Saturday, November 21, 2009

Secret Serenity In New York City?

Tomorrow I'm showing a wedding client one of my favorite little secret venues for their upcoming Summer wedding. On a fairly nondescript area of 10th Ave. between 20th & 21st St. is The Desmond Tutu Center a true oasis of serenity. For a client who is looking for a venue that has magnificent lawns (yes two huge lawns!) and a Gothic-Castle-type of feel this event venue is a true gem. Things I love about it.
The lawns!

The two lawns are really nice sized and fairly level. Perfect for outdoor ceremony's and cocktail hours. There's a wonderful serenity to the outdoor space that makes you immediately forget that you could possibly be in New York City. The trees are big and bushy and beautiful and when you're there in the spring or summer time you hear birds chirping and see the butterflies in the flowers!...its sublime and very romantic! (can you tell I like this place!) The space is both a hotel and a seminary so there are rules that need to be followed, but with enough notice they are very reasonable with requests. Oh and there is also a tennis court which you can also tent if needed (which is always a great option because you've got a built in floor!)

My other favorite part of the venue is the reception hall!(the Refectory)

This room is just breathtaking. There's a regal feel you get when walking up the stairs and entering the heavy doors to this long beautiful room. I have to admit that scene in Harry Potter is exactly what I thought of the very first time I saw it. The length of the room. The two giant fireplaces at either end. The Gothic wooden chairs. The chandeliers. All amazing! Very cool and very chic! There's a lot that can be done to this venue to create some amazingly breathtaking design moments. (by the way, there are a bunch of large paintings hanging in the room, but again, with prior notice they are really great and will take them all down if you'd like)

The venue is also a hotel, which for a wedding venue can be another added nicety. The rooms and suites are all quite large and designed with what I would call handsome, modern and chic details. The rates are really reasonable and can give your guests the ability to have a little NYC vacation weekend in Chelsea!

As as wedding planner, if I'm going to rave about the place I have to also tell you the things you might not love (but honestly you can get past)

The entrance,while very nice, clean and neat is a functioning hotel front desk - and thus does feel just like one. Its small and fairly neutral, maybe even a bit dry. So to a bride thinking about a venue I can see how that might be a small concern. BUT, I think it's a minimal issue and is definitely something you can glaze over and solve in creative design ways. (I would say lets chalk it up to another one of those 'NYC wedding venue' experiences).

*I have theories you'll start to get to know as you get to know me!

In order to help my clients find the best venue, I try to get them to understand and accept this theory. Most NYC venue entrances (other than hotels) are 'gritty' and 'urban' to say the least. Not what a stylish bride might normally think of as a beautiful, cool or chic wedding entrance to her wedding venue. BUT, when you enter the venue and the event itself! - That's when the WOW moment happens! That's a huge part of what makes a NYC wedding unique for you and your guests! So, in order to really be happy with picking a NYC venue for your wedding - I think you have to be open to this theory and make the decisions based on the wow factors to come, not necessarily what the outside of the building or the area looks like.

Anyway, I digress. The other thing you may be concerned with while walking around the property is the playground. Yes, there is a playground. (again, it's a hotel and a seminary that has a nursery school. No big deal, it wont effect your event at all). If you feel the need, screens will make it disappear on the day of your event, so don't event think about it twice!

All of that being said, as a wedding designer I love the bones of this venue! Its a beautiful, peaceful, and very cool space where truly magical moment can be created. Now after writing about it, I'm even more excited to show it to my clients tomorrow! I will certainly keep you posted on the details of the visit and of course the wedding planning to come. If you have any great stories or details of events from this venue you want to share I'd love to see them!

Cheers to getting married in New York City!


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