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Whale Weddings: 9 World Class Restaurants For Your Big, Expensive Day

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Tasting menus are plenty pricy, but wedding receptions are possibly the most expensive meal a whale will every buy. Gathering 200 of your closest friends in one of the best restaurants in the country is obviously going to cost some major change, but adding the word "bridal" to anything notoriously raises its price exponentially. Buyouts of these restaurants begin in the $30,000 range (or around $250 per guest) and go up infinitely from there based on wine, flowers, equipment, and more.

Below, Eater talked to event planners and restaurant representatives across the country to find out what it might cost to splurge on the fine dining wedding of your dreams at restaurants like Canlis, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Daniel, and many more. Get ready: it's a nice day for a Whale Wedding.

New York City event planner Tzo Ai Ang tells Eater fine dining restaurants are often "an intimate wedding of less than 100 guests...rather than a great dance party." And that's true: these weddings are often in the 25-to-50 guests range. (Although tell that to Daniel Boulud, who has a dance floor ready to be installed in the dining room at Daniel should a couple require it.) Ang adds that couples should be aware of extra charges such as "the cost of service, coat check, room rental and tax." Other extra charges can include charges for bringing in outside cakes, premium wines, custom gift bags for guests, and any number of restaurant specific upgrades.

Depending on the location, these types of weddings can be priced either per guest or as a flat buyout fee. Event planner Suzy Berberian says in California's wine country, events of this nature can range in price from $350 to $1,000 per person, although she notes those figures are prior to "flowers, entertainment, photography, etc."

All of the figures below are a baseline price for the venue, and just include the space, food, and service. The numbers can vary wildly based on what each couple wants, including upgrades, equipment rental, time of year, all kinds of factors. Given that it is incredibly difficult to pin down how expensive any of these actual weddings might be, the restaurants are listed in alphabetical order by restaurant name.

These restaurants were chosen to provide a range of high end restaurants across the country. Some restaurants were not included because rough estimates on price were not available at press time, and some were not included simply because the restaurant in question doesn't do main dining room buyouts. (Restaurant at Meadowood in California, for example, doesn't do main dining room buyouts, although other areas of the resort are immensely popular for weddings.) If you've got info on a high end restaurant wedding buyout not included here, do please dish on hard numbers in the comments.


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[Photo: Le Bec Fin / Facebook]

Le Bec Fin, Philadelphia: $350+ Per Guest


A rep tells Eater Le Bec Fin can hold 52 in the main dining room with an additional 24 in the private dining room for a seated meal, although they can accommodate up to 200 guests for a canapé reception. Couples can have the ceremony in the main dining room if they wish as well as a champagne hour before the meal. Seated meals can run three to eight courses. Le Bec Fin also offers an in-house florist, the ability to customize linens, and parting gifts including a box of custom truffles or a favorite bottle of wine.


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[Photo: Blue Hill at Stone Barns / Facebook]

Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York: $245+ Per Guest


Blue Hill at Stone Barns, just outside New York City, is a whale bride's dream: a rep tells Eater they offer ceremonies in the courtyard, four course dinners with wine pairings (additional costs based on the couple's selections, naturally), a pre-dinner cocktail hour, and after dinner dance space in their HayLoft area. The guest count minimum starts at 175 and goes up to 260. Bonus? Couples can use the restaurant's regular linens and arrangements for no additional cost. For whales looking to wow, gift bags from the farm's market are available. A rep for the farm notes that the price above is not for the main dining room, it's the starting price for the event spaces on the property. She adds that couples that book Blue Hill at Stone Barn will be given one all-inclusive price for the event.

Blue Hill NY is also available for receptions for up to 50 guests, but they don't offer ceremony space due to space constraints. Get out to the country if you want more room than that.


