If you’re planning to go big with your wedding, there’s no better setting than the Big Apple. And New York City’s hotels are by far the best equipped to give you and your guests an affair to remember. From the luxe renovated grand ballrooms of the Waldorf-Astoria and the Plaza to the spectacular skyline views of the Peninsula and St. Regis, the world’s greatest city also offers the world’s most memorable and elegant spots to tie the knot.
The following venues provide lush, fairy-tale backdrops for brides and grooms of all tastes, particularly those who dream of celebrating amidst crystal chandeliers and priceless art. When money is no object for that special occasion, nothing beats these 10 hotel event spaces for sheer pageantry, glamor and ambiance. Time to mortgage the house, mom and dad!
The New York Palace’s Villard Mansion
The 13,000-square-foot Villard Mansion sits directly in front of the New York Palace hotel, a more recent addition to the skyline (and the site of many scenes in Gossip Girl). The mansion was originally built in 1882 by railroad tycoon Henry Villard as six private brownstones surrounding a courtyard. Famed architecture firm McKim, Mead, and White designed the homes in the neo-Italian Renaissance tradition, inspired specifically by the Palazzo della Cancellaria in Rome. The mansion has since been renovated and transformed into a single home with several event spaces, including the expansive Villard Ballroom, pictured above, and The Madison Room, a restored 19th-century drawing room that features paintings from 1891 and can accommodate seated dinners of 100.
All wedding receptions include access to the Palace Courtyard, which was recently redesigned to incorporate motifs from 15th-century Italian cathedrals, paying homage to the original Italian-influenced design, as well as a stay in the Palace’s bridal suite and a cake from Ron Ben-Israel. Be aware that the hotel is undergoing renovations, but given the nature of NYC weddings—some spaces are reserved two or three years in advance—it doesn’t hurt to start looking early. 455 Madison Ave., at 51st St. Call 212-303-7766 to arrange a tour of the Villard Mansion or other event spaces at the New York Palace.
Le Parker Meridien’s Estrela Penthouse
Le Parker Meridien‘s penthouse ballroom offers 360-degree views of Manhattan and also comes with the option of a pool-side reception along the hotel’s Olympic-sized rooftop pool, where the temptation to “trash the dress” (and/or the tux, the shoes, and anything else that ends up chlorine-soaked) can be strong for some. The Estrela Penthouse, situated on the 42nd floor, includes an outdoor terrace as well as an enclosed space, which allows for year-round weddings with views of the Manhattan skyline to the south and east as well as Central Park to the north.
If your guests get a little tired and hungry after dancing the night away, Le Parker Meridien is home to one of the most beloved “secret” burger spots in Manhattan: the Burger Joint hides behind floor-to-ceiling curtains in the hotel lobby. 119 W. 56th St., at Sixth Ave. Call 212-708-7450 to arrange a tour of the Penthouse or other event spaces at Le Parker Meridien.
The Mandarin Oriental’s Mandarin Ballroom
With floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over Central Park and the Manhattan skyline—and not a single pillar blocking the view—the Mandarin Ballroom at the Mandarin Oriental provides a 36th-floor cityscape that you won’t soon forget, along with three enormous crystal chandeliers that give the ceiling a fairy-tale sparkle. Mandarin Ballroom weddings include a bridal suite with every reception as well as wedding-and-honeymoon package offers: if you hold a wedding reception at the Mandarin, you get one free honeymoon night at any Mandarin location in the world, including those in China, Prague and Bermuda. The package also includes VIP status, a complimentary room upgrade, daily breakfast, welcome drinks and a $100 spa voucher for your honeymoon. 80 Columbus Circle, near Broadway and 60th St. Call 212-805-8857 to arrange a tour of the Mandarin Ballroom or other event spaces at the Mandarin Oriental.
The Carlyle’s Trianon and Versailles Suites
Once known as “the New York White House”—John F. Kennedy owned an apartment in the hotel that Marilyn Monroe used to visit via hidden tunnel—the Carlyle remains the ultimate symbol of New York glamor and luxury, in renovated Art-Deco style. The Trianon and Versailles Suites are call-backs to the hotel’s original opulent decor (designed, in part, by the incomparable Dorothy Draper), featuring custom wall treatments that blend gilded and shimmering textures. Between the two suites is a lobby with gold undertones, custom mirrors and velvet—lots of velvet.
One unusual opportunity offered by the Carlyle is the chance to get a complimentary two-night honeymoon package if you exceed a certain spending threshold. After the wedding reception—which includes a stay in the hotel’s bridal suite the night of the wedding—newlyweds can stay two nights at a variety of affiliated hotels or resorts, plus receive a romantic dinner and a welcome amenity like flowers, champagne or en-suite breakfast. 35 E. 76th St., at Madison Ave. Call 212-744-1600 to arrange a tour of the Trianon and Versailles Suites or other event spaces at the Carlyle.
The Peninsula’s Salon de Ning
Situated on the 23rd-floor rooftop of the Peninsula, the Salon de Ning offers glittering views of the Manhattan skyline. Overlooking Fifth Avenue, the event space is decorated in both Eastern and Western décor, with Chinese and international influences melding to reflect the elegance and style of 1930s Shanghai, known as “The Paris of the East.” Ample heat lamps mean even winter weddings are possible here, and the wedding party can arrange to be delivered to the hotel in a range of vehicles, from vintage taxi cabs to luxury cars.
