10 Reasons To Get Married In New Jersey

January 31, 2013

Long Beach Island is a growing destination for weddings along the Jersey shore. Photo: Ann Coen

What’s NOT to love about the idea of having your wedding in the Garden State? With a variety of locations for the event and some of the most creative and talented wedding professionals in the world, NJ has everything on a bride and groom’s must-have list. Here’s just a sampling of great reasons to get married in New Jersey:

1. Being located in a geographic region with four unique seasons, New Jersey offers couples the opportunity for winter weddings (sometimes even at a discount), wedding celebrations during the spring renewal, beach or garden weddings in the summertime and colorful fall foliage for memorable photos at one of the many golf resorts, wineries or country clubs.

2. Having your wedding closer to home is more green and eco-friendly than planning a destination wedding: you can reduce your carbon footprint by using less gas and tolls, using locally sourced foods, flowers and wedding service providers.

3. With 127 miles of shoreline, New Jersey offers some of the most beautiful beaches and shore towns around, so couples can have their wedding ceremony on the sand with a reception following on or near the beach.

4. Cape May, New Jersey (“Exit 0” on the Garden State Parkway) is known as the third most popular destination in the United States to get married, and you can have your wedding on the beach or in one of many Victorian locations from a bygone era.

5. The Long Beach Island region is one of the fastest growing wedding destinations in New Jersey, with over 40 venues and wedding services to serve couples that want to have their wedding weekend in this resort area.

6. You can have a New York style wedding at New Jersey prices (and without the traffic!) since sales tax in New York City is 8.375 percent compared with 7 percent in New Jersey. Still want that backdrop of New York City? Have your wedding at one of the many venues along the Hudson River or charter a boat and cruise past the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks.

Buddy Valastro, Carlo's Bakery, Cake Boss, NJ Cakes

Buddy Valastro and his team at Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken have put NJ on the map, showcasing various styles of wedding and specialty cakes on TLC’s “Cake Boss.” (photo provided by Carlo’s Bakery)

7. Wedding TV reality shows love New Jersey, too! Some of the NJ’s top wedding locations and experts have been featured on the Style Network’s Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?, Jerseylicious, Bravo’s Real Housewives of New Jersey, TLC’s Masters of Reception, Say Yes To The Dress, Four Weddings and of course … we have the Cake Boss (and the Next Great Baker)! New York wedding planner David Tutera often showcases his New Jersey brides on WEtv’s My Fair Wedding.

8. New Jersey’s history is rich with numerous historic locations and landmarks, places where George Washington has lived or slept. More recent history is also represented in the many locations that have served as a backdrop for movies and television, like The Sopranos. One of the most popular places in the state to pose for an engagement or wedding picture is Woodrow Wilson Hall at Monmouth University, better known as Daddy Warbuck’s mansion in the movie Annie.

9. New Jersey is one of the most culturally diverse states in the nation, with large populations of Italians, Pan-Asians, Asian Indians and much more. You can have ANY type of catering you wish at your reception … just name it and you can find it in New Jersey … and it’s delicious!

10. Looking to attend a bridal show or expo? In New Jersey, you’ll be able to find a bridal event going on almost any day of the week. You will meet local wedding professionals who will give you advice and direction on your wedding plans, see the latest bridal fashions, and even maybe take home some fabulous door prizes or a free honeymoon.

BONUS REASON #1 -> New Jersey was hit with Superstorm Sandy on October 29, 2012, which impacted several regions of the Garden State, especially the Jersey Shore. Many beachfront wedding facilities and businesses were affected, and and several are currently in the process of rebuilding. View our blog post entitled “Hurricane Sandy and the aftermath on the New Jersey weddings community,” with details on how NJ couples went ahead with their wedding plans, how wedding professionals teamed up to offer relief for NJ residents, and additional resources for helping those in need. New Jerseyans are “JERSEY STRONG” and we want you to know that the JERSEY SHORE IS OPEN, continues to rebuild and remains a popular destination for weddings, events and very special memories…

BONUS REASON #2 -> On Friday, September 27, 2013, a Mercer County Superior Court Judge ruled that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry, and same-sex marriages officially began on October 21, 2013! At NJWedding.com, we are thrilled to feature our Same-Sex Weddings category, where couples can find banquet facilities / reception sites around New Jersey to celebrate, along with Clergy / Wedding Officiants, photographers, entertainment companies and much more!

