Class Above
Recent renovations have earned The Waterfall a place at the top of the list of the area’s destinations for hosting memorable events
by Leigh Stuart

Elegance is everything when it comes to hosting a memorable event. From the lighting to the linens to the hors d’oeuvres, a standout celebration must express the utmost in taste and refinement.

The venue, of course, plays a starring role in setting the scene. One location that has seen its share of such occasions is the building at 3416 Philadelphia Pike in Claymont, Del., which has played home to fashionable fetes for more than 40 years. Yet, the venue that has been known as The Waterfall for the past 13 years only recently came into its own as the area’s premier venue for private events.

In the past year The Waterfall came under its current ownership, the venue has undergone a transformation that is nothing short of remarkable. David Furst, The Waterfall’s general manager, beams when he says, “We’ve created a venue that is unlike anything else in Delaware.”

The renovations, which will be 100 percent complete by this spring’s wedding season, have been extensive. The Grand Ballroom, to begin, now truly deserves its name. The complete renovation of the building brought down old walls to expand the space into one that now can hold gala events for up to 500 people. Furst observes that, short of large-scale sports arenas and buildings of that kind, “Nothing in the local area can hold a larger-capacity party.”

The Waterfall redesigned its cocktail room, which now features high ceilings with a long glass atrium ceiling accented by a 14-foot-tall hand-blown glass chandelier and a back bar highlighted by a gold and onyx water feature.

And, while the indoor areas will certainly provide the pinnacle in elegance, it is the outdoor area where the real magic will happen. Guests will be free to mingle and enjoy grounds that include sprawling gardens and a one-of-a-kind “fire and water” patio.

The “fire” will be represented through fire pits dotting the area, with the theme taken even further with an outdoor bar that is actually topped with fire. “Water” balances out the space with fountains, including one surrounded by bench seating, as well as a stream that runs the length of the space.

The patio space will be accessible to guests of the Grand Ballroom as well as The Waterfall’s Cascade ballroom, which houses events ranging in size from 100 to 325 guests. As an accompaniment to the patio, The Waterfall’s lush, manicured gardens will offer an area specially designed for wedding ceremonies that can accommodate up to 400 guests. A romantic marble pergola—an homage to the Acropolis—has been constructed to provide couples who wish to hold their entire wedding on the grounds a memorable and romantic place to exchange vows.

One woman who knows the importance of a well-choreographed affair is Brett Ebling, event specialist with The Waterfall. With a degree in dance choreography from Arizona State University, Ebling has a keen understanding of all that goes into staging a world-class production.

“For me, it was an easy and natural transition,” Ebling says of moving from the world of dance to event planning. “Holding an event is like putting on a show: There are lights, costumes, staging and production—I take those elements and look at each event as a production.”

In her capacity as an event specialist, Ebling has guided guests through preparations for all sorts of “productions,” from weddings with a bride seeking a “shabby-chic” vibe to events where a client’s unique cultural background shines through.

“I am their consultant throughout,” Ebling says. “I am there when they arrive through the cocktail hour, to when our maître d’ arrives to take over.

“From questions about vendors to design and lighting for their event, I am there,” she continues, adding with a laugh, “and I am into Pinterest, so I am happy to give them some ideas.”

As is the case with any memorable party, there must be exceptional food to match. At The Waterfall, this facet is not taken lightly. Executive chef Neil Kantner, who trained at the illustrious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., is a master of global cuisines including Asian, Italian and even German dishes. “He makes a sauerbraten that is unbelievable,” Furst says.

The classically trained chef can also work to accommodate guests wishing for any type of cuisine. Recent examples of Chef Kantner’s range include Jamaican cuisine, Louisiana Creole cooking, even dishes for a 100 percent gluten-free wedding.

Whether a client wants a formal sit-down dinner or a more informal buffet-style dining experience, The Waterfall can accommodate. Wedding guests can enjoy a selection of 30 passed hors d’oeuvres, and party hosts are invited to enjoy a complimentary tasting for up to six people in advance of their fete.

Uniquely, the venue does not require advance counts for dishes, as many venues do. “We do everything a la carte,” Furst explains, “So guests order just like they would in a restaurant.”

“Ours is a completely different atmosphere,” Ebling adds. “Our service, and the way we provide it, is unique in the Delaware area.”

As important as cuisine is, lighting too sets the mood for an event. Be it a spotlight for a couple’s “first dance” or a specific party mood with 12 different types of dance lights, The Waterfall’s newly installed “intelligent lighting” can cover it all. With one-touch wireless control of all the lights in each ballroom, guests have total freedom to adjust the lighting as they wish. In addition, the rooms offer uplighting (column lights), accent lights, even lights in the coffers or drapes.

“When I say we are redefining elegance, I don’t feel like I’m overstating that,” Furst says, “because what we’re creating is something that’s never been seen.”

The Waterfall
3416 Philadelphia Pike
Claymont, DE 19703