Regardless of whom you ask, the most important forward-thinking aspect of any good event — and especially a wedding — is the location.
“Of course, no detail is trivial when you are planning an event to have maximum impact,” says Jennifer Cantin, Lessing’s Hospitality Group’s director of marketing and development. “However, the first and last impression — and everything in between — will be informed by the environment you choose.”
Cantin should know. Lessing’s is a sixth-generation, family-owned company that now boasts 120 locations from Montauk to Manhattan, up to Westchester, and down to Florida; wedding and catering venues; 10 full-service restaurants; over 80 corporate and academic dining centers; nine Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza franchises; and a historic inn.
“The only thing we don’t have at this point is a barn,” jokes Cantin, with the caveat that she is sure that one is on the horizon. With so many options to choose from, Social Life Magazine challenged Cantin to name her top five favorite fête locales.
1. Whitby Castle, Rye
Set on 126 acres, Whitby Castle is conveniently located, yet seemingly worlds away. Perfectly manicured lawns, breathtaking views of the Long Island Sound, a grand ballroom, and two private reception rooms offer the perfect backdrop for any size affair. “There are a lot of brides who really want to have the perfect princess wedding, and this is the perfect locale,” says Cantin. “Just pulling up to a castle, regardless of the event, is a wow moment.”
2. Bourne Mansion, Oakdale
This historic turn-of-the-century Vanderbilt mansion offers a traditional and classic setting for the grandest black-tie affairs, from lawn events hosting over 1,000 guests to weddings and corporate affairs hosting 300 guests. Bourne Mansion personifies luxury and grandeur and the elaborate celebrations of yesteryear. “The Bourne Mansion epitomizes the Gilded Age with décor inspired by its founder, Consuelo Vanderbilt,” says Cantin. “It’s also conveniently located, only 90 minutes from New York City — so close yet worlds away.”
3. The Vineyards at Aquebogue, Aquebogue
Nestled on the North Fork, The Vineyards at Aquebogue is a captivating setting at any time of year, and for any occasion. “People are discovering the North Fork, and this has become one of the most sought-after venues on all of Long Island,” says Cantin. “There is absolutely nothing like hosting an event at a working vineyard, and this one has been completely renovated, while still retaining every bit of rustic charm. It’s true magic.”
4. Pelican Club, Jupiter, Florida
Lessing’s newest property, the Pelican Club, takes center stage at its stunning waterfront location. Guests are instantly immersed in the warmth and charm of this classic Floridian venue that features spectacular dockside vistas. “Overlooking the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, there isn’t a prettier property that I’ve seen in Florida,” says Cantin. “Its Bahamian accents are unmistakable, so this huge, event-driven location is unrivaled.”
5. Heritage Club at Bethpage
The Heritage Club stands as one of the most celebrated event venues in New York State. Elegance and opulence imbue the incredible ballroom, while award-winning cuisine and remarkable service are the gold standards for this historic and famous Long Island destination. “It’s really hard to beat this location,” says Cantin, adding that the recent PGA Championship really put the property on the map. “Regardless of the event, the Heritage Club is the epitome of wow.”
Lessing’s Hospitality Group
Pelican Club | (Featured Image) Bourne Mansion