Once the Imperial Movie Theater, the drenched-in-luxury Cescaphe Ballroom in Northern Liberties has been a star on the special events stage for nearly 15 years.
A winner in the 2016 Readers' Choice weddings category, Cescaphe was voted a favorite venue for weddings. Prospective brides and grooms gravitate to its vaulted ceilings and massive crystal chandeliers draped with ropes of pearls. The main ballroom, lounge, adjoining cocktail areas and outdoor courtyard accommodate 150-300 guests.
"We like to tell our brides and grooms that it isn't just a wedding package we offer, but the Cescaphe experience," says Joe Volpe, founder of Cescaphe Event Group, which operates five other venues in Philadelphia, including the Water Works behind the Art Museum.
"We are the innovators of the all-inclusive wedding, which allows our couples and their families to hold the grand affair of their dreams, without feeling like they need to negotiate the overall integrity of their wedding in order to fit within their budget."
Cescaphe offers couples theatrical touches such as a display in which guests can watch in-house pastry chefs decorate the cake. Another option is a chandelier wedding cake, in which a confection with multiple tiers is displayed upside down.
Cescaphe also offers a live art option, in which an artist paints a scene from the reception for the couple to display in their home. Or, couples can opt for GoPro wedding videos that use action photography to create a fast-paced, compressed documentary of the day – everything from the bride getting her hair done to the couple heading off on their honeymoon.
Alicia Wezel Russella of North Wales says she and her husband Joe appreciated that there were no unpleasant surprises on their big day.
"We had our own maitre d' who always seemed to know when we needed something," she recalls. "The all-inclusive price is great because there were no hidden costs. It was a perfect day and we wouldn't have changed a thing."
When Dionne Reeder married Maurice McCallum, the Clifton Heights couple wanted to treat their guests to an elegant, high-end experience. They found it at Cescaphe Ballroom.
"Our guests are still talking about our wedding. From the food, to the décor, to the staff, everything was top notch," she says.
Maureen Haggerty of Conshohocken says Cescaphe's in-house staff took the stress out of the logistics of her wedding to Ronald Ayres.
"Planning our wedding was easy and fun," she says. "It was legitimately the best day of our lives and everything went smoothly and perfectly."
Cescaphe's other venues in the city, each with its own personality, include:
In February, Cescaphe launched CEG University, a monthly event series exclusive to brides and grooms hosting their wedding at one of the group's venues.