Shadowbrook - The Zweben Family in Shrewsbury, NJ is one of many beautiful locations for Same-Sex Weddings in New Jersey

Shadowbrook – The Zweben Family in Shrewsbury, NJ is one of many beautiful locations for Same-Sex Weddings in New Jersey

Erik Kent is the Co-Publisher of NJWedding.com. This article was previously featured on AOL’s Aisledash in August 2010.

Hurricane Sandy and the aftermath on the New Jersey weddings community

November 6, 2012
Gloria Dimartini and U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Michael McParland at their November 4th wedding at Clarks Landing Yacht Club, Delran, hosted by NJ Nonprofit "Weddings For Heroes"

Gloria Dimartini and U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Michael McParland at their November 4th wedding at Clarks Landing Yacht Club, Delran, hosted by NJ Nonprofit “Weddings For Heroes”

What effect did the storm have on NJ brides, grooms, their families, wedding locations and other businesses? From weddings that had to be relocated at the last minute with the help of experienced planners, to a marriage ceremony and wedding celebration hosted by NJ nonprofit “Weddings For Heroes” and more, we’ve compiled some stories below, along a list of the media coverage of Hurricane Sandy weddings:

For better or worse: Hurricane Sandy can’t stop these brides (Star Ledger)

Whirlwind romance waits for calm day (Courier Post)

For Richer, for Poorer, in Hurricanes and in Calm (New York Times) – In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, couples improve the big day

Love finds a way, despite the storm (Philadelphia Inquirier)

Helping Brides In The Wake Of Hurricane Sandy (The Knot / Facebook)

Planning A Wedding In The Wake Of Hurricane Sandy? What You Need To Know (The Knot)

Post-Sandy wedding day: Defrosting chicken, playing video games (NBC News / TODAY Weddings)

Wedding follows a labor of love for Bronx couple (PhillyBurbs.com) – this article expands on our previous blog post, NJ Nonprofit “Weddings For Heroes” hosts Military wedding at Clarks Landing Yacht Club, Delran on 11/4, to profile the couple married with the help and efforts of many in the NJ wedding community, supporting the charity Weddings For Heroes

Couple vows to say “I do” despite Sandy (CBS News)

Love prevails after Sandy ruins NJ wedding venue (ABC / 6 Action News)

Wedding Planning Post Hurricane Sandy! (Ocean City Patch)

Surprising Ways Hurricane Sandy Can Still Affect Your Wedding (Merital Bliss)

Stuff Newlyweds Say and Do – Post Hurricane Sandy (Cake It Up Blog)

Natural Disasters & Wedding Contracts: What You Need To Know (With This Kiss I Thee Wed Blog)

The Importance of Backup…What If??? (SCE Event Group Blog)

Project Rebuild and Recover is a grassroots movement in Red Bank, NJ set up to relieve Hurricane Sandy victims and coastal towns in need. Visit http://RebuildRecover.org for updates and to see how you can help!

Project Rebuild and Recover is a grassroots movement in Red Bank, NJ set up to relieve Hurricane Sandy victims and coastal towns in need. Visit http://RebuildRecover.org for updates and to see how you can help!

Grassroots efforts by members of the wedding community to help residents in need:

Project Rebuild and Recover: Assist In Hurricane Sandy Relief by Sounds To Go DJs, Red Bank, NJ

Hurricane Sandy Relief Benefit, (Wed., Nov. 7th, 7pm) at Amici III Ristorante, Linden, NJ

FemCity Hoboken’s Donation Drive after Hurricane Sandy – drop off through Saturday, November 10th in Ridgefield, Ridgefield Park, Lyndhurst and Hoboken, NJ

AART Event Planning Donation Drive (Sat., Nov. 10th) at The Elan, Lodi, NJ

Disaster Relief Donation Drive by DulhanExpo (Sun., Nov. 11th), Iselin, NJ

Hurricane Sandy Assistance (through Sunday, November 11th) at Atlantic Club Casino, Atlantic City, NJ

