A stag party is a rite of passage that most men will go through at some point in their lives. Even if you somehow manage to avoid having a stag of your own, you're likely going to go on several other stags as a show of support for friends and when you do you will be expected to have a whale of a time…
Only the unfortunate truth is, you often won't. In fact, after doing one or two stags, you will most likely find yourself dreading the moment your next friend gets engaged. Stags sound fun on paper, and it's not fashionable to knock them, but in reality they can be a nightmare. This article will help you to identify the dangers involved in your typical stag and help you to throw one that you will actually enjoy whether that's for yourself or for one of your friends.
The Problems With Stags
At this point you probably think I'm just some stick in the mud, but before you judge me too harshly, think about what a stag actually entails…
To begin with it will start and you'll find right away that there are awkward politics involved and awkward conversations to be had. For instance you're going to have to decide early on who you want to invite and who you want to leave out of the event. This might sound cold and callous, but most of us have friends who are likely to cause trouble or be awkward with our other guests and you want to avoid problems that they could create. Likewise you probably don't want a stag party of 100 people, but how do you know where to draw the line?
Then there's the issue of parents: do you invite your Dad? Do you invite your partner's Dad? Do you invite 'violent Steve' who likes to carry a knife everywhere he goes? Do you invite him and your partner's Dad??
And no matter who you end up inviting, it's always going to end up as an eclectic group of people – strangers who don't know each other, probably wouldn't ordinarily choose to spend time together, and who only have you as common ground. Guess what they're going to be talking about? Guess who is going to get embarrassed by all those stories coming out? And guess who'll be in the doghouse with everyone if some kind of fight breaks out?
These days most stag parties also involve travelling to another country and that means you'll be a) spending a lot of money and b) spending time in another country where you'll probably be hot and jet-lagged. Travelling abroad is fine when you're planning on spending some time relaxing on the beach or exploring at a leisurely pace, but when your plans involve insane amounts of alcohol and all-nighters suddenly it can be a bit of a headache to travel and to have to get up first thing in the morning to go go-karting in the blistering heat.
A typical itinerary might involve getting up at 5am leaving the country and landing, exhausted, at 10am only to then check into a hotel and start drinking all day. You'll spend even more than you've already spent, possibly get forced to 'down' horrible concoctions, then maybe have your friends shave you. You get to bed at 5am, and then the alarm goes off at 7am for you to travel up the country to go go-karting/paintballing in the blazing sun. Then you start drinking again until 5am. 7am you're up again and on the plane, and the next day you're back to work…
And this is supposed to be fun? Particularly bearing in mind that most guys who are getting married are doing so because they're happy to settle down and stop going out on such crazy nights out? It's almost as if the point of the stag has become to ensure that you never want to go out drinking again. But this is forgetting the fact you'll probably have to do the same thing another ten times or so with friends… Ouch.
Stag parties have become this way mostly because we've begun to expect them to be so overblown. While you might not really want such a bombastic stag, it has become 'the norm' in many ways and so it's easy to feel short-changed if you don't have something so over-the-top.
But there is a better way and an alternative that can be more enjoyable frankly for everyone involved.
One option is to simply have a more low-key stag and to do it the way that they used to years ago: simply get a few of you together down the pub and have a few drinks before heading home. It's cheaper, it's less stressful, and it can actually be just as memorable. There are other ways to make an occasion special after all – whether you invite a stripper or just go to a quirky bar that you might not normally frequent.
Or you can go another route, which is to do what my best man suggested to me. That is to think about your own perfect night out or trip – something that you've always wanted to do but that you could never convince everyone else to get behind. This is your stag so you can rest assured that your friends will drag themselves out whatever it is that you choose to do for the day, so instead of going on a forced holiday that you won't really enjoy, think of something special that you've always wanted to do – whether that's going to see a show or sports match or going on a trek up a mountain and staying in a log cabin (which is what I'll be doing).
And another tip? Pick a good best man who understands that your stag party is supposed to be your last hurrah and thus a night out that you'll actually enjoy. Avoid best men who think the objective is to get you blind drunk and do horrible things to you…