The lucky couple receives not only a stay in the bridal suite the night of their wedding but also a complimentary stay at the Peninsula for their one-year anniversary. The West Terrace of the Salon de Ning can be booked for up to 125 guests, or the entire space can be reserved for up to 290 people, ensuring your event will be as private as it is chic. 700 Fifth Ave., at 55th St. Call 212-956-2888 to arrange a tour of the Salon de Ning or other event spaces at the Peninsula.
The Pierre’s Grand Ballroom
Purchased in 2005 by India-based Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, the Pierre has a long history of catering to those who value privacy as much as they do the finer things, from the Rolling Stones to Prince Phillip. Since the Taj takeover, the Pierre has been fully renovated, and the restored Grand Ballroom is one of the hotel’s centerpieces. Taj hired luxury-hotel specialist Alexandra Champalimaud to redesign the ballroom, which features 18-foot silver-and-gold ceilings and a capacity to accommodate 1,500 guests.
Adjacent to the ballroom, the Pierre’s rotunda features legendary tromp l’oeil murals created in 1967 by American artist Edward Melcarth, which incorporate mythological figures and a young woman who looks a lot like Jackie Kennedy. Guests who book a reception can hold a ceremony in the separate Cotillion Room (where scenes from Scent of a Woman were filmed) for no extra charge, as well as the spectacular Garden Terrace. Also included in the reception fee are two nights in the bridal suite, a groom’s room for one night, and a Sylvia Weinstock cake. 2 E. 61st St., at Fifth Ave. Call 212-838-8000 to arrange a tour of the Grand Ballroom or other event spaces at the Pierre.
The Plaza’s Terrace Room
Named one of the most expensive wedding venues in New York City, the Plaza has hosted many celebrity weddings over the years, including those of Eddie Murphy, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, and Kelsey Grammar (his fourth). Situated on the other side of the French doors of the hotel’s famed Palm Court, The Terrace Room has been restored to its original 1912 grandeur. The ceilings are adorned with figural paintings that transport guests to the Renaissance, and the original Charles Winston-designed crystal chandeliers add Gilded-Age refinement to the classic setting.
Receptions booked here include a bridal suite for the night of the wedding, day-of preparation suites for the bride and groom, and a cake from either Sylvia Weinstock or Ron Ben-Israel, two of the best wedding-cake artisans in the world. The Terrace Room holds up to 500 people for a cocktail reception and 370 for seated dinners. All events in the room require a minimum of 200 guests. 768 Fifth Avenue, at Central Park South. Call 866-770-8229 to arrange a tour of the Terrace Room or other event spaces at the Plaza.
The Roosevelt Hotel’s Palm-Terrace Ballroom
One of New York City’s greatest remaining ballrooms resides in the Roosevelt Hotel, which has been a society fixture in Manhattan since 1924. Twin staircases lead guests from the lobby into an intimate space known as the Oval Palm Room, which is surrounded by semi-circular gold-and-black railings and accented with a beautiful 17th-century mirror, antique wallpaper, and a Swarovski crystal chandelier. Adding to the richness of the setting are two green marble columns that support a muraled ceiling. A few steps beyond the Palm Room is the Terrace Ballroom, which features Tiffany chandeliers, crystal sconces, and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking 45th St., dressed in brown and gold silk. A small alcove adjoins the Terrace Ballroom with a small staircase, ideal for a bride wanting to make a dramatic entrance.
Receptions include an event suite for guests, a one-night stay in the bridal suite (with champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries), and a choice of wedding cake by either Sylvia Weinstock or Ron Ben-Israel. As an added bonus, the hotel allows couples to take wedding photos throughout the hotel, including its terraces, mezzanines and roof. 45 E. 45th St., between Madison and Vanderbilt. Call 212-661-9600 to arrange a tour of the Palm-Terrace Ballroom or other event spaces at the Roosevelt Hotel.
The St. Regis Hotel’s Roof
Originally built in 1904 by John Jacob Astor IV (who famously died aboard the Titanic), the St. Regis was at one time the tallest Beaux-Arts building in the city at 18 stories. Later owners added two more floors, which created the opportunity for the St. Regis Roof, a beautiful wedding space that overlooks Central Park and offers stellar views of the Manhattan skyline. From vaulted cloud-dappled ceilings to gilt chandeliers, the Roof has an air of European luxury and Cinderella magic. Couples are offered what the St. Regis calls “bespoke wedding possibilities,” which include a complimentary stay in the bridal suite the night of the wedding, 24-hour butler service, an on-site florist, and a variety of wedding planning options. 2 E. 55th St., at Fifth Ave. Call 212-753-4500 to arrange a tour of the Roof or other event spaces at the St. Regis Hotel.
The Waldorf-Astoria’s Grand Ballroom
A New York institution since 1893, the Waldorf-Astoria is home to one of the largest and most decadent ballrooms in the city. Styled after the Court Theatre in Versailles, the Grand Ballroom hosts the annual induction ceremony for the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame as well as opening-night galas for Carnegie Hall. It’s the only four-story, two-tiered ballroom available for weddings in New York City, which is in itself enough to make the venue unforgettable as a reception space.
Reception packages come with other perks, too: couples get a complimentary night in the bridal suite, and if you stay at the hotel for your honeymoon, you can come back for your 50th anniversary and pay the same rate. 301 Park Ave., at 49th St. Call 212-872-4942 to arrange a tour of the Grand Ballroom or other event spaces at the Waldorf-Astoria.
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