In defense of stag and doe parties

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Photo by Jamie McCaffrey, used by CC license.
Photo by Jamie McCaffrey, used by CC license.

In my region, stag and doe parties (also known as “buck and does” or “Jack and Jills”) are pretty common. For those not in the know, these parties are a fundraiser for engaged couples. [Edited to add: stag and doe parties are not the same as plain ol’ stag parties, which are essentially bachelor parties.] The idea is that attendees pay an admission (usually around $10-$15), and play games that are designed to make some money for the couple getting married (think dollar dances, coin toss games, raffles, etc).

Don’t get me wrong: I understand why some people may be weirded out by this idea. Weddings can be expensive for guests — you have the shower gift, wedding gift, gas, possible hotel/airfare accommodations, and bachelor/bachelorette parties, just to name a few expenses. So I don’t blame anyone for thinking, “Well, I’m already spending X amount of dollars on this wedding, so why should I spend more?”

But I like to think about it this way: it usually costs me more money to have a night out at the bar, or have dinner and a movie, than it does to pay a $10-$15 admission, and to spend a few bucks on games at a stag and doe. Plus, that money is going to help someone I care about.

I can honestly say that when I got married four years ago, my stag and doe saved my wedding. Since stag and doe parties are a tradition on my husband’s side of the family, I had a few people mention the idea to me and offer to set everything up for it. I was hesitant at first, even though I had attended one before and had an amazing time. But then we got hit with a financial disaster.

How a stag & doe party saved my wedding

Three months before my wedding, I was eating dinner one night, and got this massive amount of pain on the right side of my mouth. It turned out that I needed emergency dental surgery. I didn’t have insurance, and the surgery cost $2,000 — just over half of what was left after the deposits and expenses we had already paid for our wedding. So we figured we had three options: postpone the wedding and lose a lot of what we already spent, borrow the money, or take our friends up on their party offer.

We ended up making about $1,000 off of the stag and doe, and even those who we thought might be offended by the idea all left raving about how much fun they had. Plus it allowed for both sides of the family to get to know each other better. Between that $1,000 and what we put aside from each paycheck afterwards, we were just able to make it work.

I’m helping out with another family stag and doe party coming up. When I took to the internet to come up with some games, I found that the majority of the comments in every article echoed the same cry: don’t expect other people to pay for your wedding, or find more ways to cut costs.

Like I said, I understand that weddings can be costly for guests, and I am all for cutting wedding costs however you can. However, after my experience, I feel like allowing your community to support your wedding by giving them an inexpensive night of fun isn’t such a bad option — especially when you consider the fact that most other fun outings will end up costing more than the typical stag and doe.

Besides, who among us can honestly say that we’ve never been in a position where we have needed help with something in our lives?

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