Through the years, we have had the opportunity to provide wedding DJ entertainment in many of the finer banquet halls located throughout the state of New Jersey. In this article, we share our top wedding venue selections for 2017. This is our fourth consecutive year counting down the top 25 wedding venues in New Jersey! While our company is based in the Princeton area in central New Jersey, we perform across the state, from Cape May to Bergen County. With our referral sources and advertising programs scattered across New Jersey, we tour the Garden State heavily (it’s a lot of fun!) and you never know where Ambient DJ Service will pop up on any given weekend.
New Jersey offers an incredible array of quality wedding reception venues that are as diverse as the state itself. From rustic farm weddings to summer celebrations in the heart of the Jersey Shore to romantic vineyards to luxurious banquet halls with the most decadent Viennese spreads that may leave you in a state of “food intoxication” – the Garden State is a great place to celebrate a wedding! We recommend couples to find a venue that suits your personal style. Do keep in mind that outdoors celebrations in unique venues can produce the most memorable parties, but that New Jersey’s weather is unpredictable. You are well-advised to select a venue that offers a quality indoor alternative should the weather prove uncooperative.
One of the major trends that we’ve noticed in the New Jersey wedding industry is the creation of property portfolios by successful wedding caterers. Examples include Landmark Hospitality (The Liberty House, The Stone House, Ryland Inn, The Boathouse at Mercer Lake, The Prallsville Mill), Seasons Catering (The Seasons, The Venetian, The Shadowbrook), Hotels Unlimited (The Windsor Ballroom, The Versailles Ballroom, The Sterling Ballroom, The Crystal Ballroom) and the Park Savoy group (Park Savoy, Nanina’s in the Park and the new Park Chateau in East Brunswick NJ). It’s exciting to see the emergence of wedding venue brands across the state offering consistent service quality.
What Makes an Exceptional Venue?
Factors that impress us:
- Natural beauty and ambience (how does the venue look both inside and out?);
- Friendly and service-oriented staff (preferably with long-term staff retention);
- Delicious food (DJs are often provided an entree);
- Venues that strive to deliver a personalized wedding experience for the bride and groom, and are not ‘wedding factories.’ The fact that a venue has multiple rooms doesn’t make it a wedding factory; rather, wedding factory refers to a mechanical approach to service;
- Well-maintained facilities – are the lobby, bathroom and parking lot clean and well-maintained? If a facility doesn’t care about its appearance, will it care about the details of your once-in-a-lifetime celebration? As DJs, we possess a behind the scenes perspective that factors into our opinion of venues.
A bonus factor is a venue whose staff treats the DJ as a valued member of the wedding team. As DJs, we feel that love from the staff, and channel the good vibes back to the wedding guests. Conversely, a difficult banquet manager can present a barrier to us entertaining guests to the best of our abilities. For ideas on how DJs can work better with wedding venues and other event pros, see our blog on this topic by clicking here.
Tips to Engaged Couples in Selecting a Venue
- Research your venue on WeddingWire (www.weddingwire.com), the Knot (www.theknot.com), Yelp (www.yelp.com) or Google Reviews. Read what past clients had to say about their experience. WeddingWire, for example, rates vendors on the factors of 1) Quality of Service, 2) Responsiveness, 3) Professionalism, 4) Value, and 5) Flexibility. You can bet that a bride who spent tens of thousands of dollars on a reception venue will be eager to rave about a wonderful experience or rant about a venue that fell short. Take the time to read through a couple of dozen reviews to help gain a narrative behind the ratings.
- Take special note of venues that won a recent “Knot Best Of” award. The Knot Best Of Award is a respected industry award based on online ratings/reviews from real wedding couples. It is more difficult to win than the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice award.
- Don’t underestimate the factor of service; try to look beyond the decor of the room and the food. A poorly trained, lackadaisical or apathetic staff can dilute the guest experience, even at a beautiful venue. Many of these banquet halls are extremely busy, yet it is still their responsibility to get all of the details of your once-in-a-lifetime celebration correct.
- Ask your wedding planner, DJ company or other wedding vendors for recommendations.
The Top 25 List
New Jersey has a wealth of excellent wedding reception venues. Our selected venues are based purely on personal experience. Our list is by no means all-inclusive. Any business relationships that we have with a banquet hall and the ease of load-in were NOT considered in compiling the list. From year to year, our selections change as we discover new venues.
