Barberry Hill Farm
This working farm plays host frequently to Connecticut’s popular foodie feasts Dinners at the Farm, so the venue is well-oiled when it comes to special events. The same team of culinary whizzes is happy to extend its services for reception dinners and will source dozens of fruits and vegetables straight from the property’s fields. Cocktail hour is usually held alongside the cultivated wildflower and vegetable fields, and a tent (not included in the rental fee) is used for welcoming guests for dinner and dancing at the end of the rustic, gravel driveway. The farm accommodates up to 300 partygoers, with total costs (including the site rental fee of $1,800 to $2,500) starting at $15,000 to $30,000. 353 Boston Post Rd., Madison, Conn.; 203-245-2373; barberryhillfarm.com.
Blooming Hill Farm
A sort of homespun version of the more popular Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Blooming Hill Farm, in the heart of the Hudson Valley, is a much-lauded family-run operation, whose produce is favored by culinary heavyweights such as Mario Batali and David Chang. Shelley Boris, a former manager and cheese buyer at the original Dean & Deluca, runs the kitchen for all special events and has a creative way with the season’s bounty: She utilizes quirky summer crops, such as purple carrots, candy-striped beets, and pink radishes. Couples tend to get hitched by the lazy brook behind the main farm stand and hang around the wood-burning pizza oven and bar for cocktail hour. Then the party typically moves to a sit-down dinner in a tent that holds up to 125 guests (an adjacent, quaint 500-square-foot farm stand doubles as the dance floor). Site rentals range from $1,500 to $2,000. 1251 Route 208, Blooming Grove, N.Y.; 845-424-8204; bloominghillfarm.net.
Cedar Lakes Estate
In the 1920s, this 500-acre site, located 70 miles from Manhattan, was used as a summer camp for inner-city youth. Today, couples typically rent out the entire property and make a weekend of it—from Friday-night rehearsal dinner through Sunday brunch—swimming, zip-lining, and relaxing in between the festivities. Following a ceremony on the mountaintop, cocktail hour is typically on the patio overlooking its lake, with dinner by candlelight in the barn, and a farewell brunch in the poolside cabana the next day. There’s a terrific, all-inclusive gourmet catering option, so all meals are taken care of, and accommodations are quite flexible: thirteen luxury cottages for 26 to 30 guests and “camper” cabins that can sleep up to 500. 1 Team USA Way, Port Jervis, N.Y.; 551-427-5979; cedarlakesestate.com.
Driftwood Farms—a sprawling 140-acre seaside sanctuary at the tip of Long Island’s North Fork—exudes a blend of Montauk-meets-Martha’s-Vineyard relaxed sophistication. Its windswept lawns frame a quarter mile of private beachfront access to the Long Island Sound, providing an unobstructed infinity-view backdrop unlike anywhere else on the island. There’s a stunning 600-foot bluff—the perfect spot to tent a reception for up to 150. But it’s critical to keep in mind that the weather here tends to be fickle, so couples may also consider the upscale barn space as an alternative. Husband and wife owners, Steven and Gretchen Mezynieski, connect you with the reputable vendors they use exclusively, such as up-and-comers Creative Courses Catering, run by Ryan Flatley and Samy Sabil of the acclaimed North Fork Table & Inn. 35675 Main Rd., Orient Point, N.Y.; 631-323-8069; driftwoodfarms.com.
Katchkie is the type of Hudson Valley farm that every city dweller swoons over: It’s beautifully manicured, meticulously maintained, and teeming with choice organic vegetables. Special events are Katchkie’s forte—its parent company is catering giant Great Performances (see “Season Liberally,” page 116)—and it can go all-out for receptions hosting 150 to 200 guests. Following cocktail hour in a pavilion overlooking a pond, guests make their way to the field’s center for a tented dinner. The three-course meal, frequently arranged as plated appetizer and first course with a buffet-dinner spread, is farm-to-table nirvana. Tasty options include mini eggplant-parmesan tarts with homemade tomato sauce and hand-pulled mozzarella, and local ocean sea bass with roasted-mushroom-and-zucchini salad. Site rental cost is $2,500. 34 Fischer Rd. Ext., Kinderhook, N.Y.; 212-727-2424; katchkiefarm.com.
