When Washington, D.C., celebrates the unveiling of its renovated Union Station later this month, there will be the usual black-tie dinner dance for some 1,500 of the nation's elite. But more interesting than the affair itself is the company that's organizing it, an $8-million event-management company founded and operated by a group of the capital's "political wives.'

It all began 21 years ago when Ellen Proxmire, Barbara Boggs, and Gretchen Poston decided to start Wonderful Weddings to plan nuptial receptions. In the early 1970s, they changed the name to Washington Whirl Around and took on corporate events. Now known as Washington Inc., the company has a client list of more than 300, including the likes of General Foods, Merrill Lynch, and The World Business Council, and has handled parties for everyone from Armand Hammer to the king of Nepal.

Certainly it has not been hurt by its connections. Proxmire's husband is Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire. Boggs is married to attorney Tommy Boggs, a prominent lobbyist and the son of Representative Lindy Boggs and the late Hale Boggs, former House majority leader. Poston served as social secretary in the Carter White House. A fourth partner, Harriet Schwartz, comes from a prominent Washington family.

Yet the partners deny that theirs is a political firm. "Our business has nothing to do with politics," insists Boggs. "It's really almost coincidental." Instead, they credit their success to -- what else? -- hard work and satisfied customers. "We create glamour and fun," says Proxmire, "but we ourselves often end up eating in the kitchen." -- Jay Finegan

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