There was once a time when wedding planning meant choosing a gown, a few bridesmaids, and a couple of coordinating colors, and booking a room that was big enough to hold your allotted guest list. Now the reception has become as much as an event as the ceremony and the entire production is customized to reflect the personality of the couple, with themes that only begin with a color palette.
These 10 suggestions on regional venues offer top-notch party spaces. They are each unique by way of size, location, décor, and vibe—each as individual as the couples who choose them. What does remain constant is that each venue’s common goal is to make sure that the couple’s day is exactly what they wish—whatever that may be. Though the marriage is meant to last a lifetime, a good party should last until the break of dawn.
Mohonk Mountain House: Everything but the Kitchen Sink
A stay at the Mohonk Mountain House is the equivalent of an all-inclusive resort without the watery drinks or mosquito bites. This picturesque family owned, megaresort, sprawling over the Shawangunk Ridge on the waters of Lake Mohonk offers almost as many wedding options as it does activities on the property (don’t underestimate the frame-worthy ice skating and carriage ride photo ops). From the American Gothic to the Edwardian Splendor, each package can be customized to the couple’s needs. There are also packages for smaller weddings and an environmentally friendly option. Mohonk also offers an on-site flower shop and luxury transportation (in case Mr. Ed gets a bum knee). www.mohonk.com
Belvedere Mansion: Steel Magnolia Meets Upscale New York
An intimate reception with your nearest and dearest is important, but can you really ask your Aunt Bea to host your oversize party in her backyard? The Belvedere Mansion, where the current owners Nick and Patricia, treat guests (star roster included) like family and make them feel as if it’s their own home (if only your home were a mansion set on immaculate grounds with a pool and tennis court). The home has been filled with antiques that have been hand-picked by the owners so that no two rooms look alike. Couples can hold the reception near the formal English garden or in the mansion for a more intimate feel. www.belvederemansion.com
Opus 40: Looking For a Rocky Start?
This bluestone quarry covers over six acres of land that that attracts both visitors and engaged couples who want a less-than-average reception site. The environmental sculptures, created by Harvey Fite, feature rocky dips, pools, and formations that reflect those who are looking for an artistic aesthetic for a warm weather outdoor venue. The vista in the background is nothing short of spectacular. Pat Richards, who coordinates weddings at Opus 40, says, “It’s a 50/50 mix of what attracts couples here. Some like the unique setting and others love the history and art.” Receptions are BYO-everything, so if it’s a local winery that you love (or your Two Buck Chuck), you get to supply your own liquor…as well as a caterer and tent (because you’ll need a rain backup plan). Richards will be there to guide you through and make sure the day is prefect for you and up to 300 guests. www.opus40.org
Onteora Mountain House: A Woodsy Weekend Retreat
The former summer getaway of mayo mogul, Richard Hellman, the Onteora Mountain House becomes your weekend wedding retreat. The lodge sits on 250 acres of forest preserve in Boiceville and while cocktails are usually sipped on the terrace enjoying this view, dancing happens in the 3,600 square foot timber pavilion that can easily accommodate 200. The wedding party will have their run of the house for the weekend, complete with seven cozy bedrooms, and a great room with a massive stone fireplace for gathering your loved ones. The downstairs is a grotto-like game room with a championship billiards table that makes for the perfect after-party.
The Inn at Stone Ridge: Wed like a Prez
The Inn at Stone Ridge Hasbrouck House is a classic 18th-century Colonial mansion with white columns, manicured lawns, and an operating orchard. Upon arrival, the picture looks straight out of a Life magazine cover where you’d find the Kennedys lounging on the serene lake sipping highballs. If you’ve dreamt of a classic tented affair, then this would be the perfect place—not to mention, a perfect photo backdrop with the mansion in the background and 1920s-era swimming pool. A variety of packages are available for couples, from cocktail receptions to full meals ending with cognac and dessert. Fireworks on the 150 acres of grounds make for the perfect ending to a picture-perfect wedding.