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Wedding Reception for 150 in Manhattan . . . Suggestions Desperately needed

So . . . I thought 150 guests for a seated reception with good food and dancing was a good number. How wrong i was! I was told its too big to be a small wedding and too small to be a big wedding in Manhattan. I feel like the skinny fat kid. I looked at 13! different venues over 2 marathon days to not love any of them. Not that price doesn't matter but even in my dream world i thought there would be something i fell in love with and low and behold I felt blah about them all. (list below) My favorite was the Gramercy Park Hotel b/c of its character & location, but it is too small and does not allow for live music. I thought the Standard, the Ace (catered by the Breslin) or the Gansevoort Park Ave would be perfect but again 150 for dinner with dancing is much too large. We were going to have a food truck at the end instead of party favors to up the food focus.

Any suggestions on a location that might work? Appreciate any and all thoughts!!! I am so lost . . .

List we looked at:
River Park Restaurant
Trump Soho (felt sterile and difficult to shuffle 150 guests into elevators for 1. ceremony, 2 cocktails and 3 reception)
583 Park (no alcohol allowed)
Ritz Battery Park (sterile)
Pierre Hotel (pricey)
Metropolitan Club ($$$$$)
Harmonie Club
Burden Kahn/Mansion (the band would have to be alone in a separate room leaving the doors open)
American museum history (their basic room, i.e. not an exhibit, felt like a high school gym)
Gramercy Park Hotel (too small and did not allow a band)
Mandarin Oriental ($$$$$)
Bowery Hotel (next to a meth clinic and the idea of a food truck mixed with the homeless is a hilariously terrible idea)

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  1. You might investigate the following: Daniel, Eleven Madison Park, Central Park Boathouse,
    Astra (Charlie Palmer venue on the 14th floor of the D&D Bldg.), Abigail Kirsch venues.


    3 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      Thanks RGR. Eleven Madison Park is too small. the boathouse consistently had health department issues so I was warned to stay away. I hear Abigail Kirsch food is amazing although she doesnt allow tastings. For that much $$$ I feel like you should get a tasting even for a price but i should look into it. Will look into the others. Thanks!

      1. re: MissMara

        I just looked at Daniel's website. I already knew that the Bellcour Room could not accommodate 150 seated guests. I was thinking the restaurant proper, which can be rented for a wedding reception, could hold that many, but the website says 140 seated.

        Astra can accommodate up to 300. There's a great view and an outdoor terrace where, weather permitting, you can have cocktails.



        1. re: MissMara

          We had our wedding of about 180 guests at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers (an Abigail Kirsch location) and it was amazing. In good weather it is a great location, most of the people we worked with we're very helpful and accommodating, and everyone raved about the food.

      2. I had my wedding at Astra and thought it worked out well for us. Are there places with more character? Probably. But I can be lazy and Astra was great as it was pretty much a one-stop shop. Food and service were great and hanging out at the terrace was a pretty cool experience for the guests, especially for the out-of-town ones. The pics from their website are outdated -- those awful banquet chairs are replaced by simple upholstered ones.

        One issue that I ran into is that you can only rent the place for a maximum of five hours (four hours is standard and we had to pay extra for the fifth hour). We ended up moving the party to another place, but thought you should know.

        1. I recommend Tribeca Rooftop...I got married there a couple of yrs ago. Had 140 guests; food is great. good luck!

          1 Reply
            1. My wife and I had a good experience with a sit down live band wedding for 140 persons at the W Hotel on Lexington and 50th. This was a few years ago, so who knows, but certainly worth looking into. They were very accomodating and easy to deal with. Being in a hotel also made accomodating out of town guests a no brainer.

              1. I went to three weddings last year, one at Essex House, one at the Pierre and one at Trump Soho. What kind of vibe are you going for? My friend who married at EH had a really large band, one of those 24 person orchestras. My friend who did hers at the Pierre also had an orchestra but smaller, maybe 8 or 12 musicians, I don't remember. My third friend got hitched at Trump Soho and had a small band, maybe 4-6 people. I can't remember but I think she said that her band came under T/Soho's recommendation.

                Have you tried the James or Mondrian if you're looking for downtown spaces?

                I can't think of the specific name (it's part of the Met Museum's art space w/ all the Byzantine art) up somewhere between Harlem and Washington Heights but that could be a possibility. The Chambers Hotel has art on the walls like Gramercy Park.

                5 Replies
                1. re: mushroomaffairs

                  You're thinking of the Cloisters. What room would people rent in the Cloisters?

