Our friends are having their wedding. My wife and I are the best couple. As usual the girls planned a bridal shower for the bride-to-be.
I have seen this happen when ladies make transitions into marriage, motherhood, moving houses and other significant family-related activities. Nothing much happens for the guys. So I rallied up the groom’s groomsmen and some of his close friends and decided to do something equivalent.
We had what the culture would call a stag party.
When I posted a photo of our stag on Facebook (see featured image above), a few people asked me what a godly stag party looks like. One lady even asked me to blog about it. There was a positive response; it seems as if in our culture, women are prepared for marriage more than men.
It is almost as if the women are sat down and given the down-low on marriage while the men just…well…show up. I don’t believe this is healthy. So this is to help any best-man out there who will get the honour of being the right-hand man of a groom in the coming future.
I have picked some of these things I will share after having been a best-man for seven men: Roy, Caleb, John, Kanyeria, Mteule, Sam, Ian. And now Losim is the eighth. And Kingsley will be the ninth this 2018 Christmas. His will be overseas; one of the perks of this role. These men are all people I have considered close to me. They are all godly men and we look out for each other. Some reside out of the country but we still keep in touch.
I haven’t had stag parties for all of them. In honesty, for most there was more focus on transition into life after marriage and ensuring the wedding day runs well. For all grooms, I spent personal intimate time with them. Some of the grooms I have stood with belong to a couples fellowship that my wife and I run. We believe in walking with the couple that you are a best-couple to. However lately, the idea of a stag party became attractive to me. It serves as a send off and also imparts wisdom to the unmarried who attend. There is a joy in bringing along more like-minded men to have that intimate time before the wedding. A stag can be on the eve of the wedding or several days before. I recommend the latter. I believe that it is better that the eve of the wedding is spent resting and ready for the next day.
Our stag party was a surprise. I like surprises because they set a precedence for a great time. We tricked Losim into thinking we were going to hang out for lunch one Saturday afternoon. We passed by a friend’s place and he was met by a team of men welcoming him for lunch and congratulating him. You don’t have to make it a surprise. You can let them know the plan. But I think the thrill of secret WhatsApp groups and making the groom feel special will result in a more interesting stag.
Book a date way in advance. If it’s a surprise, book the groom on that day and ensure he makes no other plans. Feel free to conspire with his future bride should things get difficult to hold together. We had a tough time when Losim announced that he would be working the weekend we had planned for the stag. We used the ladies to convince him to let go and just hang out with his friends.
Ladies plan their bridal showers with decor, dress codes and coded languages. This is not a must for men. Some of those things may make some men feel emasculated (lol). But if you are quite the artist, a men-themed event could be your forté.
It is imperative that the company at the stag is godly and wants to impart the groom to keep his marriage till death do him part; the hope is that the stag party is not aimed to destroy a marriage even before it begins. And if that is not the case, I must state that stag parties characterized by drunkenness, sexual immorality and “celebrating” your last “free” moments are nothing short of immature and childish. A man-child who has fellow man-child friends will do his bride a favour by not marrying her. Heaven forbid what an insult of a husband he will be to her.
The man-child that uses a carnal stag party to get wasted and show up semi-sober for the “prison of marriage” has more pressing issues to deal with than their immorality. They have an eternal conundrum of heaven and hell to deal with first. Christ Jesus came that sins may be forgiven for those that repent. Only after this repentance does the gravity of holy matrimony make sense to many a man. Prior to that, the men that gather at a groom’s stag party are enemies of his future union. But men that adore strippers and pole dancers shall better find their place in staying away from relationships than fooling themselves of their maturity.
The assumption is that the invitees honour marriage. It also makes no sense to invite a toxic person that pours out verbiage against God’s holy institution on the groom’s special day. Also remember that it is the groom’s day, not yours. Be careful not to invite friends of yours that are not necessarily friends of his (unless they are playing a special role like that of an invited speaker). I will get to that soon. Don’t invite his enemies. The stag is not a place to bury hatchets. The groom must not be socially awkward. Don’t invite the guy dating his ex- unless reconciliation has occurred and there is genuinely no bile. If confused, refer to James 1:5- we can all pray for the wisdom we lack.
