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The new bachelor party: Skydiving and bike tours replace strip clubs and casinos

Howard An, who is getting married in October, has fun with his friends at an Axe Throwing club as part of his bachelor party, in Toronto on Saturday July 9 , 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Eduardo Lima
July 10, 2016 - 10:00 AM

For Jarrett Ehler, the perfect bachelor party was not a night of drunken debauchery. There were no strip clubs, casinos or limousines.

Instead, he and 11 close friends played golf, ate steaks, sipped beers and talked around a campfire during a getaway at Sherwood Golf and Country Club in Chester, N.S., in early June.

"I wanted it to be about having my friends together and having a good time with them," said the 27-year-old Ehler, who is from Prince Edward Island but lives in Toronto.

"I didn't want it to be a typical city event where everyone is going in different directions and you get so absolutely hammered that you don't even have any meaningful conversations."

Industry experts say Ehler's experience is becoming the new normal. Bachelor parties in Canada are moving away from the traditional night of vice, with many grooms opting instead for experience-based celebrations that run the gamut from beer tasting to bike tours.

Dan Brennan, CEO of the Ottawa-based Breakaway Experiences Inc., said he often caters to the thrill-seeking groom. He said bachelors nowadays are looking for a full-day or weekend-long experience, with some opting to tick boxes off their bucket lists.

"It's often not just about partying in bars and drinking anymore. It's turning into a full experience," said Brennan, adding that his company offers a range of bachelor party experiences including skydiving and stunt car driving.

"More and more, bachelor parties are becoming an event. They want to do something that they're going to remember — something unique and fun."

Oren Bornstein, owner of the bachelor party planning company Connected Montreal, said many contemporary couples are getting married at an older age than their parents did.

He said those grooms are more likely to crave a weekend away from the daily grind rather than a one-night bender.

"People are getting married later on in life and there's less and less chances for guys and their buddies to go on vacation with just each other," said Bornstein. "So ironically, it's becoming less about the bachelor and more just about everyone getting together."

But Bornstein conceded he still plans plenty of parties riddled with immoral self-indulgence: "I think at the end of the day, boys will be boys," he said with a laugh.

Newlywed Matt McGrath wasn't interested in having naked women at his camping stag in coastal Blandford, N.S.

"At the end of the day, I don't live my life like a rap video," said the 31-year-old man with a deep chuckle, adding that his friends planned his party. "(Strippers) don't have any sort of appeal to me. I don't see the entertainment in it and I don't think it's tasteful."

McGrath said he thinks grooms in the 21st century are also becoming more frugal.

"Throwing away your money on visuals — maybe that's not the best way to spend your money or your friend's money when you can grab a couple of beers... and share some stories with the intent of celebrating the life you've created and carved out for yourself," he said.

Ehler agreed, saying he didn't want his bachelor party to be about having one last night of freedom, but rather celebrating his upcoming marriage with his closest friends.

"It's not about a 'last call,'" said Ehler, who is getting married in Digby, N.S., on July 31. "It really is just an opportunity to get everyone together and celebrating the phase of life that you're at."

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News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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