There are certain venues where the personalities of their owners are tightly interwoven with the wedding experiences they offer. The State Room in Albany is one of them, with owner Tom Nicchi playing a large role in every event, from cooking to hosting to chauffeuring “cool down” rides in vintage cars.
“I tell all my brides, I’m your father for the day,” Tom likes to say. And The State Room is a venue that seems to go out of its way to provide a personal touch on a street where a number of downtown wedding venues have sprung up in recent years, all in the refurbished interiors of historic bank buildings.
The State Room’s story begins sometime in the late 1970s when Tom left his job as a special education teacher in New York City to work in the banquet business. He soon moved upstate with his wife, a native of the Capital region, and opened The State Room at its original location at the old De Witt Clinton Hotel on Eagle Street in Albany. The venue was a success, but the DeWitt Clinton Hotel began a painful process of redevelopment which saw The State Room involved in a legal battle to preserve its long-term lease.
In the midst of the struggle, Tom recalls walking down State Street one day and noticing that the ground floor of the historic City & County State Bank — Albany’s first skyscraper — was available for adventurous entrepreneurs who could handle the cost of extensive renovations. “I saw it and said this is it, this is our new home,” says Tom.
The new location preserves many of the historic details of the site’s former banking operations, such as a hand-painted canvas ceiling and Corinthian columns with 24 karat gold inlays. Almost all the marble that was once a part of the site’s banking operations has been re-purposed, such as bathroom vanities made from marble bank teller countertops.
“I spent a lot more than anticipated on bringing this place back to its original beauty,” says Tom, “You’d never know that the last tenant was a Fedex/Kinko’s facility and that they had a drop ceiling in here.” The impressively restored 6,000 square foot space can accommodate up to 250 guests for ceremonies and receptions in a grand ballroom that can be illuminated to any color matching your wedding theme.
Up front there is an oak bar which evokes a classy Albany watering hole atmosphere from a bygone era.
In the rear of the ballroom is an old-fashioned dessert bar, where ice cream, pastries, cappuccinos, and espressos are served. Pub food like sliders and ruebens are also served here as receptions wind down.
Located behind the dessert bar is another fun feature of The State Room — an old bank vault where wedding parties can “hide out” before making their first appearance. “It’s a place where the groom and his groomsmen usually like to have a private drink together,” Tom tells us.
The vault is a sort of Fortress of Solitude for wedding parties, a place where they can securely stash there personal belongings, charge their cellphones, and take selfies. Cigar rolling stations, caricature stations, and even a tattoo station are ways that couples have personalized the space.
For brides seeking more privacy, The State Room offers a getting ready room upstairs in the onetime bank president’s office. The room has a large one-way mirror which provides the bride with a bird’s eye view of the ballroom.
There is also another room on this level which can be utilized for cocktail hours or smaller events.
“The food is important and after I greet everybody, I head to the kitchen to oversee all the cooking,” says Tom. The State Room offers a number of packages ranging from $119.95 to $169.95 per guest with an open bar as of this writing. Liquors, wines, and beers can be stocked at the couple’s request to personalize their beverage offerings. They also get to choose one of the light or dark drafts that are on tap for the weekend, and signature drinks can be created on request.
For Tom, every wedding day begins with picking up couples at their hotel room (a part of every State Room wedding package) and transporting them to the venue in one of his vintage sedans. Tom maintains a fleet of about 71 antique cars, including a 1930’s Rolls Royce that appeared in “The Godfather”; Tom’s uncle, actor John Martino, played gangster Paulie Gatto in that film.
Tom will stay with the couple from that point on, taking them to locations around Albany for portraits, keeping track of time, making sure that all photos are done while keeping the bride and groom hydrated and nourished. “If you need a granola bar, you’ll get granola bar. If you need some tissues, you’ll get some tissues,” says Tom. As the guests begin to arrive, Tom turns the couple over to his general manager then heads into the kitchen where he oversees the cooking for the rest of the night.
After cutting the cake, Tom will pack a picnic basket for the bride and groom then swap out his antique sedan for a vintage convertible. Thus the 45-minute “cool down” ride begins, with Tom taking his couples on a nighttime cruise around Albany. “There’s a lot of great architecture around Albany and I love for couples to get one last great picture at those locations,” says Tom. “As none of my antique cars are for show, it gives me a chance to drive them and have people enjoy them. It’s fun, fun, fun.”
“I’ve been in this business for over 40 years and I plan to keep on working,” says Tom. “My goal is to always give couples more than they expect.”
Imagining your wedding or event at The State Room?
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To learn more about The State Room visit http://thestateroomalbany.com/.
To discuss your State Room wedding with Duetimage Hudson Valley Wedding Photographers, call (845) 905‑6323 or visit: http://www.duetimage.com/contact.