I never thought I would be a white-dress-and-veil bride. Ever the adventurer, by 16 I had promised my future self that I would, one day, elope to the other side of the world. Who needs all those silly traditions when there are romantic destinations to explore?!
But what 16-year-old Becca didn’t realize was that the most important part of a wedding isn’t really you, or even your partner—it’s your family and friends who want to celebrate you both. And so, the travel of an elopement is relegated to the honeymoon, and the wedding becomes larger than the two of you. Much larger. Suddenly there are showers and hen weekends and gifts and, well, a heck of a lot of event planning.
Thanks to some helpful advice, my Memorial-Weekend-wedding planning is, for the most part, complete. If you’re getting married in New York, ladies, I absolutely must recommend Wedding Atelier for your dress and Rachel Cho Floral for your flowers. Nothing, nothing better than those two. And if you need a running start, grab a Pollyanna Planning Kit, which is basically a planner in a box!
But for those who are responsible for arranging wedding to-dos in New York, it can seem incredibly daunting. How do you keep costs down in one of the most expensive cities on earth? And how could you possibly choose a restaurant in a city, months in advance, that may or may not have a private dining room suitable for your bride?
We’re here for you, Bridal Bitches. If you need the perfect private room, whether it’s for a bridal shower, a rehearsal dinner, or perhaps even a small restaurant wedding, we’ve compiled the ultimate list. We’ve even categorized them by bride—because when that Bridezella comes roaring out, you want to make sure the drinks and flowing and the food is delicious.
For the Classy Bride – Barbalu
The South Street Seaport is very quickly filling up with all the new construction and restaurant openings. We can’t wait for Pier 15 to officially open its doors (and its concert rooftop venue). That being said, we’re already frequent visitors to the seaside neighborhood, and Barbalu is top of our list every time. The rustic chic Italian restaurant has a gorgeous, hidden back room that seats about 15. Its brick walls give the room a sense of warmth, like you’re in an ivy-covered square, enjoying the patio of a restaurant in Rome. Not to mention, the pasta at Barbalu is out of this world. Visit them here or at 225-227 Front Street in South Street Seaport to book the room.
For the European Bride – Lafayette
Longtime New York love Lafayette is the French restaurant of your dreams. But did you know the spot also has a number of deliciously beautiful private rooms? These wood-paneled, dim delights are the perfect haunt for a more European, sophisticated bridal party. The Salle Privée seats 8-20 guests with space for cocktailing. The Cave du Vin hosts 30-150 guests on the cellar level with a dedicated bar, coat check and private restrooms. Visit them here, or contact Geoff Karnish at [email protected] or 646-442-7852 to book.
For the Party Bride – Harry’s Downtown
Harry’s is a staple of the Financial District, as is its diminutive proprietor after whom it is named, who ambles slowly through the restaurant greeting guests lucky enough to be there when he stops by. While the restaurant came about in the 70s, its menu is straightforward contemporary American—and no dish disappoints. My favorite is the hanger steak; either me or my husband-to-be orders it every time. It has recently undergone a glitzy renovation, giving it a decidedly more Las Vegas vibe, making it perfect for party brides. Its private room can hold up to 50 seated. Visit them here or get in touch with Tess Brokaw at 212 981 8501 to book.
For the Fancy Bride – CUT by Wolfgang Puck
All of my friends have heard me sing the praises of downtown (way downtown)—the oldest neighborhood in the city, the magnificent traditions of architecture, the unexpected ease of getting anywhere in Manhattan and Brooklyn efficiently. One of the gems of the neighborhood is the Four Seasons New York Downtown, and its restaurant, CUT by Wolfgang Puck. A steakhouse by definition, it offers a much higher degree of style than so many of its gentlemen’s-club peers. It also offers a beautiful private dining room that can accommodate up to 32. And the wine cellar … be still my beating heart. Fancy brides can find a fond home here. Click here to get in touch.
For the Trendy Bride – L’Artusi
A West Village institution (and the absolutely favorite NYC restaurant of more than one close friend), L’Artusi offers a cozy, upscale Italian location for a bridal event. We’re usually strong advocates of sitting at the bar at L’Artusi rather than at a table, but the upstairs wine cellar is the exception to this rule. It’s a great room, complete with glass doors that close around you so everyone else can see how awesome you are. The food is outstanding; we have never ordered anything we didn’t like. And the wine list, offering page after page of gems from Tuscany (and many other global regions) is heavenly. Click to get in touch here.
For the Destination Wedding Bride – Cosme
Heading to Mexico for a beach wedding? Get the bride ready with a shower at Mexican hotspot Cosme. The food is delectable—so much so that it’s been difficult to get a large-party reservation there since it opened. In order to impress, book the restaurant’s 14-person private room. The restaurant’s sleek design continues to this clean, minimalism room—and the best of the menu is available, as well. Click here to get in touch.
For the Laid-Back Country Bride – Blue Smoke
Battery Park City, regardless of recent history (it is the most recently constructed neighborhood in the city—having been built on landfills in the 1980s) and ubiquity of strollers, offers a surprising number of dining destinations. One of my favorite things to do with my man is to sidle up to the bar at Blue Smoke before heading to the movies around the corner. All the standards are in play—brisket, pulled pork, fried chicken—along with straight shooting sides. It offers a private back room for a wedding-related event, and although it may not be first to mind, it would be a pleasing choice for out-of-town guests from the heartland. Click here to get in touch.
For the Wino Bride – Aria West Village
I’ve been to many a birthday party in Aria’s pretty little private room, and it never disappoints. The gorgeous Italian staple has a private room hidden underneath the restaurant. Descend a steep set of stairs and you’re suddenly transported to a wine cellar below a vineyard. It’s one large table, so be sure your party doesn’t mind sharing close quarters—the tight space makes the room very intimate. It can seat 28. Click here to get in touch.
For the Bride Whose Parents Are Paying – The Grill
There are few better restaurants in New York than The Grill. First built in the 1950s and known for its provenance as the ultimate power lunch spot, it is located in the bottom of the historic Seagram Building. I’ve never seen any room as beautiful as the dining room, a two-story open air palace with dark wood paneled walls and stunning, delicate hanging metal structures and velvet curtains that subtly sway as the air in the room moves. Most dishes are prepared table-side by one of the restaurant’s gracious, professional, and non-condescending staff. It has made number one on more than one “Best Restaurants in New York” lists, and one visit delivers proof instantly. I have never had a better steak, or a more glamorous evening, than here. There are, I’m told, two incredible private rooms (that seat up to 34). Be advised—parents with plush pockets are the best accessory—all of this wonder comes at a price. But you won’t regret a penny. Click here to get in touch or contact their private dining department at 212-375-9002.