Know Your Venue. When you research and then visit potential venues, gather information in 4 areas: Menu, Service, Budget, and Accommodations & Décor.
Match Your Dream to Your Venue: If you are considering a weekend-long wedding celebration, make sure your venue has the facilities and imagination you will need.
Hilton Pearl River, 500 Veterans Memorial Dr., Pearl River, NY 10965
845.735.9000, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.HiltonPearlRiver.com
Expand Your Wedding Day into a ... Wedding Weekend
Know what you want, then find out what your venue can offer.“There are now so many sources to help bride and grooms find their perfect wedding venue,” says Gerry Burns, director of catering at Hilton Pearl River. “Social media and wedding websites carry volumes of information, reviews, and photos, which are very helpful. You can narrow down your search pretty quickly. Most brides who come to see us have researched so much beforehand and know so much about the hotel before we even begin our property tour.”
For example, they recently hosted a wedding weekend that started in their on site restaurant, Two Henrys. “Two Henrys has an understated eclectic vibe with a great view...and the food is fantastic.” The restaurant menu is seasonally updated and features local Hudson Valley ingredients and beverages. “We closed the restaurant for a 100-person rehearsal dinner on Friday night, complete with toasts, roasts, and a video montage.”
The next morning, the couple hosted a hospitality get-together with coffee, beverages, and light food. “A yoga class was offered and there were pre-arranged tee times for golf, since we’re right next to Blue Hill Golf Course. Guests also were able to use our fitness center and indoor pool for a pool aerobics class or for a swim.”
Another must for your wedding day are the special accommodations for your bridesmaids, moms, and hair and makeup team. “We provide two large private hair and makeup rooms where the stylists get everyone ready for photos and the wedding. It’s a time for the bridesmaids and moms to relax and celebrate and have fun with the bride, topping it off with champagne and a light lunch. Meanwhile an alternate room was arranged for the groomsmen and fathers to sip cocktails while being treated to an old-fashioned barber shave with warm towels and straight razors. Then, of course the big event: the wedding!”
After the ceremony and reception, the couple had an after-party in an adjacent room, set with lounge furniture and with fun foods and drinks. “It went till 3 am, and then they had a farewell breakfast the next morning in our garden room, Le Jardin, where guests took their coffee onto our terrace and patio and enjoyed omelet bars, bagel stations, and fruit displays while they reminisced about the magical night before.” As they do regularly for their weddings, Gerry and her team also arranged reduced room rates for the overnight guests.
Research Your Venue
Director of Catering Gerry Burns says, “Ask questions when selecting your wedding site.”
• What types of liquor and wine are included?
• How many bars are used for the cocktail hour? For dinner?
• If you want an after-party or a brunch the next morning, what menus are offered?
• Do you host more than one event at a time?
• Do the servers take drink orders and pour wine and champagne at the tables?
• What is the ratio of servers to guests?
• Does the venue include a “tasting” before the wedding, to confirm your menu choices?
• What minimum guest count is required?
• What is included in a package price?
• What insurance must outside vendors produce prior to the wedding?
• If you want to host an after-party or a brunch the next morning, what pricing is offered?
4. ACCOMMODATIONS & DECOR
• If the venue is a hotel, is there a complimentary bridal suite?
• Can you arrange a room block with a preferential rate for overnight guests?
• Are there any plans for construction or renovation, which might change how you would decorate?
Creatively Celebrating Two Cultures
Gerry’s colleagues, Nancy Resman and Paulette Scatassa, recently hosted a Jewish-Hindu wedding. “The bride and groom gave great thought to how they would blend their families, religions, and backgrounds,” say Nancy and Paulette. The day started with their Indian traditions, an abbreviated Baraat followed by a traditional Mandap.
“During the Mandap a family member described all the details and customs to the Jewish guests in attendance. There was a break between Mandap and Chuppah, at which time there was a Klezmer band playing in the lobby.”
Guests then were invited to the Jewish ceremony. “Cousins of the bride had created a beautiful, handmade Chuppah utilizing an heirloom cloth on beautifully adorned poles.”
The bride did the traditional seven circles and the groom stomped the glass. As with the Hindu ceremony, there was a family member describing the customs of the Jewish ceremony to the Indian guests. “For a special parting gift, the bride and groom even created a cookbook that included traditional family recipes from each side of the family!”
Decorate To Amaze
Though its design resembles a European château, Hilton Pearl River is able to create very different looks for each affair. “For example, a decorator can transform our individual reception rooms from a formal, elegant, candlelit traditional look to a cool contemporary style wedding by simply introducing lighting and lounge style seating. We also have a beautiful outdoor area where we host many wedding ceremonies and cocktail hours, while in our ballrooms we can host romantic indoor candlelit ceremonies.”
They often work with couples who incorporate their own traditions. “We host numerous Indian weddings with all the traditional aspects, including the groom who arrives by horse for the Baraat, accompanied by his friends and family as he rides up to our outside fountain area. We also host beautiful Kosher weddings where the groom will dance with his men from the Tisch and go on to the Badekin where he will veil his bride. We also host Korean bowing ceremonies and interfaith wedding ceremonies where the couple might choose to ‘break a glass’ and also to light a unity candle.
“All these special weddings are handled with great care by our staff. Everyone understands the importance of honoring traditions.”
Their complimentary hair and makeup rooms for the bride have floor-to-ceiling windows, high top tables, and salon stations, which most brides would want, wherever they are holding their wedding. “The bridesmaids and moms often bring in their own music and matching robes and have a fun, upbeat start to their special day.”
For your wedding, you also will want a bridal attendant. “We assign one to you at the start of your photos,” says Gerry, “and she will be with you the whole day for any needs that might arise.”
The hotel also permits you to store items the week before your wedding, such as gift bags, favors, and place cards. “It’s another way to minimize stress before the wedding,” and another service you hopefully will be able to take advantage of at any venue you consider.
At Hilton Pearl River, the wedding couple will also have a one-on one meeting with the hotel’s maître d’ staff a few weeks before the wedding. “They’ll go over the timeline for the day and coordinate in advance all the particulars, such as the order of the procession if the ceremony is on site, as well as how they would like to handle traditional elements of the wedding, such as your first dance, toasts, blessings, dancing with your parents, and cutting the cake. Every wedding is different!”
A Family History
As a third-generation, family-owned and operated hotel, the owners and their dedicated staff take enormous pride in their property. “It helps make our service more personal. The hotel is 26 years old, and we’ve continually reinvested to renovate and refresh our banquet space, lobby, restaurant, and guest rooms.”
Gerry has worked with the owners of the hotel within Hilton for 30 years. “Weddings have always been a specialty here and we continue to stay current with our brides and grooms and their dreams and visions. I always love working with wedding couples and this job has become my world. Our hotel staff is unique in that there is very little turnover, so we have a dedicated staff offering the finest in service. No matter what the request is, our staff will do their best to make it happen.
“The most exciting thing for me personally is the day of the wedding. After working with the couple for almost a year, to help a bride walk down the aisle with her parents or to stand by a couple when they get introduced as Mr. and Mrs. for the first time, is always the best of the best.
“To be part of the most important joyous day of a couple’s life is always the high point!”