Jersey Bands UNITE 2 REVIVE (Sun., Nov. 18th, 12pm), Jersey’s, Neptune City

Branches Caterers Donation Drop-Off Site, West Long Branch, NJ

Matawan bridal shop helps Sandy victims with their ‘I Do’s’ (News 12 New Jersey TV report on available wedding dress donations)

Wilshire Grand Hotel A Respite For Local Families (West Orange Patch)

Donations for Project Sandy at the Sassy Shop Girl , Caldwell, NJ

Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy – How We Can Help (Royal PhotoBooth blog)

Post-Sandy…Who Needs Help With Their Wedding? (Molly Tully’s Blog | New Jersey Bride magazine)

Planners Gather To Discuss Industry Response To Hurricane Sandy (Biz Bash News)

Hurricane Sandy – Restore our Shore / Asbury Aid (Essential Sounds Entertainment Blog)

Screen Shot of Google+ Hangout with Julie Albaugh of Wedding Market News

Screen Shot of Google+ Hangout with Julie Albaugh of Wedding Market News

A special LIVE Google+ Hangout on Hurricane Sandy and the Wedding Industry took place on Wednesday, November 7th from 2:00-2:30pm with myself (Erik Kent, Co-Publisher of NJWedding.com), Anja Winikka, Site Director, TheKnot.com, Mauro Castano from Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, NJ and Penny Port Glazier, Director of Communications & Partner, The Glazier Group to discuss the ramifications of the storm, response from wedding professionals, and helping brides and grooms that were affected.

Important web sites for those directly impacted by Hurricane Sandy:

State of New Jersey: Hurricane Sandy Information Center

Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund

American Red Cross

Need Help? Want to Help? These NJ resources make a difference

Hurricane Sandy Help Center for NJ Workers & Businesses

Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort – Family – To – Family

Wish Upon A Hero Foundation – Hurricane Hero

Save Our Shore

NJ Sandy Recovery Resources (from News 12 New Jersey)

Restore Our Shore

Asbury Aid

Hurricane Sandy resources: How you can volunteer and donate (NJ.com)

If you are planning a wedding and your reception site has been directly impacted by the Hurricane (and needs time to rebuild and recover), there are many banquet facilities around New Jersey available to discuss options for wedding dates in November and December. Some have reported openings through posts on facebook, so please view their pages for up-to-date information. For a list of banquet facilities/reception sites on NJWedding.com that you can consider, click here.

As we continue to receive more reports of power being restored in various areas of New Jersey and New York continue, wedding locations and businesses will recover from the affects of the storm.  For engaged couples in the midst of the planning process, please contact your vendors to find out how they are doing, and if you need assistance in finding additional or other services, the wedding community is here to help you!  For wedding businesses that have been affected by the storm and its aftermath, specifically those along the Jersey shore, it will be a process to rebuild and recover. Stay Jersey Strong!

We have also updated our NJ Wedding Industry Events Calendar and NJ Bridal Shows & Events Calendar to keep you informed on what’s going on within the NJ weddings community!

Trends in New Jersey weddings for 2011

January 13, 2011

According to a recent New York Times article detailing a United States Census data report, the marriage rate is the lowest since 1970, however, marriages and weddings continue to occur on a regular basis (and in NJ, there are an average of 35,000 to 50,000 marriages per year throughout the Garden State, according to New Jersey marriage statistics). Despite the fluctuation in marriage, a wedding in New Jersey will often contain certain elements, and certain trends will emerge from year to year.

To celebrate “Wedding Wednesday” (a “trend topic,” known as #WeddingWednesday or #WW on Twitter), I asked many NJ wedding professionals for their thoughts on what type of trend in weddings to expect this year, and here’s what they had to say:

One trend in weddings is finding a unique location to create a truly personalized event

One trend in weddings is finding a unique location to create a truly personalized event

Kristin Polhemus, from Bella Bridal Consultants, stated that “there has been a huge influx toward Indie weddings. Couples want their wedding day to truly reflect who they are, and they want to WOW their guests now more than ever. This is evident in some of the fashion, decor, and location trends we’ve seen lately. I personally think it’s partially attributed to the overabundance of online media available to brides. They’re reading the blogs and they’re seeing all these real weddings, inspiration shoots, and other ideas that brides ten years ago didn’t have exposure to. So perhaps couples feel they need to get a little crazier, a little more “them” with their own wedding to keep it unique.”

