Happy 2016, everyone! While I have some fun New Years-y posts coming up, I thought we could start with something nice and easy while we nurse the last vestiges of our two-day hangovers. (What? That’s just me?) Something like a Caribbean bachelorette party. We’re all still in party mode after all, right?
Bride-to-be in Bonaire
When my girl Angie announced she was engaged, I was cheering. When she announced her wedding date, I was crushed — I’d be across the world in Thailand while she walked down the aisle in the Bahamas. It was the first wedding of a close friend that I’ve had to miss (which is not a bad track record considering my lifestyle) but it was still quite the blow. Regular readers will recognize Angie as a familiar face around Wanderland — together, we’ve explored Kauai, Miami, Orlando, and her hometown of Jacksonville, though considering how often we send each other emoji-laden iMessages, we might as well be neighbors. While I’d miss the big day, I knew I had to get involved where I could.
First, I volunteered to design Angie’s wedding invites, a project we both poured a lot of love and work into. I may have tested the limits of our friendship by forgetting that not everyone has an arsenal of Martha Stewart-branded crafting tools and four years of design-school-project-assemblage-experience and designing an intricate tri-fold, but what are weddings for if not to push the bride to the edge of sanity?
Once I got my crafting gears cranking, it was hard to slow them down. And that’s when it hit me: our upcoming Bonaire trip could double as a secret bachelorette party! A quick call to Kristin revealed she’d been similarly scheming — as Angie was forgoing a big wedding party and little sister was swamped with school, we wanted to make sure Angie had the fêting she deserved. (Our plans to get little sister Rachel to the island fell through, but never mind — she ended up throwing Angie a second Bachelorette a few months later, one I also got to be a part of. More on that in another post!) I soon found myself designing another set of invites…
Yup, we decided to throw the ultimate shark lover a fin-tastic, Jaws-themed Bonaire bachelorette! As our fourth muskateer and Bonaire insider Steph warned us that provisions were slim on the island, I arrived with a suitcase full of all kinds of goodies — invites, favors, mini-champagne bottles, and more, along with plans for a big ‘ol suprise our last night on the island. I was literally giddy all week anytime Angie mentioned anything to do with wedding planning blues — surprisingly she didn’t question why I was smiling like a wide-eyed crazy person while she was venting about her venue — because we were just so darn excited to hit her with a little bit of wedding planning bliss.
On the big night, Angie showed up at our scheduled meeting time, ready for dinner and a quiet night before an early flight. But instead of whisking away to a restaurant, we handed the bewildered bride-to-be an invitation to a party in her honor — right there, right then.
photos courtesy of Kristin
I may have gotten a tad over-enthusiastic with the favors. (My little sister Olivia, who routinely reminds me that she expects me to take a year off to help her plan her own hypothetical someday wedding, disagrees with that statement.) What can I say? A girl’s gotta craft. Travel is great and all, but sometimes I think true happiness is found at the bottom of a can of gold spray paint.
Angie has a well-documented shark infatuation, a fun theme to bounce off of. (Kristin rejected most of my Jaws related pun fun, but… I think in retrospect that might have been best for everyone.) Pinterest is bursting with ideas for bachelorette survival kits, but this might be the first shark bite survival kit I’ve ever seen handed out at a party.
*Want one for your own party? At Angie and Kristin’s urging, I put the templates up on Etsy for purchase. Get started making any week Shark Week here!
And what is a party without party hats? Nay, party hats bedazzled to look like baffled sharks? Throw in some handmade photo-prop signs and a custom hashtag and you’ve got yourself a blogger bachelorette.
Angie is not a woman that surprises easily, and there were many times throughout the week that I thought she must have been onto us — or worse, was not in the mood for any kind of festivities (it was the last night of a pretty exhausting week, after all.) But the look on her face when she realized what was going on, and her squeals of excitement as she absorbed every detail told me we’d had nothing to worry about.
Eventually, we did make our way to dinner. Our outdoor table at At Sea was perfect for continuing our celebrations. After a fabulous meal our waitress brought over shots of locally-made Cadushy liquor to toast with, and toast we did.
Afterwards, we hit the town! Or, well, more like “hit the one street that’s lively one night of the week,” when it comes to Bonaire. Little Havana’s on a Friday night is pretty much as lively as this island’s tiny nightlife scene gets — but it was perfect for us. With our ridiculous get-ups and funny signs, we certainly attracted a lot of attention.
However, we quickly realized that much of it was just plain confusion. Apparently, bachelorette parties aren’t very common in Bonaire. “Is it your birthday?” we were asked, over and over again. When we replied that no, Angie was getting married, that only led to further head scratching. Eyeing her veil, more than one suspicious bystander asked where her new husband was. We were pretty much local celebrities.
Considering a primary goal of all bachelorette parties is to embarrass the bride, I felt we could certainly say mission accomplished.
Once we’d felt satisfied that we’d brought the wonderful tradition of bachelorette parties to the good people of Bonaire, we hit the dance floor. Us, and all our sharks.
Angie just had the worst time
While we were having a grand time at Havana’s, we eventually came to the conclusion that the DJ was simply not playing enough Britney Spears for any of our likings. So we wandered across the street into what can only be described as a completely empty biker bar staffed by a few men wearing leather vests and jackets, and requested a playlist helmed by the princess of pop. Moments later, “Crazy” poured from the speakers, and the four of us filled the empty dance floor.
It wasn’t long until one of our hosts was inspired to put on a little show of his own. Finally, someone who understood what bachelorette parties are all about!
Things started to get a little silly.