As a cross-check to our ratings, we’ve listed in parentheses WeddingWire’s average aggregate star rating (maximum 5 stars) and number of WeddingWire reviews as of January 9, 2017.
Here’s our list, presented in countdown fashion.
(25) Grounds for Sculpture (Hamilton). This property is one of New Jersey’s hidden gems located in Hamilton Township near Trenton. The impressive grounds provide the feel of a Paris museum, and there are several incredible areas of the grounds to hold an onsite wedding ceremony. We in particular recommend the mysterious “Nine Muses” sculpture garden. The reception party can follow at the onsite Seward Johnson Center for the Arts or the intimate Rats Restaurant set alongside a lake resembling Claude Monet’s Gardens at Giverny. Even if you don’t select this venue for your wedding, the Grounds for Sculpture is a must-visit for any New Jerseyan and would also make a great locale for an engagement photo shoot! Website: www.groundsforsculpture.org (27 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)
(24) Hotel Alcott (Cape May). The Hotel Alcott is a restored Italianate-bracketed villa located a block away from the Atlantic Ocean in the charming town of Cape May, NJ. No need to settle for mass-produced banquet hall food – Hotel Alcott’s chef serves delicious entrees with artistic flair. The lobster bisque soup and filet mignon are must tries. Website: www.hotelalcott.com (23 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8/5.0)
(23) Versailles Ballroom (Toms River). Part of the Hotels Unlimited group, the Versailles Ballroom located at the Ramada Inn is a standout pick for its service. Maitre D’ Angel went above and beyond this past summer to help us coordinate complicated logistics for a wedding. Thanks Angel! Website: www.versaillescaterers.com (105 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)
(22) Waterside Restaurant (North Bergen). Located just south of the George Washington Bridge, this venue offers a spectacular view of Manhattan, plus delicious food, attentive service and a top notch management team. The in-house light show was also awesome! Website: www.watersiderestaurantandcatering.com (140 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)
(21) Sunset Ballroom (Pt. Pleasant). Located on the Point Pleasant side of the Manasquan Inlet, the bride can arrive for an onsite ceremony by boat. The venue offers beautiful views, delicious food and a friendly staff. Pt. Pleasant offers many fun options for the “afterparty” and is also a family-friendly town for visiting guests. Website: www.thesunsetballroom.com (50 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8/5.0)
(20) Conservatory at the Madison Hotel (Morristown). The English-style Conservatory is the top attraction at this historic and well-appointed hotel. The glass Conservatory, with its hanging plants is beautiful for either a daytime reception or intimate evening celebration dancing under the stars. Website: www.themadisonhotel.com (127 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8/5.0)
(19) The Barn at Perona Farms (Andover). The newest addition to the Perona Farms estate (under family ownership since 1917) is its newly-renovated rustic barn. The barn has been transformed into a modern facility and possesses a visual “wow factor” both inside and out. The house uplighting is particularly striking. Website: www.peronafarms.com (160 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8/5.0)
(18) The Shadowbrook (Shrewsbury) – We love the Shadowbrook for its picturesque gardens, perfect to host an onsite wedding ceremony and cocktail hour. Indoors, its wood-paneled Oak Room and adjacent Horseshoe Bar inevitably host lively dance parties. In February 2015, Robert Zweben who had been the sole owner for 20-plus years retired and sold the Georgian-style mansion and its surrounding 18 acres of property to the current owners of the renowned Venetian in Garfield and Seasons in Washington Township. Upgrades to the property have been made since the acquisition. Be sure to ask about the Shadowbrook’s caviar/vodka bar option for cocktail hour! Website: www.shadowbrook.com (118 reviews, 4.9 average rating).
