Riverside’s Wedding Open House – 2/19/2011

  • Posted on February 21, 2011 at 10:47 pm

As a new author, it is often a delight to be invited anywhere.  A couple of weeks ago, I was at the place my husband and I got married, Riverside Church and ran into the wedding consultant.  I asked for a wedding packet and explained that I was writing a book about New York City weddings on a budget.  Ms. Gregory promptly invited me to the annual Wedding Open House at Riverside Church.

Today, I had the privilege of attending in which she quite graciously introduced me as a new author and I was then allowed to hand out fliers about my upcoming eBook which will go live by the end of this month.

Riverside’s Wedding Opening House is unlike any other wedding event you might attend, including any wedding expo.  Talking about them in the same sentence, though is talking apples and oranges.  The Wedding Expos that I have attended, had a big business machine feel to them, with lots of moving parts and lots of people trying to get the bride and groom’s money right away, by putting fear in them about loosing the date of their choice if they don’t sign up that very day.

Riverside’s annual wedding event has a more leisurely feel to it.  There is no rush, rush feel or a sense that you must do something and do it now or lose out forever.  At this year’s event there were families, a few grooms only and of course the brides, and bride and groom experiencing the feel of a Riverside Church wedding.  The various rooms were made up to look, feel, and in some cases taste what such an event could be, at Riverside Church.

There was the annual raffle of winning a wedding ceremony in the Nave, which can easily seat 2000 on the main floor, saving them approximately $1500 – $1800.  There was an addition of a new raffle winning a reception for one hundred people including an open bar, easily a $15,000 – $18,000 prize.  The tickets could have been purchased only during the open house and were non-transferable and could not be sold.  The two happy couples William and Sylvia won the wedding ceremony and Pete H. and his bride won the reception and open bar.

Next year, if you are in the market for a wedding event, I suggest you go to Riverside’s, very definitely.  The set up is beautiful throughout the church, plus there are giveaways around the church to entice you to look around, especially if you miss the guided tour by Ms. Gregory.  There is even a question and answer session in which more in depth information can be garnered.  Make sure you go prepared with your questions.  Here are just a few of the questions asked:

A Parent: Where does the wedding party begin?

Ms. Gregory: I am the first stop, for which you can schedule an appointment and we talk in depth about what you might want, the budget, and the number of guests.  You may also either email me, (best) or call me.  If you are ready to book, then definitely set up an appointment, and I will get you started in the process including your reservation of a room, along with the deposit.   Additionally, if you want your reception here, I can let our catering service, PashaEvents, know that you are booked and ready to have them (the Caterers) contact you.  You (The reservers) may also do that on your own, as well.

Bride: Can secular music be played during the ceremony?

Ms. Gregory: During the ceremony, you may only use sacred music, which you make the decision on what it is.  This is a sacred space and we are strict with having only sacred music played during the wedding ceremony.  At the reception it is your choice of musical style.  You may hire an outside entertainer, or band.

Bride: How long is the ceremony?  How long before the reception begins?  How long is the minimum time for the reception?

Ms. Gregory: The wedding ceremony is typically 30 minutes.  The reception can be scheduled to start immediately or within the half hour of your ceremony’s end.  Typically any place you speak to about receptions will measure their price by the time needed.  We schedule you for an hour cocktail, and four hours for the reception and if you would like dancing as well, that includes more than enough time.

Groom: How much is the reception?

Ms. Gregory: Our pricing is competitive with other venues of our caliber, so our price per plate/person is between $105 -$155.

Groom: Can there be two ministers side by side performing the ceremony, one in English and the other minister in another language?

Ms. Gregory: We have several ministers on staff from which the bridal party can choose.  If their choice is not available, we go down to the next minister who is available.  Often there are requests for a minister, who is not a member of the Riverside clergy staff, who can perform weddings at Riverside Church, then they are allowed to do the homily, and liturgy.  Having another minister duplicate verbatim what the English-speaking minister will say lengthens the ceremony by two, possibly three times as much. and that is why they may join the service, with their specific part or feature, but only be one or two parts, not the whole ceremony, usually the homily and liturgy.

There were many more questions and I was even able to get a short interview with Ms. Gregory after the event.  If you are in the midst of or haven’t yet booked your wedding venue, I invite you to take a look a Riverside Church of New York.  And if you get the opportunity to go in February to go to their Open House, I would say, definitely go next year and maybe I’ll be there, too with another new book, or edition.

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