Friday, May 20, 2011

My Waterfront Clambake Summertime Super Beach-y Wedding

Michael and I have decided that if we get married in New Jersey, we’d like it to be in Asbury Park. We have several options we’re considering. I wrote recently about letting wedding stress get to me. At one point a couple weeks ago, I came across this idea, and spent the day putting together a great, laidback, casual-but-fun back up wedding plan. May I present…

A couple years ago during Asbury Park’s revitalization, The Beach Bar opened on the deck of Convention Hall. This previously under utilized space was just begging for a bar like this- you absolutely cannot beat this location. You enter through Convention Hall or you can walk up the steps directly from the sand. The bar itself is indoors and has a row of seating there, but the draw, of course, is sitting directly above the sand and soaking in the million dollar ocean views.

And, the Beach Bar does weddings! You rent out the wings and choose a liquor package, then bring in a caterer. Rather than formal seating, you can utilize their fun lounge furniture for a great waterfront cocktail party vibe.

Really relaxed

Once you eliminate the standard ‘chicken or fish?’ seated dinner, you can get pretty creative with the food. With the lounge setting, a never-ending cocktail party would be a great option- a couple stations and passed hors d’oeuvres all night, with lots of great seafood options. My favorite idea was a clambake- I found a number of local caterers, including some very helpful people at Shore Catering and Lawrence Caterers, who do great lobster clambakes that can also be combined with BBQ packages for the ultimate beach party menu- think steamed clams, shrimp cocktail shooters and crab claws, burgers and barbeque chicken and whole steamed lobsters with drawn butter. Relaxed, fun and delicious.

And how easy would it be to decorate? This wedding demands a beach theme, and there are a lot of reasons beach themes are so popular- they’re fun, pretty and easy. Since the tables would vary in size and style, you wouldn’t need to coordinate large matching centerpieces. Just spread some shells and tea lights on the tables, and let the natural beauty of the ocean take center stage. The lights strung across the ceiling provide a romantic minimalism as well as light.

A cute sandcastle cake would fit perfectly.

Downsides- well, the inconsistency of weather. Temperatures at the beach are notoriously fickle- I would need to remind everyone to check the forecast for the shore and dress accordingly. Also, it’s an open air venue- if a storm rolled in, as my future mother-in-law quickly pointed out, rain + wind = wet guests. We saw this first hand last month!

Last, I’m still struggling with how ‘formal’ I want my wedding to be. I loooove the thought of this relaxed vibe; wearing a cute tea length dress, running down the steps barefoot directly onto the sand, slow dancing with my new husband while the waves crashed right in front of us. But there’s still a part of me that feels this is my only chance to ‘own’ a big old ballroom for the night and have a huge dance floor for getting down to Lady Gaga in a multi-thousand dollar dress. See, this is a side of me I’ve always struggled with- never wanting to miss an opportunity or my ‘only chance’. And I have to admit, I am getting a little caught up in the wedding world undertow- lately I feel the pull of BRIDE so strongly!

The Crystal Ballroom at the Berkeley Hotel

I always look for meaning or a connection in my venues- well, if you know me, you know I love the beach, and if you knew my mom, you know she really loved the beach. Our families love Asbury, and Michael and I both love the summertime.

So I have filed this under Plan B. Today, on this rainy, gray day, I’m going to comfort myself with visions of Michael and I, with rings on our fingers and our toes in the sand.

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