The Ultimate Venue Guide

Blue Hill at Stone BarnsPhoto: Jonathan Young/Courtesy of Blue Hill Stone Barns

Devout Locavores

Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Dan Barber’s grand experiment in farm-to-table foodie-ism—located 25 miles north of Manhattan at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, an 80-acre education hub and farm—can accommodate modest and large weddings. On one end of the spectrum is the private dining room, an elegant venue that seats 64 and connects to an outdoor terrace overlooking the pasture. Prices start at $235 per person for a four-course dinner, wine, and cocktail reception. Wedding cakes and ceremony fees are extra, and there’s just enough room for a small dance floor and a three-piece band. The HayLoft can fit up to 260; price upon request. 630 Bedford Rd., Pocantico Hills, N.Y.; 914-366-9606;

The New Leaf CafePhoto: Courtesy of the New Leaf Cafe

The New Leaf Restaurant & Bar
Wed alfresco at one of Fort Tryon Park’s verdant Hudson River overlooks, then treat your guests to a sit-down feast at this indoor-outdoor restaurant, located in a charming 1930s-era field house. Chef Scott Campbell (who, during his tenure at the Union Square Café, helped pioneer greenmarket dining) specializes in local, seasonal fare. Prices start at $155 per person, and a tent (about $4,500) is required for patio receptions. Proceeds benefit the Bette Midler–founded New York Restoration Project, providing much-needed funds to community gardens throughout the city. 1 Margaret Corbin Dr., nr. Cabrini Blvd.; 212-568-5323;

This beloved Bushwick restaurant has a new loft-style event space in the works, but the existing “food garden”—from which Roberta’s sources some of the organic veggies on its menu—befits ethical foodies. The space can hold up to 150 for dinner and is available April through October. A dance floor can be built just about anywhere, and if you want, they’ll provide tenting for $200 to $800. Pizza parties start at $20 per person; seasonal family-style dinners from $55. 261 Moore St., nr. White St., Bushwick; 718-417-1118;

The Bartow-Pell Mansion MuseumPhoto: Richard Warren/Courtesy of Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum

Southern Transplants

The Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum
As the sun sets over the manicured pebble court behind this 175-year-old Greek Revival mansion, which was built when the Pelham Bay Park area was still considered the country, you’ll probably forget you’re in New York. The terraced gardens can accommodate up to 125. Kitchen access is limited, and be advised: Bathrooms are available only for smaller weddings; if you’re hosting more than 50, you’ll have to rent your own (the venue can suggest a porta-vendor). 895 Shore Rd., nr. Orchard Beach Rd., Bronx; 718-885-1461; bartowpellmansion

The Palm House at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
This terrarium-like pavilion, situated among the BBG’s 52 acres of bucolic greenery, is an all-weather option that manages to evoke both the serenity of an urban oasis and the decadence of a historic Baton Rouge estate. The building can be configured to fit 100 to 300 seated guests, and the surrounding garden is ideal for brides looking to wed outdoors without the headache (i.e., permits) involved in doing so in a public park. Site fees range from $1,335 to $5,085. Catering is handled in-house; fees start at $130 a head during the day and $150 a head at night, and that includes open bar and staffing. 1000 Washington Ave., at Crown St., Prospect Heights; 718-398-2400;

The Bell HousePhoto: Heather Dunsmoor/Courtesy of Gowanus Bell House

Serial Renovators

The Bell House
This three-year-old 1920s-era printing factory turned performance venue (brought to you by the folks behind Brooklyn bocce bars Floyd and Union Hall) has become a fixture in the increasingly chic, arty, and not-quite-postindustrial Gowanus. The chandeliered space doesn’t need much in terms of mood lighting or décor—think nouveau saloon with oak bars, 25-foot ceilings, and vintage accents—and fits up to 200 for a seated dinner. Prices start at $7,660 for 70 guests (cocktail-style) or $10,700 for 150 guests (dinner), including staffing and two hours of premium open bar. 149 7th St., nr. Second Ave., Gowanus; 718-643-6510;

Brooklyn Lyceum
Depending on when you pop in, Brooklyn Lyceum is alternately a café, theater, comedy club, or music hall. It offers two sizable loftlike areas in its century-old neoclassical building (which originally served as a public bathhouse), but the upstairs space has the most character: Cathedral windows and sky-high ceilings scream art studio. Both spaces fit 100 to 125 comfortably for dinner and dancing. Site fees start at $3,000 for the first four hours and $300 per hour thereafter. Proceeds benefit Lyceum programming. 227 Fourth Ave., at President St., Park Slope; 718-857-4816;

