When it comes to planning a rehearsal dinner or wedding reception, the multitude of sites available can be overwhelming. The rigors of daily life can make finding the time to plan these momentous occasions harder than finding a needle in a haystack. But, luckily, Southern New England has legions of venues with staffs eager to create an exquisite event just for you.
Designed by the architect of Grand Central Station in New York City, the Providence Biltmore Hotel is a glamorous venue that’s a hit with architecture buffs. The palatial Grand Ballroom perched on the 17th floor overlooking the Providence skyline was originally known for big band dancing. The soaring ceilings and stately columns offer a glimpse into New England’s regal past for up to 300 guests. For bridal parties looking to be pampered, the Biltmore’s luxurious spa is an oasis in the middle of the city. Here, at the only on-site hotel spa in Providence, guests can indulge in massages, facials, manicures and hair and makeup.
Also in Providence is the Marriott Downtown, whose accessible location is often favored by couples who don’t want their guests to have to travel far. One of the hotel’s most popular amenities is AQUA, the city’s only poolside lounge. “It gives the guests the Miami Beach feel in downtown Providence,” says Donna DiOrio, director of catering for the hotel. AQUA offers an array of poolside options, ranging from private cabanas for spa treatments to a cigar and cognac menu. Guests who are looking for an easy getaway from city life love to dip their toes in the water while sipping one of the restaurant’s unique cocktails.
Nearby in Warwick, the Crowne Plaza Hotel is where charm meets stylish personality. The hotel embraces the unique nature of each and every celebration, “from ethnic weddings to same-sex marriages, whether its 50 or 500 people,” says Director of Catering Peggy Oliver. The glass- enclosed atrium is a sun-worshipper’s heaven, while the hotel’s rotunda has a 41-foot copper-domed ceiling for a truly extravagant experience. The hotel offers a discount for the rehearsal dinner if the couple has reserved a block of rooms for their guests.
The Mandarin Oriental Boston is synonymous with elegance. Located in the sophisticated Back Bay neighborhood, the Mandarin brings a taste of East Asia to the East Coast. “We really give a nod to our Oriental and Asian heritage,” says the Mandarin’s Catering Sales Manager Kara Fischer. “We view every wedding as an opportunity for the bride and groom to show their vision of what they want.” That means everything down to custom china, specialty chairs and tabletop designs. Additional lighting can be customized by the Mandarin’s team. The hotel’s restaurant, Asana, is noted for its diverse offerings, as is the hotel’s spa, the only Forbes five-star spa in the state. “We really take a unique approach,” says Fischer. “They’re [couples] all really special, and it’s an honor to be a part of these people’s lives. It’s the most special day.”
Farther downtown is the Boston Harbor Hotel, overlooking the city’s beautiful waterfront on Rowes Wharf. The John Foster room is particularly popular for rehearsal dinners, thanks to its sparkling chandeliers and a view of the harbor. Highly regarded Executive Chef Daniel Bruce will create unique entrees for guests, like his popular cracked black pepper rolled filet mignon, topped with caramelized onions.
Next to Harvard University, there’s no location that epitomizes the urbane intellectual factor and stylish elegance of Cantabrigian life quite like the Charles Hotel. “One thing that sets us apart is that we’re in the heart of Harvard Square,” says Jacki Morisi, public relations and events manager at Rialto, one of the hotel’s restaurants. “There are floor-to-ceiling windows looking into Harvard Square, and you can see all the action there.” For receptions or rehearsal dinners, the hotel offers a bevy of culinary delights. “The other major thing, of course, is the food,” says Morisi. “We are a one-stop shop – flowers, cakes, catering; with our kitchen, we provide everything.”
Author Laura Van Der Berg celebrated her wedding at Rialto, and looks back on the experience with the utmost delight. “From the gorgeous wines Rialto’s sommelier selected, to Jody Adams’ impeccable hors d’oeuvres and dinner menu, to the festive, delicious mini-desserts that followed, to Event Coordinator Annie Sarkis’ elegant sensibility and keen eye for detail—they ensured our wedding was in keeping with our vision, while also elevating our vision in ways we couldn’t have even imagined (and really loved),” she says.
Whether your dream wedding features the big-city glamour of Downtown Boston, or the unique history of Rhode Island cities like Providence and Warwick, there are endless options awaiting that will add to your wedded bliss.
Story by Megan Johnson
[Please Note: In our print issue, the Providence Marriott Downtown’s advertisement was incorrectly listed. You will find all their ad and contact information on page 175.]