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The Traditional Wedding

In consultation with Claudia Hanlin and Jennifer Zabinski of The Wedding Library.


58 E. 68th St., at Park Ave.; 212-434-9400;

  • Photo courtesy of the Council on Foreign Relations


Once the home of Harold Pratt, son of oil tycoon Charles Pratt, the Harold Pratt House now houses the Council on Foreign Relations. Fees for the mansion start at $5,000 for access to a three-room suite, ballroom, and library. The ballroom fits only 130, so you may also want to rent the adjoining Peterson Hall (which fits up to 170). For a European-manor-style reception, start with drinks upstairs, then bring guests to the Hall for dinner and dancing; or, have drinks in the drawing room and later progress to the stately ballroom. Whatever combination you choose, you'll utilize the marble staircase, the house's most stunning feature.


For cocktails, focus on high-end appetizers like foie gras truffles. Set up seafood on sparkling ice slabs. A caviar station, with waiters to hold your drinking glass while you spoon caviar into blinis, is a chic twist on "self-service." Break the dinner up into tasting courses. Caterer Olivier Cheng (212-625-3151), who has worked in the Pratt House, recommends the following: mushroom soup, fish en papillote (to be opened by waiters with silver scissors), and lamb. Later, serve dessert in the library; offer cheeses with port and fruit. For the cake, a croquembouche has European flair, but have a white buttercream cake from Sylvia Weinstock Cakes on hand as well (212-925-6698).


A soloist for the processional will bring tears to your guests' eyes. Or, for an ethereal touch, invite a children's choir (Grace Church; 212-254-2000). For the main event, bring in Starlight Orchestras & Productions (212-595-0999). Have them play jazz during cocktails and Continental music during dinner. The two marquee groups, led by Valerie Romanoff or Marianne Bennett, are fifteen-member orchestras, with four vocalists each, and they can play everything from Frank Sinatra to Beyoncé and the Black-Eyed Peas. Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel asked Starlight to play at their wedding, as did Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Flowers & Décor

A color scheme of silver and white is crisp and classic, say Hanlin and Zabinski. Long-stem white Dutch tulips are striking and refined. To create a powerful backdrop for the ceremony, use silver organza overlays and an arch extending the length of the aisle (courtesy of florist Stonekelly, from $25,000; 212-245-6611). For the rest of the décor, show off your monogram. Print it on your aisle runner, menu, program, and favors-you can even display it on the dance floor using a gobo filter. Keep in mind that the only thing the Pratt House supplies is the space; for rentals, look for china rimmed in silver, crystal wine glasses, and linen hemstitch napkins.