If you’re trying to plan a wedding on a budget, a Jack and Jill party might just be your saving grace. But since you’re essentially asking your friends and family to help pay for your wedding, there is some etiquette that needs to be followed.
To help you do it right, we’ve created a list of the most important do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when planning a Jack and Jill.
What is a Jack and Jill Party?
First of all, if you don’t know what a Jack and Jill party is, don’t feel bad. Many Americans haven’t heard of this popular pre-wedding event. Our neighbors in Canada have perfected the Jack and Jill party, or Stag and Doe party, to help couples cope with the financial strain of wedding events.
It’s a great way to get your whole crew together without separating everyone out on gender lines, with no need for silly games, or gigantic gift registries. The big bonus? If done right, it helps subsidize the wedding costs, or the open bar, or the honeymoon budget.
But what is the proper Jack and Jill party etiquette? Here are some handy do’s and don’ts to host your own before your big day.
Do: Charge a nominal amount as a “ticket price”
The entire point of this event is to defray the costs of the wedding, but since many Americans aren’t familiar with the tradition, it can be quite confusing. The most common way to raise the money for your wedding with no awkwardness is to simply charge an agreed-upon amount at the door. If the idea of asking for money this way make you feel uncomfortable, keep in mind:
- Most couples choose a price range between $15-$25 per person. It will add up quickly, but it’s not a huge burden on any single guest.
- You can also set up an optional collection basket for extra cash for a specific cause, such as the honeymoon. This will allow more generous guests to chip in anonymously if they so choose.
- If you choose to indicate what the funds will help with, list wedding items that everyone gets to enjoy, such as the cake, or the wine selection. No one wants to know that they’re helping to buy wildly extravagant wedding rings.
- Nowadays, it isn’t just assumed that the bride’s family is footing the bill for the entire wedding weekend. More and more couples are taking responsibility for their wedding finances. So it won’t seem as odd as perhaps it would have in 1918.
Sure, it’s stressful to be open and honest about money, but your friends and family will understand if you communicate clearly. Plus, $20 is a small price to pay for guests to enjoy a big party with all their friends!
Looking to save money on your Jack and Jill party decorations? Check out our article on 10 effortless decor hacks for a bride on a budget.
Don’t: Limit the guest list
This is a great opportunity to bring all of your friends together, even those who can’t make the wedding. Jack and Jill parties can include distant relatives, colleagues, or acquaintances who might not be attending a smaller wedding, or who can’t make your gorgeous destination wedding in Bali. More importantly, more guests equals more money(and more fun), so the bigger, the better.
Even if the majority of the guests will be at the wedding itself, the Jack and Jill party can be a great way to spend more time with people than you’ll be able to at the wedding. You’ll feel better about not sitting with great-aunt Ethel on your big day if you had a glass of rosé and chatted with her the week before.
Do: Have a fun theme
Having a fun or quirky theme for your Jack and Jill will not only make the day more enjoyable, but will also entice more guests to join you. The theme can be almost anything you can think up, for example:
- Brunch with bocce
- Beers with baseball
- Afternoon tea by the lake
- Whatever your heart desires
As long as it’s practical and something you’re sure your guests will want to attend. Remember, your grandmother doesn’t want to go play paintball.
Having a focused event will help guests understand what they’re getting into. No one will show up overdressed if the invite says “Bill and Lisa’s Wedding Weekend Kickball Kickoff”. While you’re looking to raise money, having a fun theme will let everyone know that you’re serious about everyone having a good time and getting their money’s worth.
Don’t: Go overboard
While you absolutely should have a theme and some provided food and drink, remember that the goal of the Jack and Jill party is to raise money. That means not spending too much on the party itself. To maximize the profits and minimize the stress, you can:
- Choose locations that are free, or inexpensive to use, such as a public park, or a relative’s yard for a barbeque.
- Use drink tickets to control the bar tab. You’ll eat into your profits really quickly if you overdo it on the booze. Two drink tickets per guest is customary as part of the price of admission.
Remember, you can always sell additional drink tickets to those who are so inclined to raise extra money.
- Buy in bulk. Kegged beer or cases of wine are much more economical than bottles, and is less wasteful, too.
- When it comes to the food, choose hearty, shareable options like barbeque, or sandwiches that can easily feed lots of people on the cheap. Taco trucks are also always a huge hit!
Do: Hold a Jack and Jill in lieu of another event.
Weddings can be all consuming for the bride and groom, but that doesn’t mean that your friends need to come along for a ride on the crazy train with you. Asking your closest friends to attend an engagement party, a Jack and Jill, a bridal shower, a bachelor/bachelorette party, a rehearsal dinner AND a wedding can be simply too much.
The Jack and Jill can be hosted in place of the bridal shower, the engagement party, or the bachelor/bachelorette festivities. A few things to remember:
- If you’re having the Jack and Jill in place of an engagement party, make sure to be clear that gifts are not expected, as the cash/ticket price is their gift.
- The same holds true for a bridal shower, so consider carefully if you were really excited to get new china, or a stand mixer.
- If you’re replacing the bachelor/bachelorette party, make sure you let your friends know what type of party you’re expecting. You don’t want any risqué surprises to make things awkward when your grandmother is in the front row.
Don’t: Expect too much.
While the J&J is a great way to have some fun AND bring a little extra bling and zing into the wedding, don’t expect the proceeds to cover the entire catering bill. This is about subsidizing, not bankrolling. So don’t get frustrated if you only clear an extra few hundred bucks.
Think of it this way, when was the last time you got paid to have a party with all of your friends?
Got some of your own ideas for Jack and Jill Do’s and Don’ts? Let us know in the comments!