Even if the invitees are not men who are submitted to Christ, it would be good to clarify from the onset concerning the caliber of the environment. However when the groom himself and his friends are justified and changed by the Gospel, the behaviour of the invitees is the last thing on your mind as a best-man.
The stag party program ought to be a mix of fun and sobriety. Fun for the bonding and recreation. Sobriety for the commissioning of the groom into a new season of marriage. Your program could start with a meal. Get a chef or cook the food yourselves. I recommend hiring a chef. Why? It helps you focus on the event and not on the tedious preparation. Find out the groom’s favourite food and have it prepared by the chef. Ensure you are aware of any allergies the groom could have or any of the invitees. If you do not know of his food allergies, ask the future bride.
After the men eat you could employ leisure activities such a board games, card games, chatting or even a friendly truth or dare. A few game suggestions would be: Monopoly, Kumiliki, Kenya at 50, Kings and Garbage. I also highly recommend Kahoot. You can learn about Kahoot at www.kahoot.it. But you need to customize Kahoot for it to be fun at the party. You will also need an internet connection, a TV screen connected to your computer (or a smart TV) and smart phones in order to play Kahoot. Find out the games that the groom likes and integrate them in your program. You can use video games for this as well if you can access consoles such as PlayStation or X-box.
A man-talk is inevitable at a godly stag party. You must invite older sober married men to the stag if they do not consist of the invited friends already. When I say sober, I mean spiritually sober. Don’t invite an older man to speak simply because he has years to his marriage. Age does not always correlate with wisdom. You would rather invite a man married for eight years who loves the LORD genuinely than invite one married for 20 years but has no reverence for the things of God. In the stag, honour God and not men.
At least two of three older married men would do. These must be honourable men, whose reputation is above reproach and whose spiritual doctrine is sound. This is because these married men will be the ones to speak authoritatively into the life of the groom. If they speak heresy, it will be to your detriment. In light of this, they ought to be men that you know. Even if you do not know them personally, you can at least vouch for their testimony. Should you invite an outsider/guest-speaker to play the role of speaking to the men on that day, be sure to set aside some substantial cash to compensate for their time and travel. If they are a professional speaker, ask them about their price range before you invite them.
The talk from the speakers should not be a lecture or a preaching. It should be interactive. It should also not be a repeat of premarital classes. If the groom has done premarital classes with his wife, he ought not hear the same things all over again. The married men should share ground truths that premarital classes do not necessarily tackle sufficiently.
The married men should not speak hypothetically; you must invite men who will speak from their wounds, weaknesses, victories and personal lives while maintaining God’s word as supremely superior even to their own experiences. It pays to have speakers who are sound, vulnerable and well-read. They should speak of the difficulties of marriages, the sexual temptations they have faced, the great progress they have achieved and the nature of being a man in a marriage. These are also some sample topics that are must-haves in the stag: Leadership in marriage, Friendship in marriage, Sex and intimacy in marriage. These topics must be delivered with the authority of the scriptures. There should also be a rule stated from the beginning: “Whatever is said at the stag, stays at the stag.”
The entire program should be read clearly from the start stating how long people have to eat. How long to play games. How long to be guided interactively by the speaker. You can even have a movie. How long to watch the movie. How long to each speak into the life of the groom. To do this you need a chairman/moderator. The moderator has veto powers to manage time especially when they sense the party going off course. The moderator should also therefore be a sound person. They should also be able to act as mediator in case personality clashes and small misunderstandings take place in the process of playing games and interacting over the message delivered.