Forget the eight-hour flight to Italy. This impeccably preserved 1911 Italianate, Gilded Age villa is the Hudson Valley’s love letter to Tivoli’s Villa d’Este. Set among 150 acres of majestic countryside expanse, the 35,000-square-foot Relais & Châteaux–endorsed mansion can host up to 375 guests in various alfresco locations—from a two-acre grass meadow surrounded by pine trees to a formal fountain-and-garden area with a grand terrace overlooking serene Glenmere Lake. Naturally, la dolce vita does not come cheap: A weekend property buyout ($60,000) is required for parties of more than 100, and an average reception costs upward of $100,000. The more wallet-friendly alternative ($10,000) is to host a Sunday wedding with 90 guests or less after 3 p.m. 634 Pine Hill Rd., Chester, N.Y.; 845-469-1900;glenmeremansion.com.
If your aim is to capture the spirit and pulse of the city, it’s hard to do better than the High Line. Start by renting the Diller–von Furstenberg Sundeck for cocktail hour. The sunset views along the Hudson are terrific, and there’s ample room for guests to mingle post-ceremony. For dinner, consider one of two options, which conveniently flank either side of the deck. One is the 5,900-square-foot Chelsea Market Passage (it’s where Tommy Hilfiger held his spring 2012 runway show), which features Spencer Finch’s glass installation The River That Flows Both Ways. It seats 350 (24-hour site rental starts at $60,000). For smaller groups, the industrial-hewn 4,000-square-foot 14th Street Passage seats up to 100 (site rental starts at $24,000). You must coordinate reservations through Friends of the High Line’s private partner, the Skylight Group. Gansevoort St. to 34th St., along 10th Avenue; 212-736-6200; skylightnyc.com.
Designed around a 40-acre glacial lake, this American stroll garden less than two hours from Manhattan incorporates classical Chinese- and Japanese-design elements amid indigenous plants, rocks, water lotuses, and smoke trees. Larger receptions are staged on the hill overlooking the lake and main garden, while several intimate nooks scattered around the lake are well suited for parties of fewer than 50 guests. Note that offsite, indoor backup plans are crucial because tenting is not permitted on certain parts of the property. The garden is exclusively yours for the day, for a site fee starting at $10,000 (75 percent of which is tax deductible). 362 Tyrrel Rd., Millbrook, N.Y.; 845-677-8000; innisfreegarden.org.
Tucked away on a quiet road in East Hampton, this 16-acre world-class sculpture garden evokes the dramatic art-meets-nature landscape of Storm King Art Center, but on a more intimate scale. Renting out the entire property for the day is required, but it grants you full access to the space with an easy progression from one picturesque backdrop to another. Ceremonies are typically held on Hornbeam Allée—an area lined with hornbeam birch trees—and followed by a Champagne toast near the stone bridges. Receptions are on the First Lawn, a large tract of grass that can easily accommodate a spacious tent. Nights usually end around the fire pit on the amphitheater’s grassy knoll. Smaller weddings for up to 75 are the norm, but once a summer, one bigger party for 250 is permitted. So book early. Site rental fees range from $10,000 to $35,000, of which 75 percent is tax deductible. 133 Hands Creek Rd., East Hampton, N.Y.; 631-329-3568; longhouse.org.
Parrish Art Museum
After years of financial setbacks, this beloved East End art museum finally reopened last November in a new barn-inspired Herzog & de Meuron–designed structure. The galleries are the main draw, of course, but event planners are buzzing about the sweeping 5,800- square-foot wraparound Mildred C. Brinn Terrace that overlooks the adjacent Duck Walk Vineyards. The sunsets here are spectacular. If you need a hand in the inspiration department, call on local planners Colin Cowie or Claire Bean, who can turn the 1,000-square-foot terrace, which accommodates up to 330 guests for dinner and dancing, into a summer dreamscape. Site fees range from $5,000 to $7,500 for four-hour events. There’s an additional required contribution of $5,000 for the use of the museum’s lobby, galleries or terrace; $1,000 for the theater. 279 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill, N.Y.; 631-283-2118; parrishart.org.
