• Marina Chaffanjon


Updated: Jan 28

I can only guess what a nightmare it must have been for my friends to organise a bachelorette party for me! When about a year ago I gave my witnesses the list of my friends who I would like to see for the last party in my non-married life (about 18 people, living across six different countries), I didn't know how my friends would go about it. Firstly, from the logistic and financial points of view, this is mission impossible; secondly, considering that I have been traveling for eight last years, the groups of friends that I have don't have much in common, so it would be difficult to have crazy fun together. So my friends decided for me: if it is impossible to come all of them for my one and only bachelorette party, they will organise three of them in different places and with different people!

Cross-cultural traditions

To date I'm still not quite sure what the Russian contemporary traditions for bachelor parties are. Historically Slavic bride and groom would separate the day before the wedding to spend time with their single friends. Men used to drink (obviously!) and girls would sew, sing and cook together. I find it curious that even back in the Middle Ages, both the bride and the groom used to go to banya (the notorious Russian sauna) with their friends before the wedding. Bath-taking before the wedding symbolises making yourself clean in all possible senses before committing yourself to another person before God. Thus hammams and spas as a destination for the bachelorette party is not at all a new fashion, but a well-rooted tradition!

But well, all this is history, but I had no clue how bachelorettes are organised in Russia these days. I have been invited a few times to Russian wedding, but never to hen parties. Thus I decided to do it "à la française". Whether it is genuinely French or borrowed from American movies, I don't know, but it is appealing, which is why it became so popular in France nowadays. The idea is that the only thing that you, the bride/groom, do for this party, is giving the list of the people you would like to see to your witnesses who then prepare a surprise for you. It is your wedding and you have loads of things to organise so let the bachelor party be prepared by your friends. It usually lasts for a weekend (a few weeks or months before the wedding) somewhere in a different city than the one where the bride/groom lives, but the day and the program stay a top-secret to the them. This is nothing but a pre-wedding gift as all the expenses are carried by the friends. Usually men do some masculine activities like extreme sports and extreme drinking, whereas girls either go for some cultural ones (workshops, concerts, etc.) or... extreme drinking (but boys do not know it). The latest fashion in France has been to go abroad for this weekend in East/South Europe where hotels and night life are often cheaper than in France. Great plan for a party, isn't it!

Well, that said, I was not at all sure how my Russian friends would react to this "Framerican" fashion. For some time, I let my witnesses manage it, but three of them being French and only one - Russian (whereas 80% of the girls on the list were Russians), at some point I had to intervene and suggest that I do pay for my own flight tickets at least. This way I didn't feel that I was imposing foreign traditions at my own benefit.

Chapter 1. Lyon with my pregnant ladies

Just to remind you, we had two witnesses each at our civil wedding. From my side, it was the Chef's sister and AS, my dear friend and the wife of the Chef's best friend BigT, the latter being also my Godfather (I got baptised in Sharjah in 2016). This couple who we were spending all our time with in Dubai, moved to France a few months before us and settled down in Lyon. At our civil wedding they were both behaving weirdly (BigT drinking heavily and AS staying suspiciously calm) and a month later they announced to us that they were waiting for a baby. The Chef's sister M got pregnant a few months later, but either way, traveling by plane to a different country for a bachelorette wouldn't be an option for either one of them.

We came with The Chef in April for a weekend to Lyon to change ideas and escape Parisian routine. The weather was amazing and we decided to go for a walk to the river bank with AS while the boys had left for paintball. I proposed a few options of where exactly we could go, but AS seemed to be very determined to go to THAT particular one. Well, it's a pregnant woman, I thought, and didn't insist anymore. So can you imagine my surprise when we finally reached the right point and there was M. The Chef's sister and AS did know each other, but they had literally met three times in their lives before, and it was quite surreal to see them together in Lyon! M was there with AS's old friend L, who I had met a couple of times before, but didn't know well. She was helping the girls with the organisation and activities and it was nice to have her with us.

As you can understand, when you have two pregnant women in the team, your bachelorette party is not going to end up at 7 AM in a strip-bar. We behaved very well and ate lots of quinoa salad, drank plenty of detox juices and cookies without gluten for a picnic. It didn't stop us though from playing a game where I had to answer the questions (some of which were very kinky), which The Chef had to answer first before, and talk about sex and relationships with our men. That's what the girls' parties are made for, no? After a quick photo session on the river bank, we moved to L's place where she organised for us a jewellery workshop where we could pick up the pearls we wanted to make the earrings for ourselves. Finally, after M left, AS and I took the car and went to a different end of the city to see opera Carmen, which I absolutely adored. Poor girls were exhausted, but satisfied by their surprise, whereas I was excited by the unexpected bachelorette and extremely happy!

Chapter 2. Moscow never sleeps

The Moscow bachelorette was the official one. Its date was announced to me by one of my witnesses Mimi back in February at our return from Thailand when we were passing by Dubai. Considering that about a half of my girlfriends live in Moscow, they decided it would be much easier to do a bachelorette in Russia instead of making everyone make a visa and buy costly flight tickets. However, booking a date was not that easy considering that I didn't have a job yet and could't take vacation from work that I didn't have. Moreover, I didn't want to go myself or make Mimi fly from Dubai for two days only, so I needed to find at least one week. Thus I was postponing the decision till the moment where I received yet another negative answer from a company and said to myself, "be what it may, I'm going to have fun with my friends and if the perfect job finds me right before, it will wait for a week (if it's a perfect match, we can wait for each other, right?)" So both Mimi and I booked tickets for 10 days, with a weekend of bachelorette followed by one week of visiting Moscow and St. Petersburg.