Richard O’Malley, from The O’Malley Project, agrees, adding “from what I hear from couples, many are tired of the “same old format.” They’re looking to change seating, food, entertainment and styles. They feel they aren’t getting their money’s worth with all these “cut & paste” type of events.”

Jess Lara, from Plan Your Memories, thinks that “brides and grooms are looking for unique locations rather than the traditional ballroom weddings. Choosing these unique venues are for either reason: budget concerns and avoiding the norm. Brides want to be different and want the “I’ve never seen this done before” factor. More brides are opting for intimate weddings and dinner receptions to follow. Another trend is having pies instead of wedding cakes, displaying bold colors and smaller dramatic table pieces.”

Carina Castro, a wedding planner from Luxe Events NJ, LLC, says “brides definitely seem to be looking for unique venues vs. the traditional ballroom. I don’t think it has anything to do with price (some of these are even more expensive) but more with avoiding a cookie cutter wedding. Editor’s note, Carina admitted she’s getting married on a Thursday night and saved a lot of money!

Heather Sconza, All The Rave Events by Heather, added a wide variety of wedding trends to the discussion, stating that one growing trend is “Definitely photo booths, whether you have a custom backdrop or the old-fashioned kind. The strips of photos are great to include for guest books and favors at the same time! Also, I’m noticing that grooms are definitely more involved, which is great! In addition, I see that a lot of the brides and grooms are seeing each other before the ceremony. When it comes to money-saving ways trends, weddings are definitely not just Saturday nights anymore! Many smart couples are lending extra money to things like lighting, plasma screens for montages, and unique musicians like bagpipers! Brides have also become more daring with their photos, which I love! I’ve always been a huge fan of the journalistic photography and we are moving more away from traditional poses which I love because you are now able to tell your story through candid pictures and it becomes just that…a story!”

Kimberley Geraghty, Food Company Catering & Special Events, with experience in catered events, sees a trend with the “cocktail hour occurring before the ceremony.”

John Martin, from Martin’s Videography, added that “we are seeing more and more off season and Friday, Sunday even weekday weddings to save money!”

Andrea Wright Fennelli, from Fennelli Design Group, Inc. feels that “grooms are more and more involved every year, it seems. For several of my current couples I have the groom as the primary contact for their invitation design. And that’s a great thing! It’s their wedding, too, after all.”

Irina Feygin, a beauty and makeup specialist with IMpeccable IMage, Inc. sees “lots of Friday weddings and even did two of Thursday weddings over the past year! Beauty-wise, brides request either “natural look” or “Kim Kardashian” style, intense and dramatic look. Accessory-wise, brides are leaning more towards headbands or side hair ornaments or hair flower rather than traditional tiara. Veils remain strong. More requests for either shorter veils (elbow) or exact opposite (cathedral). Less requests for “fingertip” veils.”

Becky Guida Vanderbeck, from Simply Chic Wedding and Event Design, noticed that “a lot of my clients are interested in is the concept of the “midnight snack.” At the end of the night there are bite size snacks available for the guests, (like slider burgers, milk shake shots, etc.). It’s a cute end to the evening and a fun way to incorporate comfort food, and it looks cute in pictures!”

Julie Goldman, The Original Runner Company, added to the discussion on trends, to say that “we are seeing a trend in our aisle runners for summer 2011. Full coverage patterns like damask and Swarovski crystals are going to be huge.”

Rev. Deborah Kalinowski, a minister with Weddings On Wheels, is “seeing a trend toward short, no frills ceremonies in the home and at unique locations. Elopements are also up. I think this is due to the poor economy and couples not having enough money to spend on a big wedding.” Editor’s note, Rev. Kalinowski recently performed a marriage ceremony in a Southern NJ location of Dunkin’ Donuts, and while we don’t necessarily agree that these “fast food” weddings are a growing trend, they’re definitely unique! We do agree that marriages can happen anywhere and anytime, so perhaps some couples are tying the knot on a smaller scale and then having an intimate gathering of friends and family at a local restaurant instead of a larger affair that they can’t afford at this time.

