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Just an hour west of Richmond, Sandy River Retreat caters to the adventurous bride. Photo courtesy Sandy River Retreat
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Photo courtesy Teapots, Treats and Traditions
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Photo courtesy Mise en Place
We've all seen the drunk, tiara-wearing bachelorette sucking on a penis-shaped lollipop trolling the dance floor with a posse of inebriated friends. Trust us, you do not want to be that bride. Though the bachelorette party has become a rite of passage, there's no need to emulate The Hangover. Avoid embarrassing photos and regrets with these ideas for a civilized toast to the end of singledom.
The Figurative Plunge
Before taking the plunge into marriage, adventurous bachelorettes may want to leap from the treetops (while clipped into a safety harness, of course) at Farmville's Adventure Park at Sandy River Retreat ( theoutdooradventurepark.com ). The aerial adventure zip-line park opened last summer and offers four separate courses with obstacles 12 to 45 feet off the ground, including 13 zip lines.
"The whole concept is about coming out and challenging yourself to do something out of the box," says Candice Smith, who owns the park with her husband, Mark. "Even if you are afraid of heights." It's a great team-building experience for a bridal party — once you conquer the course, there's no wedding-day snafu you can't face together. Obstacles include rope bridges, ladders, tightropes and swings. It takes three hours to navigate the course. The cost is $50 per person, reservations required.
Why not host a Downton Abbey -themed bachelorette tea party for a sophisticated bride? Donna Deekens of Teapots, Treats and Traditions ( virginiateaparties.com ) will provide everything you need, from china, silver, linens and party favors to vintage hats.
"I try to change the focus a little bit and have a really fun atmosphere with vintage hats and boas," Deekens says. "When they come, [guests] are encouraged to put on a hat. It's a fun and frilly kind of atmosphere."
The menus range from dessert buffets, to high tea spreads complete with cucumber sandwiches, scones, hot crab dip and bachelorette cakes (think mini wedding cake). And of course, there's the tea, either hot or cold. Deekens even offers an educational program on the history of tea. Hostesses are welcome to provide wine or champagne.
"It's very casual," Deekens says. "Almost like a cocktail party."
Parties last two hours, and the cost ranges from $20 to $28 per person
Cook up Fun
Christine Wansleben of Mise en Place ( miseenplaceshockoe.com ) says bachelorette parties often visit her Shockoe Slip cooking school for private culinary events. Each hands-on experience is tailored for the bridal party. Options range from a four-course formal dinner to cocktail party fare to an all-dessert menu. She's worked with everyone from younger bridal parties who arrive with raunchy party favors to more mature groups.
"It's very social with everyone in the kitchen together," Wansleben says. "We put on music and make it a lot of fun." The hostess can choose to arrive early and decorate, and time for gift opening can be incorporated into the event.
The 2 1/2-hour-party begins with drinks and hors d'oeuvres and ends with a sit-down meal and wine. The bridal party divides into smaller groups that work together to cook one menu item each. Wansleben provides the recipes, ingredients and professional instruction. The best part? Mise en Place handles
Prices range from $55 to $75 per person. "What we try to teach are skills that any bride-to-be would like to have," Wansleben says.