Eventually, with our flight to Aruba boarding in mere hours, it was time to call it a night. The problem with partying on a small Caribbean isle is the number of cabs can be in the single digits. When our new friends behind the bar realized that we’d be stranded for ages waiting for one, one of the leather-clad gentlemen insisted on bringing us himself. As he cleared his work briefcase off the seats of his minivan (true story), he and Steph bonded over mutual Bonaire friends. A ride home from a biker with a backup minivan, who owns a honky tonk bar willing to play non-stop Britney Spears. It was the perfect bizarre ending to a perfect bachelorette night.
Angie is a kindred spirit in not just travel and blogging and I treasure our friendship. I’m sad to report that the Bahamas half of the #Bonaire2Bahamas hashtag was frankly a disaster — I don’t think I’ve ever read such an infuriating wedding story in my life. (And I’d have lost my patience well before Angie did at the number of well-meaning “at least you’re married!” comments she received. Yeah, she could have achieved that at the courthouse and saved herself thousands of dollars and months of planning that she can never get back.) My hard-working friend did not deserve the swindling she received from her wedding venue.
Knowing how that turned out, I’m even more grateful we were able to create a really happy wedding moment (along with, ya know, marrying the love of her life, or whatever). And if she ever decides to go for the whole vow renewal do-over thing, I know the perfect venue. The dress code is leather, and Britney’s on the playlist.
What do you think of destination bachelorettes? Clearly, I give them two fins up!
This looks like SUCH a fun bachelorette and the kind of thing my friends and I would do! Love the ideas!
I’m upset over Angie’s wedding disaster but I’m glad you could give her a great surprise.
It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? And yes, from what I’ve seen from the wedding shenanigans of you and your crew, this would fit right in! 🙂
The Bachelorette party looks nothing short of FANTASTIC! Those shark hats make me giggle every time I scroll past them! This is a Bachelorette party a girl can only dream off – come on, Britney Spears in a biker bar! 🙂 – great post!
Ha ha, thanks Dominique. Those hats were my favorite too — wore mine till the bitter end!
I’m glad I’ve gotten to relive this night now three times through our different perspectives as it really was the most fun ever!
NOW GIMME DAT FLAMINGO DRESS
It was indeed! Also, perfect theme idea for the next bachelorette… flamingos!
Also, just LOLing at the memory of this text: “Are you awake? It’s 2am and my flight leaves in four hours and I’m spray painting tiny sharks in the garage.”
LOVE all the photos and favors, especially the shark party hats. Being able to consistently craft and create is one of the things I really miss as a full-time traveler. I have been known to travel with felt, glitter and glue at certain points over the last five years and have hit up art supply stores in a fair number of the countries I’ve visited!
I feel ya, Jenny! Taking a few days to bake and wrap presents all fancy went a long way to make me feel like I was home for the holidays over Christmas here in Thailand. Special crafting scissors forever!
It seems that you had fun at the party. I’m sorry that the wedding venue wasn’t as good as you expected. I wish the newly weds a lot of happiness.
I’m sure they appreciate that, Minuca. I think it went a little beyond not as good as expected, though… it was a construction zone! Fingers crossed they get some of their money back, eventually.
Ok so I just went down the rabbit hole of Angie’s Wedding debacle & am in total shock this could happen to anyone, let alone a seasoned travel writer & PR girl for the country in which it occurred. OMG! Just goes to show none of us are immune to bad travel luck 🙁
As for the shark bachelorette, once again I’m blown away by your creativity & ability to find time in such a busy life to make things & devote so much QT to your loved ones. You are as I’ve said before, an inspiration!
I know, right?! It’s crazy. That girl has been the Bahama’s biggest advocate for almost a decade… wild to think it could happen to her. I’d be beside myself! I think she’s handling it better than I would, for sure.
This looks like an awesome time, and I’m glad she has these memories because her actual wedding sounds like a complete nightmare!!
And it couldn’t happen to a more organized, on-the-ball person. I don’t know how a less resourceful bride would have pulled it together!
This party looks like a blast! I love the photos and am glad that you all had such a great time!
Thanks Natalie! I was so glad we all had our cameras to document it. I wish I could show you the polaroids we took thanks to Kristin!
Such a cute theme !!
Thanks Katherine! What diver wouldn’t love a shark party?! 🙂
I’m not sure I’m ever going to recover from those party hats!!! They are beyond perfect. It looks like you had an absolute blast.
Ha, thanks Marni! I might have to come up with a reason to throw more shark parties. Believe it or not this is the second one I’ve thrown in my life… number three might be around the corner.
That sounds like an epic celebration! What a fun way to surprise someone! I would have totally loved such a bachelorette, although my Okie celebration did get the job done 🙂
We definitely got lucky in turning an existing trip into a surprise bachelorette. I think it would have been harder to arrange one separately, considering our schedules!
Omg, I want to put you in charge of the bachelorette party I don’t ever plan on having because this looks like soo much fun! I’m planning a bachelorette party in a few months but it won’t be anything this detailed.
Sky’s the limit, Sky 😉 I just have a lot of fun with this kind of thing. I’m sure your bride will love whatever you’ve designed for her!
I loved reliving every moment of this! I was SO surprised and then SO touched by how much work you guys put into the party. It turned out so perfectly down to the last detail. I am beyond blessed to have friends like you! BEYOND!
You were a great sport and made it so fun for us! Still sad I couldn’t be there to lend last minute crafting hands at the wedding, but… Sharkmaids forever <3
This sounds like it was such a fun bachelorette! I’m also obsessed with sharks and LOVE those survival kits – so awesome! I need those shark party hats in my life – bachelorette or not, ha.
Perhaps this is your year to throw a big shark week blowout 😉