Gregg Hollmann of Ambient DJ Service, says he has “noticed that engaged couples are conducting deeper and more intensive research related to wedding DJ entertainment. Online reviews, a great website and an informative blog are just the first step to get your foot in the door, with the brides then meeting with 3-5 companies for in-person interviews.”

Charitable giving is a growing trend for couples and vendors, and organizations are being formed to help engaged couples in need

Charitable giving is a growing trend for couples and vendors, and organizations are being formed to help engaged couples in need

Another trend on the rise is the concept of charitable giving (and receiving!). Jimmy Silvestri & Marah Winkler of Forked River, NJ won their February 12, 2011 wedding at The Villa of Mountain Lakes as a result of competing with 10 other couples in the “Roman Jewelers Wedding Contest.” The project? To implement “Good Deed Plans” to raise money and awareness for a specific charity (in their case, the Special Olympics of New Jersey). The Association of Bridal Consultants – New Jersey branch, became aware of the special needs of Tina Tinervia and Paul Velez from Freehold, NJ, who sincerely wanted to be married in the summer of 2010, and subsequently mobilized a team of ABC member wedding professionals from throughout New Jersey to come to their aid (Tina was diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer and her health was ailing). Tina and Paul had their wedding of their dreams on June 26, 2010 and Tina passed away a few months later. And “Wish Upon A Wedding,” a national charity with chapters in 16 states, is launching a New Jersey chapter on Tuesday, January 18th to put a program in place to grant “wedding wishes” to couples with hardship (see recent post about WUW-NJ). In addition, couples are looking to donate more to charitable organizations, or by contributing in some personal way that will make a difference for others in need (and also make a statement as to who the bride and groom are as a couple and what is important to them when it comes to philanthropy).

Marie Danielle Vil Young, a wedding planner from A Votre Service Events, LLC, offered the following points as trends to look for in the year ahead:

Signature Drinks: Redefining the idea of the signature drink; gone are the days that one would mix 2-3 liquors together and served! In 2011 signature drinks can (will) be much highly stylized. Presentation is key, i.e. pay special attention to stemware, add an interesting twist with edible flowers; signature drinks can also be designed using champagne for toasting.

Catering / Menu / Dessert: One interesting trend with food is again a focus on creativity and presentation, infusion of culture. For a while now, more brides are receptive to the idea of a cocktail style reception. But why not have the best of both worlds- elegant sit-down affair, but the food and beverage can be served in more creative ways. How about a round of interesting shots passed while your guests are on the dance floor; large Venetian dessert tables are becoming obsolete: how about small tray / display of fruits on each table after dinner, or passing bite-size, yummy treats (cookies, ice pops) while your guests continue to dance the night away!

Venue: In 2011 more and more couples are moving away from traditions and opting for more unique, eclectic venues that are reflective of their personalities. While it may appear overwhelming and quite an intimidating feat to host the perfect wedding, with the assistance of a professional Wedding Designer, it can be quite beautiful. An experienced designer can start with a raw space, and produce a sophisticated and memorable affair! A good wedding designer will be able to capture your vision, and bring it to life while accounting for every detail. And if you are like our clients – couples with discerning taste, nothing but the best will do. How about a rooftop in NYC? Maybe a sculpture garden in NJ? A destination wedding along the Jersey shore? Or perhaps a private mansion, where you can enjoy a wedding weekend with family and friends?

Social Media and Phone Apps: Couples are spending more time on facebook, twitter, and other interactive media. More and more couples are keeping family, friends in the loop with constant update on these media outlets. With everyone’s busy schedule, the wedding planning process itself is undergoing changes as more couples are using different apps to stay connected, research, and to stay organized.

Fridays are the new Saturdays: With an eye on the economy, many couples are choosing to have their weddings on Fridays, which traditionally have savings associated.

Sharon Naylor, author of wedding planning books on various topics, offers her thoughts on 2011 trends...

Sharon Naylor, author of wedding planning books on various topics, offers her thoughts on 2011 trends...