(17) Tomasello Winery (Hammonton). This venue is our top winery selection for 2017’s survey. Couples can exchange vows in the picturesque Chardonnay Vineyard and then dance the night away in the romantic Crystal Ballroom. What makes Tomasello Winery unique against other wineries is that its food is prepared onsite by an Executive Chef rather than offsite by outside caterers. Website: www.tomasellowinery.com (20 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)
(16) The Inn at Lambertville Station (Lambertville). In 2014 the venue completed a $4 million expansion/renovation, also creating the new Riverside Ballroom. The Riverside Ballroom features high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows offering picturesque views of the Delaware River. The cocktail hour space on the ground level is spacious and when the weather is pleasant can be open air, practically putting you on the river bank. On the service side, Maitre D’ Neil hustles from start to finish and is the only banquet hall professional that we’ve ever met who personally calls DJs prior to weddings to introduce himself. The Riverside Ballroom offers delicious food (particularly the chicken artichoke entree) and is the perfect venue to capture the ambience of the Lambertville / New Hope area! Website: www.lambertvillestation.com (44 reviews, 4.5/5.0)
(15) The W Hotel (Hoboken). Hoboken is a trendy party town favored by young professionals. The W Hotel is Hoboken’s premier wedding venue and offers a variety of spaces to hold an onsite ceremony, cocktail hour and reception party. “Lulu’s” lounge includes an outdoor patio fronting the water for an intimate wedding ceremony while its interior features modern lounge decor for cocktail hour. The W. Hotel Hoboken offers a classic view of the New York City skyline that can particularly be appreciated from the honeymoon suite (of which we received a tour!). Finally, the lobby of the W. Hoboken is a piece of artwork in and of itself. Regarding the afterparty, wedding guests can continue to celebrate at the W Hotel’s in-house options, or else hit the hot local Hoboken night spots! Website: www.whoboken.com/hoboken-wedding (18 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)
(14) The Boathouse at Mercer Lake (West Windsor). Located at the marina in Mercer County Park, the new Boathouse at Mercer Lake is nothing like the small, dark and somewhat dingy original “Mercer Boathouse” that was razed to make way for this recent $4.9 million overhaul. The new “Lakeview Hall” which accommodates up to 250 guests is bright and airy. The culinary offerings of the Boathouse have also been significantly improved with Crave Caterers (the offsite catering division of Landmark Hospitality) running the show. The initial wave of wedding couples to use the Boathouse have left nothing but rave reviews! Website: www.boathouseatmercerlake.com (5 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0)
(13) One Atlantic (Atlantic City). 2016 offered our first opportunity to work at One Atlantic – and wow was it an impressive experience! Situated at the far end of the Pier Shops across from Caesar’s Hotel & Casino on the Atlantic City boardwalk, One Atlantic is perched above the Atlantic Ocean, offering stunning views of the sea, beach and boardwalk through its floor to ceiling windows. Management is professional and communicative. We also had a chance to sample the delicious food at an educational event hosted by The Knot during the Fall. Important for DJs, particularly with the long distance load-in, is that the venue offers a modern audio system installed in the ceiling throughout the entire property that is easy to access with the help of an onsite audio tech. While there are some special insurance requirements for wedding couples and vendors due to the oceanfront location, in our case the management made it a breeze to achieve compliance. One interesting facet of One Atlantic is that its Director, Elizabeth McGlinn, is a professional wedding officiant and conducts the onsite ceremonies! Website: www.oneatlanticevents.com (155 WeddingWire reviews, 4.7./5.0)
(12) The Stonehouse at Stirling Ridge (Warren). The architecture and design of the Stone House stand out, evoking a modern California lodge feel. As per their website, “this space is designed with classic, clean lines, patterned wood and stone floors, a neutral color pallet and an appreciation for the scenic beauty that is part of this secluded location.” The food is exceptional, utilizing vegetables and herbs grown on a local communal farm. Choose from either the traditional ballroom or the artsy “Gallery” – each with its own ceremony and cocktail areas. Website: www.stonehouseatstirlingridge.com (66 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8/5.0)
(11) Mercer Oaks (Princeton Junction). Located on a public golf course in West Windsor/Princeton Junction, the venue provides casual golf club elegance in a bright and spacious ballroom. Delectable food and attentive service, led by the personable and longtime events manager Samantha Boudinot – are the other main attractions. Mercer Oaks has a perfect 5.0 out of 5.0 rating on WeddingWire. Website: www.merceroakscatering.com (46 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0)
