Choose A Setting That Resonates. “Most people come to Northern Valley for the majesty of our sanctuary and our dome.”
Customize Your Menu. They often are asked for unique kosher menus. “For one bride we created a kosher French menu, from the cocktail hour to the reception.”
Northern Valley Affiars, 180 Piermont Road, Closter, NJ 07624
201.750.0333, [email protected], www.northernvalleyaffairs.com
Celebrate Your Day with Creative Menus & Themes
Be Guided by Your Personal Tastes
“We encourage wedding couples to be guided by their own personalities in shaping their wedding,” says Les Friedman, owner of Northern Valley Affairs at Temple Emanu-El. “We customize every event to the individual couple,” he tells us. “For example, we recently had an outdoor wedding where the bride wanted a country theme, so we did an outdoor wedding in our courtyard and she actually walked right on the grass.
“Her chuppah was built out of bark and wood. The place cards sat right into logs of wood that she had on her place card table. She continued her country theme in the ballroom, where her centerpieces were made of wooden branches and there were canopies over each table built out of birch branches as well.”
Brides are now customizing their weddings in many different ways. “A lot of brides now ask about lighting,” says Les. “We just installed fully customizable LED lighting in our courtyard, so the whole outside can be lit in any color our brides want. Or we can change colors, starting off in blue as your guests enter and changing it to amber as they leave, for example, or we can mix the colors, slowy merging one into another.
“So if it’s a three course dinner with an appetizer, salad, and main course, we can change the whole ambiance of the room for each course. We can start off with blue, change to amber for the next course, and to a shade of purple for dessert. It changes the whole look.”
Know Your Venue
“When brides and grooms first enter the facility,” says Les, “I give them a little history about the space. It’s 11 years old, so everything is new and top of the line, from the air conditioning to the heating system to the PA system for the rabbi and the cantor in the sanctuary. We can heat or cool the building in three minutes. They built a multi-million temple and I’m the caterer!”
Brides also ask about indoor and outdoor facilities for the ceremony and the cocktail hour. “In our case, we have a beautiful courtyard which we set up quite often for the cocktail hour and we also do outdoor ceremonies.”
Most people come to Northern Valley Affairs for the majesty of its sanctuary and its dome, which is almost 99 years old and has been featured in many antique and interior design magazines.
“We only do one event a day,” Les continues, noting that can be very important when choosing your venue. “We don’t have to clean up in an hour and have your party served by waiters who have just worked a previous party. We are more of a boutique facility.”
Les and his chefs create kosher dishes as part of unique menus. “We had a wedding where the bride wanted a French menu. To produce a kosher French menu was very challenging but we did an unbelievable menu, even including French wines which we paired with different entrées and appetizers.
“The cocktail hour was completely French as well. We had a coq au vin in pastry shells, a crêpe station, a foie gras station with sauteed foie gras, as well as a variety of patés.”
Northern Valley Affairs gets many very specific food requests. “We do a lot of ethnic weddings. We have South African weddings, Russian weddings, Sephardic weddings, and many more, and they all want their own ethnic dishes.
“We offer private tastings and even if you haven’t booked with us yet, you can come in and sample our cuisine. We’re so proud of what we serve that if you want a tasting we are happy to invite you to join us.”
“We do Jewish weddings and often they’ll incorporate a tallis, a prayer shawl, into their chuppah, or they’ll get wrapped in a tallis. The tallis is usually from a grandfather who has passed, so it is usually sentimental, or they drink the wine out of kiddish cups that have been passed down over three or four generations. They’ll also sometimes put out pictures on the table of their parents’ and great grandparents’ weddings.
“As an owner, I’m at every event and so is our general manager, Marty Maged. We also include a bridal attendant who is at the bride’s side throughout her wedding day. We include one waiter per table as well as drink stewards who go to each table taking drink orders. The guests get familiarized with their waiter, who stays at their table for the full event, and also with their steward.
"I just booked a wedding and her dream is to have an ice cream wedding cake. We’ve never done that before but we are doing it for her. We’re not going to leave it out on display, but we are going to bring this six-tier ice cream wedding cake out. That was the first question she asked when I was showing her around: ‘Can I do an ice cream wedding cake?’
“We don’t serve dairy here so we are creating more of a gelato. I did a tasting with her and she loved the vanilla and the rocky road, but she hasn’t made that decision yet.”
A Family Tradition
Les is a third generation caterer. “My family has been in the business for 79 years. I’m 48 and I’ve been in this industry since I was 17. I started as a busboy, then worked as a waiter, a bartender, and in the kitchen too. I’ve done it all, from being a manager to a maitre d’, and now I’ve been an owner for quite a long time.
“Seeing the bride walk down the aisle is very special. Every time I get goosebumps. Another special feeling is now at least 30-40 percent of my weddings are ones where I bar or bat mitzvah-ed the bride or groom, and now they’re coming back.
“They’re also coming back for the bris and baby naming of their children. It’s a cycle my grandfather always told me I would see. It’s a special feeling when they write thank you letters, and say, ‘Les you did my bar/bat mitzvah and my dream was to have my wedding with you.’ And now they’re having their baby namings and brises with me!
"That’s the most special, besides seeing the bride walk down the aisle. Being with them for all these years and watching them come back, all for good occasions.”