Who says bigger is always better?
usually me, along with a host of other people, most of whom
are in the wedding business. Whether itís your first wedding
or your fifth; a destination wedding, elopement to Atlantic
City, civil union or mini-moon; a bridal shower, rehearsal
dinner, engagement party, first anniversary dinner or bachelor,
bachelorette party, there are a lot of fun, exciting and
affordable ways to
make your event sing to your soul, without having to sell it.
Yes, your event can be unique and
elegant without a massive mortgage-sized bank loan. If your
budget isnít up to the standards of your Colin Cowie / Martha
Stewart / celebrity wedding taste, a smaller event will allow you
add a few lavish details or something you might not be able to
afford with a larger guest list. If you can and want to do the
over-the-top thing Ė fantastic! Just keep in mind, whatever
size event you plan, your
marital bliss will not be determined by whether or not your
sweet and low packets are wrapped in gold foil and monogrammed.
Additionally, a smaller, more intimate event can also be more
enjoyable because youíll have more time to mingle with your
guests and savor the special moments throughout the day.
Perhaps, youíll even be able to sit down and eat.
You can make your event affordable, unique and memorable
using rentals, decorations, imaginative themes or venues and
thinking outside the box. Whatever the event youíre planning,
here are some suggestions and ideas to make it a standout!
Venue Selection: Think Outside the Box
Weddings and special events donít all have to take place in
large, traditional banquet style reception venues. But thinking
outside the box goes beyond that. Suppose for a second, that the
dream wedding youíve envisioned is at mega-site A, known for
its opulence and breath-taking views. If your heart is set on a
specific reception site, be sure to inquire about the pricing
and availability of the sites' smaller banquet rooms, off-season pricing or
Friday/Sunday discounts. You may even want to consider a morning
wedding followed by a champage brunch reception.
Fun Venues for Weddings, Rehearsal Dinners, Engagement
and Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties
Outside of the so-called "traditional" wedding
venues, there is a lot of room to get creative. Some of the
non-traditional venues that have hosted fun and elegant special
events include Absecon
Lighthouse, Lucy The Elephant in Margate, The
Noyes Museum in Galloway (look for an upcoming wedding
spotlight featuring a wedding at the Noyes), The Wetlands Institute in Stone
Harbor, The Camden Aquarium and The Steel Pier. Special
permits or insurance can be required for some of the more
unusual venues, but that isnít always a hindrance, just a
little extra cost and paperwork. For non-traditional venues, chair and
table rentals will be a factor as well as catering. For catering,
consider a favorite restaurant which may also offer off-site
Tavern, for example, offers off-site catering. Another
suggestion is to contact Bill
McGinnity, who handles all the catering and food for The Ocean
City Yacht Club
as well as off-site catering. Reach Bill at email@example.com
Lighthouse, located on Rhode Island Ave. in Atlantic
City, is New Jerseyís tallest lighthouse and is a beautiful
venue for weddings. They offer a number of reasonably priced
wedding packages for 2-150 guests starting at $400 and up.
They also have an on-site wedding
officiant for your ceremony. For larger weddings, with up to 150 guests,
tent rentals have been set up on their two-acre lawn which can
accommodate dance floors, djs, the caterers, tables, etc. For
more details on some of the packages Absecon Lighthouse has to
offer, print out their wedding package flyer. Of course,
you can customize your event as well.
Other venues, that one often only imagines as crowded, busy
restaurants, offer elegant event space that is spearate, or can
be cordoned off, from the main restaurant.
in the Tropicana, is another standout and offers a
great atmosphere and famous Italian cuisine. Lynn Manzi,
Director of Special Events at Carmineís, has hosted many
events including engagement parties, bachelor and bachelorette
parties, rehearsal dinners and small weddings. Check out this printable
flyer with details on Carmineís group dinners for 15-30
what others had to say about their special events at
Tavern, next to the Sheraton Atlantic City, is
another great venue for rehearsal dinners and bachelor/bachelorette
parties and they also offer off-site catering with great food
and customizable menus. Besides the great food, another
wonderful plus about holding an event at Tun Tavern is the
convenient parking across the street and next door
accommodations at The Sheraton for your guests.
I recently spoke with Diane Tharp, Director of Special Events
at Tun, who told us about just some of what Tun Tavern has to
"As your Wedding
approaches, you may want to consider Tun Tavern as a unique
location for your Rehearsal Dinner, Informal Wedding, Shower or
Engagement Party! Tun Tavern takes pride in offering a fun,
upscale setting Ė with fabulous food and great drinks! "
Our award-winning restaurant, adjacent to The Sheraton Hotel,
is a most convenient site for events, connected to the Atlantic
City Convention Center via a short enclosed walkway. We combine
an exciting Marine Corps-themed, art deco atmosphere, gourmet
food, hand-crafted beers, and a full service bar.
Tun Tavern offers a perfect setting for lunch, dinner, or a
cocktail receptionÖwith impeccable service, reasonable
pricing, and attention to every detail. We can accommodate
groups from 25 to 450, with additional space on our deck!
