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THE RECEPTION GUIDE

The Bon Vivant Wedding

In consultation with Jung Lee of Fête.


HIGH BUDGET

THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
Central Park West at 79th St.; 212-769-5100; amnh.org

  • Photos by Denis Finnin/Courtesy of The American Museum of Natural History

Location

This space once served as the museum's massive power plant, but has been renovated into a huge loft lined with French doors and bedecked with dramatic white columns. If weather allows, enjoy cocktails on the one-acre Arthur Ross Terrace, which is outfitted with gingko trees and lighted water jets; otherwise, try the lovely, glass-walled North Galleria. French doors lead into the main 5,000-square-foot space, which can accommodate up to 316 guests. The individual patron fee is $5,000 (95 percent of which is tax deductible), but doesn't include the $6,000 guardianship fee to cover the lighting, coat check, and other amenities.

Catering

Restaurant Associates (from $260 per person) is the museum's in-house caterer. At that price, the options are virtually limitless: toothsome passed hors d'oeuvre such as braised beef short ribs on miniature popovers, Parmesan wafers with whipped mascarpone cheese and caramelized pears, and potato gauffrettes with caviar. Entrées range from pomegranate-glazed lamb to seared beef fillet with braised beef tips. Since your budget allows for it, treat guests to a bar fully stocked with your favorite brands, plus the specialty items (Gibsons and Manhattans in speakeasy-style teacups, perhaps?) of your choice.

Music

The world-renowned Doc Scantlin and his Imperial Palms Orchestra (804-788-4603; $12,000 and up)-who are frequently referred to in the press as the world's best-get the party started with cabaret classics by greats such as George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Cole Porter (they do a fabulous rendition of "Night and Day"). Hire D.J. Dina Regine ($3,500 and up; drpgrooves@aol.com), a local singer-songwriter who's spun everywhere from Keith Richard's fiftieth birthday party to a closing-night party for the Olympics, to provide an eclectic mix of interesting music during breaks and to close out the night.

Flowers & Décor

Guests should dine at long, elegant tables ranging from 12-to-26 feet and covered with sumptuous black dupioni silk with mirrored runners on each. Place large elephant palms on each corner of a four-sided bar in the middle of the room. Line the entrance with old-fashioned posters from La Belle Epoque (212-362-1770) for a truly vintage feel. Fill mercury bowls with dark-purple and burgundy calla lilies, peonies, and bunches of ranunculus, and fill polished silver ice buckets with black beauty roses. A swanky bar is a must; Lee suggests something in a sleek material like Lucite to modernize the retro aesthetic.

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