Champagne & Chandeliers: Wedding Industry - Unwrapped

Celebrating Love and Luxury at Lotte New York Palace with Adam Riegler

May 12, 2023 Julian Ribinik Season 1 Episode 3
Champagne & Chandeliers: Wedding Industry - Unwrapped
Celebrating Love and Luxury at Lotte New York Palace with Adam Riegler
Show Notes Transcript

Episode Summary:

In this exciting episode, we are joined by Adam Riegler, the Manager of Events and Catering at Lotte New York Palace. Adam discusses the blend of modernity and historic charm that the Palace offers as a wedding venue, the immersive planning process, and his advice to couples navigating their wedding planning journey. Tune in for an insider's view into creating memorable experiences in the heart of New York City.

Links Mentioned:

Contact Details:

  • Lotte New York Palace Inquiry Form
  • Direct Line: (212) 303-6090
  • Instagram: @newyorkpalaceweddings

Don't forget to like, subscribe, and share "Champagne and Chandeliers" with your friends and colleagues. Stay updated on all our latest episodes, interviews, and insights by subscribing on your favorite podcast platform.

To view Julian Ribinik's stunning wedding photography portfolio, visit our website at Also, be sure to follow us on Instagram @julianribinikstudios for the latest updates, behind-the-scenes glimpses, and beautiful wedding inspiration.

 And we are live here with Adam Riggler from Lotte New York Palace. Welcome, 

Adam. Hi, how 

are you? I am doing great. How are you doing 

yourself? I'm doing well.  The weather's been so beautiful lately. I'm so excited for, to finally feel like spring around 

here. It's amazing. And for us, it's very important we can take pictures in a normal environ.

You don't need like galoshes and going through snow and 

For sure.  Adam you are a senior manager of catering at Latin New York Palace. 

Yes, I 

am. How did you get to that?  What brought you to be that? It's like one of the most amazing venues, not just in New York City, all over,  United States historic place.

How do you get to be there and being in charge of the 

events? Well, I grew up in northeast Ohio, so most of my kind of career has really grown through the hotel industry.  I was first at the front desk of a hotel , not too far from my hometown. And I worked in different roles in room operations and I kept really close in contact with the one of the event managers at the first hotel that I worked at, and she had moved on into a few roles.

And eventually she moved into role as director of event planning for a new hotel that had opened and she had called me to help create the department with her and a couple of other managers that she had on her team. And so that, at that point, that company moved me to the West coast. I worked on events in Portland, Oregon, and then I eventually moved to the ultimate dream, which is to live and work in New York City.

Then I started working for Lotte, New York Palace in 2018, and I worked in the meetings and events department. So it was corporate events, blocks of guest rooms, conferences. And I took kind of a pause, obviously, as everyone did during the pandemic. And then was brought back into a different role at the palace in the banquet operations department, and that is where I really learned everything that I thought that I knew about events, but did not, and I managed the staff for the first time.

I had never had people report to me. I was, I was really more directing other departments instead of having direct reports. And it was a huge learning experience. I was there for about a. And it really set me up to learn how to sell events for when I eventually, there was an opening for a catering sales role, and our director of sales and marketing invited me to apply for that role, and that's how I ended up here.

How do you like it? I love it. It's the greatest thing about the palace is that there's always something going on. So I'll either, sometimes I do a board of directors meetings for , a huge,  company, but the meeting's only for 10 people. And it's really like in Hamilton with a room where it happens.

And then there are times where we are doing,  hosting a dignitary from another country ahead of state. We do a lot for U N G A in September. That's a big part of our market. And then it goes into weddings.  You're never gonna be bored here because there's always something going on, which is the most exciting.

We're a very large hotel.  And being in the luxury market, there's not a ton of hotels of our size, so that helps us. We can really host a lot of different things at the same time. 

And such a unique place. You have so many different spaces that you can use at the same time too. 

So many different types of events you can host with us because of that.

That's beautiful. 

And we are, as photographers, we typically see weddings or birthdays or, but mitzva and then we don't see all that part that, that you do on a day-to-day basis. And it's so interesting to hear about other things and maybe someone who is listening or watching this will that we'll say, well, I can do this in, in, at the palace.

