Infiltrating a Bachelorette Party—First I Heard the Screams

From an Inside the Times column by Allie Jones headlined “Infiltrating a Bachelorette Party”:

First, I heard the screams.

“Loo-ser, loo-ser!” I was pulling up to a $5 million rental property just outside Scottsdale, Ariz., and the shrieks echoed throughout the neighborhood. The voices belonged to members of a bachelorette party who were engaged in a particularly cutthroat drinking game by the property’s pool. I had come to the right place.

I was in Scottsdale to report on the city’s rise as a bachelorette-party destination for The Times’s Styles section. Across town, groups just like this one had gathered to celebrate other impending nuptials. The photographer Cassidy Araiza and I visited on a weekend in mid-May, which was the middle of peak bachelorette-party season. Everywhere we went, women were celebrating in matching T-shirts bearing slogans like “Scottsdale Before the Veil.” (My personal favorite T-shirt theme was worn by a group from Pittsburgh: The bride wore a T-shirt that said, “Man, I Feel Like a Bride,” à la Shania Twain, and her friends wore matching pink shirts with “Let’s Go Girls” emblazoned on the front.)

Anthony Rotunno, an editor on the Weddings desk, came up with the idea to send a reporter to Scottsdale when he visited a friend there last fall and learned that more and more bachelorette parties were coming to the city. The Times writer Caity Weaver (who, incidentally was a bridesmaid in my wedding last summer — though I did not force her to attend a destination bachelorette party) started working on the article but fell ill and could no longer go that weekend. When Caity and Anthony asked me whether I wanted to take over the reporting, I was excited and intrigued. My sister happened to be heading to a bachelorette party in Scottsdale — anecdotally, at least, the city seemed as if it was becoming a bachelorette hot spot. But why?

To get started, Caity put me in touch with a few bachelorette-party planners she had been talking with: Casey Hohman, who owns Scottsdale Bachelorette, and Meghan Alfonso, who owns Girl About Town. The planners connected me with parties they had booked, groups that were open to chatting with me and being photographed as they climbed onto pedal pubs or danced on tables at nightclubs. I got a surprisingly high number of positive responses and mapped out a four-day itinerary packed with Scottsdale’s top bachelorette-party activities.

Once I arrived in the city, I met even more brides on every stop on my tour, and almost all of them were willing to share their opinions and recommendations. (One hiccuping bride insisted that Cassidy and I visit the Bloody Mary bar at a local restaurant, but we didn’t have the time.) I also talked to business owners who explained how Scottsdale’s growing reputation as a bachelorette-party destination was changing the local economy. At the depot for the pedal-pub company Arizona Party Bike, the owner, Robert Mayer, told me that his clientele was now 75 percent women, with a median age of 28, and that almost all of them were celebrating bachelorette parties.

My favorite part of the reporting process was getting to know one bachelorette group that Cassidy and I followed for most of the weekend. The bride, Cameron Cooper, had planned a detailed itinerary and graciously invited us to tag along. We met her and her friends for the first time at 4:30 a.m. for a ride in a hot-air balloon; checked out their Airbnb, which was decorated in the popular disco-cowgirl theme; followed them into the desert on a Jeep tour; and bonded at Wine Girl, a local bar populated with several other bachelorette parties.

The group members told me that they had become best friends in middle school while following the Jonas Brothers around. They even showed me two different Jonas Brothers music videos in which they had appeared as fans. When my article was published in June, four women from the party were on another trip, this time to Las Vegas, to see the band kick off its residency at the Park MGM.

I was able to build a rapport with the Cooper group over a few days. With other parties, however, I had significantly less time — with opportunities arising in the middle of raucous clubs or pool parties with cabana boys. As an icebreaker, I asked the brides and their friends what the most popular drink of the weekend was; the answer was almost invariably hard seltzer, though everyone had a specific brand and flavor preference. Marissa Sklar, the bride I met at the $5 million rental property, said she and her 14 friends had finished 100 cans of High Noon in 24 hours. The watermelon flavor, she added, was the best.

When I returned home to Brooklyn, I was exhausted, a little sunburned and curious enough about the drink of the weekend to pick up a four-pack of High Noon. Turns out, the watermelon flavor is not for me — I’m really more of a wine girl.

Allie Jones is the senior celebrity writer at the Cut, New York magazine’s fashion and lifestyle site, where she writes about celebrities, gender politics, and fitness, lifestyle, and wellness trends.

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