by Chelsea Gould

A Dozen Dazzling Places to Say ‘I Do’

Toss out your bridal magazines. Delete those online wedding bookmarks. Tell your party planner to take a walk. This is New Jersey! If you’re in the market for an unforgettable wedding, you’re already in the right place. You just have to know where to go. I’m not talking Weird New Jersey here. On the contrary, every venue on this list lends itself wonderfully to traditional ceremonies and receptions. That being said, if you are looking for something simple, special, lo-tech or alternative, you can also count on these places to shine under virtually any circumstances. Finally, don’t fret if you’ve never heard of these nuptial hot spots. Each, in its own way, is one of the state’s best-kept wedding secrets.

The Great Outdoors
These wedding venues take advantage
of New Jersey’s awesome natural beauty.

Back-to-nature types love the Mountain Lake House, which offers the ultimate in seclusion and privacy just a few minutes from ritzy Nassau Street in Princeton. Don’t be surprised if Bambi and Thumper join the festivities. Wedding parties are the interlopers on this 90-acre nature preserve; the furry full-time residents merely tolerate their presence.

Spring and Autumn wedding dates fill up fast at the Taylor-Butler House in historic Middletown. The breathtaking Victorian-Italianate structure sits on five wooded acres and has been lovingly restored to offer eight ornate rooms in which to hold your service and reception.

When you’re talking “blast from the past,” there may be no better wedding site in the state than the 1761 Brearly House, which sits in a meadow at the end of a winding, unpaved road in Lawrenceville. The hinges hadn’t even started squeaking on this lovely Georgian brick home when the colonials started taking potshots at the redcoats. Of course, those musket balls wouldn’t have been coming from Brearly. It was a Quaker farmhouse during the Revolution.

Before the Cooper River joins the Delaware, it ambles past

the Camden County Boathouse in Pennsauken. It serves as the launching point for some of the state’s finest crew teams. Add them to the people pulling for couples as they recite their vows on the balcony overlooking the river and the natural beauty beyond. It’s like getting married in a Monet painting.

No other spot in New Jersey combines sea and sky like the Water Witch Club in Monmouth Hills (above). It offers a sweeping view of the Atlantic Ocean, New York City and Sandy Hook Bay, and is the highest place on the Eastern Seaboard where couples can tie the knot. Nestled in a neighborhood recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Water Witch Club Casino has been in continuous use as a gathering place for performances and celebrations longer than any other in the state.

For pure firepower, nothing can compete with the battleship New Jersey in Camden. Launched in 1942 and converted to a museum and memorial in 2001, she is the Navy’s most decorated battleship. The New Jersey (aka BB62) has her own events staff to ensure that everything’s shipshape for the nuptials.

If you prefer New York over Philly as your river view, then you’ll want to contact the folks who run the boathouse at Hoboken’s Shipyard Marina. An emerald lawn stretches right to the water’s edge, where guests can arrive by limo, ferry or—for that cousin who still owes you money—PATH train.

Classic Charm
These wedding spots feed the need for timeless tradition

Anyone getting hitched at Liberty Hall in Union (right) will tell you that a rose garden by any other name would not smell
as sweet. There’s just something about an outdoor wedding at this historic site—with its 23 manicured acres and breathtaking architecture—that truly transcends the mere traditional.

Catering halls may be off your radar if you’re looking for something beyond the ordinary. However, don’t be too quick
to eschew the James Ward Mansion in Westfield. While it offers the bells and whistles you’d expect from a traditional
wedding spot, it outdoes itself (and the competition) in terms of Old World elegance and sophistication. No smoked-glass
chandeliers here.

For most soon-to-be-marrieds, it’s an article of faith that the cost and commitment involved in the staging of a glorious
“church wedding” will come in on the steep side. Not so at the Kirkpatrick Chapel in New Brunswick (right). From the
towering candelabras to the chest-rattling pipe-organ music, it’s everything you dream of—only without the religious trappings or the big price tag.

Artful Dodges
A great way to avoid the obvious is to embrace
the creative side of the wedding equation

Looking to class up the in-laws on the big day? Look no further than the Newark Museum, which offers three different venues boasting priceless paintings and sculpture. You deliver the guests and the elegant Engelhard Court, the plush Ballantine House and the beautiful Alice Ransom Dreyfuss Memorial Garden supply the cultured surroundings.

Bringing form to your function is a specialty of the Grounds for Sculpture, located at the Seward Johnson Center for the
Arts in Hamilton. A favorite spot for exchanging vows is the Nine Muses by Carlos Dorrien, but with so much to serve as
an artistic backdrop, brides and grooms are encouraged to get creative. EDGE