So here you go guys. Call the phone me. We will connect you to Adam.  When you are not at work,  what are you doing, what kind of music do you like? Where are you traveling? What are your hobbies? 

Working in the hotel industry is really a, travel is always kind of an inspiring part of that role.

And so, I. Really learned that I didn't take advantage of being able to travel as much as I should have before the pandemic. So I've really tried to make that a focus. I'm happiest on the beach with a book, but I also appreciate architecture and being able to explore new cities.

So I try to make a trip. Combine a little bit of both, depending on what time of year it is. I'm not gonna do that in Iceland, but, , I had a bit of a fitness journey throughout the pandemic as well, so  I do take a lot of spin classes.

I'm really big into soul cycle. I take berries. So that's, I learned, , the power. Of being in a group fitness setting and what the serotonin does to you and your mental health, and I think that's really important. I'm huge into food and beverage. I love to explore new restaurants, and that could mean a food stand, that could also mean a Michelin star, four hour seated dinner.

 I also, love to cook. I love to be a host. So the, the two highest compliments you could pay me in my personal life is that I'm a good orderer at a restaurant and that I'm a good hostess to my guest and those that will be the ultimate compliment in my book. Love going to concerts. I love theater.

Just the art of  live performance at.  Really being in New York, you can do whatever you want. That's the exciting part. 

 I love how you plugged in fitness journey into that,  I'm very close to that. I used to be 90 pounds more and , when we started working at the Palace in 2011, I could hardly walk.

 I think everyone should do that. Everyone should be fit. Take care of themselves. 

Yeah, it really, it was, I needed a goal because there was really nothing for me to do. And it was when everything had shut down and obviously for physical wellbeing as well, that was an important part.

And there was just certain things, that I knew that I was not eating correctly and not making the best decisions in terms of what I was putting into my body in terms of food, but, I wasn't really exercising, so I had nothing else to do. So that's, I lost a hundred pounds in about 15 months.

That's amazing. That's insane. Yeah. It's the crazy part too. You don't realize like how much better you just feel mentally as well.  It affects so many different parts of your  life and you don't even realize it when you go through something like that. 

And you can't like explain to, to others or you can't convince them because until you go through.

 There's no realization, Simon, you're not tired. Exactly. It's not hard to walk. Right. And people are just, they want to eat. Yes. And they can 

balance things out. And I was an athlete growing up as well. I was a swimmer for, over a decade so. I, it was easy for me to get back into that once I was there, but the initial just getting up and just real, like, not beating yourself up if you maybe don't have the greatest, if you don't make the best eating decisions, or maybe if  you feel like you didn't do so well at the gym.

Like at least you went and Yes. Part of it as well. That's beautiful. 

Well, I, I love it. Talking about covid, you can reflect on the wedding industry. During obviously what we discussed and after.  How do you think the industry changed and  especially in your area in catering and event space,  what was there before that doesn't exist now, what you have now that didn't happen before, and what adaptations did you guys need to take in response to 


There's a few answers to that question. I think that there's in increased costs across the board in just the world as a whole, and anybody that's been to the grocery store probably will understand that. And so having to really reevaluate the way that business is approached was a very difficult challenge for I think any venue because you want to make people happy.

That's what we're in this business for. The key word there is that you're also a business and you have to make sure that you are turning a profit for the people that are managing your company. And so it's a little bit of a challenge I think. Explaining the complete 180 that what people are charging has taken.

And so justifying that is easy once you reel them in. But just the initial sticker shock, I think is a little bit of a challenge for people in my role. I think that one of the greatest things that came out of the pandemic is people are just happy to be together and with the people that they love.

And not that they weren't before, but I think now it's just, there's just a little bit more appreciation for that. It's amazing to watch people, I work at a venue, but my venue is also a hotel, so I get to see, they're also staying here in addition to that. So they're traveling to meet in a common location and they're having a great time.

