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For the Greatest Love of All… a Hall: “Chateau Briand”

As a chronic migraine sufferer there are many places that can trigger a severe migraine just from entering the room. One of the worst happens to be wedding halls. Weddings themselves in my family and friends lives come up quite frequently sometimes leaving me no time to recuperate from the first attack before another one comes full on. Picture the Atlantic Ocean, during the summer, at the height of hurricane season. A category four hurricane is about to make land fall on the northeastern coast line of the U.S. while there is a tropical storm right behind it that is on its way to becoming a hurricane and scheduled to make land fall at the exact same spot as its predecessor. Not to be melodramatic but it is like the eye of Hurricane Katrina landed in the middle of my brain.

With this in mind you can understand, hopefully, why I don’t entirely love weddings or big loud parties despite the happy occasions I want to celebrate. Each time I try to brace for it as best as possible, using all of the tricks of my trade, but nevertheless I always manage to get a migraine. I don’t seem to have any success with lessening the severity of the attack. It is disheartening and why I sometimes must RSVP with a “no”. It is just not worth it, probably not even if it were my event. I suppose I will exchange vows in a cave like structure where it is cool and dark should that day come to pass.

Between the noises from an aggressively loud DJ, to the flashing lights we must dance under, to the smell of alcohol of which I cannot partake, to the temperature of the rooms, all are the culprits contributing to my migraines at parties. I always give it the good ole college try but after a couple of hours I am in agony despite taking pain medication and am ready to lie down and die. Or at least that’s what it feels like.

This past January a beloved couple who are very dear friends of my family were about to get hitched. Their event, both the wedding and reception, would take place at the newly renovated, Chateau Briand. This is a wedding hall I have been to before, about ten years before to be precise. So naturally I thought I knew what to expect but surprisingly for once I was wrong.

My first experience at this venue was challenging if I am going to be honest. I was a bridesmaid in a family member’s wedding and we had been having some troubling times in our relationship. I should have bowed out like I wanted too but I hung in there until the end. By the time I arrived at the reception at the Chateau, I was no longer in the mood for a party. I felt like I was at a funeral instead. Back then my migraines were not nearly as bad and I didn’t have them from lights, sounds, or smells. Stress should have caused one that day but I guess because I was still able to drink I was able to avoid one. What I remember about the place was that it had an aggressive nautical theme everywhere I turned. The bridal suite had no food or beverages for us as we took an endless amount of photos. I am not sure what package had been booked so I do not know where the fault laid but I was over it before it started. I have to say that left me with a bad taste in my mouth which is how I felt after I tasted the food too.

For someone like me who has been in and at enough weddings that i could plan one blindfolded, the food tends to be so-so at best. No matter the place, I always am disappointed and feel like the bride and groom got robbed. Nowadays weddings cost a fortune and most of the time I can’t figure out why. In NYC we like to have big affairs with a cocktail hour and then about four hours at the reception where you will start with salad, pasta, and the entrée of your choice. Once the cake has been cut it is handed out, as well as another treats that have been selected. After cake and coffee the party is usually wounding down unless there is an after party.

I was hesitant about what my new experience would bring me but I went with an open mind. As soon as you walked in you are in a world of glamor. The décor is minimalistic but also very pretty. You aren’t overwhelmed by any one sight or sound. As you walk towards the back there was a fire place with many chairs and sofas to sit on as you wait for your event to begin. They were offering coffee and tea and some snacks. Even the bathrooms were elegant.

Next we were led to the chapel where the ceremony was taking place. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. The room was bright white but had blue essence in it. Though bright lights are usually my enemy, but here they didn’t bother me. I was able to see the beautiful bridal party while the bride and groom exchanged wedding vows.

Afterward we went downstairs for the cocktail hour and ushered into a big room with all sorts of tables and rounded booths to sit in. There was a very nice selection of food but my favorites are always the treasures that are getting passed around by the wait staff. No one could seem to get enough. My biggest complaint of the night happened in this room. It was SEVERELY hot. I know this is true because everyone seemed to be complaining about it, not just me, which honestly was a nice change of pace.

All that was left was the reception. We walked into a room that had mostly blue lights; giving off the winter wonderland theme perfectly. I thought it would change when the DJ started up but it never did. For migraine sufferers blue light is often better than white, if not blue than more yellow. Anything that isn’t so strong. Even when I go to the eye doctor he uses a blue light to check my eyes so as not to trigger an attack.

When I realized this would be the situation the whole night I was totally stoked. I was able to dance, mingle, and take pictures all without fear of pain. Then there was the food. It looked like the same wedding food only this time it had flavor! I was too full to eat everything, as I usually am after a cocktail hour, but so excited I liked what I was eating I tried to take a few bits of everything. But that’s not even my really good news.

The really good news is that I had the best dirty martini I have ever had. It was also the first one I have had in at least six years. Oh how I use to love that drink. Now that my meds didn’t restrict my alcohol intake I was ready to try. I didn’t quite finish it because I was afraid I would fall flat on my face but I was happy none the less. When the clock struck midnight and we were about to leave, I was able to countdown with my nephew as he turned six. There really isn’t anything that was missing from that night. I know that the venue coming through like it did was part of it. The other is being able to see two people who are destined for each other join their lives in matrimony.

Way back in 1978 the Scotto Brothers bought the Chateau Briand. Today it is only one of their many party establishments on Long Island. They are the go to team if you are having a party in the New York City area. I probably have been to two or three of their places by now. I have never been especially impressed but that was before I attended this latest wedding at the newly renovated Chateau Briand. I sure wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

I would like to conclude my review by sharing the Scotto Brothers motto:

"Our style may not be for everyone, which makes it perfect for you".

And so it was for all of us that night.

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