Bachelorette in New Orleans: How to Spoil Your Bride and Stay on Budget

If you’ve read my previous MOH proposal post, you know that I started planning Kathryn’s bachelorette right away. Partially because I was excited and partially because she wanted to have it on Labor Day weekend, which is super busy in New Orleans due to the Southern Decadence festival. To give you some context: Kathryn had 8 (!) bridesmaids who were all coming and going at different times, one even got a flight cancelled last minute! So I needed to accommodate a lot of different schedules and budgets in addition to finding a space to house all these women.

/ Kathryn here! I’ll be inserting my commentary here and there to give you some insights from the bride being spoiled. /

The Budget: How to Maintain Your Sanity and Split Costs

Money is the hardest thing to deal with at a bachelorette, especially if you are organizing it. Everyone has different ideas about what things should cost, how much they should contribute, etc. I am pretty old fashioned in that I think the bride should only pay for her transportation, so I split her costs among everyone. I also made a $ key in the itinerary so everyone would have an idea how much each meal and activity would cost. Of course, I also provided a budget spreadsheet with more exact costs as I knew them.

I highly recommend Splitwise or Bach to help track expenses and avoid surprises. I really wish I’d had Bach (I didn’t learn about it until later) because it would have saved me from trying to coordinate spreadsheets, group texts, email threads, and Splitwise. (Not affiliated with them, it just seems genius.)

Housing: You Don’t Want to Be Where the People Are

Let’s start with housing: we considered a hotel near the French Quarter (the most hoppin’, touristy part of NOLA where all Bach parties congregate). This was going to be super expensive because we needed two rooms and obviously a group would end up not being in the same room as Kat. Since we didn’t want to exclude anyone (location- or budget-wise) we pivoted to an Airbnb. I got bridesmaid approval and booked one that ended up pulling an “oh I have to move you to a different location last minute” scam. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check our hotel/Airbnb story highlight on insta or this vice article that came out a few months after the bach—Kathryn pointed out that it was likely the original host was trying to pull this with us!

We ended up finding a super cute airbnb on Tchoupitoulas, down by Magazine street. It was a bit farther to get to the French Quarter, but saved us money and gave us way more space than any apartment downtown could offer. (I do recommend giving hosts a heads up that you are a bachelorette, it’s better to be safe than sorry!) Magazine is also a fun place to be and this house was right near a brewery and a couple of bars. We had plenty of beds, bathrooms, and free parking which came in handy for our friend that rented a giant SUV to drive to NOLA from Texas and to haul us around. We were also in close proximity to the street car and could easily Lyft/Uber to the FQ.

/ Kathryn: I loved the little Airbnb we ended up In: it had 3 bedrooms, and a big open space for us all to hang out in. I especially loved the way my girls decorated it for me. That’s a topic for a different day, but I will leave you with a few photos for now! /

Activities: Don’t Overbook Yourself

You might feel like you need to book all the fun things to give your bride the best weekend of her life, but everyone needs a little built-in downtime––a nap can save hungover girl’s life. When drafting the itinerary I color coded time chunks for Party, Eat, Chill, and Activity. This left us with a good buffer to take naps, get ready, and play a couple games.

/ Kathryn: I have a history of falling asleep at bars when we go on some of our many couple’s weekend trips together, because we have been doing fun stuff ALL. DAY. I have since learned that if I’m expected to do activities on a trip during the day and night, I need to recharge in the middle there to keep me going, like an Energizer bunny. /

The activities I did plan were all affordable, except for one splurge item. Let’s split them up by alcohol and non-alcohol-centered events:

Non-Alcoholic Events

Walking Tour

Free Tours by Foot does a great cemetery/Garden District tour. I’ve been on this walking tour for two different bachelorettes and I highly recommend it. As the name suggests, it’s free, unless you have a large group, in which case it is $10 (still worth it, I promise). Try to get a mid-morning slot so you aren’t melting.

Brunch Cruise

This was our splurge ––I thought a cruise would package an expensive meal and experience in one and thus make it more palatable to spend the money on. There are two companies you can cruise with, Steamboat Natchez and Creole Queen. Each has their pros and cons, but we ended up going with Steamboat Natchez, who gave us a discount for our large party.

Swimming

What’s better than a dip in the pool after a steaming hot day in humid New Orleans? There are a lot of great pools (with pool bars + snacks) in New Orleans. I recommend scoping out some hotel rooftop pools, like the one at Ace Hotel. I chose the Country Club for Kat’s Bach because the entrance fee was reasonable ($15) and it was so dang cute.

Games

Maybe games aren’t your bride’s jam, so check with her first. We played the panty game––each attendee brings panties for the bride and she has to guess who brought which pair. One of the bridesmaids found Cads About Matrimony online, a wedding version of Cards Against Humanity, which you can either buy on Amazon or download and print their free PDF. We also found a “would you rather” book stashed in the Airbnb cabinet. You might think these are cheesy, but they’re a great way to get a really disparate group of girls to interact and bond, thus making your bride’s experience more fun.