The Dumbo LoftPhoto: Spencer Gordon/Courtesy of Dumbo Loft

The Dumbo Loft
Housed in a nineteenth-century coffee factory that was “greened” and renovated in 2009, this venue boasts all the benefits of a raw space—but with plenty of character. Exposed brick, original wooden beams, and loads of windows welcome up to 120 people for dinner and dancing. There’s a staging area and refrigeration but no true kitchen, so make sure caterers can work accordingly. Site fees start at $2,500 for weekend rentals and $1,500 during the week. Management is in the process of opening a sister space down the street, which could be an option for the ceremony and cocktail hour, should you wish to avoid the dreaded space flip. 155 Water St., at Anchorage Pl., Dumbo; 718-310-3040;

Skylight One HansonPhoto: Courtesy of Skylight One Hanson

Future Bloombergs

Skylight One Hanson
Hosting your wedding in the lobby of this former bank—and wintertime home to the Brooklyn Flea—is the perfect way to impress the Wall Street crowd. For one, it’s an Art Deco masterpiece that rivals landmark venues like the New York Public Library in both opulence and scale. The space can be configured to accommodate 100 to 500 people for dinner and dancing. It rents for $15,000, but Brooklyn residents pay $12,500. 1 Hanson Pl., at Ashland Pl., Ft. Greene; 718-230-0400;

Delmonico'sPhoto: Courtesy of Delmonico's Restaurant

It doesn’t get more blue-blood than Delmonico’s, the country’s first fine-dining establishment and the purported birthplace of oysters Rockefeller and eggs Benedict. Swill old-timey cocktails at the restaurant’s Mad Men–ish lounge, then host dinner and dancing in the fancy, mahogany-hued main dining room (which seats up to 140 guests). Prices start at $99 a person for Saturday afternoons and Sundays—a relative bargain, not that you have to tell your guests that. 56 Beaver St., at William St.; 212-696-4184;

Trump Soho
The Donald’s latest local “condotel” has an uptown-does-downtown vibe, with its slick glass façade and gilded modern décor. The elegant ballroom is ideal for bigger nuptials, but if you can keep the guest list under 90, the SoHi—a stunning space enclosed by 12-foot windows and perched on the hotel’s 46th floor—is the way to go. Catering is handled in-house. Prices start at $195 per person, depending on the month and day. 246 Spring St., at Varick St.; 212-842-4509;

Frost Valley YMCAPhoto: Courtesy of Frost Valley YMCA

Catskills Climbers

Frost Valley YMCA
The grounds and lodging at this 110-year-old Catskills retreat are ideal for outdoorsy weddings—that is, when summer camp isn’t in session. The dining hall and conference center can be converted into rustic reception venues (fitting up to 600 and 130, respectively), or tent the lawn to celebrate outside. The Y’s Lakeview Lodge offers hotel-like accommodations, and zip lines and rope courses are available if you want to make a weekend of it. Most opt for outside catering (the camp is dry, so make sure whichever caterer you choose has a liquor license). Site fees start at $1,300. 2000 Frost Valley Rd., Claryville, N.Y.; 845-985-2291;

The Greenbelt Nature CenterPhoto: Dorothy Reilly/Courtesy of Greenbelt Nature Center

The Greenbelt Nature Center
Made up of wetlands, forest, golf courses, and some 35 miles of hiking trails, the 2,800-acre Staten Island Greenbelt is one of the city’s most underrated natural resources. The park’s six-year-old nature center is steadily building a reputation as a destination for low-key, ecohappy nuptials. Both the terrace and an indoor event space are available for receptions; for ceremonies, couples pretty much have their pick of the park. Site fees range from $200 to $325 per hour. 700 Rockland Ave., at Brielle Ave., Staten Island; 718-351-3450;

The Ace HotelPhoto: Courtesy of the Ace Hotel

Stage Divers

The Knitting Factory
Die-hard music buffs may still be mourning the demise of the Knit’s Tribeca digs, but the legendary venue’s Brooklyn locale has garnered a respectable following. Tie the knot onstage, then do cocktails in the front bar before making your way back to the main space for dinner and a live band (the staff can help with recommendations— music is sort of their thing). There is no on-site kitchen, but past revelers have enlisted La Bella Mariella II, an Italian restaurant across the street whose rates start at $13 a head. The venue can accommodate 60 to 125 guests; prices start at $5,000 during the day and $7,000 at night and include a four-hour open bar for up to 80 guests. 361 Metropolitan Ave., at Havemeyer St., Williamsburg; 347-529-6696;

The Ace Hotel
The Ace offers somewhat traditional wedding amenities in a not-so-traditional space (think reclaimed furnishings, a wall of vintage speakers, and textured wallpaper suggesting pressed tin). Movable chalkboards help the hotel’s funky Liberty Hall transition seamlessly from ceremony to cocktail hour to reception. The venue can accommodate up to 100 people for dinner and dancing, and the food is sure to be memorable with the Breslin’s April Bloomfield at the helm. From $90 per person. 20 W. 29th St., nr. Broadway; 646-214-5764;

