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Some Fresh Air


Central Park Boathouse  

For a Party on the Water


Central Park Boathouse
$$$$$
Cost: From $195 per person (not including a 20 percent service charge or tax)
Includes: Open bar, tableside wine service, six hors d’oeuvre, four courses
Party size: 165 min., 225 max.
Ceremonies usually take place inside, overlooking the lake; cocktail hour is hosted in the adjacent garden. (If it’s raining, it’s in the Lakeside dining room, famous for its views but less preferable because of its proximity to the restaurant’s dinner guests.) Before dinner, offer guests gondola rides on the lake ($150 per hour). Then move back into the private dining room for dinner and dancing. Here’s the catch: “Being dead center in Central Park can be a nightmare,” warns West Duffey. “You have to get permits for all vendor vehicles in advance.” As for guests, the boathouse provides a trolley to take large groups in and out of the park before and after your event—a plus for Granddad.

Prospect Park Boathouse
$$$$
Cost: From $193 per person (based on a 120-person reception, not including a 10 percent service charge or tax)
Includes: Open bar, eight hors d’oeuvre, two cocktail-hour stations, three courses, cake or dessert, free parking, five guards
Party size: 60 min., 150 max. with partial tent ($2,500), 200 with full tent ($5,000)
“Make a grand entrance on their wooden motorboat [$300 for one hour]. Guests can take rides on the lake during cocktails,” says David Stark. Have the ceremony and cocktails on the lakeside patio, and dinner and dancing inside the vaulted-ceiling boathouse. A few cons: You really should tent if rain’s a possibility. Also, it’s open to the public until 5 p.m., which doesn’t leave much time to set up, and ceremonies start at 7 p.m. or later. The silver lining? You can view the space and do vendor walk-throughs anytime. Another plus: The nearest subway stop is just two blocks away, so your guests won’t be fighting for taxis at the end of the night.

Battery Gardens
$$$
Cost: From $180 per person (not including a 21 percent service charge or tax; plus fees for coat check, $125, and maître d’, $250)
Includes: Open bar and Champagne toast, eight passed hors d’oeuvre, two cocktail stations, four courses
Party size: 125 min., 220 max.
Have an outdoor ceremony with panoramic river views. Continue into the garden for open-air cocktails, and have dinner and dancing upstairs in a room with wraparound windows and views of the harbor. In inclement weather, get married in the reception area, sectioned off with dividers, and host cocktail hour under a tent ($2,000). “The dance floor is usually placed in the back of the room,” says West Duffey. “It makes the dancing a bit disjointed from the dining, but it’s the only place it fits.” Caveats: “The food’s gone down in quality,” advises Duffey. Also, their elevator situation isn’t ideal—there are no freight elevators; the one they do have, for guests, is teeny.

Bridgewaters
$$
Cost: From $175 per person (not including a 20 percent service charge or tax)
Includes: Five-hour open bar and Champagne toast, six hors d’oeuvre, three courses plus wedding cake
Party size (Bridgewaters): 175 min., 350 max.
(Museum Club): 125 min., 300 max.
“Book Bridgewaters or the Museum Club—the latter has a ballroom with a terrace, and is the better option,” says Jennifer Gilbert. The club’s ceremony room leads onto a roofed patio overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. The reception room is large enough—some call it loftlike—for a twelve-piece band and to have dinner and dancing in one space. Their in-house wedding cake is obligatory, but, says Gilbert, their food is excellent. The downsides? “They do two weddings at a time. But brides don’t see each other because they stagger event times and the elevators open in different areas,” she says. “Also, hailing a cab near South Street Seaport can be tricky, so arrange for guest transportation.”


Sequoia  

Sequoia
$
Cost: From $100 per person (not including a 20 percent service charge or tax)
Includes: Five-hour open bar, six hors d’oeuvre, three courses
Party size: 100 min., 175 max.
“It’s within South Street Seaport’s shopping center, but there’s an outside staircase that leads right into the restaurant, so you don’t have to enter the mall,” says Gilbert. “And once you’re there it’s an oasis.” Have cocktails on the roofed patio right at the water’s edge. The restaurant’s three private rooms connect through French doors; each is ceremony- and reception-ready. One snag: Dinner and dancing must take place in separate rooms. Host dancing in the Platform Room, named after the elevated platform that sits center. Transform the room’s smaller bar into a D.J. booth—the massive fish tank above it makes for a cool backdrop. Gilbert adds: “The service and food are good. This is really a steal.”


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Recent Brides Share Their Wedding-Planning Fiascoes

Pricing is based on a Saturday night in 2010 peak season.

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