There's a, a happy reason and you get to be dressed up and it's a glamorous night. And I think  that's something that was always going to come back after the pandemic, but that was one of the things that also people missed the most. I think the focus too, as a photographer, you probably can speak a little bit more to this too.

I think that especially with, in terms of documenting those memories, the photography and the videography is more important to them than ever because they remember what it was like to not be able to see anybody for extended periods of time. 

That's very true, and I can reflect on that. We used to get a lot of inquiries about like we.

This and that and want like more detailed attention before that. And we are documentary photography. We are all about emotions, right? Plus it's very important to show people crying, people laughing, people like having moments that they will not experience again. So to us it was, harder to navigate.

And now every single couple that approaches us, they say we want to see emotions, we want to see what our. Doing on the dance floor, how they enjoy it, how they match their fun,  happening. We want to see our families connecting and  it's so true. And it wasn't like this before. , 

I, Have a huge appreciation for photography.

I don't have any skill in it. And anybody that has seen me, a photo I've taken on my phone will attest to that. But I, it's almost like, Adam, you forgot to clean your screen again, your, your lens. I think , you look at the work of like, really, like well-known and renowned photographers in the fashion and lifestyle world, and a lot of them will tell you that the, the more beautiful photos are because they're beautiful, because they're not perfect.

That's a part of life and that, those genuine moments, like I'm thinking of a photo of a client that I had a couple of years ago, and it's a picture of the horror dance, but it's a really close up photo and it's not posed like, it was like just one of those, like in between two major shot moments and the bride is just so happy and her eyes are closed and she's looking up, she's looking away from the camera and it's just, but it, she looks so happy.

And that's what I appreciate about photographers that documents in that. 

Yeah, there's no way you can make it on purpose or make it happen, with acting and posing.  And of course everything else is important in settings are important. Like couples want to see what they invested and they want to see the details.

They want to see how the teams set up the tables. Yes, all of that is super important. This is also important to you. So much. And I remember you saying like, Julian, I want details. I want, show me that and show me this. So why don't, wouldn't you tell me about like, how do you collaborate with other wedding vendors, right?

Like, what do you need  what other properties or traits that you want to work with, with photographers of Flores or event planners? Something that will help you guys to create memorable event for your 

clients.  One of the greatest pieces of advice I actually looked was given when I first entered the events world in hotels.

And I wasn't even doing social events at this time. I was doing really small meetings and blocks of rooms, and it was that you can't control everything because you're never, it's, you're never gonna be successful. And sometimes I find myself not being great about following this advice, but I try to , these people are hired and paid to do this specific thing because that is what they're professional at, and you have to trust them and trust their, their talents, their skills, and just know that they know what they're doing.

And I think. That's from the venue perspective, you have to remember that. But I also think it's important that,  I probably know this venue better than, any vendor that comes in here because I'm here every day. So I think that being collaborative and knowing what is going to work and , I would never wanna say anybody know to anybody because I work in a luxury environment and that's just not something that is done.

But there is  better alternative to what this is. So that could mean, the way the food and beverage is served. That could mean the positioning of the band. It could, in terms of photographers,  I think it's important to let them, be as artistic and creative as possible, 

the only suggestions I usually offer is that like, Hey, if you stand there, this is a really cool angle just because. Those interesting things are part of what makes it so great to get married in the palace. 

. It was so helpful and for us, it's so important that we come in and we documented someone's wedding collaboration on any end is very, very important because in the end we have a client, a client needs to get the best out of that.

Yes.  Great. Talking about brides and grooms, what is the planning process looks like when they come to you? How do you and your team, obviously your, your guys, how do you collaborate with the client to make sure that their vision comes to life? What do you need from them?

What things that you given them and things like that? 

Honestly, the most important word in that question, I believe, is collaboration because, I try from start to finish to, to make it feel like that's what the process is. And so, the initial inquiry will come directly to me for a social event. And I'll send them any sort of, I try to keep the correspondence informative, but vague enough that they still have an, I want to be able to speak to them.

