By Ninette Cheng
Northwest Asian Weekly
One of the most important and toughest parts of planning a wedding is finding a venue. Seattle is home to some amazing views and landscapes, but finding a place that can accommodate a traditional Asian wedding can be tricky. How is a bride to find a venue to hold hundreds of guests? And what if she wants to serve traditional Asian food?
Well, here are a few ideas:
Go to the top. The top of the Space Needle, that is.
The Space Needle at Seattle Center is a great venue for tea ceremonies, wedding ceremonies, and receptions. In addition to boasting a 360-degree panorama view of the Seattle cityscape, the SkyLine level, an event facility, seats up to 350 guests. For tea ceremonies, a platform can be used to create a tatami room.
The Space Needle restaurant SkyCity was awarded “2009 Wine Restaurant of the Year” by the Washington State Wine Commission and offers Asian-inspired dishes, ranging from stir-fry dishes to spring rolls. Custom menus can include traditional Asian meals — such as sushi complete with a sushi chef.
The Space Needle has hosted a number of performers at weddings, including Japanese taiko drummers and magician Nash Fung.
Space Needle Sales and Catering Manager Kenneth Graff cites the service as the main draw to using the Space Needle as an Asian-style wedding destination.
“Everybody appreciates good service,” Graff said. “But in my experience, perhaps the Asian community in particular is appreciative of quality [and] of respectful, prompt service, and that is most definitely what we pride ourselves in.”
In a nutshell: Consider the Space Needle if you’re looking for a breathtaking view or a customizable menu complete with prompt service.
Be among greenery at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center
The two most popular locations in the Washington State Convention & Trade Center are the South Lobby and Sky Bridge. The South Lobby boasts floor-to-ceiling glass walls and an entrance to a garden. The Sky Bridge opens with a view to downtown Seattle and Pike Place Market.
Each location seats up to 350 guests for a seated meal.
The venue also houses a number of ballrooms, some of which can be combined to seat a total of 1,600 guests. Black and white linens are provided, but if desired, one can bring in their own linens.
Trained from the Culinary Institute of America, the kitchen staff can cook up a variety of dishes onsite.
“We can virtually create any menu item,” said Matt Shea, the director of catering sales. He added that Indian dishes have been a big hit.
Director of Sales and Marketing Michael McQuade said the center has done Asian-themed weddings in the past. “We’ve done some events for the Asian community,” he said.
McQuade advised to call in at least six months in advance to reserve event space.
In a nutshell: Consider the Washington State Convention & Trade Center if you like ballrooms, gardens, and are a foodie.
Dance the night away at the Westin Hotel
Home to the largest single ballroom in Seattle, the Westin Hotel seats up to 1,200 guests. A smaller ballroom seats up to 350 guests for dinner.
Director of Sales and Marketing Irene Lin said she recommends a suite for tea ceremonies. The rooms are a good size for two families, and tea ceremony china is provided as well.
The Westin kitchen staff cooks everything from scratch.
“[Guests can] have [an] appetizer platter, jellyfish, Peking duck, shark fin soup, abalone, fried rice and noodles, steamed fish, crab claws, [and] desserts,” Lin said.
Hotel staff has also received training in putting together a customary Asian wedding.
“We go through a comprehensive training in operations as well as our banquet captains,” Lin said. “They are all familiar with Asian etiquette and what typically happens from the emcee to the games and the course to the toast that happens in the middle of the reception.”
Lin said the hotel recently started paying attention to Seattle’s Asian demographics.
“Specifically for Asian weddings, we have started to pay a lot more attention to this really important market,” Lin said. “I feel like there is a big market in Seattle and the perfect venue is missing.”
In a nutshell: The Westin’s ballroom is the largest in Seattle. It hosts a suite and china for a tea ceremony, and has made learning about Asian wedding customs a priority.
Happy wedding planning! ♦
Ninette Cheng can be reached at email@example.com.