                  1. re: mushroomaffairs

                    Thank you. Both the James and the Morgan hotels including the Mondrian are much too small, unfortunately. What did you think of the 3 weddings you attended? At the Trump soho, we need to shuffle 150 ppl to 3 rooms in elevators and i didn't think the reception room paid off. It was long, narrow and a bit awkward. The Pierre has a very over the top cocktail room that may be too fluffy for my taste. I am very much a down town girl but my party size seems to almost cut out downtown as an option. The idea of the Cloisters is a great one. i didnt event think of it. How was the transportation? I am concerned about my guests who dont drive taking the subway from there at 2am.

                    1. re: MissMara

                      I loved all three weddings but they were all vastly different in terms of space, guests and overall vibe. You're probably right about Trump Soho being long, dark and narrow. The whole hotel is basically Brady Bunch brown and rectangular, lol, but the space at the top of the hotel for cocktail hour during sunset was nice. I don't remember specifically the type of food/hors d'ouevres served but all three had the same set-up, cocktail hour with waiter service, buffet and passed hors d'ouevres, and then the sit-down dinner/dancing in the reception room. I liked the Essex House the best because the ballroom had a painted rotunda ceiling and was incredible (more due to my friend, her husband and their parents went all out for their crazy wedding). The Pierre was similar but not as large as Essex and more traditional and both weddings were contained to the second level whereas at Trump, you jumped from like the 3rd floor to the top floor then to the 2nd floor or something..

                      As far as the Cloisters, sorry! That was just a suggestion since you seem to want some type of view mixed with art in your original post. I've never attended a wedding there, I wouldn't know if they're capable of handling private events. When I was in high school I had to travel up there for a couple of extension classes and always held it as kind of a fantasy place because of views and courtyard. Always thought it would be a great outdoor space for concerts...lol, or a wedding. :)

                      1. re: MissMara

                        Of course the Cloisters does events. You're very gracious to concern yourself with transport from the City. You know, I may get grief for this, but for a friend's wedding, this Manhattanite would happily suck it up and get a ZipCar for the day or arrange to share a car service with other guests.

                        Best of luck. This is going to be a fabulous wedding, I can just tell! Mazel

                    2. I attended a rehearsal dinner a couple of years ago at 3 West Club. We were in the Solarium -- both inside and outside on a terrace overlooking Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick's. There was live musicand I recall that the food was good. Quick look at their web site shows capacity for a dinner-dance is 150.

                      1. Abigail Kirsch food is extremely good by wedding standards, and the bakery the company works with to make the wedding cakes does a very, very good job. AK was great about accomodating vegetarians and those with food allergies. I was pretty impressed that my fish main course somehow came out moist, despite being prepared as part of a very large batch.

                        I had around 150 people at the Lighthouse (catered by Abigail Kirsch). The venue is, in truth, a wedding factory, but there are pros to that, as well. Everything went extremely smoothly and our contact at the Lighthouse (Jeffrey IIRC; he was really on top of things) basically acted as a wedding planner on the day of the event. You could get away with not hiring a separate planner, if you wanted.

                        If you want a very grand, very traditional look, the Ritz Carleton I think accomodates weddings of your size and the food there has also been well made in my experience.

                        1. 24 Fifth would be perfect! It is owned by the Glazier Group (they own Bridgewaters, Michael Jordan's, etc and until recent Strip House steak) and they have AMAZING food! 24 Fifth is located on lower 5th ave b/t 9th and 10th streets. It is the original lobby of the Fifth Ave Hotel that was restored to all the original detail (marble dance floor, chandeleirs, etc). It is perfect for 100-170 guests. I got married there 5 years ago and we couldn't have been happier with the customer service, space, location, food, etc.

                          1. What exactly are you looking for in a wedding venue? There are a number of big event spaces that you didn't mention. Only hotels or restaurants?

                            I went through this last year, on a moderate budget with a party of ~ 125 people. Food quality was important, though we did check out a few places based on price alone. Since we found that all-in-one places were cheaper (meaning on-site catering, etc.), we only looked at those. Aside from the ones already listed, we looked at the following places last year:

                            Yale Club (food is supposedly good, and it's actually quite reasonably priced)
                            24 Fifth
                            W Union Sq
                            Riverside Church (based on price)
                            3 West Club
                            and a few others in Brooklyn.

