John Kelly's Washington

A bachelor party even a father of the bride could enjoy

Erik Pedley, left, and his best man, Bobby Goldbeck, at Pedley's alternative bachelor party at Hyattsville Elementary School.
Erik Pedley, left, and his best man, Bobby Goldbeck, at Pedley's alternative bachelor party at Hyattsville Elementary School. (John Kelly/the Washington Post)
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By John Kelly
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Somebody owes me a bachelor party. That's because I never had one. Oh, I was supposed to have one, but a few days before My Lovely Fiancee and I were set to say our "I do's," she was laid low by a stomach bug. That meant I couldn't in good conscience attend the bachelor party that my male friends had planned for me.

What could I say? Sorry that you can't keep down solid food, honey, but I have beer to drink and strippers to ogle?

Perhaps it's just as well. Who knows what sort of mischief I might have gotten into? The bachelor party is every marrying man's personal Vegas: What happens there stays there. And bachelor parties seem to have gotten more and more elaborate over the years, growing from a single night of semi-debauchery to an entire booze-filled destination weekend, often involving the only thing more disgusting than a lap dance: golf.

Unless you are Erik Pedley.

The 26-year-old from Germantown is getting married next month to Teresa Wendt, whom he's been dating for five years. On Saturday, I went to his bachelor party. It was at Hyattsville Elementary School, where Erik, best man Bobby Goldbeck and other male friends were pulling weeds, painting basketball backboards, fixing broken benches and basically doing tasks guaranteed not to result in a Sunday hangover or a penicillin prescription.

"I was so amazed when he called," said Jeanne Washburn, Hyattsville's principal. "He said, 'Instead of a bachelor party, my friends and I want to come and help out your school.' "

Erik isn't a total drip. "I've been to a lot of really fun bachelor parties," he told me. "Each one was a blast. I'd absolutely do them all over again."

But he got to thinking that maybe the money his friends would spend on his bachelor party could go toward something less, well, traditional. Maybe it could help people other than breweries and bare-naked ladies. Erik chose Hyattsville Elementary School because it's not too far from the fraternity he was in at the University of Maryland in College Park, Zeta Psi. He wanted to involve some of the current members of the fraternity.

Frat brothers at a bachelor party and they're putting down mulch and trimming shrubs? This was too much. "Part of me is just dying, buddy," joked Ed White, a family friend.

What was your bachelor party like, Ed?

"It was nothing like this," Ed said. "I've been regretting it ever since."

How about you, Nic Ebright, a fraternity brother whose bachelor party was last year? Have fun in Las Vegas?

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