And I make that very clear in the initial reach out because I want to be able to paint a picture for them. So that they feel what it would be like for having themselves in the shoes of a bride or a groom at the palace. And so once the contract is in place, the next step is if they haven't secured a planner yet, that's usually my next step is to assist them with that.

We don't always have a planner, but it is, I would say, most of our weddings do. And then, once the planning experience starts, it really, the tasting is really where the magic happens. It's because. I sit and I try the same food and wines that the guests are trying, and the chef comes out and I let him shine as well.

And , he speaks to the guests about what's important to them and what maybe, there's a side that we really liked here, but we didn't like it with this. Maybe we could combine these two into one and really make it a custom experience for them. And it, it's two things. It empowers them to feel like they know that they're getting, world-class service.

It also inspires our chef because I think that people, everyone, if you don't hear another person's perspective, you're not always going to understand. And so, I, it's really great for a chef or for a florist or anybody to take back the feedback from , a client and then take that and run with it.

And then, once the, wedding week has come, I pretty much talk to them every single day. And then they'll check into their room usually on Thursday or Friday. And from then on I've really handed all of the details that we've put together off to the operations team. They run the show and I'm glued to the bride and groom the entire evening.

And,  in the groom and groom, bride and bride it's, and their family as well. And that's really where, the collaboration makes you kind of all feel like you're a part of each other's experience. And that makes it more fun and less business at that point because it's a social event and it should be.

I love it 

and I also, I can say it because we worked with the Palace for many years and it's very distinct because we are in many venues, we see many weddings, obviously, and the way you guys work with the couple, the way you are always there before they even want to ask anything. It's in insane to us. We see, sometimes, The metro D needs to be, searched for and call You are always there, you are thinking for them.

And the feedback that we get, because we always talk to our couples after and things like that, they say, wow, that was amazing. Always, every single time. And it's also very close to our heart because I can say that our career is actually started at the palace. 

I, I remembered you telling me that first time we worked together.

Yeah. And like it's I, June 11th, 2011, like I can remember, this is what was my first real luxury wedding. And since then it was just like, I want to work at the. 

And we try to create that magic e every day that, that's what we have decades of combined experience just in the ballroom alone on an event day.

And so I, I think that it, that's part of the magic of booking with us and part of what makes it amazing. Love it. 

This is beautiful.  I wanted to see, What do you think about trends currently in a wedding world, do you have trends altogether? Maybe, that's something I have no idea about.

Do you change your menus and services based on what's going on in the wedding world and things like that, or , we have our own thing and this is what we're going with. 

I would say that every experience is treated to be pretty custom for all of our clients. We do have, we change our menu seasonally.

It's restaurant quality, food and beverage that we serve, and it's award-winning. We have a. Wonderful banquet and culinary team and they really, the art of plating a dish is something that you have to have because you need the visual, you eat with your eyes first. And so I also feel that post pandemic food and beverage is a focus even more so than it ever has been.

And I think that, clients are looking to wow their guests and make things memorable for them. And that could be from serving restaurant quality food, that could be serving an upgraded wine. And they see that you're pouring it in front of them and they see the label and they go, wow. They thought enough.

To, to give us this beautiful wine that goes perfectly with his steak, or rolling a gelato cart onto the dance floor in the last 30 minutes so that everybody, after an entire night of dancing, they wanna have some ice cream or, doing a specialty cocktail and we've gotten espresso martinis and we've pass it onto the dance floor and everyone gets an espresso martini to wake them up for the after party.

 I will say food and beverage is definitely, A huge focus. I think it goes back to as well, creating memories for people. The, food creates memories, but documenting those memories is also important. And I think that more so than ever, like I said before, photography and videography is, being able to remember that and sharing those memories with other people and talking about it for years to come is important because we had the polar opposite happen where we couldn't do anything with anybody for a, very long time.

Of course. 

That makes perfect sense. Speaking about pastries, you are working with Iran in Israel?

In the partnership for Takes? Yes. Would you like to talk to that? 

So all of our wedding packages include a custom cake by Ron. So you're invited down you're introduced by me to his team, and you're invited down to a studio and he designs the cake in front of you and you try and put together all of your flavors.

