The “last night out” before the wedding day is a time-honored tradition. But not every bride and groom wants a night full of shots and scantily-clad dancers. Here are some more creative ways to celebrate impending nuptials.
FOR THE GUYS
Paintball: This would be especially fun for the competitive groom-to-be. Gather a group, rent equipment and set off on an outdoor adventure.
Words of advice: Direct paintball hits can leave nasty bruises, so don’t you dare shoot the groom in any area that may show in the wedding pictures. And if you can help it, let the groom’s team win the game.
Where to go: Check out Strategy Plus in East Hampton (strategyplus.com), which offers regulation fields, castles, forts and other creative terrain for epic battles. Private parties start at $49.99 per person, including equipment. 14 Bear Swamp Road, East Hampton, 800-952-9007.
A classy smoke: Channel “Mad Men” at a cigar lounge. Let the groom take his pick from the humidor, and order him some top-shelf liquor to sip while he puffs. Bonus points if the group “suits up.”
Where to go: Owl Shop in New Haven has a 400-square-foot walk-in humidor and a lounge with a fully-stocked bar. 268 College Street, 203-624-3250, owlshopcigars.com.
Tequila – to taste: Tequila gets a bad rap as party swill, knocked back in shots or drowned in sugary margarita mix. Visit a tequila bar with dozens of varieties, and let the knowledgeable staff guide you through a tasting. Learn the difference between blanco, anejo, reposado and mezcal, and what distinguishes the “good stuff” from the bottles you probably downed on spring break.
Where to go: SolToro Tequila Grill at Mohegan Sun boasts 198 varieties of 100% blue agave tequilas. Tasting flights range from $15 to $55. For “high rollers,” there’s super-premium Dos Lunas Grand Reserve, aged 10 years, for $250. (soltororestaurant.com.)
New Haven’s Geronimo Tequila Bar and Southwest Grill also has an enormous selection of tequilas, along with tasting flights ranging from $14-42. (271 Crown St., 203-777-7700, geronimobarandgrill.com)
Carnivorous pleasures: If your groom likes his celebrations in culinary form, take him for a steakhouse dinner with all the classic trimmings. Nothing says “hedonism” like a huge medium-rare porterhouse or T-bone, creamed spinach, potatoes au gratin and a bottle of big, bold Cabernet.
Where to go: Morton’s The Steakhouse, 852 Main Street, Hartford, 860-724-0044, mortons.com
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, 2513 Berlin Turnpike, Newington, 860-666-2202, ruthschris.com
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, 44 South Main Street, West Hartford, 860-676-9463, flemingssteakhouse.com
Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse at Mohegan Sun, 860-862-8600, michaeljordansteakhouse.com
Root for the home team: If the groom is a sports nut, hook him up with seats to an athletic event. This could take some planning ahead, based on the season and ticket availability. But if you can’t get to Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park, consider the teams closer to home: UConn football at Rentschler Field (bonus points for a killer tailgate spread), UConn basketball at Gampel Pavilion or the re-invented Connecticut Whale at the XL Center.
FOR THE LADIES
Happy (wine) trails: The Connecticut Wine Trail, with 30 wineries stretching from Canaan to Stonington, is a fantastic way to experience locally-grown wine in some of the state’s most picturesque towns. Pack a picnic lunch, appoint a designated driver and plot a route. Many of the wineries are in geographical clusters, making it simple to visit several in an afternoon’s time.
Tips: If your group can afford it, consider renting a limousine or party bus to take you from vineyard to vineyard. That way, everyone can kick back and enjoy.
If you plan to visit with a large group, be courteous and call ahead to each winery to see if they can accommodate you. Some wineries are less picnic-friendly than others.
Visit the Connecticut Wine Trail website (www.ctwine.com) for a list of wineries, a trail map and suggestions for local restaurants, lodging and transportation resources.
Ahhhh, spa: You’ll all want to look your best before the wedding, so why not hit the spa for rejuvenating beauty treatments? Enjoy some girl-bonding over manicures and pedicures, facials and body wraps – a great way to de-stress.
Where to go: If you’re looking for a getaway, consider a Connecticut destination spa. On the shoreline, there’s Water’s Edge Resort and Spa in Westbrook and Saybrook Point Inn in Old Saybrook., Mayflower Inn & Spa in the Litchfield Hills and The Spa at Norwich Inn in the state’s eastern corner.
The Spa at Norwich Inn, 607 West Thames Street, Norwich, 860-886-2401, thespaatnorwichinn.com
Water's Edge Resort & Spa, 1525 Boston Post Road, Westbrook, 860-399-5901, watersedge-resort.com
Saybrook Point Inn, 2 Bridge Street, Old Saybrook, 860-395-2000, saybrook.com
Mayflower Inn, 118 Woodbury Road, Washington, 860-868-9466, mayflowerinn.com
Cooking up fun: If your bride loves getting creative in the kitchen, consider bringing the group to a cooking class. Sur La Table in Canton hosts a series of monthly cooking courses and workshops, covering everything from basic knife skills to complex ethnic dishes.
Sur La Table, 110 Albany Tpke # 609, Canton, 860-693-9560, surlatable.com
Dining tapas-style: Instead of a big dinner, treat your bride to small plates and drinks at a trendy bar.
In Blue Back Square, sample 68 wines by one, three or five-ounce pours and accompanying cheeses, charcuterie and chocolates at Uncorked (63 Memorial Drive, West Hartford, 860-216-2620, uncorkedct.com.) Down the street at Cuvee (37 Raymond Road, 860-756-5590, cuveect.com), enjoy champagne cocktails, creative martinis, sushi and crostini while relaxing on comfortable banquettes.
For a European-style celebration, bring the party to Barcelona (locations in West Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, Fairfield and Greenwich; barcelonawinebar.com) for authentic tapas and a huge selection of Spanish wines.
And for some city flair, you can’t go wrong with Hartford’s Bin 228 (228 Pearl Street,
Hartford, 860-244-9463, bin228winebar.com), Trumbull Kitchen (150 Trumbull Street, 860-493-7412, trumbullkitchen.com) or Max Downtown (185 Asylum Street, 860-522-2530, maxdowntown.com.)
Pole position: If your bride isn’t afraid to get a little sexy, consider a pole-dancing instruction class. Working with qualified fitness instructors, your bride just may learn some sensual new moves for the honeymoon – and beyond. Wedding party beware – keep the pictures off Facebook.
Where to go: Pole Control Studios in Hartford hosts large groups for private parties seven days a week. 75 Pratt Street, 860-246-POLE, polecontrolstudios.com.