(10) David’s Country Inn (Hackettstown). Outstanding food and service in a venue oozing country charm, David’s Country Inn is a stand out venue in Warren County. For an onsite ceremony, the bride can dramatically process down a grand staircase. Regarding staff longevity, the Falzarano Family has owned and operated David’s Country Inn for more than 38 years and several staff members have been with David’s for more than 25 years! Be sure to check out the antique coffee maker in the cocktail hour space. Website: www.davidscountryinn.com (92 reviews, 5.0/5.0)
(9) The Reeds at Shelter Haven (Stone Harbor). A recent entrant to the Cape May area wedding scene, Reeds offers a modern, luxury boutique hotel featuring sparkling views of the bayside harbor from its Sweet Grass Ballroom. The hotel is decorated in warm earth tones, richly inspired by nature and the sea. Leslie Pastore and her team are friendly, professional and attentive to detail. The food is also consistently delicious. Many couples opt for the Reeds to re-kindle fond childhood memories of summers spent vacationing in Stone Harbor. Website: www.reedsatshelterhaven.com (17 WeddingWire reviews, 4.7/5.0)
(8) Clarks Landing Yacht Club Delran. 2016 offered us our first opportunity to work at Clarks Landing in Delran. We’ve been huge fans of its sister property in Point Pleasant for years. While smaller than the Pt. Pleasant ballroom, the same impeccable service was evident. The ballroom features large framed oiled paintings and beautiful waterfront views. Not that it’s ever required, but the venue even provided the DJ with his own personal waitress for the wedding. Talk about attention to detail! Wedding couples seem to agree with our assessment, awarding Clarks Landing Delran with a perfect 5.0 out of 5.0 WeddingWire rating. Website: www.theyachtclubcaterers.com (75 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0)
(7) The Hamilton Manor (Hamilton). The Hamilton Manor is a modern venue in the Hamilton/Bordentown area that can host a wedding of up to 500 guests. Its Grand Ballroom features 20 foot high ceilings, antique chandeliers, a dramatic staircase for grand entrances and beautifully-restored mahogany floors. The property includes a covered outdoor patio barn that can be used for onsite cocktail hours or wedding ceremonies, plus an additional outdoor ceremony area with a gazebo. In 2016, the venue added customized lighting in the Grand Ballroom, and for 2017 is planning to build a stone fireplace in the covered barn plus re-vamp its lounge area. Owner/operators, the Salzano Family, offer professional service with a smile. Many North Jersey couples are choosing the Hamilton Manor based in Central NJ for its North Jersey style amenities, but at a Central NJ price point. Website: www.thehamiltonmanor.com (120 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)
(6) The Nassau Inn (Princeton). Our company is based in the Princeton area, and the Nassau Inn, located in Palmer Square, has always been a favorite of ours, capturing the history of this great town. The Inn offers several classy, prestigious party rooms to choose from. In an industry where rapid staff turnover and transient workers are the norm, it is refreshing to see many of the same waitstaff and banquet managers year after year at the Nassau Inn. Be sure to check out its recently renovated Prince William Ballroom. Palmer Square, Princeton University and the iconic Princeton Record Exchange offer wonderful photo opportunities for wedding photos or an engagement photo shoot. The wintery photo below is credited to our friend Kyo from Kyo Morishima Photography Website: www.nassauinn.com (38 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)
(5) The Palace at Somerset Park (Somerset). For those with champagne wishes and caviar dreams, the opulent Palace is the perfect venue. Located on a palatial estate, the Palace includes two magnificent ballrooms with separate entrances. The bridal suite, located upstairs, is a modern oasis of massive dimensions. Use the outdoor balcony for your own private fireworks show. Website: www.palacesomersetpark.com (223 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)
(4) The Estate at Florentine Gardens (River Vale). This recently renovated and expanded Georgian-style mansion features expansive gardens, a grand ballroom with views of the gardens (the gardens look striking in the evening with the trees lit up), world class cuisine (the Chateaubriand is incredible), and an attentive professional management team and staff. An in-house A/V company offers an exciting array of lighting and video options. Website: www.florentinegardens.com (430 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0)
