If you plan to torture your bridesmaids with lavender taffeta and dyed-to-match pumps, it might be a good idea to throw them a memorable and enjoyable fête. Even if you do choose fabulously chic dresses, a unique bridesmaids party will serve as an added bonus.

There are many tried and true luncheon ideas, but who hasn’t sipped champagne and dined on chicken salad sandwiches? Here are some ways to thank your friends that go above and beyond the ordinary.

Always a bridesmaid Always a good time“Give me a woman who loves beer and I will conquer the world,” said Kaiser Wilhelm. Germany’s last Kaiser would rejoice in his grave if you brought your party to Gordon Biersch Restaurant and Brewery, known for beer tastings and great food. “We’re trying to get more women to come try our beer; it’s not just a guy’s thing,” says manager Jillian Howard. There is no room charge for private parties and each guest can sample six beers – one seasonal and five of the brewery’s classics. “Women tend to like our darkest beer, Schwartz, because it has rich coffee and chocolate notes, and also our banana Hefeweizen,” says Howard, who also mentions that they’ve yet to host a bridal party. Plato may have said, “He was a wise man who invented beer,” but she’s a wise woman who enjoys it with her friends!

For a more hands-on culinary treat, The Savvy Gourmet offers specialized classes for groups. The chefs at this innovative school-restaurant hybrid will help you and your friends create a custom meal or learn specialized techniques, from wine pairing to baking French pastries. Co-founder Peter Menge, Jr. wants one brave bride to help kick-off his new kitchen shower/cooking class idea. “I would love to see the bridal party coming in to do a cooking class – probably some type of hors d’oeuvres or tapas – and then serving the food for a kitchen shower after the class. Brides can register for gifts on our Web site just like at the major department stores, ” he says. To keep from having too many cooks in the kitchen, he recommends keeping the class to 10 or 12, but brides that want a larger party can still book a traditional brunch or luncheon with some hands-on experience. Classes and parties can feature everything from classic New Orleans cuisine to Thai and everything in between for every interest and skill level.

Bring on the bubbly! If you’re already on Magazine Street for The Savvy Gourmet, an after party could be in order. Bath Junkie is another idea for a bridesmaid party that is truly fresh – and fragrant. Up to 25 of your friends can have a party at this shop specializing in custom bath products. Bath Junkie offers three different parties where you and your bridesmaids can create personalized cosmetics, right down to the color of your bubble bath! The Traditional includes a 16 ounce Bubbling Bath Crystal, a two ounce lotion and mini rubber ducky for $20 per guest; The Classic offers a 32 ounce Bubbling Bath Crystal, a two ounce lotion and the mini rubber ducky for $30 per guest; and the delectable Ice Cream Sundae Party lets you custom blend your own Bath Fizzy that comes in a sundae dish – plus the rubber ducky for $25 per guest. All parties are private and held after 5 p.m., Mon.-Sat. and anytime Sunday. (FYI for newlyweds – Bath Junkie lets you create products you’ll really need, from laundry detergent to body oil!)

Want to get even more creative? Bring the girls to Chez Clay and paint your own pottery – over 100 items from dinnerware and toothbrush holders to lamps and planners are waiting for your personal touch. Each guest pays for their pottery à la carte, plus a $3 firing fee. Leave your artwork with the studio and in about a week, they’ll have it fired, glazed and ready to use – microwave and dishwasher safe. Bring your own beverages and food to this relaxed atmosphere or as owner Belinda Black says, “BYOB while you PYOP!” (paint your own pottery). Chez Clay’s studio can seat up to 40 guests for two-hour parties and even has a big screen TV in a comfy living room area. Brides can pay in advance, allowing her friends to keep their pottery or bridesmaids can give the items as gifts. As if it couldn’t get any better, the paint at Chez Clay is water-based and will disappear from your favorite jeans.

Whether you’re looking for a cool brew bash, a gourmet get-together, a sudsy soiree or an artsy affair, these party ideas will keep the traditional and humdrum at bay – hopefully with those dyed-to-match pumps.

Ladies, do more than lunch
Gordon Biersch Restaurant and Brewery
200 Poydras St.

Savvy Gourmet
4519 Magazine St.

Bath Junkie
6071 Magazine St.

Chez Clay
862 Tchoupitoulas St., Suite 1