Step by step: planning a Mamma Mia bachelorette
One of the biggest honors of my life is being my best friend's Maid of Honor! Standing by her side while watching her marry her person is so special and unforgettable, but before she walks down the aisle it's time to celebrate the beautiful bride she is with her epic bachelorette weekend.
When planning a bachelorette party, make sure to get coffee or grab lunch with the bride to get an understanding of the type of weekend or night she is looking for. With my bff, she wanted a low-key weekend in a beach area with a Mamma Mia / Grecian theme - it was the perfect idea - especially with her Greek heritage and honeymoon in Santorini...plus we both love to dance so it's a beautiful combination. We also agreed to keep most of the weekend a surprise so it was an even more special reveal.
I'm lucky that her bridesmaids are all SO wonderful, and from the start my partner in crime for planning was her amazing sister-in-law. After I talked with the bride and I found a VRBO in the Newport area, we were off planning and brainstorming away (see our itinerary below!)
The best overall tip to keep in mind is PLAN AHEAD! Especially if you pick a popular destination during a peak travel season, make sure you can start planing several months in advance as excursions and even house rentals will fill up.
Picking the destination
We looked around at houses in Maine, Cape Cod, Nantucket and Newport and surprisingly even in January the size house we needed to accommodate everyone was either filled up or had a 7-night minimum for AirBnB and VRBO. Thankfully we found a house about 15 minutes from Newport in Portsmouth, RI which was a stunning location with plenty of room for everyone and a gorgeous pool. I would recommend planning the house first and booking SEVERAL months out to ensure you get the location that works for what the bride is looking for as well as the size to fit a larger group.
Planning the perfect itinerary
Aside from ensuring the weekend is what the bride wants, it's also key to find balance between activities and also down time especially with a group traveling. We struck a balance between having one night low-key at the house enjoying a Mediterranean dinner and Mamma Mia movie night followed by a night out in Newport. Within our itinerary we also found time to carve out photo moments and down time by the pool but also giving the girls the time they need to be at the boat incase they wanted to explore Newport in the afternoon.
Sharing our itinerary below to help inspire your trip, try not to fill the days too much because you want to also have time to celebrate the bride and while not having to worry about making events on time or transportation.
You also want to be budget friendly as everyone will have different financial situations, so be up front about what everything will cost and any excursions to set expectations but also give the option for bridesmaids to opt in or out. That's one of the reasons having one night in and one out is so great, because it creates a nice balance for the weekend.
Newport Vineyards: We booked a lunch reservation at the vineyard, and they were great fitting our group. The food was delicious and they offered wine flights and a seasonal sangria to enjoy. After lunch in their restaurant, we went outside to take photos and hang out by the grape vines which was stunning! Bring a picnic blanket and extra sunscreen. We also left half the group there to keep the bride occupied while the other half picked up groceries and headed to the house to decorate.
Dinner at the house: To fit the theme, we selected International Pocket Cafe where everyone ordered gyros or wraps.
Movie night and games: For our low-key movie night, we put together a snack area with a popcorn machine, candy and stunning themed Mamma Mia themed cookies from Best Box Bakery. We started off with a Mamma Mia dance party with fun props like feather boas and disco ball earrings followed by watching the movie and playing themed jeopardy with questions about the bride.
Yoga at the house: One of the bridesmaids led a fabulous morning stretch and yoga in the backyard which helped us get ready for the day.
Hanging by the pool: With such a stunning pool, we spent the morning and early afternoon by the pool taking photos, hanging out and just relaxing. We also asked the girls to wear black or blue bathing suits so we were all coordinated for a photoshoot.
Private sailboat tour around Newport: Chartering a private sailboat was definitely one of the highlights of the trip! Sightsailing Inc. made it very easy for us to book and it was a reasonable price when divided up amongst the group. We were able to play our own music and bring wine onboard. The experience was wonderful and the bride was so surprised! I do recommend booking months in advance as well to ensure you reserve your spot.