(3) Clarks Landing Yacht Club Pt. Pleasant. With a new luxurious ballroom with high ceilings and panoramic windows fronting the water, a top notch management team and sumptuous food (particularly for cocktail hour), Clarks Landing is a standout selection. An added plus is that DJs plug their mixing board into an in-house sound system with speakers built into the ceiling above the dancefloor. The result is that dancers enjoy louder music, while guests seated at tables are not blasted out of the room (a frequent complaint against DJs and bands at weddings). Regarding management, we’ve witnessed the intense and detailed staff prep meeting. Clarks Landing is clearly committed to superior service and the results show. Clarks also wishes past wedding couples happy anniversary on their Facebook page! Website: www.clarkslandingcaterers.com (255 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0)
(2) The Pleasantdale Chateau (West Orange). The Pleasantdale Chateau is the ideal venue for those couples seeking an elegant, custom fairytale wedding. With a long and storied history dating back to the 1800s, the original building was constructed in an English Georgian architectural style in the early 1900s by industrial leader Charles Walter Nichols. In 1994, the Knowles Family acquired the estate and commenced a series of restorations that gave deference to the Chateau’s history, but also made the property more accessible to the public. This venue has that “wow factor” that is hard to describe with words but is impossible to miss when attending an event here. Enjoy your cocktail hour in the distinctive “Music Room,” chat with friends in the library and stroll through luxurious parlors. A hidden gem of the Pleasantdale Chateau is Maitre d’ Santiago Sevilla who makes each and every guest (and wedding vendor) feel like a VIP. Thanks Santiago! Website: www.pleasantdale.com (44 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8/5.0)
(1) The Park Savoy (Florham Park). Our top rated wedding venue for 2017 is the Park Savoy located in Florham Park New Jersey! This recently renovated turn-of-the-century mansion features cozy fireplaces, an exquisite bridal suite and details only seen in the great mansions of Newport Rhode Island, and is enhanced with floor to ceiling windows. Check out the intricate carvings on the ceiling above the dance floor, or take a stroll through the beautiful onsite gardens. In terms of food, the Viennese style cocktail hours and dessert are a gastronomic delight. At Melissa and Eric’s recent wedding there, guests were so delighted by the Viennese dessert spread that the dance party came to a halt for nearly a half hour! But what really resonates with us at The Park Savoy is the service. Maitre D’ Vincent was a true professional from start to finish and even made our DJ feel like a guest. Website: www.theparksavoy.com (235 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0).
Also consider sister property Nanina’s in the Park (Belleville NJ) or the soon to open Park Chateau located in East Brunswick NJ. According to a representative from Nanina’s, the Park Chateau will host its first wedding on March 3, 2017 and has already booked 270 weddings.
Comments are welcome. Please let us know what venues would be on your list of favorites! For any property owners/banquet managers interested in providing us an introduction to your venue, feel free to contact Gregg Hollmann at email@example.com or p 609.672.1270
For More Information
For an alternate and humorous venue selection methodology, check out the blog of “Dad Needs Help” who evaluated wedding venues based on their bathroom amenities. Read the article by clicking here
Already booked a venue and need musical ideas for your big day? Then click here to view Ambient DJs’ “Wedding Music Master Class” that contains over 2,000 song ideas spanning ceremony music, First Dance songs, Parent Dance songs, Cake Cutting Songs, Bouquet Garter Songs, grand entrance songs, grand finale songs, 80 themed cocktail hour playlists and 10 songs NOT to play at a wedding. This publication is currently being updated for 2017.
About Ambient DJ Service
Ambient DJ Service is a full-service mobile NJ DJ entertainment company based in Central New Jersey specializing in wedding DJ entertainment. Our marquee wedding entertainers/music mixologists include DJ Gregg Ambient, DJ Greg Nice, DJ Spinz and DJ Iron Mike. Ambient DJ is a 2017 winner of the Knot Best of Weddings award (as well as a Knot Best of Weddings Hall of Fame winner), and of the WeddingWire Couple’s Choice Award. As of mid-January 2017, we had 186 WeddingWire reviews with an average rating of 4.9 out of 5.0 stars. Past wedding couples have complimented Ambient DJs’ detailed planning, personalized service, multi-cultural approach, exciting options and affordable pricing.
We have a deep passion for the music that we play and enjoy collaborating with our brides and grooms to create unforgettable parties! We would be delighted to perform at your wedding in the New Jersey / Philadelphia / Delaware / New York Tri-State area, or destination wedding. For more info and to read our wedding reviews, visit us on the web at www.ambientdj.com.