And anyone that's had any sort of conversation with Ron knows that it, he is an experience in himself and he really, he's animated and he's passionate. He makes everybody feel like they're the most important person in the room, and I let clients do that themselves. I don't think that the venue needs to be a part of every single portion of the experience.

I think that that's our way of letting that portion of the. The night be something that they remember because during the planning experience, but also it lets Ron and his team shine and you get to see, your tour of the studio. You do your tasting in the middle of his studio and  the office has a glass wall and you see them, putting together flowers and making cakes all day.

And it's just such an immersive and fun experiences for people. And you get to eat cake and have c. Four o'clock in the afternoon. So there's nothing better than that. 

It's funny, I should have called, like the podcast name is, champagne chandeliers, so it took add cake to that. This is beautiful and we worked with Ron many times and it started with the palace and been to his studio and experience is amazing.

Yeah, he's great. 

What advice would you give to couples who are just navigating the booking? They're looking how to organize the wedding, they're in the planning process for the wedding. What is your best piece of advice that you can give such a couple?

Just take, let it happen. And I think that it's really difficult for people to wrap their head around that piece of advice because it is a significant investment for them. And they've also, most of them have never planned an event before in their life. I think hiring the experts is key, but also letting them show you the way is important.

And so trusting the process and making it fun because your wedding is a very heavily documented day. It's also a lot of time focused on you, and sometimes it's gonna be a blur for you for certain parts of it, and you'll have the photography and everything to remember that, but you won't have anybody there with you and your fiance.

When you're at your cake tasting, when you're sitting in your wedding tasting, or when you're picking out invitations together, when you're selecting music, and that could be in your apartment and you're just listening to , and you remember a song that you both loved, and that those are the things that you're gonna carry with you throughout the process.

And if you don't embrace that and make it fun, you're gonna be stressed out. And it's, it's a really fun time in your lives. And it's, you usually, you only do it once, so you wanna make sure you make it cow. 

I love it. We always talk to our couples and typically our client is not a type that stresses.

They're very down to earth. They want to have fun. They're all about real, but people do stress and we always help people with relieving that and explain that,  exactly what you said. It happens once if you're going to be stressing about every single little. Your day will not be nice. 

You will remember the stress versus how much fun it was. Right. How important, how unique it was. And if napkins didn't arrive and the flower was broken, it just doesn't matter. 

Right? And that's what we're here. It's our job to worry about that so that you don't have to, 

and this is why also you hiring the.

Yes. So they can take care of that for you, and you don't need to think about that Exactly.  Do you have any special moments from the time that you work at Lata about, any event or waiting that stood out to you and like you remember it? Just like you mentioned the, the photograph that you've seen other actual, something special that you will remember for a long time.

I mean, I think everybody remembers their first, and my first wedding here was just very, I had planned weddings in other roles, but never in New York City and never here. So that always holds a special place in my heart. And that particular couple is actually, I've remained friends with them, and that was, two and a half years ago at this point.

So  that's really a memory that I have just because I remember it being my first real one here. But also just how happy they were and, their, accolades for how amazing they felt the event was just really like, I think solidified the decision to put me into this role for, the management that works at this hotel.

I'll never forget that. My favorite part of the entire. Is usually with a bride in particular.  We have obviously this grand lobby and this grand staircase, and so. What usually when it's time to get ready for either the first look or to take them to their ceremony I have to go up and get them from their guest room and I take them down into the elevator and we time it with our security team.

So we actually, it's a private elevator for them, so we send the elevator up, we wait for them, we bring them downstairs, and walking them through the lobby is the most fun part of the entire day because it is a, maybe 32nd interaction, maybe a minute and a half. At that point, it's just the bride and I and every person in the world.

It's just some sort of instinct. You get out of the way of the woman in the white dress, and so, It's literally like taking Cinderella to the ball and everyone moves out of their way. People will take out their phone and take pictures and tell them how beautiful they are. And other than maybe if you're an A-list celebrity on the red carpet, in most people's day-to-day lives, that doesn't happen.