Activities With Alcohol

Frenchmen Street

The cousin of Bourbon, still fun but slightly less crazy. I scheduled this for Friday because we’d all be traveling and weren’t ready to dive in to Bourbon yet.

Pub Crawl

Kat mentioned in our post about Louisville’s Urban Bourbon Trail that we are very good at keeping the party going if we have a goal, and we came up with her wedding date on a pub crawl, so this seemed right up her alley. Our NOLA pub crawl came with drink specials, and we ended up at a couple places we wouldn’t normally have gone, leading to the infamous mechanical bull (which makes the crawl worth it all on its own). We got the early bird rate, which also saved us a couple dollars. Highly recommend if you want to hit Bourbon hard but you don’t want Bourbon to hit your wallet as hard.

Bars off Bourbon

New Orleans has a ton of cute bars outside the FQ. A couple I had on the itinerary were Hot Tin, which was close to our Airbnb, and Bacchanal, which was close to where our cruise was going to dock. Both have a more chill atmosphere and prices aren’t quite as hiked as they are downtown.

Pat O’Brien’s

/ Kathryn: This bar’s motto is “Have Fun”—which is Joe’s #1 rule too. The space is massive: a back patio, a main bar, and a piano bar. Sometimes there’s a cover, so it might not be the economical option for your group, but it is sure to be the best time. They’re famous for their hurricane, and they have a massive one that needs at least 6 people in your group to order (we know—we’ve tried with 5 people in the past). Joe was so sweet wanted to buy it for us, so Pat O’s was our last stop of the evening. Y’all, we hardly made a dent because we (read: me) were already pretty drunk. If you choose not to do a pub crawl, a massive hurricane might be exactly what you need to get your night started! /

Food

I hate spending $50 on a meal that was meh (I’m a vegetarian so I have more angst about this than the average person). I tried to find affordable, but still New Orleanian, options for all of our meals out, that could accommodate everyones tastes and dietary restrictions.

Groceries

Listen to me, I don’t care if you want to eat every single meal out, you need groceries. You will want snacks, you drunk bride will need a sandwich, someone will complain that they can’t afford to visit one more restaurant. We got enough food to have lunch at home between the walking tour and Bourbon, and the extra food ended up saving all of us from being hangry or melting down because we couldn’t find drunk food.

Feeding the drunk bride her sandwich.

Dat Dog

This hot dog place has multiple locations, is pretty reasonable, and has a lot of options for all palates. It was close to our Airbnb, near some fun bars, and only one $ on my budget key.

District Donuts

This place has fun donuts and more hearty options if you need a little more. We ate here before heading to our walking tour so I didn’t want everyone to be in a food coma. They also have multiple locations, and are super reasonable (a theme, you may notice). Beware, one of the donuts has pepper in it, which I discovered when Kat ordered it for me and we had to warn the parents of the young child behind us who made the same mistake.

Napoleon House

This place is incredibly cute and was down the street from the bar our pub crawl started at. Not only is it cheap, good food in the heart of the Quarter, but they claim to have invented the Pimm’s Cup and it is dang good. If you only take one of my suggestions, this one is it.

Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza

Very relaxed, multiple locations, and affordable. This is where we went after our hangover recovery nap to get Kathryn some carbs so she could rally.

/ Kathryn: Spoiler alert, I did not rally. We went back to the Airbnb and played some of those games instead! /

New Orleans Coffee and Beignet Co

I know Cafe du Monde is considered the epicenter of the beignet world, but trust me there are good beignets to be had all over the city. Your tourist palate likely won’t even know the difference, and you wont have to fight the massive line waiting for that du Monde experience. They’re also connected to a burger place if your fellow bridesmaids need something heartier.

Slim Goodies

Kathryn and I ended up going here for breakfast by ourselves after everyone else had left. There was street parking right out front and their vegetarian options were killer. I really liked the vibe of this place and it was maybe one of my favorite meals.

Honorable Mentions

We didn’t go to these places on this trip, but they are tried and true options we’ve been to before.

Palace Cafe

If you know about the Brennan’s restaurant group in NOLA and want to try it without selling a kidney, this is a great option. You get the splurge meal experience for a little bit less than other Brennan’s affiliates. Kathryn’s husband swears by their Crabmeat Cheesecake (sounds gross, but just try it).

St. Roch’s

Can’t get everyone to agree? A food hall with save your sanity. Each person can pick their own cuisine and still eat as a group. Plus the hall itself it lovely.

/ Kathryn: We hope these tips help you plan a killer bachelorette party to spoil your bride and celebrate her. I know I certainly felt spoiled and celebrated because of the stellar weekend that Summer planned. Looking for what to wear during the weekend? Check out our bachelorette outfits for the plus size bride and Summer’s bachelorette attendee guide. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions! /

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