We also asked nationally-known writer Sharon Naylor, a New Jersey resident and author of over 30 wedding planning books on various topics, her opinion on trends to look for, and here is what she added:

* Fall weddings are picking up in popularity even more. According to TheWeddingReport.com‘s newest survey results, September, October and November account for about 35% of weddings, while June July and August weddings tally up to about 37%…so fall is gaining!
* There’s a growing return to two-location weddings, with couples marrying at one location and having a reception in another location. This trend is very slight, just 3%-4%, and the trend is moving back to indoor ceremonies at a church or place of worship.
* A very fun trend is a growing number of couples holding at-home weddings, either at their own homes or at a home of a relative or friend. So those beach houses are coming into play as ideal settings for wedding weekends!
* The big wedding colors are blue and purple, with pink also remaining a strong wedding hue choice. Couples are looking more at bright, bold, vibrant colors, encouraging their floral designers to make their bouquets and centerpieces ‘pop,’ as opposed to more muted, softer pastel colors…and the trend is carrying into bridesmaid dresses, especially in vibrant jewel-tones of purple (one of my favorite bridesmaid dresses right now is in the Kathy Ireland 2Be Bride collection with Mon Cheri Bridal. It’s a jewel purple dress with ruching and a criss-cross back. Just gorgeous!).
* Bridal parties are getting smaller again, which means that bridesmaids are going to carry a larger percentage of bridal shower expenses. In my book Bridesmaid on a Budget, I cover all the ways that bridesmaids can stylishly plan parties without breaking the bank, and the trend for a smaller number of people to split costs with means they’re going to be planning smaller showers, more brunch showers, dessert and champagne showers, and the at-home party comes into play more with self-catered cocktail parties and buffets.
* A wonderful trend is for designers to offer more affordable lines of bride’s and bridesmaids’ dresses, and stores like The Limited are getting into the action with their own wedding dress choices.
* Daisies and carnations are going to be the flower of choice this year, since they are among the most affordable, and their bright and vivid colors fit in with the theme of the vibrant color scheme for weddings. I’m seeing amazing bouquets made of orange, yellow and red carnations that look gorgeous…the cliche of carnations being ‘cheap-looking’ is done. Carnations are once again having their day in the sun!
* DIY projects are going to play a bigger part in wedding projects, with brides and their volunteers taking on the fun of personalizing favors, programs, making food for pre-wedding parties and making thank you gifts for their bridal party and parents.
* One-time-use cameras are getting prettier and are growing in popularity. Look at the new red floral, blue floral and purple floral one-time-use cameras from Kodak, and it’s no wonder these useful items are once again finding their way back to guest tables at the reception!
* Brides and grooms are planning two spotlight dances, the first dance of the evening and the last dance of the evening.
* Wedding menus are getting healthier and lighter-fare-based with more lush salads and veggie sushi on the cocktail party list. Guests want to enjoy their wedding food without guilt…and we’re also seeing a wider range of specialty menu foods for those who eat gluten-free and vegetarian. Chefs and caterers are doing wonderful things with sauces, too, to make inexpensive menu options like chicken and pasta crowd-pleasing tastes.

Above are a variety of trends in weddings, offered by a variety of wedding specialists in New Jersey. What are some growing trends that YOU are seeing around you? We would enjoy your feedback on this topic…just comment below!

Top Spots for Engagement and Wedding Photos in New Jersey

January 6, 2011

We asked professionals within the NJ wedding community for their favorite or most-requested photography spots for engagements and weddings. Subsequently, we received a wide array of locations from areas of the Jersey Shore to popular parks and historic sites to places made famous from movies and much more! Thanks to these experts in the NJ wedding industry along with some photos from professional wedding photographers, We’re excited to share with you some of these “15 Top Spots” for engagement and wedding photographs in New Jersey (there’s a brief description of each location as well as names of contributors):

Woodrow Wilson Hall at Monmouth University, Gary Bilbao Photography

Woodrow Wilson Hall at Monmouth University, Gary Bilbao Photography

1. Woodrow Wilson Hall at Monmouth University, West Long Branch – A National Historic Landmark Building that appeared in the 1980 movie version of “Annie” serving as “Daddy Warbucks” home. Offers amazing photo opportunities throughout the property, both inside and out, including their formal gardens and the famous “Annie staircase.” The bride or groom needs to be an alumni in order to shoot there. (Michael DiChiaro, Creative Video Editing; Gary Bilbao, Gary Bilbao Photography; Alex Ruchaevsky, Abacus Studio)

