Here are five unique ways to celebrate with the bride.
With help from the Curious Grape (703-671-8700; curiousgrape.com), an Arlington wine shop, friends can host a private two-hour winetasting tailored to the bride. For $20 to $30 a person, Jed Gray and his staff come to your location with eight wines, stemware, decorations, and cheese and chocolate to pair with each pour. Most of Gray’s wedding clients are brides—from novices to wine collectors—though he also hosts couples showers. Some tastings have themes: One bride wanted wines from South Africa, her honeymoon destination; others choose wines based on family origins. “We had a great one where one side was from Spain and the other from Argentina,” Gray says. Other wine shops offering private tastings include Best Cellars in Dupont Circle and Arlington (202-387-3146; 703-741-0404) and Arrowine in Arlington (703-525-0990).
After hours at Sylene, a lingerie and swimwear boutique in Chevy Chase, a bride and her friends can have the store all to themselves. Customized bridal packages often include one-on-one tutorials on choosing flattering and comfortable lingerie, swimwear, and sleepwear. The staff will set out wine and cheese, Champagne, dessert, or other requests as guests mingle and shop.
Co-owners Cyla Weiner and Helen Kestler talk to the bride ahead of time about what she likes to wear, then help her set up a registry. For surprise showers, guests choose gifts that day. “At one party, each girl picked a sexy sleepwear piece for the bride to try on, and everybody voted,” Weiner says. Prices start at $150 for a two-hour party with ten guests; goody bags include a $10 Sylene gift certificate. Call 877-953-6332 or visit sylenedc.com.
Nail Taxi, an Alexandria-based mobile nail boutique, arrives with cocktails for a manicure/pedicure party. For $29 to $72 a person, four or more guests choose from classic manis and pedis or specialty services including “cool citrus breeze” and “cinnamon bun,” a brown-sugar-based treatment that moisturizes hands and feet. Sara Franklin, a planner with Northern Virginia Bridal Services, was invited to a Burger & Beauty shower: “They had ladies doing manicures and pedicures and food from Five Guys. What could be better?” Call 800-290-1853 or visit nailtaxi.com.
Cooking instructors Ed and Jinny Fleischman of Company’s Coming in Northwest are fitting hosts for a prewedding party: They’ve been married and working together for more than 30 years. Company’s Coming (202-966-3361; companycoming.com) offers in-home cooking classes during which the bride and her friends prepare a three-course lunch or dinner.
The Fleischmans, who trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, provide recipes, drinks, and hors d’oeuvres. Their specialties include Italian and Portuguese cuisine, but they’ll help make any meal the hosts request—often the bride or groom’s favorite dishes. At a recent bachelor party, a first for the Fleischmans, the groom did all the cooking. “His friends thought it would be fun,” says Jinny. “They spent most of the time with Ed talking about grilling.” Prices range from $70 to $85 a guest for three hours.
Who says pole dancing is only for bachelor parties? Amy Staten’s Clinton-based company, Pole Divas (301-675-4391; poledivasonline), organizes parties for 6 to 25 women to learn basic pole-dancing moves—what Staten calls the “12 steps to sexy.” She sets up a pole in the host’s living room, along with a fog machine and props including feather boas and pink leopard-print hats. Staten, a Web designer, has introduced more than 300 people to pole dancing since starting Pole Divas last year.
“We were a little timid at first,” says Holly Clarke King, who cohosted a bachelorette party in Alexandria in March, “but Amy managed to bring out the wild side of a group of conservative, preppy girls—without making us feel uncomfortable.” Prices start at $180 for a group of six; it’s $35 for each additional guest.