And it's my favorite part of the day because it's just, it's such an intimate moment that isn't planned. I love to collaborate with a photographer on that too, because you're gonna get so many pictures of the bride and her dress. You don't need a picture of her in the. But if you wait outside the elevator, in the lobby, you're going to, capture that interaction and maybe her reaction to it.

And it goes back to the, those end up being the best photos. 

I love that. And we've been part of this many times, and I can second that because this is insane how much feedback that, a person never got in, in their life suddenly are getting,   and everyone is so, Yes. 

  You have amazing spaces at the venue. You have a beautiful bar, you have the penthouse. Would you like to talk a little bit about what.

Yeah, so we are a very unique property because we are a combination of a 140 year old mansion that was built by a very wealthy railroad magnate in the gilded age. And when it was acquired to be turned into a hotel, it was preserved by the historical society, so they weren't able to tear down the original building.

So they added. Tower a skyscraper to the back of the hotel and it combines, the 140 years of history to a building that's 40 years old and. So the great part about that is we have our modern guestrooms that provide the modern conveniences and stylistically it's what people are looking for in today's market.

But it also takes you back in time when you go into our food and beverage outlets. When you, our event space, we have some event space that was actually a part of the original house, like the original receiving room is one of the event spaces that we have in the hotel where you would receive your guests, which.

I don't have one in my apartment. I'm not sure if you do, but I don't have anywhere to receive mikea than my apartment. So it's, it's just, it's part of an era that just doesn't exist anymore, and we're so lucky to be able to be the curators of a space that beautiful because they just don't make it like that anymore.

We have, of course the grand staircase in the lobby, which is not landmarked, but it's just such an iconic part of the hotel. There is a, the original staircase that you would go up to the second floor of the house is this marble staircase. And if you're gonna do a first look, that's where you do it, cuz it's beautiful.

We have four penthouse, suites that are three stories high. And so there is a rooftop deck on all four of those suites and it's just, incomparable views of the city and you can, the Empire State Building is on one side, the Burberry building, it's just, there's so much fun.

There's a spiral staircase in all of the rooms as well. Like it's, you're like, wow, this is a hotel room. We have some of the largest suite inventory in New York City and we're very proud of. Thank you that that's 

amazing. And like to us, it's such a beautiful place and to work because this is so versatile, we can take couple anywhere and find space that will work for them 

and we don't even need to go out like many venues, you need to go to the park, you need to go outside here. You don't need to. You have everything right there. So if it's bad weather or anything like. You just, you covered it. 

And one of the biggest draws to booking a wedding with us, we offer exclusive photography rights to the in-house couple.

And so, that like when you're being walked around, I escort you with a photographer throughout the building throughout the day and you get, you get to go anywhere you want, which is all having of fun. You get, it's kind of like, you feel like you're breaking the rules cuz you're sneaking into restaurants that maybe don't open until five o'clock or you're going into a space that you didn't even know existed.

And that's the fun. Beautiful. 

The podcast is called Champagne and Chandelier,  what is your favorite drink? What is your drink of choice? 

A dirty martini with gin. It's usually my go-to. I tend to really veer more towards the wine just because it's a little bit easier to drink.

I'm not drinking 40 martinis. But I love a good martini. I love like  a great French white wine or a South American red wine. It's usually my two go-tos. 

Thank you. I will know next time. And If anyone wants to get in touch, they want to talk about a potential wedding potential event. How do they get in touch with you?

What is the best way? 

The best way is there is an initial inquiry like a form that you can fill out on our website and those get sent directly to the gatoring department and then they'll get dispersed based on what type of events it is. If you're interested in the wedding market, we are very active on our Instagram page.

So it's New York Palace Weddings is our Instagram page.  The direct line to call us is (212) 303-6090. 

Amazing. Thank you to everyone listening. I second that. Adam is very responsive on Instagram, so if you are from that generation,  you get immediate response. All right, Adam, it's been amazing.

Thank you so much for your time for agreeing to be here. Thank you so much. It's a pleasure. Same here. We will see you soon at the Palace. 

I'll see you soon. Thanks so much. 

Thank you. Bye.