2. Deep Cut Gardens, Middletown – This is a gorgeous park of well manicured gardens that in some parts look like an English Manor Garden. Local couples love this park for its gorgeous blooms in warmer months, and amazing fall foliage in crisper months. (Michael DiChiaro, Creative Video Editing; Melissa Loiacono, Pampered Bride Weddings)

Engagement Portrait at Hoboken Train Station, Tackeff Photography

Engagement Portrait at Hoboken Train Station, Tackeff Photography

3. Hoboken Train Station, Hoboken – Is stately, historic, beautiful, majestic and a little bit different from the norm. It is a unique building, very quaint and old looking. It even has a big wooden bench where the bride and groom can sit. And did you know that a couple of scenes from the recent movie “Julie & Julia” were filmed there? (Michael Hammond, Your Cinematic Wedding; Alida Monaghan, Juliet Events; Jenny Orsini, Pampered Bride Weddings; Jennifer Bunce, Hudson Cakery)

4. Verona Park, Verona – It seems like there are many romantic nooks within the park that appeal to almost every taste, from traditional, romantic, woodsy /outdoor, water, etc. It’s such a diverse and beautiful place that I can’t remember a time that visited Verona Park without seeing a wedding related photography event, sometimes even on weekdays! (Abe Kasbo, Verasoni Worldwide)

Asbury Park Boardwalk, Jenifer Rutherford Photography

Asbury Park Boardwalk, Jenifer Rutherford Photography

5. The Boardwalk at Asbury Park – After decades of hype, Asbury Park has in fact seen a revival and the beachfront is doing very well. You have the classic landmark Convention Hall / Paramount Theater in addition to Asbury Lands and Wonder Bar. You have new attractions including the water park, mini golf course, and retail shops and restaurants. And of course the oceanfront is always great for photos. And Asbury’s combination of old, new and oceanfront – in a town that’s still a little funky on the edges- is very appealing to young, edgy couples who want something just a step out of the ordinary. (Spence Cook, Bloom Box)

6. Sayen Gardens, Hamilton – Offers lush foliage, beautiful manicured gardens and variety of interesting settings which include a woodland gazebo, temple garden and sprawling park like grassy areas. (Mark Klatskin, Ultrax Entertainment; Danielle Nutt, The Bridal Suite)

Lambertville-New Hope Bridge, ZaZa Creative/Nancy Katz Photograper

Lambertville-New Hope Bridge, ZaZa Creative/Nancy Katz Photograper

7. Lambertville – This historic town located on the Delaware River offers railroad tracks, the river, the bridge to New Hope, antique shops and more for great backdrops (Nancy Katz, ZaZa Creative Photography)

8. Eagle Rock Reservation, West Orange – The view from this location, being on a cliff overlooking the New York city skyline and the Hudson River is breathtaking! Inside the Highlawn Pavilion restaurant is especially beautiful and romantic at night, with a panoramic view of the skyline making everything aglow! (Marie Danielle Vil Young, A Votre Service; Allan Reider Photography)

9. Liberty State Park & Landing Marina (Petronella Lugemwa, by Petronella African & Latin Wedding Photography)

10. Long Beach Island region – Barnegat Lighthouse (a.k.a. “Old Barney”) makes a great background for a Long Beach Island wedding and many photographers love the beaches and coast of LBI which offer great lighting for photos. LBI is now a destination wedding resort for brides and grooms who have vacationed here in the summer months and they’ve got so many options for incredible photos (Katie Hood, Reynolds Gift Shop; Stephanie Somodi, Invitation Designs by Stephanie)

11. Rutgers Gardens, New Brunswick – A top spot in Central New Jersey, it is very picturesque and the cabin on the property offers great opportunities for various photos (Mark Krutyansky, Abella Studios)

12. Downtown Princeton – Includes this historic shopping district and grounds of Princeton University (Danielle Nutt, The Bridal Suite)

13. Downtown Jersey City – Some streets are very quaint and a nice walk is great for photo opportunities, along with incredible views of the New York City skyline (Samantha Goldberg, Gold Events Planning & Rebecca Ferrier Photography)

14. South Orange (Cameron Field and Main Street Shops) – (Petronella Lugemwa, by Petronella African & Latin Wedding Photography)

15. Cape May – Known as one of the most popular locations in the country for destination weddings, Cape May offers he Victorian beauty of a by-gone era, along with several beaches for sunset pictures, including the Cape May Sunset Pavilion (Nick Nezaj, The Hotel Alcott)

While the above 15 locations are in no particular order, there are so many more that were suggested by our experts in the wedding community, so I’ll include a bullet list of them below for some other ideas, even for a marriage proposal too!

