Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Boardwalk Oceanfront Round Yummy Asbury Park Wedding

This right here is a front runner. It has the best of both worlds- a lot of character, cool history, awesome amenities, and it's not a wedding warehouse. Yet, they're a full service venue that does do amazing weddings (just not every weekend): McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park.

It's the old Howard Johnson's! Iconic building in Asbury Park, and it has a bonus of it's own- it is directly on the boardwalk, with the best views of the ocean, plus Convention Hall, the lawn, the lake and the Wonder Bar. All the great Asbury Park photo opps are as close as possible.

Cocktail hour is on the famous wraparound deck.

The reception room is dramatic and looks stunning in the dark. Windows surround so you're looking out and seeing Asbury and the beach all night.

The room is lined with booths, and then you can customize your additional table configurations and sizes, which I love.

What's great about the awesome architecture and abundant views is that traditional large centerpieces would overwhelm the room, so it's in your best interest to go small and simple- which helps out the budget too. They will even provide glass vases, which you can simply fill with your own flowers.

The food and drink packages are reasonable, and the cool thing about using this restaurant is that the food is actually good. No wedding rubber chicken here! There are price minimums to be met according to the night and season, but our wedding will be large enough that we can choose May or even June and not pay more. And, there's a 10% discount for Friday nights- I was already open to a Friday, and now I like it even more!

Mike's parents love this restaurant. My mom used to go to shows here all the time. I used to go to art opening parties here in the between time of the HoJo and the Supper Club. We have decided that if we get married in New Jersey, we really want it to be in Asbury. And you absolutely cannot beat this place in terms of location and views. We can pop across the street and stay at the Berkeley on our wedding night, have an after party at the Wonder Bar or Beach Bar, and hang out on the beach the day after if we want.

The cons would be that if it rains, the cocktail hour moves into the main reception room, and I am a little hung up on a separate cocktail space. (It's amazing, the 'traditional' wedding practices I thought I didn't care about that have now dug there little Wedding Industrial Complex claws into me!) I didn't want to hold any part of the wedding outdoors because I don;t want to be obsessively checking the weather up to the day of my wedding. But, I think this is worth the risk. The cocktail hour is just that, a single hour, after all. And I have to admit, after falling for the grandeur and size of the Berkeley, it's hard to 'downsize', even if this place has even more character.

But all in all, when we add in budgetary considerations, location, and emotional connections, this really is our front runner. Check out timmcloonessupperclub.shutterfly.com for more pics- plus these!

Monday, January 10, 2011

My baroque Parisian oceanfront Asbury Park wedding

We’re in love!!!!!

Not just with each other. I mean, that too, but we’re in love together with a venue. The Berkeley Hotel in Asbury Park.

Yes, I said hotel. You know I’ve been looking for something ‘different’ and I’ve been rejecting most hotel/catering halls based solely on the pictures. But we’ve been looking at several places in Asbury Park, our preferred town to get married in if we do it in New Jersey, and I’ve had the Berkeley in mind the whole time as the place we would stay overnight. I was checking out the guest rooms online and took a peak at the ballrooms for the hell of it.

Well, well, well! They did not look like I’d expected them to. The largest, the Crystal Ballroom, looked fairly traditional- pretty, with large windows and 3 giant crystal chandeliers. Then there are 4 other rooms available for cocktail, ceremony and reception, each with a very different style- some ornate, some mod, and one that had a French gothic feel to it- chic, not costume-y.

I also saw menus from one of the approved caterers and the prices didn’t look too bad, so I figured, what the heck, let’s check it out.
Oh boy.

First, I want to mention that Michael really, really LOVED it. He’s liked a lot of the places we’ve seen, but this was the first time he was more excited than I was! He’s been slow to come around to a ‘realistic’ budget- what it costs to get married in NJ if we don’t want to go totally unconventional. But after walking out of the Berkeley, he was suddenly on board!

We loved the combination of the Oval Room for cocktails and the Versailles room for the reception. We could have our larger guest list, but we would need to cut it off at the number we’ve approximated- a little less actually, but close enough. I feel like I could get the best of both worlds here. A catering hall with hotel attached means so much less work, but I feel like this place has enough character to make me happy, and we just love love love being on the water, next to Convention Hall, in Asbury Park- you can see Convention Hall and the Wonder Bar from the balcony and windows! Like I said, if it can’t be in Brooklyn, this is where we want to have it.

I’m waiting for the catering manager to send me prices, and everyone, please cross your fingers that this could be a real possibility for us! And in the meantime- pictures!

The grand lobby- second floor, outside the ballrooms

It has the original marble floors from the 1960s

Love the Grand Lobby so much-which is available to us all night

The Continental Room set up for a ceremony- this is one chair option if we forgo covers

Chandelier in cocktail room outside the Crystal Ballroom

The Crystal Ballroom, getting set up for a wedding (other chair choice)

Snow covered balcony off the Oval Room

Versailles Room! Not set up today

Love the black chandeliers!

