While it was not practical to do too many venue visits, based on a combination of 1) budget, and 2) time, in conversations with our planners (and a lot of research on my part, as well as theirs), we booked a late afternoon to see what seemed like two very strong contenders: the Bowery Hotel, a very chic, trendy, English club-like hotel downtown frequented by fashionistas… and Battery Gardens, a lovely, waterfront venue at the lower tip of Manhattan much more accustomed to brides than Bat Mitzvah girls.
We first went to Battery Gardens. Entered through Battery Park, adjacent to the terminal for the Staten Island Ferry. Giant windows overlook New York Harbor, with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in the distance. I immediately began to conjure a narrative that connected the idea that once Hannah’s great great grandparents passed through those gateways dreaming of a better life… and here she could be a few generations later facing them as a Bat Mitzvah. THAT could be something to be thankful for… on Thanksgiving. Hannah and I both sparked to the decor, the silver Chiavari chairs, the simple but dramatic chandeliers and white linens.
We were all enthusiastic; however, we had the Bowery Hotel to see next, and I had a feeling the whole downtown super-chic mystique would be very enticing to Hannah, especially through the eyes of her friends. We explored the space and I could imagine how the clubby interior could work with our late November date.
After both, we all caucused, and Hannah’s summary words were these: “I just feel like the Bowery Hotel is more of a ‘dark’ place, and Battery Gardens is more of a ‘light’ place – and that’s just more me. I’m a ‘light’ person.” What I love is that I know she didn’t mean how well lit either was. It was such a moment of self-awareness, and a willingness to make the right decision, for her, and frankly for all of us.
We had a winner. And in the weeks since, Hannah has said, “when I walked into Battery Gardens I felt the same way I did when we toured Delta (her honors middle school). I just knew it was my place.”