Philip Johnson Glass House
The grounds surrounding Philip Johnson’s modern glass marvel, affectionately referred to as his “50-year diary,” were a decades-long labor of love between the architect and his partner of 45 years, David Whitney. This summer, for the first time, the museum is permitting weddings on the property with accommodations for 35 to 50 guests ($10,000 and $25,000 tax-deductible donations, respectively). The less-expensive option (35 guests for $10,000) is for weekday-only weddings. The swankier package includes full access to the grounds any day of the week from 9 a.m.–8 p.m. and includes a private tour of the Painting and Sculpture Galleries, Studio Library, and Da Monsta, an exhibition space on the grounds. 199 Elm St., New Canaan, Conn.; 203-594-9884;philipjohnsonglasshouse.org.
Located nine miles north of Manhattan, and perched high above the Hudson River, Wave Hill was once a country home to Theodore Roosevelt and, later, the private residence of Mark Twain. Its 28 acres of extravagant gardens and lawns give way to arresting views of the river and beyond. Receptions take full advantage of the scenery: Dinner for up to 125 guests can be served on the tented terrace of the historic Wave Hill House, while the ceremony and cocktail hour are held on the broad lawn in front of the lushly planted pergola overlooking the water. All weddings start after 6 p.m., when the gardens close to the public. Fees range from $45,000 to $65,000, including site fee and catering. 675 W. 249th St., Bronx; 718-549-3200; wavehill.org.
Nestled in the heart of the Musconetcong River Valley near where the Musconetcong and Delaware Rivers meet, this 93-acre vineyard of sustainably farmed vines and gardens provides a serene and soaring backdrop for a Tuscan-inspired outdoor wedding. Ceremonies take place under a huge walnut tree on the highest knoll of the property and are followed by a tented reception in the field. The property can accommodate big parties—up to 1,800—for a flat daily fee of $2,500. 269 Riegelsville Warren Glen Rd., Milford, N.J.; 908-995-7800;albavineyard.com.
Bedell tends to be a love-at-first-sight venue, as many brides will attest. The grounds are well-manicured yet informal, with an apple orchard and lavender and herb gardens to complement the scenery. Receptions are never grandiose or super formal. Here it’s all about quiet elegance. The plot with a huge, shady oak tree is the most popular spot for ceremonies: Cocktail hour calls for parasols and Champagne toasts within the vineyard, and the party picks up just steps away in the mahogany porch pavilion that accommodates up to 200 guests for seated dinner and dancing. Site rental ranges from $10,000 to $15,000. 36225 Main Rd., Rte. 25, Cutchogue, N.Y.; 631-734-7537; bedellcellars.com.
Jonathan Edwards Winery
This Connecticut winery prides itself on its mix of New England charm and Napa style (where there is, indeed, a sister property). The landscape here is reminiscent of the West Coast’s finer vineyards—full and open with an easy air and superb grounds. Reception details are simple and straightforward. For larger events up to 200, it’s a tented affair (included in the site cost of $10,000 to $10,500) on the hillside lawn overlooking the vines. 74 Chester Main Rd., North Stonington, Conn.; 860-535-0202; jedwardswinery.com.
Saltwater Farm Vineyard
It’s rare to come across a stunning seaside winery like Saltwater Farm Vineyard. It’s rarer yet to come across one whose vintage infrastructure was refurbished not too long ago with modern amenities for in-house parties. The 108-acre site is home to a private airport, and the central building—an architecturally gorgeous 1930s hangar—was strategically converted into a double-duty tasting room-meets-event space. It was outfitted with thoughtful touches like a bridal loft for hair-and-makeup prep. Ceremonies take place among the grapevines or on one of two terraced areas surrounding the hangar (and occasionally at the end of the airstrip near a small beach). Guests then segue to a terrace overlooking the fields for cocktails before heading into the hangar for dinner, dancing, and lots of vino. The space can hold up to 180 and rates vary from $6,500 to $11,000. 349 Elm St., Stonington, Conn.; 800-818-7258; saltwaterfarmvineyard.com.