Stags and Hens

The first time I saw a young man dressed up in a rabbit suit surrounded by peers in broad daylight in Montmartre, I didn’t know what was going on. They were not performers. And why was everyone but one poor guy in regular clothing?

By the time I saw this penguin fishing under impassive eyes a couple of years later, I knew that he had found his mate.


In France a man or woman who is engaged to be married may be made to wear a costume or embarrassing outfit while accompanied by his or her friends in daytime or nighttime activities, often involving the public. Once, a group of girls approached my companion and me and asked us to sign the bride-to-be’s notebook with a message to wish her well.

If not in costume, the bride-to-be may be wearing one color (for example, a white t-shirt) while her following of friends all wear another (likely pink).

In the U.S. grooms and brides-to-be often have bachelor and bachelorette parties, but they usually take place in the evening. A typical one will be at a bar or someone’s home or if it is an overnight trip, Las Vegas. The friends of the star of the party may try to make them engage with strangers, but it will be in an enclosed space, as opposed to in the street. While it is often obvious who in the group is engaged to be married, because they will be wearing a sash or tiara or other indicator, animal costumes are not a tradition. Alternatively, some people opt for tamer celebrations, like a dinner with their friends of the same sex, a spa day, or another group activity. I am sure this is true in France as well, that some people prefer to have a meal instead of pretending to fish for one in the Seine as their friends look on.

Bref, that is all to say that I’ve seen many costumed characters in the streets of New York City, but I’m pretty sure that none of them were getting married.


4 thoughts on “Stags and Hens

  1. When I was a kid/teen, apparently the trend was to make the bride and groom to be to sell sheets of toilet paper in the street :-/ I may be a killjoy but I can’t understand the point of such… ahem, traditions.

    • I could see a market for that. I’m thinking specifically of when my local grocery didn’t have toilet paper in stock. Otherwise, let’s be glad it seems to no longer be the trend.

  2. I straight out refused to do the French thing. Luckily, it was a Canadian friend who organized mine. The girls made me a sash to wear, and that was the only special dress. We had drinks and food in and then headed out to a few bars. I don’t like public embarrassment (as in, I can’t even watch others do embarrassing things), and they all respected that.

    • The sash is nice– you can feel special without feeling ridiculous.
      I know what you mean– I recently played Truth or Dare and didn’t enjoy seeing other people uncomfortable.

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