Use All Aspects of Your Venue. “Our gardens, fountains, gazebo, pergola, and arbor allow each couple to set the tone of their wedding, perhaps with a romantic garden ceremony or an outdoor cocktail hour.”
Choose a Theme. “Brides often personalize their wedding by choosing a theme. It could be a color palette, or their shared love for their university, sports team, or a country they’ve visited.”
Engage Your Venue. "We've helped couples create themes as diverse as New York City Nightclub, Disney Fantasy, and California Vineyard."
Celebrate Your Day with Special Themes and Menus
You’re Engaged, Now What?
“Contact your venue early in your planning stages,” says Robert Lisciandro, banquet manager at Birchwood Manor. “That will increase your chance of booking your first choice date. But be prepared with a second and third choice, just in case. Remember that the number of guests you invite will determine which banquet room is most appropriate for your reception.”
“Many couples choose a venue because they fall in love with it at first sight,” adds Michele Korzen, marketing manager. “Our outdoor space, with gardens, fountains, gazebo, pergola, and arbor, is unmatched in this area of New Jersey, both in beauty and by sheer size. This allows each couple to use the grounds to distinguish their wedding and to set the tone of their wedding, perhaps with a romantic garden ceremony or an outdoor cocktail hour.”
Personalize Your Wedding Menu
Once you decide on the season and pick a date and a ballroom, there are many more choices to be decided: menu, beverages, signature cocktails, the wedding cake, linens, and seating arrangements. To help brides customize their wedding, the first focus is the menu.
“Sometimes we can substitute various dishes for one another. Our chefs are skilled in many ethnic dishes, including kosher-style,” says Robert. “I tell people that, depending on your ethnicity, there are certain dishes you would probably want to serve and there’s a good chance we’d be able to produce them in our kitchen. We’ve even prepared favorite family dishes from recipes given to us.”
For Polish weddings, they’ve served pierogies and kielbasa. For Italian weddings, “though we don’t have broccoli rabe on our menu, we know it is very popular, so we can customize the menu to make sure it is served,” says Robert. “For the chafing dishes, we might do a cavatelli and broccoli and an eggplant rollatini.
We have a Chicken Mark Anthony dish that we created. It’s a French breast of chicken with artichoke hearts, onions, and peppers in a white wine, lemon, and butter sauce. We usually prepare it with hot cherry peppers to give it a little kick. That’s a signature dish for our entrée, and a lot of people end up choosing it.”
But often the dishes on their menu are just what brides want. “They are popular across most cultures. In the cocktail hour we have a few Chinese and Japanese dishes. We also prepare fresh egg rolls and do fresh vegetable dumpling hors d’oeuvres for the cocktail hour. A sushi station is also a very popular option.
“We offer a premium bar,” Robert continues, “and we ask our brides if there’s a specific item they like, a beer or wine, for example, or a scotch or vodka. As long as it’s something that could generally be ordered, we’ll have it for their wedding. So if they ask for a particular German beer, we’ll order it for them. Also, many new craft beers have become very popular and are readily available upon request.”
Set the Mood With Colorful Accents
“Brides often will personalize their wedding by choosing a theme,” says Robert. “It could be a color palette, their shared love for their university, their sports team, or a country they’ve visited.”
“A single color, or a color-combination,” Michele adds, “is normally used to coordinate bridesmaid dresses, bouquets, centerpieces, linens, chair covers, and up-lighting. We’re seeing a lot more ‘color-popping,’ where a bright color is added for fun and surprise to an otherwise subdued color scheme in the bridal party and the reception.
“For instance, black and white, with a hot pink peony bouquet or deep red accents; or grey and white, with a pop of bright yellow calla lily bouquets and yellow pumps; or autumn hues of caramel and sage green, with a splash of pumpkin orange. There are so many possibilities and brides are embracing this as a way to further express themselves.
“Because of the flexibility of our setting and the strong relationships we have with some of the best vendors in the business,” Michele continues, “any theme you can imagine, no matter how complex it might seem, can be within reach.” As you would expect, Birchwood recommends top florists, musicians, entertainment pros, décor designers, and photographers to help couples bring their dream to life. “We aren’t just the caterer,” says Michele, “we’re the catalyst that helps couples achieve their vision. We want to do everything we can to make them happy.”
Hot Air Balloons, Nightclub Parties, & Disney Fantasy
Over the years, Birchwood Manor has seen many exciting wedding moments. “At one summer wedding, the couple parked a hot air balloon, with their names boldly written across it, on the terrace lawn for all to see. Recently, a groom who competes in ‘Tough Mudder’ competitions, called the world’s toughest endurance challenge, had a mesquite grill on the terrace. We served exotic meats like smoked crocodile Andouille sausage, wild boar baby-back ribs, kangaroo sliders, skewered buffalo brochettes, Cajun swordfish tidbits, and shark bites. That was a hit!
“For Jennifer and Michael, their theme was New York City Nightclub. The Grand Ballroom was entirely draped in white satin with all-white lounging areas. The transformation was choreographed by a professional event planner and included disco lights, a smoke machine, a DJ, and many more surprises that kept the party going all night long!”
Michele affectionately describes another wedding as “Disney Fantasy,” complete with a horse-drawn princess carriage and send-off sparklers. “For Jaime and Ed, it was a ‘Sophisticated California Vineyard’ party, and for sports fans Erica and Dan it was a Yankees-themed wedding with blue and white pinstripe up-lighting.
“Couples can make their wedding unique and fun by adding several personal touches,” says Michele. She tells us of Gina, a bride who loved white butterflies. She had decorative ones strung from the ceiling on clear line as a backdrop to her head table. Also popular is anything with bling, like an all-white tiered wedding cake, bejeweled with sparkly rhinestone ribbons around each layer.
“The wedding cake is very individual,” says Michele. “Of course, we have a large variety for her to choose from, all baked on premise, and our brides can alter any of our designs. Although, quite frequently, a bride will bring in a magazine picture and either request it as shown or with custom adjustments. Our baker is extremely artistic and can create any cake, even from just an idea the bride has in her head. She is thrilled when our baker gives her exactly what she wanted.”
“We pamper the bride throughout our entire relationship with her,” says Robert. “We allow her to be here early to prepare for her ceremony on site, and we are here to assist her and answer questions as often as she needs us. And when her day finally arrives, we are with her throughout the reception.
“I believe the thing that brides love about us, and what sets us apart from most places in New Jersey, is our grounds,” says Robert. “Being on 20 acres of property, and having two separate areas for our weddings, we can give each wedding its own area for the ceremony, pictures, cocktail hour, and reception. Each ballroom has doors leading outside to terraces on opposite sides, so it’s almost as if they’re in a different facility.”
A gracious Georgian mansion, nestled on over 20 acres of park-like grounds, Birchwood Manor has been privately owned and operated since 1953. “We’re a full-service catering facility, dedicated to developing lasting client relationships,” says Michele, “and to sharing our passion for hospitality by providing our trademark personal service and the finest cuisine in an elegant venue.”
“Each wedding has its own personality,” adds Robert. “That’s what makes the business fresh and exciting.”