Dinner at the Vanderbilt: With planning an event, there will always be hiccups. This one in particular was memorable, and while The Vanderbilt reservations were mixed up (they booked ours for two separate nights), their customer service was excellent and they were able to fit our group into a private room in The Conservatory to serve a full dinner menu. It was truly stunning and the food was beyond. While on the pricer side, since it was our one dinner out, it was perfect for an elevated celebration!
Check out of VRBO
Lunch & exploring Newport: As we were heading out, we grabbed lunch at Diego's Newport and walked around some of the shops.
DECOR & DETAILS
To make our weekend feel even more special, I found this theme fitting invitation template with Bougainvillea on Etsy and had them printed at Staples to send to all the bridesmaids, and of course the bride, several months before the bachelorette weekend to "officially invite" them to our celebration! Elevating the details, I wanted to continue incorporating the pattern throughout our printed elements such as hashtag or bride drink signs, placards and itinerary cards. The evil eye wax seal was also another element that was included on the invitations and the placards to further tie in the theme.
Practical and themed goodie bags
While more of a splurge, I wanted to select some themed gifts to commemorate our bachelorette weekend! Sticking to our Mamma Mia and Grecian inspired weekend, I curated items that were cohesive yet practical:
I loved how each item could be reused but also had a purpose for our whimsical weekend. For example, the adorable Hanes lounge sets were a surprise for the girls to wear during our Mamma Mia movie night (and lots of photos!).
Simple, unique decor
The key to our decorations was selecting simple and whimsical items but also ones that were easy to transport since we had to pack them in my Jeep. I was also inspired by making it effortlessly chic by draping hanging streamer curtains on surfaces and placing disco balls on top of it for a shimmery look. Below is a breakdown of what I brought, and I do have to say less is sometimes more.
Various sized disco balls: 12", 8", 6"
Ring pool float
Disco balls *Since we set up the pool area the second day, we repurposed the disco balls from inside!
DIY Disco ball floral arrangements
DIY blue photo arches
Custom pool arches
One of the trending party decor elements is arched backdrops! My dad and I actually made these from thin plywood and painted them with blue hues inspired by Santorini. Having a statement backdrop is crucial for photos, and makes it feel special for the bride. I also adhered a fake floral arrangement onto the backdrop to match the disco ball florals.
The themed pool float were a HUGE hit as well, and tying in the Greek Evil Eye as well as the sparkly pink hues of the Target floats made the pool pop.
I do have to say...don't be afraid to DIY. Pinterest can be intimidating but some things like arches or backdrops can be even more expensive when you buy them online. So to problem solve, being inspired by a YouTube video and hanging with my dad learning how to build them was such a memorable and fun process but also gave me the opportunity to make the arches fit perfectly to our theme. May dad is also beyond talented with building and power tools!
Creating an elegant tablescape
If you haven't noticed by now on artfullyalissa, I LOVE a themed tablescape. So, I wanted to take the opportunity of having our first night in as a chance to create a beautiful setting for all of us to enjoy a night at our VRBO but make it feel special. I first started with a color scheme of blue and white to emulate the Greek flag colors, and chose this tablecloth from Pottery Barn because I already had one at home (so only needed to order a second one!)
Now that I had the foundation, I wanted to infuse the blue hues through out the table so brought my favorite Fitz and Floyd Trestle Goblets to add an elegant touch. For the centerpiece we ordered these flowers from Farmgirl Flowers and scattered Evil Eye glass beads and mini disco balls down the center of the table with the candle votives. I also used the glass beads as a napkin ring for extra detail.
The bride was truly over the moon as the weekend unfolded. I loved that we were able to build in surprises throughout the weekend and also decorate the house to give her a memorable moment to walk into. The photos speak for themselves, it truly was a magical weekend and while it took several months to plan, it made every little detail sine.
So, if you're planning a bachelorette make sure to connect with the bride to ensure it captures her dream weekend and vibe, plan ahead and most importantly, HAVE FUN.