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Big Easy Bridesmaid Bonding

It’s no secret that New Orleans is a hot spot for bridal parties. In addition to our bounty of amazing food and libations, the Crescent City always has something fun in the works. To put it simply, this city knows how to have a good time. From food tours and cocktail classes to spa days and jazz brunches, there are boundless opportunities to bond with your bridesmaids leading up to the Big Day. Make a fun-filled weekend of it, and fit in as much of these interactive experiences as possible. You can thank us later.

Big Easy Bridesmaid Bonding

Cocktail Classes

DrinkLab NOLA

New Orleans is the birthplace of the cocktail, so what better place to hone your mixology skills? At DrinkLab NOLA, founding master bartender Daniel Victory, and a team of other master bartenders, give instruction on how to make a wide variety of cocktails. In addition to mixing and mingling, bridal parties will learn about the history of the cocktail as well as industry secrets and bartending tricks. Try the Classic New Orleans Cocktails class ($65 per person) — a 90-minute, hands-on session with welcome drinks, a small lunch, tools, demos and a history talk — and learn how to make libations such as the Sazerac, the Hurricane and the Ramos Gin Fizz. 343 Baronne St., 504-522-8664, drinklabnola.com

Revel Café & Bar

Learn from one of the best bartenders in the city, Chris McMillian — a James Beard Award winner for best bar program — at Revel in Mid-City. In addition to the remarkable food on offer, McMillian has an approximately two-hour, hands-on mixology classes (10 to 15 participants at $150 per person for a hands-on class and $75 per person for a demonstration class) focusing on classic NOLA cocktails, and a variety of libations from gin and bourbon to creative Tiki drinks. 133 N. Carrollton Ave., 504-309-6122, revelcafeandbar.com

Foodie Fun

NOLA School of Cooking

Located in a renovated molasses warehouse built in the early 1800s in the heart of the French Quarter, NOLA School of Cooking has been teaching guests about the rich culture and cuisine of New Orleans and Louisiana since 1980. Besides learning the basics of Louisiana Cooking, in the hands-on classes (10 people maximum),  you’ll also cut, season, prepare and enjoy a complete meal with one of the expert chefs. A sample class includes dishes like gumbo, BBQ shrimp and grits, and Bananas Foster crepes ($139 per person). Be sure to also check out the Louisiana General Store, offering a medley of locally-sourced products, cookbooks, spices, gift baskets, cookware, linens and more. 524 St. Louis St., 504-525-2665, neworleansschoolofcooking.com

Sidewalk Food Tours of New Orleans

Sidewalk Food Tours of New Orleans is a brand new tour company offering walking food tours of the French Quarter and the Lower Garden District. On each tour, you’ll savor dishes from six of the neighborhood’s best restaurants, mom-and-pop shops and bakeries. For example, the French Quarter tour includes muffulettas at Central Grocery, chargrilled oysters at Felix’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar and BBQ shrimp at Chartres House, while the Lower Garden District tour includes sandwiches at Turkey and the Wolf (named by Bon Appétit as the No. 1 best new restaurant of 2017), tacos at Juan’s Flying Burrito and doughnuts at District Donuts. The tours also include an impressive lesson on local history, culture and architecture. 877-568-6877, facebook.com/sidewalkfoodtoursofneworleans

Beauty Bliss

Southern Swings Nail Bar + Spa

This distinct nail salon, which substitutes porch swings for pedicure chairs, offers the utmost in Southern-style pampering. Upon arrival, guests are greeted with a complimentary beverage and a warm neck wrap. In addition to pedicures (try the Honey & Goat Milk Pedicure, from $55), the salon also offers manicures (from $15), hair services (cuts and coloring, from $40), facial and body waxing (from $12), tanning packages (try the bridal package, with trial session and bridal session, from $85), brow services (from $15) and more. 4422 Magazine St., 504-372-3485, southernswingsnailbar.com

Buff Beauty Bar

Buff Beauty Bar is a convenient one-stop shop for all things beauty related, and the space is absolutely gorgeous. In addition to offering manicures (from $15), pedicures (from $30), facial peels (from $40), waxing (from $10), blowouts ($35), makeup (from $30) and spray tans (from $10), the full-service salon also offers Buff Beauty Bashes (for parties of four or more), which are perfect for bridal parties. 720 Carondelet St., 504-522-2833, buffbeautybar.com

Spa Day

The Spa at the Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans

The Spa at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans — the most expansive spa in the city — offers more than 100 treatments and salon services perfect for bridal parties. Whether it’s a day of pampering with locally-inspired treatments such as the 80-minute VooDoo Ritual ($240) — a full body massage and a locally-crafted herbal poultice ritual — a mani/pedi or blowout, the spa is the perfect place to kick back on a busy bridal party weekend. To go all out, try the Indulgent Day offering (4 hours, $500 per person), including a 50-minute relaxation massage, nourished glow scrub, custom facial, lunch, manicure and pedicure. While you’re at the hotel, be sure to check out the newly-debuted Moet & Chandon vending machine. Buy your own mini-bottle of Champagne and sip the day away at the hotel’s beautiful outdoor courtyard. The spa has a renovation coming up, so be sure to plan ahead. 921 Canal St., 504-524-1331, ritzcarlton.com

Belladonna Day Spa

For a truly luxe spa experience, look no further than the newly renovated Belladonna Day Spa. This Uptown spa and retail shop offers a thoughtfully curated menu of treatments and a vast retail selection of all things relaxing. Before your treatment, take some time to unwind in one of two lounges with a sauna, sitting room and premium bar with a menu of teas, wine and other refreshments. Book the Bella Bash (3 hours, $140 per person), which comes complete with a 50-minute massage and a classic manicure. Or, take your day to the next level with the Absolute Royal treatment (5 hours, $350 per person) with an 80-minute massage, a classic facial, spa lunch, and classic manicure and pedicure. After your treatment, enjoy a refreshing beverage in the outdoor Tea Garden with bubbling fish pond and fountain. 2900 Magazine St., 504-891-4393, belladonnadayspa.com

Boozy Brunches

Commander’s Palace

A New Orleans landmark since 1893, Commander’s Palace is the home of the original jazz brunch. Offering haute New Orleans cuisine, the brunch menu includes a starter, entree and dessert with dishes like glazed pork belly cinnamon rolls and cochon de lait eggs Benedict. The menu is accompanied by live New Orleans jazz by the Joe Simon’s Jazz Trio. After brunch, cross the street and take a stroll through Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 to walk it all off. 1403 Washington Ave., 504-899-8221, commanderspalace.com

Court of Two Sisters

Offering a daily traditional jazz brunch buffet in the heart of the French Quarter, the Court of Two Sisters also features a gorgeous outdoor courtyard with jazz music to accompany your meal. The buffet features Creole classics like shrimp étouffée, crawfish Louise, and veal grillades and gravy with corn grits. There’s also made-to-order omelets and a carving station. 613 Royal St., 504-522-7261, courtoftwosisters.com


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