NO RAIN DATE?

Photos courtesy of The Loading Dock:

You’ve dreamed of this all your life – a garden wedding with the love of your life. You’ve taken care of every last detail of the event, which has been a year in the making. Even the birds are perfectly poised to chirp in tune. And then it starts to rain.  Your dream quickly turns into a nightmare.

Planning an outdoor garden wedding is a lovely idea really. But who wants to deal with East Coast weather, which can turn on a dime?  Because when it comes to weddings, there are no rain dates.

No worries. You can have your wedding cake and eat it, too, by bringing the outdoors inside at The Loading Dock, a decidedly sleek and chic event spot located in Stamford’s Industrial Park on Fairfield Avenue.

With its concrete exterior, the modern structure is 17,000 square feet of raw space divided into a gallery, small and large ballrooms, sanctuary, retro game arcade and commercial kitchen. Just like a garden tent, the cool white venue can be customized to suit any celebration, even if it’s an indoor garden wedding.

Clients are often drawn to the structure, designed by New York architect Robin Elmslie-Osler, for its minimalism and prefer to maintain that feeling by using simple lounge furniture and some lighting to create a look that is fabulously industrial chic. Still, there are others interested in a truly unique ambience, like the charity-event hosts whose theme was “Bollywood.”

“They had so many layers of draping that you would never have recognized that you were in a blank space,” says Loading Dock owner and creative director Mimi Sternlicht. “Every wall was covered in colorful fabric, and there were gold throws with beautiful pillows. It was extraordinary. They had rugs covering everything. You would have never known where you were.”

Sternlicht has always been involved in creative businesses. She started her career as a creative director in advertising and has been known to attend design meetings with her husband, Barry S. Sternlicht – founding chairman and CEO of the Starwood Capital Group and creator of the Starwood Hotels – and weigh in on visual and marketing decisions.

One of her most notable contributions was coming up with the “W” brand name for the luxury boutique hotels.

The Loading Dock draws clients from all of Westchester and Fairfield. Events run the gamut from weddings to corporate parties to photo shoots and charity fundraisers. Last year, Ridgefield High School decided to hold its prom at the site, with 400 students attending the party.

“It was really great. They had their school decorating committee come in, and they did a really nice job,” Sternlicht says.

The company is flexible about how it works with clients. Depending on the budget, The Loading Dock can recommend names for a party planner, a designer, a band, a DJ, a caterer and a florist.

Recently, the company established an in-house caterer called On The Marc Events, with local chef Marc Weber.

“He’s a young guy who has impressed us over and over by doing a number of events for us. He’s our recommended caterer, but we absolutely welcome other caterers to bring clients here,” she adds. Offering the option for in-house catering provides clients with the added benefit of a more palatable price tag.

Recently, The Loading Dock launched Studio Space, which presents an alternative look with its exposed brick walls and diminutive size. The site is used as an add-on to parties. If someone is planning a wedding or a bar mitzvah and wants to have the service on the premises, this gives the client another room and another feel. The intimate setting is also ideal for smaller events like Sweet 16s, Quinceañeras and dinner parties. Recently, the locale was used for a Jack Wills fashion show and a Reebok exercise video.

So you decide: You can take a chance on Mother Nature.

Or you can go with The Loading Dock, where every event is a sure thing.

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