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Bring Your Party Together

Let’s be real: Weddings are way more fun when both of your crews get along. To make sure your bridesmaids and groomsmen feel totally bonded before you walk down the aisle, try one of these fun ideas that’s guaranteed to turn your friends from “yours” and “mine” into “ours.”

So you can cross one more item off your to-do list: You and your fiance have officially decided on your wedding party members, from your maid of honor down to ushers, and alerted the lucky guys and gals they’ve made the cut. Phew! Thing is, if they’re not already in the same social circle, it could get a little awkward when they’re trying to plan the bridal shower or bachelor party (or if they’ve barely laid eyes on each other before being paired up for their walk down the aisle). Here, five ideas for cheap, fun get-togethers that’ll get your buddies bonding in no time—and help relieve some of your planning stress too.

Throw a Potluck Brunch

Here’s your chance to use all that great serveware you’ve already collected from your registry. Tell your friends you’ll supply the main entree (just pop a simple quiche or frittata in the oven ahead of time) and the beverages (a pitcher of Bloody Marys, anyone?). Their task: to bring a dish that reminds them of you or your partner. Their creative choices will definitely help get the conversation going.

Go Bowling

Make a reservation at your local alley and split up your friends so each person is on a lane with someone new to them. A little friendly competition will foster group spirit and make your attendants feel like Team [insert your names here]. (Hint: Matching T-shirts will only up the gang’s unity factor.)

Hit a Karaoke Joint

Whether you book a private room, meet at a bar or even just rent a machine, make sure the lights are dim and you and your partner kick off the night with the first tune. Once you’ve humiliated yourselves, your crew will more willingly follow. This is a perfect occasion to start planning those sweet reception dance moves and DJ requests.

Get Nostalgic

Fire up a favorite childhood movie on Netflix (or HBO, or your BluRay player). Order pizza and pause the flick close to the end to put out a make-your-own-sundae bar—we’re talking ice cream, hot fudge, sprinkles, maraschino cherries, the works. While gathered around the TV, your friends are bound to wind up swapping stories about what you and your fiance were like way back when (and maybe even confessing an embarrassing teen celeb crush or two). End result: You’ll all walk out knowing each other a little better, the way you always did after an old-school slumber party.

Plan a Tailgating Party

Whether it’s in the parking lot of a major football stadium or in your driveway on the way to a minor-league ballpark, everyone loves tailgating grub—from subs, brats, burgers, and chips and dip to more elaborate fare like chili or pulled pork. Once the team trash talking and eating get going, you might even miss the game itself, but if that means your group’s getting along, who cares?

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