OMG, it was so great! 10 days of happiness, where you feel blessed and spoiled, and appreciate your friends for what they are and what you have all become, reminiscent of everything you have lived through and dream about the future. Talking, and laughing, and dancing, and enjoying every minute you have. Looking forward, I can say that it was just as good as the wedding itself, just different.

My girlfriends gave me rendez-vous in Central Moscow where I arrived, obediently following the instructions and not checking what was at this address. Honestly, I thought it would be an airbnb flat, so I was waiting outside in the street trying to call through to one of my friends, whereas they all were waiting for me in a beauty salon (oops, sorry, a beauty bar called "Tsveti") inside the same building. So just imagine: a three-hour indulging beauty session watered generously by champagne and accompanied with endless girls' chattering, giggling and selfie photo sessions. All pampered, we took a taxi and went to.... an airbnb flat this time? No! That was an incredible, gorgeous, glamorous and simply beautiful St. Regis Hotel! Mimi was completely crazy, but that was her personal gift to me - a night for the two of us in chick and comfort like real princesses. It was of course also a preparation camp for all of us. When we arrived, I found in our room:

  • Very cute wedding decoration in champagne colors,

  • Photobooth props,

  • Lots of champagne (love it!),

  • Leopard panty with silicone butt pads,

  • Super-short white dress with a veil and a garter,

  • The album with the pictures of my young ages with all my girlfriends (I didn't dare to open it till Mimi showed it to me at 6 AM),

  • A beautiful silk bathrobe with "Bride" written on it, whereas Mimi had the same with the word "Bridesmaid",

  • MAC make-up kits for everyone, including my mother! (thank you Mimi and MAC that became our sponsor without knowing it).

So in this chapel of girlhood we first played a similar game with the questions I had to answer (but these ones were much kinkier than those of my pregnant friends!), then watched the video that Mimi made with the photos and wishes that all my missing and present friends left to me, and then finally dressed up for the next part of the party.

We all then went to a splendid fashionable restaurant of the contemporary Russian Cuisine "Ruski" in the Moscow City with an amazing city view. There we had a calm and very tasty dinner and moved on to a night club called Motel. Designed as a typical American road motel, it was either too trendy for us or it used to be trendy before but then lost all its glamour, but either way, after about two hours there, we decided to change the place for something else. So my friend who is a young mother who I thought never went out, suddenly went, "I know another place, which is just round the corner, I got wasted there last weekend - let's go there!" So that other place called Valenok was a club, bar and restaurant with an easy pop music and that was exactly what we needed. We danced bare feet until 5 AM until we couldn't feel our feet anymore. It had been AGES that I hadn't been to a night club and hadn't been going out with my girlfriends. And I missed it SOO MUCH! Tired, but too excited to sleep, Mimi and I chattered till 6 AM in the hotel till we saw the sunrise and fell asleep "without back legs" as we say in Russian. The next day, we all met again for brunch, which followed by a three-hour soaking for Mimi and I in our hotel spa. And the best part was that this was just a beginning because I was in Russia for another week of holidays with my dear friend, but this is another story.

Chapter 3. Paris est une fête

When I thought that two hen parties is more than enough and I had already been spoilt too much, I found myself surrounded once again by my friends for a third chapter of my bachelorette party, this time in Paris. "Never two without three", as say the French. Funnily, none of my Parisian friends from the bachelorette list was French. I had two Italians and one German, but the latter was out of the town that weekend so she was "replaced" by The Chef's cousin JJ who I introduced to my Italian Parisians - finally, we had one French representative to "legitimise" our Parisian chapter.

Paris, bachelorette

It was the weekend of moving from one apartment to another (as I found a job, we could finally move out from our cave). If you have ever moved apartments or done works in your house, you should know that this is a real test for relationships. We were both on the verge of killing each other (it would have been a pity, it was just two weeks before the wedding). To destress, we decided to see our friends, although I was very close to canceling the meeting as I was really not in the mood. I left earlier for "a cool Iranian bar" recommended by my friend (which was a typo of "Italian" as Iranian bars do not exist), whereas The Chef was supposed to join us later. When I arrived to the destination, I couldn't find the bar. I made several tours round the street with no success. The address was correct, but instead of a bar, there was a hammam "Les Cent Ciels" with some Arabic writing on it. Well, I thought, perhaps the hammam had an Iranian hidden bar inside and I went in. It turned out to be a Moroccan spa, nothing to do with Iran. I was completely out of words when I saw there JJ and my two Italian friends running like headless chickens with a bottle of champagne! It turned out that they had even prepared my swimming suit, which JJ had "stolen" from me the day before when she was helping us to move. So it turned out that the guy who I wanted to kill just an jour before had helped my friends to organise yet another surprise for me and was doing it with so much attention! By the way, when I came back home, he had already assembled all the furniture to apologise....

We were careful this time not to drink too much champagne so as not to sweat alcohol, but it was hard! I was so tired of that weekend and so happy to spend time with my friends that had it not been Sunday, it would have ended really bad! We just chit chatted, moving slowly from sauna to hammam and from hammam to the swimming pool. Then we changed and went to an ITALIAN (not Iranian this time) restaurant "Pane Olio e Pomodoro" where the food was absolutely delicious and the portions - very generous!

After all these nice and calm, crazy and chic, relaxing and cosy gatherings with my girlfriends, I realised how much I enjoyed spending time with them! There is no man that can replace a "girls' only" spirit, not even The Chef.

By the way, I did get my job offer just before my Russian holiday, but then during my stay in St. Petersburg I got a call from the company that I am currently working for. And they did wait for me, for that was indeed a perfect match!

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