At 12:01 a.m. this morning, New Jersey became the 14th state in the U.S. to recognize same-sex marriage. Newark mayor (and Senator-elect) Cory Booker was on hand to perform ceremonies as soon as they became legal, and Gary Stevens, a former cover subject for Luxury Travel Advisor, will tie the knot with his fiance Alan George in Weehauken—they were the first same-sex couple to get a civil union ceremony in the city in 2007, and will now be the first same-sex couple in town to have a full wedding.
So now that it's legal to make it legal, where should LGBT couples in Jersey say their vows? Here are just a few suggestions…
4. The Manor Restaurant, West Orange
This venue is frequently used as an upscale and elegant supper club in northeastern New Jersey, but also serves as a great backdrop for weddings less than an hour's drive from New York City. The property has a full 20 acres of grounds for outdoor ceremonies, as well as a dedicated garden just for weddings. When the weather gets cool or rainy, the interior is also swank, with collections of Limoges porcelain and antique silver pieces. Inside options include Starlight Gardens, with floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto The Manor's fountains, or The Greenery with views of the gardens, the Wine Cellar and the Clifton Ward Room. Hotels are nearby for easy access, but the proximity to New York City make this a good pick for the town-and-country crowd.
One of the Garden State's most historic cities has all the charm of a small town with plenty of venues--both indoor and out--for ultra-romantic ceremonies and receptions. The Battlefield, where George Washington fought British troops after crossing the Delaware River in 1777, has grand white columns that serve as a great backdrop for photos, although weddings and public functions are not allowed on the grounds. The grounds of Princeton University are also beautiful for pictures, and current students, alumni/ae, current staff or faculty and children of any of these may use the University Chapel for weddings. (Good to know: Reservations may not be made more than two years in advance of the date requested.) The Nassau Inn (www.nassauinn.com) is a popular venue for receptions.
2. Down the Shore
In New Jersey, no one goes to the beach; they go "down the shore." And when the weather is warm and the sun is shining on the Atlantic, a beachside wedding can be a great option for couples. The Jersey Shore Wedding Association has a list of recommended venues for every taste and budget along the shore—call to get details on what makes each special.
Want all the fun of a Vegas wedding without the flight to Nevada? Atlantic City has plenty of casinos and hotels (generally smaller than their Vegas counterparts, but no less enjoyable), and there are plenty of options for ceremonies, including weddings on the beach. While Atlantic City does not currently have a dedicated wedding chapel, the tourism board has a list of recommended restaurants and resorts (including the historic Golden Nugget), and Caesars' properties in the city all have a range of venues for intimate or grandiose events. Coolest of all: On Valentine's Day next year, the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority's Seventh Annual Valentine Group Wedding, Civil Ceremony and Vow Renewal Ceremony will take place in Boardwalk Hall.
We wish a heart-felt congratulations to all the happy couples!