Welcome to the Club: 5 Chic Social Clubs for Your Reception

Prestigious and posh, Seattle’s most exclusive social clubs offer cosmopolitan-chic sites for celebrations—and are easier to book than one might think.
From: Fall/Winter 2016 edition
The grand staircase at the Rainier Club

Your mental picture is clear: Posh guest list, gorgeous gown and lavish decorations; all that’s missing is the wedding venue with an exclusive address to match. Unless you’re a member of one, a private club may not be your first thought for a venue, but it just so happens that some of Seattle’s swankiest event sites are the city’s most prestigious and historic social clubs—and these exclusive spaces are more accessible than you might think. Whether you opt for an elegant affair set sky high overlooking twinkling lights below or a fete full of grandeur in a 1920s brick mansion, you’ll wow guests with a grand venue they won’t forget.

WASHINGTON ATHLETIC CLUB

Opulence at the Washington Athletic Club || Alante Photography

Built in the 1930s as a gathering place for the Seattle elite, the beautifully maintained Washington Athletic Club, conveniently located in the heart of the downtown shopping and theater district, makes an excellent venue for exchanging vows. The Crystal Ballroom, which can accommodate as many as 250 guests for dinner and dancing, embodies all the grandeur of a bygone era, complete with high ceilings, Czechoslovakian chandeliers and classic finishings. Dinner is prepared on-site and can include small bites such as New Zealand lamb chops with port-infused fig-and-apricot chutney or Chinese red braised pork belly in mini steamed buns with spring onion. After saying “I do,” retreat for a luxurious overnight stay at the Inn at the WAC to unwind with your new spouse. Rental includes white table linens and white napkins, Riedel glass stemware, ivory china, silver flatware, votive candles, round mirrors, two baby grand pianos and complimentary parking for guests.

The details: As a private club, membership or a sponsored introduction to the club is required; the space is extended free of charge to members and guests. Food and beverage minimums are also required. Weddings here typically start at $13,000.

RAINIER CLUB

Housed in a historic landmark building that dates back to 1904, the Rainier Club is an elite social club nestled among the downtown skyscrapers. Built in a Tudor Revival style and with its grand Georgian-style entry overlooking Fourth Avenue, this storied venue is filled with timeless touches such as gold-leafed ceilings, graceful crystal chandeliers and a grand staircase that provides a picture-perfect backdrop. Receptions are often held in the Heritage Ballroom—which was remodeled in 2014—or the Rainier Room, home to the largest indoor fireplace in the Pacific Northwest. The deep hearth, at 16 feet 3 inches wide and 8 feet 7 inches deep, is best enjoyed with roasted marshmallows (there’s a toasting station) and a fireside latte, or cocktails from a cart. Couples who book at the Rainier Club have access to the entire clubhouse, including the six on-site overnight suites for the happy couple or out-of-town guests. In addition, the club is undergoing the biggest expansion in its history; soon, the club will add 100 subterranean parking stalls on the property. Food and beverage services are provided in-house. Rental chairs, linens, flatware and audiovisual equipment are all included in the venue fee, as well as an in-house day-of coordinator, an overnight stay in the bridal suite and separate rooms for getting ready on the big day. Curbside valet service is also available on site.

The details: The Rainier Club is a private club for members and guests of members. Couples interested in hosting their wedding here are approved by the club’s leadership and given a provisional membership prior to the big day; a $5,000 deposit is required.

COLUMBIA TOWER CLUB

The view from the Columbia Tower Club || Azzura Photography

Couples imagining a wedding with a beautiful view of the Seattle skyline will quickly fall for the splendor of the Columbia Tower Club. Located in the tallest skyscraper in downtown Seattle and in the state of Washington, this iconic 967-foot structure has unparalleled panoramic views of Seattle and Puget Sound, a striking backdrop for a wedding. Opened in 1985, the inviting interiors feel modern and contemporary, balanced with warm colors. Receptions are usually held in the Columbia Room, a 2,600-square-foot event space that’s ideal for 200, or, couples can rent the entire 76th floor for a sprawling affair that can accommodate as many as 400 guests. Plated dinners are prepared on-site by executive chef Tyler Hefford-Anderson and may include delightful small bites such as lobster ravioli, tater-tot poutine or Dungeness crab cakes.

The details: Any nonmember interested in accessing the club may do so with the sponsorship of a current member. Single-use passes are issued at the discretion of the event department. Nuptial and proposal packages start at $1,500.

UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON CLUB

Housed in a former 1960s UW Faculty Center, built by renowned Seattle architects Paul Hayden Kirk and Victor Steinbrueck, the University of Washington Club is a private club with spectacular views of Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains. The stylish interiors feature mid-century modern design, combining glass and steel features with warm, repurposed wood elements. Rent the entire facility for the reception, or just the elegant Cascade Room, which can easily accommodate 250 guests for a reception or 168 guests seated for dinner. Ceremonies can take place within walking distance on the nearby university grounds. Dinner is served by award-winning executive chef Jon Maley and his skilled culinary team, with a memorable menu that may include local rockfish bouillabaisse with Penn Cove mussels or a seared boneless pork chop with maple-bourbon jus.

The details: Couples must be UW Club members or have a member sponsor. A deposit is required and is dependent on the day and time of the event. Receptions start at $1,500, with an additional $1,500 minimum for food and beverages.

THE RUINS

Celebrate in grand style at The Ruins || courtesy of The Ruins

The Ruins, a private dining club on Lower Queen Anne founded by Joseph McDonnal and Virginia Wyman, has an atmosphere of being removed from reality, drawing couples in with its uniquely appointed interiors and avant-garde décor. Each beautifully decorated room has its own theme: Before the wedding, groomsmen can gather in the regal Chocolate Room, while the elegant Maisonette room, with its warm, cozy fireplace, is perfectly suited for the bridal suite. Glistening chandeliers illuminate the hand-painted murals by Pacific Northwest artists in the 1,040-square-foot ballroom, which can accommodate a maximum of 112 guests for a seated dinner, 72 guests with a dance floor. (Rental of the full facility can accommodate as many as 260 guests standing, however.) For dinner, guests can wander into the dining room, with its glowing candelabras and lush greenery, to feast on the venue’s delectable culinary offerings. Past menus have included the Ruins Fall Salad, a mix of fall chicory greens with apples and hazelnuts in a blue cheese balsamic vinaigrette, and filet mignon with bordelaise, polenta and kale.

The details: The private dining club opens its doors to weddings based on availability. Price per person ranges from $200 to $600, which includes room rental, food, beverage, décor, service and additional services. The entire room rental is required to secure the date, and a 50 percent deposit is due once the menu is finalized.

RESOURCES:

Columbia Tower Club

Downtown

701 Fifth Ave.

206.386.5073

 

Rainier Club

Downtown

820 Fourth Ave.

206.296.6848

 

The Ruins

Lower Queen Anne

570 Roy St.

206.285.7846

 

University of Washington Club

University District

4020 E Stevens Way

206.543.0437

 

Washington Athletic Club

Downtown

1325 Sixth Ave.

206.464.3050