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[Photo: Canlis / Facebook]

Canlis, Seattle, Washington: $25,000 to $30,000 Flat Fee


Seattle's famous Canlis is available for complete wedding buyouts in the range of $25,000 to $30,000, which covers 100 to 150 guests. A rep notes that their private dining room works as a dressing room for the bridal party, and adds "Our wedding gift is usually to give the room and dinner to the couple for their first anniversary." They can do custom dinners, and "when it comes to wine, forget it...there are no limits." Inclusive of "food and beverage, service charge, room charge, valet, and tax," the price range is $150-200 per guest.


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[Krieger, 9/11/08]

Daniel, New York City: $275+ Per Guest


Want to get married in the main dining room of the three Michelin-starred Daniel? Sure, why not: a representative for the restaurant tells Eater the restaurant offers ceremonies in both the main dining room as well as their Bellevour Room. For the reception, they have a dance floor available; should you choose that option, the restaurant can hold 140 guests max. They'll bake a wedding cake for you, make macarons or chocolates for wedding favors, print menus and placecards, and will make personalized cookbooks as gifts for guests. The price cited above is the base price for lunch receptions; expect a heftier tab for evening affairs.


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[Photo: Everest / Chicago]

Everest, Chicago, Illinois.

A blowout wedding at Chicago's Everest involves a maximum guest list of 200 people, custom dishes from chef Jean Joho, sweeping, stunning views of Chicago from the restaurant's spot on the 40th floor above the Chicago Stock Exchange, and complimentary valet parking. A rep declined to give a base price, although their private dining menu lists various charges here, including a $135/per person seasonal tasting menu and a $78/per person brunch menu. Also, you can order "a pair of Everest Alsace wine glasses designed by chef Joho" for $50 a pair (!).


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The French Laundry, Yountville, California. [Photo: French Laundry / Facebook]

The French Laundry, Yountville, California

Yes, you can do a French Laundry buyout for a whale wedding. A Thomas Keller Restaurant Group rep declined to provide a number for this story, although she did add that any number "is between the property and the person/people planning the party, and we don't publicly disclose that information. Pricing also varies from party to party based on the menu, beverage and format, as well as the time of the year, so we wouldn't be able to give estimates anyway." That said: a 2011 blog post on the French Laundry puts the number at $1,000/head, which you can take with about half a grain of salt as, at the very least, it's dated by now. That number does happen to be in line with the range event planner Berberian provided. Of course, you could always just elope, make a regular old reservation, and pay the tasting menu price for dinner.


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[The Salon at Per Se by Krieger]

Per Se, New York City


Again, Thomas Keller Restaurant Group declined to participate in this story — see a note on the French Laundry entry for details. However, an event planner tells Eater a wedding she planned at the restaurant cost $19,000 for 36 guests, which included "food, alcohol, wedding cake and rental of the West Room." She adds that during cocktail hour, "guests were offered a tour of the stunning kitchen."


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[Photo: Zaytinya]

Zaytinya, Washington, DC: $35,000+ Buyout Fee


A rep for chef José Andrés says Zaytinya, Andrés' take on Greek, Lebanese, and Turkish cuisine — is bought out for weddings more frequently than any of Think Food Group's other restaurants. Why? Sky high ceilings with tons of windows make for a dramatic space day or night, and unlike many of the restaurants on this list, Zaytinya has ample room for dancing. Be aware that including a dance floor knocks the max number of guests from 300 to about 100. (The rep says "hybrid" solutions are available for those whose guest lists are in the 200ish range.) Perks? Zaytinya offers liquid nitrogen cocktail stations as an upgrade on standard packages. No word on whether you can upgrade to having Andrés actually perform the ceremony.


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Inside José Andrés' China Poblano [Photo: The Cosmopolitan]

Bonus Round: Custom Bachelor or Bachelorette Parties in Vegas From Think Food Group


What better place for a whale Bachelor/ette party than Vegas? José Andrés' Think Food Group offers custom packages for the high rolling pre-party, including Tequila/Mezcal classes with dim sum and tacos at China Poblano (starting at $60 per guest, depending on how baller you get with the booze selections). Jaleo offers a Paella cooking class for up to 16, and whole roasted suckling pig or lamb for up to 35.


· All Whale Week Coverage on Eater [-E-]

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