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:
- Atrium at Curtis, renowned for its Tiffany stained glass mosaic and 12-story atrium, accommodates 175-500 guests.
- Down Town Club, classic and classy, was founded in 1897 with views of Independence Hall. The space is suitable for 175-220 guests.
- Tendenza, trendy and ultra modern, has an industrial vibe of a Manhattan loft. Located in Northern Liberties, it has a capacity of 150-240.
- Vie is inspired by the elegance of Provence. Situated on Broad Street near City Hall, it's a flexible space suited for gatherings of 175-600 guests.
- Water Works, Cescaphe's latest acquisition,is a National Historic Landmark at the foot of the Philadelphia Museum of Art with views of Boat House Row and the Center City skyline. The Neoclassic building has a capacity of 100-175 guests.
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.
"Each month, couples and their loved ones are invited to get a taste of the Cescaphe experience through a cocktail social followed by an interactive class where we partner with industry experts to better educate our couples on various topics related to this crazy world of wedding planning," Volpe says.