A groom’s post: Stag and hen dos – are they relevant?

As regular readers of the blog know, Mrs UTVV and I didn’t have separate stag and hen dos.

Instead, we had what my mother-in-law dubbed the HAG – a combined hen and stag do. I won’t go into details as there’s already a post on what we did, but I did get some stick from people (women mainly – surprisingly) about not having a “proper” stag do.

At the risk of eliciting yet more (public) mockery about this, I’m going to come out an say it: the “traditional” hen and stag dos are anachronisms, throwbacks to an era when marriage was far different to what it is now.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to have a girlie spa day or a few pints at the pub with your boys. The pressure put on me to have a stag was of a different nature – It wasn’t pressure to spend time with my boys (I did that anyway) I was to go out and have a totally messy evening. As my male friends are generally scattered across the globe, I actually had pressure to go out and get wasted with guys I hardly knew – y’know – because they were guys.

People wanted to get me really, really drunk, people asked if I was having a stripper, and (perhaps most unsettlingly) many people assumed that I’d been strong-armed into turning down my “human right” to have a stag – and I don’t mean to sound like a prude, but I’ll explain exactly why I declined!

Alright, so this might have been taking it a bit far… 

Why I didn’t want a full-on stag do

Marriage is far different today that in was even 30 years ago. The vast majority of newlyweds have lived together before they get married, and marriage itself is seen as something to celebrate, not simply the means to an end.

That’s not to say weddings weren’t big occasions many years ago, just that marriage was an expected step in the journey of living together and having a family, and the transition from carefree bachelor to married man and soon father was abrupt.

The lads-only drunken stag do was a transition point, a last hurrah before responsibility set in. Today, men and women have responsibilities, sometimes kids, well before they are married so that change from bachelor to husband isn’t all that drastic. When I got married I was already in a committed and loving relationship – the last night of freedom idea just didn’t apply.

Separate hen and stag dos (and I’m talking the likes of The Hangover and the sort of antics you see on shows like Don’t Tell the Bride) foster an atmosphere of secrecy and imply some impropriety. The old adage of “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” applies to stag dos and even if all the men involved keep their hands (and their equipment) to themselves there’s an implied level of mistrust and line crossing.

On the flip side, I don’t really like the idea of some dude’s junk being shown to my wife-to-be right before we’re married. This is bound to be an unpopular opinion, but I think that a.) there’s an element of infidelity to strip shows, lap dances and the like (if you were at an ordinary party and received a lap dance it would be dodgy at best – is it any better because someone paid for it?) and b.) even if absolutely nothing happens, even for the most trusting of couples it can promote a feeling of anxiety and upset.

The wild guys’ and gals’ nights out imply that men are only friends with men and women are only friends with women. It also implies that having the opposite sex there will somehow ruin your fun – a slightly archaic view at best. Most married couples have a shared pool of friends before they get married. For the shared friends, the question becomes, who’s “do” do they do? This is a particular problem if they are on the same day or weekend. A joint event allows everyone to celebrate together. Also, if you’ve got family and friends coming from overseas, a joint event is a nice chance for everyone to get to know one another without the pressure of the wedding day itself.

I’m a live-an-let-live kind of guy – if you really want to go to Prague or Vilnius and get lit up like a Christmas tree, that’s cool. But there’s something to be said for having a great day or weekend out with your partner-to-be and all of your friends. There’s nothing that says you can’t have a copious amounts of beer at the same time!

Did you opt out of the conventional stag / hen do? Did you feel a lot of pressure to have a messy evening? Did you have a conventional stag / hen and how did you feel about your other half’s antics? We’d love to hear from you (and please do feel free to disagree!)

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