                            Places I've been to for weddings or other events:
                            Essex House
                            Central Park Boathouse
                            Manhattan Penthouse (wow, atrocious food)
                            Chelsea Piers

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: janethepain

                              Jane - You nailed the question I have been asking myself . . . What do I want! Like I mentioned above, of course budget is a factor but even ignoring that for now I didn't see anything that I felt comfortable with. The grand hotels are beautiful but so traditional. As a couple we are anything but traditional/cookie cutter. I wanted a hotel for convenience but anything that can accomodate 150 ppl are really only the big NYC hotels that always come to mind. If we had to bucket ourselves its probably more in the lower east side/hipster range (which I hate to say but just to give an idea.) We live/work in Tribeca and rarely breach the 14th street mark. (not b/c we have the downtown stuck up attitude but most things we need are close by.) I thought the ACE hotel would be perfect with Breslin catering but that is too small by 40 ppl. Our list is 250 but we are going to chop that down to 150 and likely can't go lower then that. I love the idea of a unique venue with good food and room for a band. I dont like frills or foof which everyone thinks of for weddings. I love the idea of an intimate (or as intimate as 150 ppl can get) party. As I dont want this to be all about me or us as a couple but more of a party to celebrate as a group. Some where we can enhance rather then create is what i had in mind. Our styles range from old fashion to modern but i would say eclectic is probably right. We both love art and music so i thought the gramercy with its history and decor would have been the one. <Sigh> I was not the girl who dreamed of her wedding so this is all an exploration process. The idea of a wedding factory makes me want to RUN to city hall to save the $$$ but I want to have this for our families. They have been through a lot recently and could certainly look forward to some happiness. :)
                              if anything comes to mind, i would very much appreciate your thoughts!
                              Thank you

                              1. re: MissMara

                                You sound very similar to us! I wanted outdoor space or a very airy element as well. We got married at the Liberty Warehouse, which was perfect because it has a great outdoor space (a pier!), amazing views, a cool industrial vibe, and a polished warehouse reception space. In-house catering is great (we had oysters on the half shell passed around!) because it's the same company as River Cafe.

                                Try warehouse spaces if you don't mind having to hire your own catering, etc. Also, if you pare your guest list to 150, you know not all of them will attend, right?

                                1. re: janethepain

                                  Our list is ~250 people so we are cutting by 100. We will end up in the 150ish range but definitely not 125 and no way 200.

                            2. i second the suggestion for 24 fifth. also, manhattan penthouse. we had our wedding here 3 years ago and it was lovely. i'm not sure of capacity though, we had around 80 people. unlike another posters comment, we happened to like the food.

                              1. Have you looked into the Library at the New York Academy of Medicine (Central Park East) or the Italian Academy at Columbia University? Both could accommodate your size wedding and both are loaded with character. Sterling Affair does the catering at both. In my opinion, they are one of the best caterers in the city. Consistently excellent food and the absolute best in terms of service and event support. I have recommended them to many people and know they work within a range of budgets. If one of these venues doesn't work for you, they have exclusives at others and also do off-premise catering at almost every venue in Manhattan. They'll help you find a place.


                                1. Thanks Everyone!!! We looked aaaannnnnd searched aaaannnnnd scoured NYC venues. We narrowed it down to 2: Angel Orensanz with Thomas Preti as caterer or the Metropolitan Club. Has anyone tried either food? They are 2 totally different looks - funky artist space vs old world Manhattan but cost almost exactly the same. My heart is really in the numbers and unfortunately they are =. Curious if anyone has had either Thomas Preti or the food at the Metropolitan Club? If so let me know - we are trying to decide today but I am feeling a bit bi-polar on the decision. Half our guests will love and the other half will love the other venue. I swear i am usually decisive and would go with my heart but my heart is telling me weddings should be cheaper! Thanks!

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: MissMara

                                    All things being equal, I'd pick the room on the left without a second's hesitation. It's classy, rather than nightclubby. But since it's all the same to you, the food should be the tiebreaker, and I'll be interested to see what people say about that.

                                    1. re: Pan

                                      Haha, I'd pick the room on the right (would have for my own wedding if it weren't so darn expensive). But I don't have any food insight to add either.

                                    2. re: MissMara

                                      I went to a wedding at the Metropolitan Club in 1994 (I can't imagine things have changed much), and around the same time I worked at a number of events there. The food is on par with other high-end wedding venues in Manhattan, like the Pierre and the St. Regis: solid & safe, well-prepared but unmemorable (unless you make a hat out of the lobster tail shell, as someone at my table did). I'm surprised to hear that you were quoted the same price at both places - I would think the LES would be way cheaper. Shows what I know. If it were up to me, I'd pick Angel Orensanz, since I love that interior, and I find the Met Club very formal and stuffy. Angel Orensanz doesn't really look like a nightclub when you see it in person, although the lurid lighting in that picture makes it seem as if it does.