Love the sconces!!

Love the view!!!

I love the updated 60s vibe in the lobby, and all the little nooks to hang out in

Me outside The Oval Room- I didn't want to leave!

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Venue Not Taken

Over the past two months I have spent dozens of hours researching alternative wedding venues online. I'm a Googling machine. I've found a lot of cool places that just won't work, but could for someone else, or might just be fun to visit. (Seriously, if you're ever bored in NJ, email me- I have suggestions!) here's a few of the places I've come across:

I’ve been searching across the state extensively for art galleries and museums. One I’ve found that I like but have already ruled out is the Hunterdon Art Museum.

It’s in Clinton, NJ, so it’s not too terrible a commute from Monmouth County. And it’s soooo pretty! I love that it’s a gorgeous historical building, next to this lovely river, and it’s an art gallery to boot. The rental price was reasonable, around or below $2000, but it doesn’t have a few things we’ve deemed crucial in terms of layout, unfortunately.
I’ve seen pictures of weddings at this venue before- the Adventure Aquarium in Camden. I thought this could work because Michael and I do love animals and water, and the tanks make a striking background. However, the prices aren’t low enough for us to justify going to Camden (ugh, sorry Camden, but- ugh) for something we like but don’t love. And it’s too heavy a theme for us that, again, we like but don’t love. I’d certainly endorse this site for others who were looking for a dramatic background or had a personal tie-in to sea life or water.

Outside of regular art galleries, I found a couple cool places that could make a perfect Brooklyn-hipster-meets-NJ setting. First was the Roebling Museum.

John Roebling designed the Brooklyn Bridge, and there’s a model on the premises. When I saw this pop up during a Google search I was so excited. It’s a museum, it’s got a fantastic connection to Brooklyn, it’s in NJ and it’s affordable- the highest fee to rent the main hall, the galleries and mill yard was $850. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the museums exhibits, there are a number of restrictions I just don’t have the heart to work around. For instance, all dancing must be relegated to the Mill Yard, red wine and sauce is discouraged, champagne bottles cannot be popped inside the building, music type and decibel level must be approved and regulated, etc. But hipsters, take note! If you want a 'relevant' space outside the city to groove to Animal Collective in, this might just be it!


Next, and I didn’t explore this too far so I'm not sure what they could even do, is the Metz Antique Bike Museum.

Speaking of hipsterific- if there isn’t space large enough for a wedding, it looks like it could be a great place for a photo shoot, or maybe for rentals- bride and groom riding up to the reception on antique bikes? Fantastic!

Last, and I seriously considered this for about 20 minutes: the Whippany Railway Museum.

Hold your wedding in a restored vintage train car! So cool! Better for small weddings of course- and/or maybe you could set up a tent, and have the ceremony in the car, or make it into a ‘bar car’. Again, could also just be cool for photo shoots- bridal party as passengers, bride and groom as robbers? I loved this idea because I spent the first 6 months of our relationship taking NJ Transit trains up to visit Mike at least twice a week.

On the opposite side of trains, bikes and suspension bridges: the chic modernism of Maritime Parc.

So chicly modern it’s almost unattractive. Have I mentioned that chic modernity is my ideal bridal style? (It’s pretty hard to pull off on a budget, though, so don’t hold your breath. Also don't hate me for saying 'bridal style'.) Icing on the cake, er, well, this is practically the whole cake itself- the view.

Alas, it seems it will be too pricey for us.

Okay, you might think I'm crazy here, but it could work for someone: Monmouth County Library.

Sure, New York Public Library it most certainly is not, but it’s got it’s own fusty, nerdy charm, doesn’t it? And you all know what a book nerd I am. However, I can’t connect this space to Michael at all, and to be honest, even though I’m not the type who needs crystal chandeliers, the library is a little too low on razzle dazzle, even for me.  

The last one is sad- this is actually where I’d planned to get married, previous to actually being engaged. Sometime in either ‘08 or ‘09, when Michael and I were talking seriously about getting engaged, I came up with the perfect place- the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. You already know why I like Asbury; memories and parental significance and proximity to beach, church, hometown etc. It’s also where I attended my first concert (HOLE, 1994 and yes it was kick ass) and Mike has also been to several shows there. Our parents both went there before it was legendary, and both were attending shows there still. My mom was such a popular figure there that when I emailed the manager about rental prices, she offered me the friends and family discount. Which is why I’ve now changed my mind- I think it would just be too much. Too many memories of my mom.

To be honest, it’s not completely off the table, but I can’t really think about it and have already told the few people I’d told before that I’m changing my mind. Michael understands and is with me either way.

As for the other places- you will live on in my dreams.