No doubt about it, December 31st cannot come quickly enough.
2020 has been an undeniably challenging year for us all. The loss, suffering and sacrifices have been felt all over the world, and we’re all eager to close the chapter on what will be known as one of the toughest times in living history.
And yet 2020 didn’t start out this way! In fact, it was all going quite well…
On February 29th the Crystal Plaza celebrated its most successful Love is in the Air event ever. The evening was amazing – couples, friends and families came to The Crystal Plaza to enjoy a beautiful time together over five-star cuisine and under glittering crystal chandeliers. Dancing to live music or sipping cocktails with a special someone, love and laughter flowed across the entire 5-acre property.
But sadly it wasn’t to last.
The Crystal Plaza – like every other wedding venue in the country – was forced to shutter its doors in spring as the country came to grips with a once-in-a-century pandemic. Brides and grooms suddenly had to put all their plans on pause – their “happily ever after” on ice indefinitely.
In Pursuit of the Perfect Wedding
While many wedding venues saw no option but to sit back and wait out the lockdown, The Crystal Plaza took the opportunity to redouble its efforts in the pursuit of wedding perfection. As Owner, President and grandson of the Founder, Allan Janoff, said “We are defined by the superiority of our experience. We used this time to take a look at every single aspect of our catering and events to make sure it reflected the excellence and flexibility for which we are known”.
Balancing Beauty with modernity
And so The Crystal Plaza undertook its first renovation in 25 years, intricately balancing the breathtaking elegance of the mansion’s 19th century grandeur with complementary modernizations, to make the guests’ time at the venue even more special.
It has been no small undertaking. Some rooms were refurbished, others have been entirely renovated. But the family knew that so long as they didn’t stray from their “guest-first” philosophy the expansion was going to be a success.
This approach was validated by 92-year-old Dorothy “Nana” Janoff, mother of Allan, who braved the pandemic to make an in-person site visit. Upon reviewing the construction work, Dorothy told the project leads Max and Hunter Janoff: “your grandfather Harold would be very proud of you and the work you have done here.”
The Wedding Menu got even better!
The changes weren’t just architectural though – Executive Chef Paul Fonte jumped at the chance to experiment with the menu as well. Working long hours in our top-of-the range kitchen, Chef Fonte came up with an array of new and exciting additions to our catering options, which we are excited to share in the coming weeks and months.
Our kosher wedding menu was also updated, and we can now offer our guests additional delicious dining options per the regulations of the kashrut. As ever, the kosher catering is prepared in our glatt kosher kitchen under the orthodox supervision of Rabbi Yakov Teichman of the Vaad Harabonim of MetroWest, New Jersey.
Under the stewardship of Vice President Ronni Janoff Weinstein, The Crystal Plaza’s wedding catering team is constantly looking for ways to keep improving: “For over 100 years, we have been serving our guests the freshest, best-tasting wedding meals in the tri-state area. We work hard to bring the bride and groom the wedding experience they dream of, and this includes a fabulous wedding dinner. The menu updates we made over the course of the shutdown are going to blow our guests away!”.
A Wedding Venue with a Big Heart
As a family-owned and run business since 1917, the Janoffs understand that The Crystal Plaza isn’t just the finest wedding venue in New York and New Jersey; but it has a big role to play in the local community too.
When The Crystal Plaza saw that many of its neighbors in Livingston, NJ, were struggling with the mental toll of the pandemic lockdown, the Executive Team organized a little pick-me-up. With Chef Fonte at the helm, The Crystal Plaza baked up an assortment of oatmeal, chocolate chip and sugar cookies, before the family went door-to-door handing them out to its neighbors.
“Even the smallest gestures can make the world of difference. While our primary focus is always on our guests – many of whom come in from Manhattan, Long Island and Brooklyn – we are proud to be a member of the Livingston community too, and if we can help our local friends we always will.” said Managing Partner Hunter Janoff.
Helping those who never stop helping us
This sense of civic duty is perhaps best exemplified by The Crystal Plaza’s decision to help the emergency services’ during the pandemic. When the wedding venue saw the strain COVID-19 was putting on Livingston’s first responders, the Executive Team again sprang into action.
Making full use of their culinary expertise, the Crystal Plaza cooked up a storm for their local heroes before driving round to the police stations, fire departments and EMS spots to deliver the meals. And of course the first responders were treated to the finest food, as befits The Crystal Plaza: Chicken Française with risotto, accompanied by green beans and salad. Needless to say, it was very well received!
Max Janoff – Hunter’s brother, and fellow Managing Partner at The Crystal Plaza – explains “We all owe so much to our first responders. The risks they take to keep us safe during this pandemic are unbelievable. With this meal we wanted to let them know how much we appreciate them. It was our way of saying “thank you” for all their hard work.”
Finally Getting Married!
On October 1st, The Crystal Plaza opened its doors again for our first post-lockdown wedding. It was an amazing experience for the bride, the groom, the guests AND The Crystal Plaza. Finally the happy couple were able to celebrate their special day together, and we were thrilled to be able to help them do it.
Of course there have been some adjustments made so that The Crystal Plaza could comply with regulatory requirements and best practices; however, unlike many wedding venues in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Long Island, the Crystal Plaza has the space to ensure social distancing without compromising the wedding dreams of the bride and groom.
Whether it’s under the glimmering crystal of the ballroom chandeliers or outside at the garden Chuppah, the entire mansion has ample room for a beautiful wedding that does not infringe upon the elegance, luxury and premium white-glove service that define The Crystal Plaza.
Looking back on a year to forget
The Queen of England would call 2020 an “annus horribilis”, or terrible year. And it would seem the global pandemic which has caused so much pain is threatening to bleed into 2021 too.
But at least we now have an understanding of the virus and the measures that can be taken to help slow its spread. Guided by our “guest-first” mentality, The Crystal Plaza has been able to evolve our weddings and events to ensure we can continue to provide our guests with continued event excellence – from only ever having total venue exclusivity, to taking full advantage of our spacious buildings and gardens.
It is probably with this in mind that The Crystal Plaza received the Best of Weddings 2021 Award from The Knot. This marks the 11th year in a row we have won this prestigious award, made all the more special because it is earned through reviews by real couples, their families and their wedding guests.
We are committed to helping our guests continue living their lives, supporting them as they celebrate all their wonderful milestones – from Bar and Bat Mitzvahs to their dream weddings with their friends and families.
Of course we do not know what the future has in store for us; but one thing our guests can be sure of is that The Crystal Plaza we will always be looking for ways to improve upon our guests’ experience, while also staying connected and vigilant to the wellbeing of our neighbors here in Livingston, NJ.
At the end of the day, The Crystal Plaza remains optimistic, despite what happened in 2020: the future is bright, and together we’ll make 2021 a year to remember for all the right reasons.
About The Crystal Plaza
The Crystal Plaza is widely regarded as one of the finest wedding and event venues in the US. Based in Livingston, NJ we offer impeccable white-glove service to meet the exacting needs of our guests. Our newly renovated garden can be rented for any function that you wish to host, while abiding to all proper social distancing protocols and procedures – including weddings, birthdays, graduation parties, photo shoots, corporate gatherings, reunions and family gatherings.
Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.