                                    3. We got married at Battery Gardens. Loved it!!!

                                      1. I went to a wonderful wedding at the Bowery Hotel. Besides a separate room for the ceremony, they had another room for dancing. 3 Bars in different rooms. An outdoor terrace, with heat lamps , if it is cold outside. The place is great. I did not notice any Meth Clinic etc. This is NYC, you can find a homeless person sleeping in front of the Mandarin Oriental also. Bowery Hotel, my choice for a lovely wedding

                                        11 Replies
                                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                                          FoodWhisperer - Dont get me wrong. We loved the Bowery Hotel! It was amazing - the 2 main issues we found were 1. $285/pp not including 9% tax and 22% grat + the $6k room rental and 2. not that there was a homeless person or two but many that were harassing ppl. The room is amazing - i love the outdoor space but we have bad luck and it if rains the cocktail hour inside was tight for 150+ guests. Lovely space though

                                          1. re: MissMara

                                            As someone who eats/drinks near the Bowery often, I was surprised that you found multiple people harassing anyone around there. I can't say that I have ever seen anyone being harassed at Gemma, Bowery Electric, Bowery Hotel, Saxon-Parole, Madam Geneva, Peels, etc. But it's certainly not like being at the Essex House or the Plaza. It is a different area and feel. Then again, I am a little biased, getting married at the Bowery Hotel pretty soon.

                                            1. re: Pago77

                                              Pago - the Bowery is an awesome venue with great food. I also hang out on the LES and rarely see anything like that. My concern comes from me being neurotic. I am concerned about guests (more out of towners and snobs) being uncomfortable on Norfolk. The Bowery is well populated and happening on a weekend night but Norfolk is pretty desolate. The Bowery has a downton abbey feel - I love it. Since our list is expanding it was too tight. I am torn on having great food with a caterer or having more $ to throw around at the metropolitan ($20k difference to be exact)

                                              Lemme know how your big day goes! There are some amazing videos on YouTube for the Bowery if you need last minute ideas

                                              1. re: MissMara

                                                Norfolk? The Bowery Hotel is on Bowery between 2nd and 3rd streets (which is north of Houston)...no where near Norfolk (which does not run north of Houston). I think you either don't remember the area well, or are thinking of a different hotel.

                                                1. re: Pago77

                                                  Sorry I wasn't clear. The Bowery is fine, the angel is on Norfolk

                                                2. re: MissMara

                                                  MissMara, am I understanding correctly that Metropolitan Club will work out to be $20K cheaper for you b/c Preti's catering is so much more expensive at Angel Orensanz? If so, that' is a HUGE amount of money and you seriously need to call Sterling Affair. I know they cater at Orensanz. Their food is just as delicious and elegant as Preti's, but it seems WAY less expensive. Why can't you have great food AND all the other things your want? And by the way, Orensanz is a gorgeous venue. I've been to a number of events there. A little lighting goes a long way in that space. It's magical.

                                                  1. re: sohobelle78

                                                    The $20k difference is really from the fact that the Angel has a $18k rental fee and catering is completely separate. the Angel only gives you the space + lighting but you need to rent all tables, forks, plates etc.

                                                    1. re: MissMara

                                                      Gotcha. Have you asked the different caterers you're getting bids from who has their own rentals? It's not the most common in NYC, but some of the companies do have their own fine china, glass wear, silver, etc which can help save quite a bit. Others, meanwhile just build it into their per person prices and never tell the client.

                                                      1. re: MissMara

                                                        MissMara, I'm also shopping for venues and wondered what the quote was for Met Club.

                                                        1. re: goodfoodlover

                                                          Is there a way to private message you? i would prefer not to post since it was sent as a private quote.

                                                          1. re: MissMara

                                                            no, i don't think chowhound has a PM function.

                                            2. A suggestion I haven't seen in the replies (perhaps I missed it), or have seen a reason for it's exclusion is the Waldorf. Certainly an elegant setting, and there are several rooms in the 150 person range (at least based on this page: http://waldorfastoria3.hilton.com/en/... ).

                                              I suspect that it's going to fall in the same area as those on you list with "too many dollar signs" next to their name, but it may be worth a call.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: NE_Wombat

                                                I recently went to a party at the Waldorf, the room was exquisite, the service very good. But the food was mediocre.

                                              2. I'm going to a wedding in August at this venue -- haven't seen it, but I'm close friends with the groom (who has great taste) and he speaks very highly of it - I think their wedding is about the same size as yours.

                                                1. try one of these places - http://www.lofteleven.com/

                                                  I'm not sure Studio 450 is big enough, though I think it is - it's a great space. Also, you could choose a caterer and they can help you with venues and suggestions.