The OTHER Wedding Party
A wedding involves more than just a ceremony and a reception. If you've got friends coming from out of town, it's nice to throw a party to welcome them to Washington. And after the rehearsal dinner ... it's the afterparty.
In other words, you've got some entertaining to do.
For Wedding Week, we've listed some of our favorite spots for private and semi-private gatherings of all sizes. Prices may vary based on day of the week, length of the gathering, phase of the moon, etc., so we've included guidelines for fees -- and some of them are even free.
Why do we like Aroma's back room? Because you can have it for free from 6 to 9 any night if you ask in advance. Aroma also doesn't serve food, so you can BYO. Just be warned: Aroma is one of the few bars in D.C. licensed to sell cigars and cigarettes, and therefore exempt from the smoking ban. Best not to invite anyone who's allergic.
One of Washington's most versatile party places, Buffalo Billiards is a sprawling underground pool hall with 29 tables, multiple shuffleboard and dart lanes and plenty of televisions. It's large enough that you might not really need to reserve private space to keep your group together, but if your entourage is especially large, there are a couple of options. For up to 40 people, the quaint Victorian Room has antique pool tables and high-backed velvet sofas. The room costs $300 for two hours and $200 for each additional hour, plus a $500 minimum bar tab. (This includes unlimited pool.) Larger parties should look at the more rustic Adirondack Room, which has a private bar, four pool tables, a pair of Nintendo Wiis, two dart boards and shuffleboard. Up to 175 people can party here, and it's more expensive than the Victorian Room: $650 for the first two hours, and $375 per hour after that. Bar minimums start at $2000.
Caddies on Cordell
When the weather is nice, Bethesda's only golf-themed bar is a great option. The upstairs party room has a large balcony, a private bar, 50-inch plasma TD, a stereo and other necessary amenities, including its own bathrooms. The room holds 85 people, so food and drink minimums can be on the high end: A Saturday happy hour (6-10 p.m.) is $1500, similar hours on Thursday and Friday require you to spend $2500. On the other hand, the minimum tab to have the place to yourself from 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Wednesday is a relative bargain at $1500.
Known for its haphazard arrangement of couches, selection of hookahs and strong South American cocktails, Chi-Cha is one of the city's oldest lounges and still one of the most popular. Its side room, separated from the main bar by curtains, can hold up to 100 people. Attention penny-pinching brides: the fees aren't set in stone. "We work with budgets," says Jessica Gibson, who books parties at Chi-Cha and its sister lounges, which include Gazuza, Gua-Rapo and Mate. Holding a private party can cost between $25 and $75 per person, depending on the night and whether you want to include food and drinks. If the price looks too steep for the night you've chosen, Gibson might be able to steer you to a venue that's the right fit. (Gazuza's patio in the suimmer, anyone?)
If you just want to get out and dance, Josephine is D.C.'s best lounge. A prime table for 15 to 20 people right next to the dance floor -- and the club's popular stripper poles -- has a $2,000 minimum on Friday or Saturday. A few bottles of Grey Goose and you're set for the night, ready to party like the VIPs you are.
The finest cocktails in Old Town Alexandria are found at this quasi-speakeasy, which holds just 35 people in its three gorgeous 1930s-style rooms. With a minimum tab of $3,500 required to close the place to the public Thursday through Saturday, it's not the cheapest venue around, but your guests will go home talking about mixologist Todd Thrasher's fanciful drinks. For smaller groups -- up to 12 -- the cozy Blue Room can be reserved in two-and-a-half hour increments. No room fee is required -- just a three-drink minimum per person and a 20 percent gratuity for the server.
Face it: Your friends are probably going to want to hit the bars in Adams Morgan at some point, so why not start the night on a rooftop deck in the heart of the neighborhood. All three levels of the Reef can be booked for private parties, and taking over the rooftop deck will cost you $350 per hour on Friday or Saturday, $250 on Wednesday or Thursday and $150 Sunday through Tuesday. The other levels are the bar are also available for about $100 less -- or, in the case of the street level Lush bar, free early in the week -- but the cover, heated rooftop deck, with its views of 18th Street, is really the place to be. Open bar packages start at $15 per person per hour, or $20 if you want top shelf. (Of course, you could just let everyone pay for their own booze.)
The chilled-out little Science Club is one of our favorite lounges in D.C., thanks in part to its funky four-story layout with plenty of nooks and crannies. It's best for parties of 40 people and under, and priced to move: There's no minimum purchase requirement for the group, and no reservation fee Sunday through Thursday. On weekend nights, there's a room fee that varies on the size of your group and where you want to sit, but it doesn't go higher than $100. You can sit back, enjoy the excellent DJs and have more money to spend on the honeymoon.
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