THE RECEPTION GUIDE
The Romantic Wedding
In consultation with Bronson Van Wyck of Van Wyck & Van Wyck.
FORT TRYON PARK
741 Fort Washington Ave., nr. Cabrini Blvd., Washington Heights; 212-795-1388; nycgovparks.org
NEW LEAF CAFÉ
1 Margaret Corbin Dr., nr. 190th St.; 212-568-5323; nyrp.org/newleaf
- Photo courtesy of Chris Becker
At Fort Tryon Park, heather flows down terraced hills in purple waterfalls. For the ceremony, the Abbey's Lawn, the Billings Lawn, or the Linden Terrace (where linden trees form a natural canopy) all have views of the Hudson River and the Cloister towers. After the ceremony, walk along the overgrown Olmstead-designed paths to the New Leaf Café, a thirties stone structure that Bette Midler's New York Restoration Project turned into a charming restaurant in 2001. Cocktails take place inside the café bar, with the dinner on the elm-and-oak-shaded back patio. Should you need to tent the area, the cost starts at $3,000.
Serve guests lemon spritzers with mint as they arrive. At the café, start with hors d'oeuvre, including knishes with crème fraîche and caviar, shrimp on sugarcane skewers, Hudson Valley cheeses and fresh fruit. Then enjoy a spectacular four-course meal (from $135), from a menu designed by James Bellicchi, formerly of Gramercy Tavern. You'll have an appetizer (try the scallops), a choice of two entrées (Van Wyck likes the salmon and sirloin), and an optional vegetarian third, such as eggplant lasagne. For dessert, pick up cannoli from New York's oldest pasticceria, the Ferrara Bakery & Café in Little Italy (212-226-6150; $36 for twelve).
There's room on the patio for a nine-by-fifteen-foot dance floor; you can also dance in the terrazzo-floored dining room. The café has its own iPod-ready sound system. Create a playlist at home-with an iPod you can mix love songs from different decades by your favorite artists; from Chet Baker's "My Funny Valentine" to Radiohead's "True Love Waits." Be sure to encourage friends to create mixes and bring their iPods along as well. You can take the money you've saved on a band and donate it to the Friends of Fort Tryon Park, a nonprofit that keeps the gardens and paths looking so lovely (212-927-7174).
Flowers & Décor
The surrounding flora are so incredible, you'll only need personal flowers for the ceremony. Use white grosgrain ribbon as tiebacks on the chairs. String together bouquets with white and pink flowers from the Chelsea Garden Center (212-727-7100): peonies in spring; clematis and sweet pea in summer. At the café, keep it simple. Use the restaurant's silver and china; cover tables with raw white linen and colored water goblets. For centerpieces, fill glass bowls with floating candles and flower blossoms (white gardenias or bright pink and orange cattleya orchids). Place amber votives and pink and white rose petals everywhere for effect.
From the Summer 2006 New York Wedding Guide