Decide What’s Important To You. "Is it the location, the food, the ballroom, or perhaps an outdoor space?"
Celebrate Your Traditions. "Add your special traditions to your ceremony and reception."
Watch Your Budget. "Venues offering multiple services (that you might otherwise pay for) may save you money."
What’s Important to You?
“You want to do your research before picking your wedding venue,” says Lisa Benoit, senior catering sales manager of Hotel Eventi. “Be sure the place you select is reputable, since you will be relying on them throughout your planning process.”
Your first task is to agree on what factors are most important to you. “What are the top three things you’re both looking for?” she asks. “That could be the location, the food, or the space itself. Do you want your venue to have outdoor space? Do you want parking on-site? What about guest rooms? Are you looking for a venue where you can host your entire wedding weekend? These are all important things to know before beginning your search and they will help focus your efforts. Of course, budget also plays a big factor in the choices you make.”
But there is an intuitive element as well. Having planned many weddings, Lisa has come to believe that when you walk into your “perfect” wedding venue, you will know it. A key factor may also center around items that together create an additional special benefit, like visiting a venue which offers multiple services, therefore simplifying your planning and reducing your costs.
“One of the great things about hosting your wedding at a location like Hotel Eventi is that we include many items you may otherwise have to rent. For example, all the catering is done on-site by our world renowned chef, Laurent Toroundel. We also include tables, chairs, linens, candles, menu cards, table numbers, and amber colored lighting. Booking at a place where so much is already included lets you check off many items from your ‘to-do’ list, and also saves lots of money!”
Be Unique (and under budget)
“There are lots of fun things you can do yourself too! One bride’s mom baked New York-themed cookies, wrapped them up, tied them with a bow, and gave them out as favors. That was a cute personal favor that looked beautiful and also saved money.
“If you’re hosting a smaller, more intimate wedding, you can create a wedding playlist that you can play from your laptop and forgo hiring a DJ. Many couples also re-set the décor or flowers used at their ceremony and then use them at the reception.”
Decorate with Flair
One very unique addition to many weddings is what brides can do with the hotel’s outdoor “Big Screen.” “It’s a 40-foot LED screen that sits outside in our plaza and faces directly into the ballroom. We’re proud to say no one else has this! There are lots of fun things our couples have displayed on the screen. Some have projected photo montages or welcome signs, others have synched the images up to a photobooth, and some have created a hashtag on Instagram with a live stream of photos their guests post from the day.”
One Eventi couple even created a 10 minute mini-movie of how they met. “They started with a map and noted where they were each born, where they grew up and went to college, where they traveled and worked, and where they met. Their journey went on to different places they visited during their relationship, their engagement story, and their wedding planning. Finally, the map ended in NYC at the Eventi, where they said ‘I do.’ It was a fun journey for their guests to take with them, filled with lots of fun pictures.”
Lisa also takes pride in the hotel’s unique views offered of The Empire State Building and Freedom Tower, seen from the hotel’s outdoor terrace.
Add Your Traditions
To combine different traditions in their ceremony, Lisa tells us about the wedding of Jason and Kevin, two grooms from different religious and cultural backgrounds who celebrated their respective traditions in their ceremony. “The music preceding their ceremony was performed by several African drummers in colorful garb. They also had a friend who was a Presbyterian minister, and they flew him in from his native Scotland to officiate.
“I love being able to incorporate tradition into a wedding. Your wedding should reflect you and your partner and give your guests a peek into your lives and your style. Including something personal is always more memorable for your guests. They will walk away talking about ‘What a great idea’ or ‘How touching’ that was. We’ve done this many times.
“For one Korean wedding, the bride and groom changed after the ceremony from their tuxedo and white wedding dress into traditional Korean clothing, including full hair and makeup. Before dinner began, we also did a full Korean ceremony, called the paebaek.
“During this ceremony, the bride and groom use a cloth to catch dates that are tossed to them. The number of dates they collect symbolizes the number of children they will have. We had one paebaek ceremony where the couple caught 14 dates!”
For several Chinese weddings, they have done the traditional tea ceremony. For Polish weddings, they have done the bread, salt, and vodka ceremony. “That’s a fun tradition where the bride and groom are each served a shot glass. One glass is filled with water and the other with vodka. But the bride and groom don’t know which glass has the vodka. The bride selects her glass and then the groom takes his. They drink the liquid at the same time and the one who gets the vodka is said to become the head of the household. Their parents will then present the couple with bread, to represent that they never feel hunger, and salt, to represent that they must cope with difficult times.”
Create a Wedding Weekend
“We are a perfect destination for your whole wedding weekend,” says Lisa. “Everything you need is right here. Your guests can stay overnight, you can host a rehearsal dinner in one of our restaurants, host your wedding, and do a breakfast the morning after. We also have a spa on-site and a parking garage.”
Being in the center of Manhattan also offers many opportunities for wedding weekend activities. Your guests can see Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, visit museums and the city’s colorful neighborhoods, go shopping, and sample the city’s incredible array of restaurants.
Sophisticated Dining ... Our chef wanted to have the feeling of enjoying a lovely, intimate dinner in a high-end restaurant. So he created a menu much like the one you would see in your favorite upscale restaurant. We strive for the perfect presentation, highest quality, and the most attentive level of service that would set us apart from other venues.”
They also have a special service for brides and their bridal party, including moms and flower girls, to get ready in the comfort of the hotel’s guest rooms with hair services. Such in-room services are also available for engagement parties, bachelorette parties, and bridal showers.
“We’ve hosted weddings that range in size from 20 up to 175 guests. No matter what size wedding you’re planning, we are always willing to customize your menu. We’ve often worked with our chef to create custom menus or tailor our existing menus to best fit what our couples are looking for.
“We also get many requests to create a menu that represents the merging of two cultures. One recent wedding had a Chinese-American bride and a groom who was born and raised in New York City. For the cocktail hour, the chef presented a traditional Peking duck station and created Kobe beef hot dogs in puff pastry, a special take on a traditional pig in a blanket.”
Wedding Day Excitement
Lisa began hey career after graduating from college with a degree in hospitality management. “I have 10 of years experience planning weddings and I can genuinely say that every one is special and unique. I love getting to know my couples and being a part of their day. Seeing all the hard work and planning realized and seeing the happy couple as they celebrate with their loved ones is a very rewarding feeling.
“It always feels extra special when I can keep in touch with the couple long after the wedding. I’ll see photos of their babies and all their amazing experiences and adventures as a married couple. Having such an impact on someone to the point where they care enough to keep in touch through the years makes all the hard work so worth it.
“Every day is a new and thrilling experience with wedding planning. The most exciting part for me is seeing the whole event come to life. After all the planning, tastings, and fittings, when you see the look on the groom’s face when the bride walks down the aisle, you can’t help but smile!”