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I capture the unspoken — the glances, the silences — drawing from New York's pulse and the richness of global cultures. Every wedding is its own intricate narrative. Rooted in theatre and life's everyday rhythms, I document moments both transient and timeless. 

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River Cafe Venue Guide

Welcome to the River Cafe Venue Guide, your essential resource for uncovering the unique charm and offerings of this iconic Brooklyn wedding destination

A bride and groom embracing in front of a lit up tree at the River Cafe

About the River Cafe

The River Café, located on a former coffee barge under the Brooklyn Bridge, has a rich history dating back to its opening in 1977. Michael “Buzzy” O’Keeffe, a former Wall Street executive, and his friend Roger Baumann, discovered this unique location on the Brooklyn waterfront, which was then a barren and desolate area by the docks, largely unused except by trucks waiting to enter the piers​​​​.

O’Keeffe, who also operates other venues like Manhattan’s Water Club, embarked on a journey of obtaining permits and preparing the site for twelve years before opening The River Café. The restaurant’s location, leased from New York City, played a significant role in influencing the development of the surrounding area, which is now known as Dumbo. Interestingly, the restaurant had its own ferry service from Wall Street long before the neighborhood was accessible via NYC Ferry​​.

A bride is getting ready in front of a mirror at the River Cafe

Known for its pioneering efforts in promoting locally sourced and organic food, American cuisine, and high-end California wines, The River Café was one of the first fine dining establishments in New York City to adopt these practices. Its culinary significance extends further, as it is recognized for incubating American chefs like Larry Forgione, Charlie Palmer, David Burke, and Rick Laakkonen. Brad Steelman has been the head chef since 2000​​​​.

The River Café’s journey, however, hasn’t been without challenges. In October 2012, the restaurant suffered significant damage from Hurricane Sandy, leading to corroded electrical wiring, loss of food and wine, and the destruction of antiques and a piano. The damage was extensive enough to necessitate a closure of over a year for repairs, reopening only in February 2014. This reopening marked a change in its wine focus and the regaining of its Michelin star later that year, although it lost this star in the 2023 rankings​​.

A bride and groom walking down a path in black and white at the River Cafe

Throughout its existence, The River Café has not just been a restaurant but a significant part of New York’s culinary and cultural landscape, contributing notably to the development and reputation of its Brooklyn neighborhood.

A bride and groom kissing in front of a window at the River Cafe


DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York City, known for its historical and cultural significance. Originally a ferry landing with 19th and early 20th-century industrial and warehouse buildings, the area has undergone significant transformation. David Walentas and his company, Two Trees Management, bought Dumbo in the late 20th century, turning it into an upscale residential and commercial community. Initially a haven for art galleries, it has evolved into a center for technology startups, earning the nickname “the center of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle” and becoming Brooklyn’s most expensive neighborhood​

A popular photo location in DUMBO, Brooklyn Bridge Park spans several distinct sections, including Piers 1 through 6, Fulton Ferry Landing, Brooklyn Bridge Plaza, and Empire Fulton Ferry, each featuring unique topographies, plantings, amenities, and cultural artifacts. The park also integrates the Brooklyn–Queens Greenway.

A bride and groom sharing their first dance at a River Cafe wedding reception

About River Cafe Weddings

The River Café in Brooklyn offers a unique and elegant setting for weddings. They provide various amenities to ensure a memorable event.

The celebrations typically include a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres, and the venue offers a glass-enclosed pavilion that overlooks the New York skyline, adding a picturesque backdrop for the occasion.

The River Café takes care of custom menu cards and caters to various dietary needs, including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free choices, and kosher meals (which need to be pre-ordered and come at an additional cost). They encourage inquiries about customized menus to suit individual preferences and event themes​​.

A bride and groom posing in front of a city skyline at night at the River Cafe

Why I love the River Cafe

As a wedding photographer, The River Café and Brooklyn Bridge Park offer an abundance of picturesque locations for capturing stunning wedding moments.

The River Café, with its glass-enclosed pavilion, provides a spectacular view of the New York skyline, serving as a breathtaking backdrop for both daytime and evening photo shoots. The blend of modern elegance and natural beauty at this venue allows for a diverse range of photographic opportunities, from intimate portraits inside the sophisticated interior to vibrant, scenic shots against the cityscape.

A black and white photo of a bride and groom in a park at night

Brooklyn Bridge Park, with its expansive 85-acre landscape, presents a contrasting yet complementary setting. The park’s varied topography, from the historic piers to the lush green spaces and the urban backdrop of the East River, offers endless creative possibilities.

The iconic Brooklyn Bridge itself adds a classic and timeless element to photographs, while the park’s more natural areas provide a serene and romantic atmosphere. Both locations together provide a rich tapestry of urban and natural scenes, making them ideal for capturing the unique essence and emotion of each wedding.

Brooklyn bridge wedding photography at the River Cafe

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