* Smithville – This is a fun old town, located near Atlantic City, is filled with a lot of small shops and makes a beautiful backdrop for photos and video (Michael DiChiaro, Creative Video Editing)
* Weehawken promenade with the backdrop of NYC skyline (Irina Feygin, Impeccable Image, Inc.)
* Mindowaskin Park, Westfield – There is a beautiful lake with a fountain and graceful trees, a gazebo and a beautiful bridge with an arch that is perfect for bridal parties (Susan Marino, Sue?s Sweets)
* Lambert’s Castle at the Garret Mountain Reservation, Paterson (Ann Marie Brasco, NewJerseyLimoBus.com)
* Reeve’s Reed Arboretum, Summit (Ann Marie Brasco, NewJerseyLimoBus.com)
* Liberty State Park, Jersey City – Offers amazing views of NYC as a backdrop (Ann Marie Brasco, NewJerseyLimoBus.com)
* New Jersey Botanical Gardens/Skylands Manor (Joan Borzomati, Mrs. B’s Cakes; Jerry Frungillo, Frungiillo Caterers)
* Knight Park, Collingswood (Pat Ambrosius, The Pragmatic Planner)
* Grounds of Cathedral of the Woods, Medford Lakes (Pat Ambrosius, The Pragmatic Planner)
* Batso Village, Hammonton – Has some great historic buildings that allow for wonderful artistic images to be captured (Katie Hood, Reynolds Garden Shop)
* Mill Race Village and Main Street, Mount Holly (Tara Clapper, recent NJ bride)
* Bonnet Island Estate grounds, Cedar Bonnet Island, LBI (Heather Sconza, All the Rave Events)
* Waterfall at Kingsland Park, Nutley (Nella Cicchino, The Landmark)
* Branchbrook Park, Newark – Branchbrook is home of the Cherry Blossom festival in May (Josh Lynn, Josh Lynn Photography)
* Frelinghuysen Arboretum, Morris Township – On Hanover Avenue and part of the Morris County Parks System (Timothy MacHale, The Madison Hotel)
* Fairleigh Dickinson Campus, Madison – You can rent it out for a couple of hours and not have to worry about it getting crowded and waiting for other couples (Priscillo Leto, Finishing Touch Events)
* Pier Village, Long Branch (Cara Jones, New Jersey bride-to-be)
* Belmar boardwalk – Has vintage lampposts along the boardwalk so it really gives it that historic feel of a romantic old-time beach location (Sandi Silva, Save The Date Now; Mary Wall, Matisse Restaurant)
* Allaire State Park, Farmingdale – Features the Historic Village of Allaire, one of the most popular wedding spots at the Jersey Shore (Heidi Hutch, Sterling Ballroom at the Holiday Inn Tinton Falls)
* Manasquan Reservoir, Howell (Jennifer Rutherford, photographer)
* Strawbridge Lake, Moorestown (Craig Fisher, Taylor Rental)
* Various vineyards throughout Southern New Jersey (Valerie McGeary, Renault Winery)
* Grounds For Sculpture, Hamilton (Kay English, Kay English Photography)

Winter/Snow Engagement Shoot in New Jersey park - Josh Lynn Photography

Winter/Snow Engagement Shoot in New Jersey park – Josh Lynn Photography

When considering where you want to take engagement or wedding photos in New Jersey, consider thinking of them in a “theme,” as photographer Josh Lynn suggests, whether they’re captured “in a city, at the shore, in a favorite park or woods, or during a particular season or weather” (or even where your fiance proposed or where you spent a lot of time dating). And, as photographer David Toth concludes, “the best location is the one where you are, because if you love it, you own it and then a professional photographer will capture that love.”

To view a photo gallery of more New Jersey engagement and wedding locations, click here

-Written and compiled by Erik Kent, Co-Publisher, NJWedding.com

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