Gigino at Wagner ParkPhoto: Courtesy of Gigino at Wagner Park

Urban Obsessives

Gigino at Wagner Park
This indoor-outdoor restaurant, nestled at the base of the redbrick pavilion in Battery Park City and specializing in Amalfi Coast–style Italian cuisine, offers unparalleled vistas of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. There are some noise restrictions given the locale: If you had your heart set on a rock band, you’re out of luck. Ceremonies can be done on the rooftop or in the park (to use the lawn, you’ll need a permit from the Battery Park City Authority). Packages start at $15,000 for 100 guests, including a three-course meal and four-hour open bar. 20 Battery Pl., nr. 1st Pl.; 212-528-2228;

The Museum of the City of New York
With its marble rotunda, dramatic central staircase, and front terrace overlooking Central Park, this Museum Mile gem offers relative bang for your buck when it comes to classic New York nuptials. The museum is undergoing the second phase of its remodernization project, so space is limited for spring and summer 2011 weddings (the front terrace and rotunda are still available, though, and at a considerable discount). Construction is on track to wrap up by fall. Site fees are $7,500 for the reception only and $10,000 for the ceremony and reception. All bookings are handled through the Wedding Library. 1220 Fifth Ave., at 103rd St.; 212-327-0100; wedding

UnispherePhoto: Martin Thomas Photographer/Alamy

New York Hall of Science and Unisphere
With its 100-foot ceilings and blue stained-glass walls, the New York Hall of Science’s Wallace Harrison– designed Great Hall is a dramatic pick. For $7,500 to $8,000, the museum is yours for the evening (the downside: just about everything needs to be brought in). The Great Hall can accommodate up to 400 for a seated reception; afterward, move into the cozier Viscusi Gallery for dinner. Tying the knot at this 1964 World’s Fair monument is a great opportunity to snap some wedding shots at the nearby Unisphere. Or, if you’d like to exchange vows in the shadow of the relic, you can arrange for a permit via Flushing Meadows Corona Park. 47-01 111th St., nr. 47th Ave., Corona; 718-699-0005;

Governors IslandPhoto: Gerard Lawton/Alamy

Recovering Jet-Setters

Brooklyn Winery
If Napa nuptials are out of the question, this may be the next best thing—especially given that this Brooklyn wine-making center sources many of its handpicked varietals from California. The venue’s industrial façade gives way to a warm, wood-paneled interior. The wine bar can seat 100 for dinner at picnic tables, with room to spare for a band and dance floor. Basic packages include a selection of house wines, but if you plan eight to ten months ahead, you can whip up your own blend expressly for the occasion. In-house catering is available for parties of 50 or fewer, and a new courtyard will be up and running later this year. Price upon request. 213 N. 8th St., nr. Driggs Ave., Williamsburg; 347-763-1506;

Governors Island
This long-forgotten urban oasis is well on its way to becoming the city’s buzziest green space. Get in while you still can. The folks behind Water Taxi Beach helm functions on the island; while they won’t privately rent any of those majestic old buildings, you can finagle a wedding there (try a weekday when the island is empty); tents and space heaters are also available at the beach. The island is open May through September and is accessible only by ferry, so be prepared to charter private Water Taxis after-hours. Price upon request. 212-440-2200 for midweek events;; 212-896-4600 for a Water Taxi Beach event;

The Bronx ZooPhoto: Julie Larson Maher/Courtesy of the Bronx Zoo

Low-Maintenance Altruists

The Bronx Zoo
The city’s biggest zoo is also the cheapest when it comes to weddings. Exchange vows at Astor Court, then take the party over to the stately Schiff Family Great Hall, which grants access to the zoo’s “Madagascar!” exhibit. Site fees start at $3,500, with catering from $75 a head. Proceeds benefit the Wildlife Conservation Society. Bronx River Pkwy. at Fordham Rd., Bronx; 718-741-3836; bronx

Housing Works Bookstore CaféPhoto: Courtesy of the Lovely Lens

Housing Works Bookstore Café
The bookshop may seem like an unlikely setting for a reception, but string up some twinkling lights and you’ve got yourself a homey Soho hideaway. The store, which offers favorable rates for evening events, serves as home base to The Works, a farm-to-table catering company. All-inclusive packages range from $135 to $200 per person, with proceeds benefiting health-care and social services for New Yorkers living with AIDS and HIV. 126 Crosby St., nr. Houston St.; 212-780-1942;

The Ultimate Venue Guide