If you choose to have a movie
If you must do a movie, let it be a movie in line with the theme of building marriage positively. Review movies on IMDB.com and Youtube should you choose to take this route. You don’t want sensual matters in the name of entertainment ruining a perfect stag. Personally I feel movies take up too much time if you have a few hours to yourselves. However a movie can be perfect if the stag extends to a sleep-over or a late-night plan. I will recommend the following movies: “The family that preys,” by Tyler Perry. “The Grace Card,” “Not Easily Broken,” and “War Room,” “Fireproof,” and “Courageous,” by the Kendrick Brothers
These are great films that can spur the next part of the program- the talk.
There are some movies with seemingly-good marriage themes but I refuse to recommend them because of the overwhelming carnality in them. Some simply have doctrinal travesties! They undo the message they are purporting to communicate. I must mention them because they are easy to pick for this day because some of them have been done by professing Christians producers and Pastors. Some may even be recommend by some brothers and sisters in the faith. That does not make them okay to watch for the stag. This warning list is so that you avoid them despite what some professing Christians say or praise concerning these films. In a godly stag, Christ is the standard and not the opinions of people with Facebook accounts. Avoid the following “christian-esque” films that will do more damage than help to the stag: Acrimony, Temptation, Mr. Deeds (all by Tyler Perry), Jumping the Broom (by TD Jakes), Think like a man (by Steve Harvey).
The problem with these films is that they serve a delicious meal then spike your drink with a few seconds or minutes of blatant nudity or carnal marriage ideologies. They conform to the pattern of this world despite their good messages here and there. They can leave the men at the stag with dirty thoughts and confused consciences. If you have to excuse parts of the film, do away with it entirely. You do not want the stag to be a stumbling block to the invitees.
In fact the carnal film will undermine any talk of sexual integrity or godly principles in the stag. And the old excuse that “but they are just showing reality” is cheap, Beloved. You don’t need to show me a porn scene to prove that an affair took place. Don’t get caught up in cheap carnal arguments as you plan your stag. You are the best-man; call the shots! Honour Christ not men. In short, watch out for those professing believers that recommend these films; their first name’s Luke and their last name’s Warm. While you are at it, avoid new-age spirituality from oprah-esque celebrities. You can have a carnal stag part that is hypocritically sanitized with Christianese moments. And your self-righteous excuse will be that the party is not like those “wicked” ones with naked girls and pole dancers. Your comparison for a godly standard should be up; not down. You either honour Christ or honour men. But you can’t do both at the stag.
I highly recommend that the stag party be held at a home. But you can do it at a restaurant. The point is to be comfortable. A home offers a warm and comfortable environment without the pressure to leave early. It is even affordable to cook food at a home as opposed to buying it at a restaurant. However the hustle of cooking can be done away with by having the stag at a grill restaurant or a hired venue. Alternatively you can hire a chef at the home.
I also highly recommend that freedoms surrounding alcoholic drinks at the venue be foregone for the sake of the sobriety of entry into marriage. A stag party is not a place to theologically debate Romans 14 freedoms. It is a place to focus on the groom and ensure that his party environment is geared 100% towards building his marriage without lingering doubts.
Who should buy the food?
Should you need to book a room and pay for food, let every invitee (except the groom and the guest speaker) contribute financially to buy the food. If one invitee is a chef, they could contribute their services in kind. Let some people bring beverages. Or you could include it in the contribution cost. I recommend that the best-man contributes more financially. It’s one way to give a gift to the groom.
Should the groom receive gifts?
Yes. There are two ways to go about this. Each invite could bring a gift to the groom and present it to the groom at the end of the party. There ought to be a gift-giving session in the program. The alternative is for the invitees to contribute more money and the total used to buy one large gift from everyone.
What kind of gifts should be bought?
There is no rule on this. However I will give suggestions: books, tool sets, men’s cologne, shoes, socks, Bibles. However to help you not get random gifts, imagine getting him gifts that will help him settle in marriage. They could even be symbolic gifts. My favorite gift to give is a tool box. I feel it speaks volumes. Fix the house when things break down. Fix your marriage when it breaks. Fix yourself. Fix the areas that destroy your union. Fix it as a man just as God fixed the world with his Son.
Can women attend the stag?
No. Unless they are the chef.