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Beyond the Big Day

Five nontraditional parties can help bring friends and family together.

The engagement party, bridal shower, bachelor and bachelorette parties, and rehearsal dinner all are tried-and-true celebrations. But many brides and grooms are establishing new traditions for celebrating this momentous time in their lives.

1. Bridesmaids’ Luncheon

Typically held a few weeks before the wedding to show appreciation for the bridal party, this event used to be a more traditional part of the wedding calendar, and it’s seen a resurgence in recent years. If any of your bridesmaids don’t know each other, a luncheon is a great way to introduce them before they begin working together to plan events like your bridal shower and bachelorette party. Whether you go for lunch at a local restaurant, such as Blondie’s Coffee and Wine Bar (1301 Washington, 314-241-6100,, a catered soirée in your back yard, or even a cooking class, your maids will appreciate the gesture of thanks.

2. Groomsmen Golf Outing

Many grooms have been known to shake off their nerves on the golf course before the ceremony, but why not arrange a group golf outing for some bonding time before the big day? Get the groomsmen and the male members of the bride’s and groom’s immediate families together for a little friendly competition. You don’t have to be a country-club member to play—try a scenic public course such as the Norman K. Probstein Golf Course (6141 Lagoon, Forest Park, 314-367-1337,

3. Craft Night

Tackling do-it-yourself projects for your wedding and feeling overwhelmed? Enlist the help of your bridal party during a craft night a few months before the wedding. Set up a station for each project, including detailed instructions and ready-to-assemble materials, and make it fun with bite-size appetizers, plus a favorite wedding-themed movie in the background. Your projects will get done a lot quicker, and you’ll get to bond with friends and family in the process.

4. Welcome Party

If you’re organizing a destination wedding or have a lot of out-of-town guests, consider throwing a welcome party a couple of nights before your big day. It’s a much-appreciated way to show your gratitude to guests traveling long distances (and often paying big bucks) to be there. Host the event somewhere that provides a taste of the city, such as a pizza party at Pi (6144 Delmar, 314-727-6633, on the Loop or an ice-cream social at The Fountain on Locust (3037 Locust, 314-535-7800,

5. Morning-After Brunch

The morning after the big day, many couples opt to host a small get-together with select friends and family to reminisce, open gifts, and even share a sneak peek of photos and video from the night before. Do double duty with your wedding décor—ask family members to grab a few flower arrangements or centerpieces after the reception, or bring along any extra flowers from DIY florals. Consider hosting the event at a venue with a private room, such as the Boathouse Forest Park (6101 Government, 314-367-2224,

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