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waterfront rehearsal dinner ideas?

We have a lot of out of town family and guests coming and I've so far been unsuccessful in finding an affordable venue for an informal dinner. I was hoping to find a venue that shows off some kind of waterfront view ideally with access to a patio or beach or something.

We have two options, renting a venue and getting outside catering. A venue alone has proven to be difficult. The second being a restaurant like Ray's, Maximilien's, or Salty's.

I'd like to keep it under $1000 for 30 people sadly I don't think that's going to happen. I'd reserve a picnic shelter in Discovery Park or Magnuson but the weather in May is too unpredictable.

Any recommendations?

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  1. $1000/30 people is entirely reasonable IF (huge if) you can forego alcohol or manage with a cash bar arrangement -you might also want to pre-arrange the menu - if you permit 30 people to order whatever they want, prepare for those idiots who will choose the lobster special and drink top shelf scotch as athirst quencher. the upper cafe and deck at ray's - with an arranged menu and no adult beverages - should fit all your criteria

    1. Here's a good site to start research public parks on Seattle's various waterfronts. Some have covered picnic area which would be perfect for a May informal dinner. If you find a site you like, contact the Parks Department, reserve a ramada(s) and then head to Costco to order catering. My nephew and his bride did just that in San Diego and we had a great time!

      1. Oops, here's the link I should have provided in my last post:


        Good luck!

        1. You might try Maggie Bluff's, below Pallisades. They have a great patio outside the casual restaurant, right on the marina there. I don't know if they do large groups, but I used to regularly take clients there for lunch and the view back to SEA skyline is terrific, and if you choose a group menu carefully, the food could be great. Their dungeness crab sandwish and fish and chips are superb, as is usually their fish of the day special.

          There is also a small clubhouse for the yacht club right there as well. I believe they have a list of caterer's for that space, but might be possible to rent it and arrange your own. It would be a GREAT location for your group size.

          1. I'll keep Ray's on the list and am still considering the picnic tables at Discovery Park for example. I ideally want to find something covered in case it rains. The yacht club is a great idea. Gingershelley, was that the Elliot Bay yacht club?

            1 Reply
            1. re: Amy_C

              AmyC, it is Elliott Bay Marina, but the small yacht club building is actually an out-post of the Seattle Yacht Club. Look up their pages on the internet, and you can find a link to send a message to who manages that space for rental. And I do believe you can self-cater there; I did a quick look after I suggested it to you, and found a mention of that.

              Let us know what you decide!

            2. Lake Union Crew is on the water. On Safari Foods is one of the preferred caterers and they are very good and a good value. I wouldn't do the sushi as it's not their strongest point. But, the South African and other foods are quite good. The rack of lamb is pretty amazing.

              Ponti would be a good one to consider. They do have private dining and are on the water. Food is really good. But, with drinks could get pricey.

              Steelhead Diner can do a group that size and while not right near the water it's at the Market. The prices are pretty good so I think this might be a good option for 30.

              1. Keep in mind that tax and mandatory gratuity for a large group is 30%. So your $30 is actually $20 per person. I'd probably skip the yacht clubs and such because their rental fee will be half if not all of your budget. The parks will be far more affordable. How about Aqua Vista? It would be casual, but not more so than a park. There are also boathouse type structures at Golden Gardens and Alki, but again, I think they are pretty pricey.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ethereal

                  Good point, ethereal. That + + will getcha every time. It didn't occur to me the OP wanted Tax and Tip to come out of the $1K. I'm not sure it can be done unless there's a no host bar or it's a coffee and pop only affair.

                  1. re: ethereal

                    If you do find a venue I had an event and Where Ya At Matt [the truck] did an excellent job catering the event and gave me a per person price that was just plus tax. For an informal meal this might be a great choice for something in your price range that was actually delicious. Po Boys, jambalaya, red beans and rice and dessert for a pretty decent price. Our event was for 40 and it came in under $1000 including tax for drop off catering. That was food only but if you have a venue and do a banquet permit it might work for you.

                  2. Amy, This may rub some hounds the wrong way but I think a good choice for you, based on group size, desire for waterfront, and having folks coming from out of the area may be Ivar's Salmon House on Lake Union. They have 6 banquet rooms, all but 1 of which have a water view I beileve and they have a very NW atmosphere. You can see pics and some details for each room on Ivar's website.
                    As for your cost the person I know who used this venue thinks it is very doable. Not sure on the liquor concerns. And yes you can probably find better food at other options but this pretty much quintessential Seattle.

                    1. For a venue + outside catering, you could check with the Center for Wooden Boats on Lake Union. It's a really cool place and we saw them setting up for a wedding there last weekend.

                      You could check with Aqua Verde - it's not fancy by any means, but a really nice NW spot.