Our Executive Chef will be happy to customize additional
menus if necessary. Contact us today for sample menus and
special offers! Diane Tharp firstname.lastname@example.org
or 609-425-0958 "
Another recent surprising find was Mortonís Steakhouse
in Atlantic City. Located on the ground level of Caesarís,
they offer elegant event space separated from the restaurant by
beautiful, dark-paneled sliding doors with etched-glass windows.
Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts
Hotels are another non-traditional venue to consider. In
Ocean City, one would normally think of the Port-O-Call
Hotel for beach accommodations. However, the
Port-O-Call is also a great venue for special events. Their restaurant,
The Pink Parrot Grille, offers spectacular ocean views and has hosted
elegant, small weddings and rehearsal dinners. Get a special
discount on parties of 25 or more - follow the link above for
details. Print out a flyer with one of Port-O-Callís
all-inclusive wedding packages. You can also customize an
event at the Port O Call. Contact Sandy Triboletti, Special
Events Planner at 609-399-8812 ext. 7353.
Bed and Breakfasts throughout Atlantic and Cape May County
are also wonderful venues to consider with event space and
accommodations rolled into one. The
Carisbrooke Inn in Ventnor, for example, offers an
Elopement Package that is perfect for the couple who doesnít
want an elaborate affair. They have hosted weddings and civil
unions for two with this package which includes 2 nights
accommodations at the Inn, minister, flowers, photographer,
dinner for two and more. Print out the Elopement
Package flyer for all the details! They also offer
great romance packages, perfect for a first anniversary weekend
or romantic weekend retreat.
Churches, VFW's and Fire Halls
Some venues that can offer huge savings include churches,
VFWís and fire halls. Creative decorating will come into
play here and you might want to apportion more of your budget
for decorations and catering than you might otherwise.
Finishing Touch Designs has transformed many a boring
event space with fantastic results.
An exciting and affordable event space for rent in a local
church can be found at The
Vineland First Church. Their space has a
state-of-the-art sound & video system your DJ can hook into
and a dance floor. Plus, your chairs and tables are all included with your hall
rental. For a more elegant look, you can also rent table linens
and chair covers. For more information on having a wedding at the Vineland
First Church, contact Nelda Wheat (856)
696-4380 x 100.
Consider an Outdoor Event or Backyard Wedding
are another great option and you can
decorate and customize an outdoor event just as elegantly as an
indoor event. Beach ceremonies can feature sand sculptures and
floral trellises with soft, violin music as you walk down the
aisle. Outdoor tents that protect against inclement weather can
be set up in many outdoor locations but youíll need to look into
permits and insurance. Jersey
Shore Party Rentals offers a large variety of tents
and other dťcor for rental. Decorating a tent with elegant
table and chair accessories and centerpieces can transform a
space from ho-hum to upscale. Remember, though, a few
considerations for any outdoor event include parking, restroom
availability and site accessibility, especially for older or
For more on planning an event outside, see also our articles:
These are just a few ideas for the types of non-typical
venues to consider when planning your event. If you are
planning something unique or unusual and would like to be
featured in an upcoming article or wedding spotlight, we'ld love
to hear from you. Please email us at email@example.com.
Destination Weddings are another popular choice with
couples because they combine the wedding and honeymoon into one
package. Typically, this can save a couple quite a bit of money.
One of the drawbacks, however, is the added expense guests will
have if they want to attend a destination wedding. To get around
this, some couples will invite just close relatives to attend
their destination wedding. Then, after the couple is married,
they will host a more informal reception to celebrate with
friends and family.
Perhaps the most popular and well-known chain of resorts
offering destination weddings is Sandals, with locations
throughout the Caribbean. Plenty of other all-inclusive resorts
offer destination wedding packages including The
Reef Resort on Grand Cayman which offers
oceanfront accommodations and a great all-inclusive package for
couples. For more great ideas, our resident honeymoonologist,
Karen of Take
Wing Travel, has the heads up on many more resorts
and special deals for couples interested in destination
Popular themes for after parties and informal wedding
receptions include a Hawaiian Luau or a Barbecue on the Beach.
An Asian theme could incorporate thai food, fortume cookie
favors and chinese lanterns for decorations. For an informal
event, you can consider any party theme and customize it. See
also our article
on theme weddings.
Shorter romantic getaways of 3-4 days, mini-moons, have been
gaining in popularity in the last few years. As a lot of couples
have explained to me, by the time you get done paying for the
wedding there isnít much left for a honeymoon. Mini-moons have
also grown in popularity, though, for another reason. In the
week leading up to the wedding, many couples are busy all week
with the last minute details and arrangements. Then, if you want
to spend time with your guests, perhaps have a breakfast brunch
with some of your guests the morning after the wedding, that
leaves you exhausted. Some couples are instead choosing to take
2-3 days after the wedding and then take a week long trip or
extended honeymoon, later in the year.
Believe it or not, Atlantic City is a hot spot for couples
who want to take a little mini-moon. Between casinos, the beach,
great dining and entertainment, itís the perfect place for a
mini-moon without a lot of fuss. At a recent bridal show, one
couple was planning a mini-moon that combined a bed and
breakfast stay with local winery tours. Other great places for a
mini-moon close to home include Cape May, the Poconos and
Remember, it's not the amount of money you spend
or the final destination. Life is in the journey, so try
to keep your event planning fun and enjoy every minute of it!