachelor party.

Although popular variations on the sports weekends include baseball fantasy camps, golf resorts and camping, a fitness retreat week can both enlighten and entertain, according to Omari Bernard, one of the lead coaches at Playa del Rey’s Live-In Fitness Enterprise (LIFE).

“When you think about it, getting drunk, behaving badly and feeling awful the next day is not how you want to start the next major chapter of your life,” he said. “However, this experience goes beyond just shaping up so you look great in your tux.”

LIFE emphasizes the team aspect of fitness and coaching. All activities, which integrate a variety of favorite sports (such as hikes, boxing, martial arts and basketball), involve team-building exercises that will help the groom and those closest to him with interpersonal relationships and challenges. 

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A Live-In Fitness Enterprise coach trains one-on-one with a client.

The groom, family and friends also learn good eating and exercise habits that can keep married life, and life in general, exciting and active, Bernard says.

“Everything we do is quantitative, and when the party leaves after a week, they don’t just take away a better body and some workouts to do at home. The groom brings practical information on staying healthy and fit into his marriage,” Bernard said.

What’s the best way to sum up the new wave of groomsman’s gatherings? Party on, but do it with intelligence and self-respect.