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The Traditional Wedding

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


1 E. 70th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-547-0705;

  • Photo courtesy of the Frick Collection


Once a private residence, The Frick Collection houses thousands of works of art but still feels intimate. It recently opened its doors to wedding receptions; ceremonies aren't permitted. As guests arrive, direct them through the galleries to the Music Room. With its glass ceiling and damask walls, this 1,625-square-foot space is ideal for cocktails. Hold dinner in the Garden Court, which was meant to replace the open carriage court of the original residence. Assemble tables around the indoor fountain, under palm fronds. Then it's back to the Music Room for dancing. Fees start at $35,000, but plan on another $10,000 to $15,000 for security, electricity, and other costs.


Greet guests with lemonade and cucumber-infused ice water. Enlist Callahan Catering (212-327-1144) to create hors d'oeuvre like nori-wrapped chicken served in sterling-silver cigarette boxes. Foodies may want to consider asking Daniel Boulud or Dan Barber to cater, but should avoid restaurant-style menus, suggests Hanlin and Zabinski. Insist on French wait service, in which synchronized waiters swoop in with covered platters and serve guests simultaneously. Have Ron Ben-Israel (212-625-3369) design a cake with sugar lilies of the valley, and serve dessert "hors d'oeuvre": tiny versions of classics like meringues and chocolate cakes.


Trumpeters announce the couple's arrival; an orchestra plays a medley for the processional ($10,000, arranged by Gale Curtis; 908-352-3131). Guests exit the ceremony to bagpipers. At the reception, strolling violins weave among guests (about twenty are needed for impact). Cocktails continue with a jazz ensemble. For dinner, bring on a full band-or invite Tony Bennett. Steven Scott Orchestras (516-365-0500) are famous for bringing marquee talent to private events. They also have twenty in-house bands to choose from. For this affair, they like "society groups" like Stuart White or Marty Silver's big-band-era players (starts at $9,000).

Flowers & Décor

Choose a contrasting palette, like chocolate with ivory. Envision a ceremony and reception blanketed in flowers: a rose-petal-strewn aisle and urns of blooms at the altar. Set up a floral backdrop for the band and hang chandeliers made of flowers in abundance. Arrange tables in a square, like a castle banquet. Choose dupioni-silk linens and dress them with embroidered napkins. Use hand-blown glassware and matching chargers on the table. For menus and place cards, use chocolate ink on crisp white stock or white ink on mocha stock. Wash the outside of the building in light-it will take everyone's breath away (lighting-design costs start at $200,000).