Wedding Ideas

Destination: I Do!

Posted on August 25 by new jersey bride

Brides this season are looking to keep their weddings quaint and familiar, filled with warmth, friends, and family. And the destination wedding, both within the state and beyond, fulfills these requirements. These weddings tend to be smaller (with reduced price tags) but with a huge sense of camaraderie. You’re all together for an extended period of time celebrating the most important day of your lives.

Plus, the local ambience is sure to add instant décor and unique ideas. Here are some of our favorites—all are beautiful top-notch facilities that can provide first-class amenities and service, and are easily accessible. That makes it easy on your guests. No passports are required for these getaways—just a sense of adventure and the willingness to have a gorgeous wedding in a unique location.

Long Beach Island:

Why LBI?: It’s the closest island setting for New Jersey brides, and it evokes a sense of nostalgia for those who have summered or met at the Shore. Plus, there’s no need to worry about airfare for your guests.

Where: LBI and its immediate area have more than 20 wedding locations, from oceanview restaurants to grand estates. Our favorites include the Mallard Island Yacht Club, Bonnet Island Estate, and the Boat House.

Must-have details: Welcome baskets including taffy from Lucille’s Candies, Country Kettle fudge, and a daily beach pass. Be sure to incorporate beach or oceanview ceremonies; bouquets and centerpieces with seashell accents; beach décor including sand, coral, sea glass, hurricanes, and seashells; and flip-flops for your guests.

Wedding activities: Make sure there’s time for the beach, in addition to Barnegat Lighthouse tours, rehearsal dinner at the Gables, cocktails at Daddy O’s, pancakes at Uncle Will’s or Moustache Bill’s, and a sunset party cruise.

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Atlantic City:

Why AC?: Atlantic City is the perfect destination for New Jersey brides who want the glitz, glamour, and action of a casino without having to put everyone on a plane to Vegas.

Where: There’s been a recent transformation in AC, with a number of top-notch hotels opening, perfect for the hip bride. The Water Club at the Borgata offers 800 luxury rooms, a spa, five pools, gourmet dining, and a grand ballroom, while the Chelsea Hotel is for those looking for a retro vibe, complete with rooftop pool and cabana, game room, and modern event space. And One Atlantic is due to open in 2010, offering the only over-water location to get married on the pier.

Must-have details: Leave welcome baskets in your guests’ rooms, filled with real gambling chips, tickets to a current show in town, a list of the area’s hot nightclubs (and a schedule with times for everyone to meet!), and snacks and beverages perfect for late-night munching. Take advantage of the local scene with pictures on the boardwalk. At Amina Osman’s May 29, 2009, wedding, guests signed postcards of Atlantic City in lieu of a guest book, and the postcards were later compiled into an album.

Wedding activities: Rent a bus to shuttle your guests throughout the city for a fun night of casino hopping. Then treat them the next day to golf or spa treatments at the nearby Seaview in Galloway. After the wedding, host breakfast in private poolside cabanas.

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St. Thomas:

Why St. Thomas?: This U.S. Virgin Island is just a four-hour direct flight from Newark, and since it’s a U.S. territory, there’s no need for passports.

Where: There are a number of hotels on the island, but our absolute favorite is the Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas, where you’ll be pampered with luxurious details, five-star accommodations, first-class service, and a genuine feeling of warmth on the part of the staff. Every high-end wedding option offered at home is available here, from gourmet dining to cake design to the latest in event and floral décor. There’s a reason why couples return each year to celebrate their anniversaries.

Must-have details: Host your rehearsal dinner on the beach with a steel-drum band, followed by a tropical wedding ceremony in the Ocean’s Edge gazebo, and then dinner in the formal ballroom with views of St. John’s twinking lights across the way. The Ritz’s wedding planners will organize every detail, from welcome baskets complete with pink lemonade and homemade sweets to gifts for your maids, with the silver hook bracelet being a top pick. Other gift ideas for your guests include personal portraits created by the resort’s resident artist.

Wedding activities: Set sail on the Lady Lynsey for swimming and lunch on St. John; arrange for spa appointments; charter private snorkeling expeditions throughout the Virgin Islands; plan a sunset cruise; golf at the Mahogany Run Golf Course; or schedule duty-free shopping at such luxury boutiques as Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

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San Juan:

Why San Juan?: San Juan, Puerto Rico, is a great choice if you’re envisioning Vegas on the beach, with just an easy three-hour direct flight.

Where: The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan. The Ritz is our pick again, because they’re so skilled at creating high-end destination weddings.

Must-haves: Have a ceremony on the beach or at the oceanview gazebo with stunning tropical floral arrangements and modern event décor.

Wedding activities: Tours of Old San Juan or the Bacardi Rum factory; sunning on the beach or poolside; spa appointments; 24-hour casino action; and rehearsal dinner at the famous BLT Steak restaurant.

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St. John:

Why St. John?: This U.S. Virgin Island, a quick ferry ride from St. Thomas, is great for the nature-loving eco-bride since the majority of the island is made up of a National Park.

Where: Caneel Bay is the perfect choice for an upscale, intimate beach wedding.

Must-haves: Rehearsal dinner in the Sugar Mill, beachside lobster reception on the Terrace.

Wedding activities: Island Jeep tours; beach barbecues; swimming at famous Trunk Bay; tennis; snorkeling just outside your room or at one of the 35 beaches; sunset cruises; watercolor lessons; lunch and shopping in Cruz Bay.