New Jersey’s Top Wedding Venues (2018 Edition)

Through the years, Ambient DJs has provided 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 2018.  This is our fifth consecutive year in preparing the study.

An important change for 2018… We have modified the study from a Top 25 Countdown to a non-ranked selection of our favorite venues in the key geographic regions of New Jersey.  These regions are (1) Central Jersey, (2) The Jersey Shore, (3) North Jersey, and (4) South Jersey/Cape May.  The reason for the change is that the list was getting too heavily skewed towards the North Jersey market where many of the state’s luxury properties reside.  Second, it was getting increasingly difficult to discern small differences between the highest rated wedding venues.

Tips for Selecting a Wedding Venue

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), the Clarks Landing group (Point Pleasant and Delran), 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 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:

  1. Natural beauty and ambience (how does the venue look both inside and out?);
  2. Friendly and service-oriented staff (preferably with long-term staff retention);
  3. Delicious food (DJs are often provided an entree);
  4. 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;
  5. 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

  1. 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 critique a venue that fell short.  Take the time to read through a couple of dozen reviews to help gain a narrative behind the ratings.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 reduce 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.
  4. Ask your wedding planner, DJ company or other wedding vendors for recommendations.
  5. Don’t assume that you can’t afford a top New Jersey wedding venue that carries the mystique of $250 per plate and up.  We’ve heard of incredible deals to be had from our client couples, particularly those who are flexible to consider off-peak dates.

The New Jersey Top Venues List

As a cross-check to our selections, we’ve listed in parentheses WeddingWire’s average aggregate star rating (maximum 5 stars) and number of WeddingWire reviews as of January 18, 2018.

We begin our survey in our home base of Central New Jersey.

Central New Jersey

The Park Chateau (East Brunswick).  Opened in March of 2017, the Park Chateau Estate and Gardens made quite a splash on the New Jersey wedding scene.  Located on 15 rolling acres, this ambition property captures the grandeur and scale of France’s Palace of Versailles.  In addition to vast gardens, the Chateau has its very own wedding chapel.  Service, food and decor wise, the property shares many influences from its sister property The Park Savoy.  However, things are done  on a far grander scale at the Park Chateau.  The first photo below is courtesy of photographer Simon Khalil (www.simonkphotography.com).  Website:  www.parkchateau.com (29 reviews, 4.8 / 5.0 stars on WeddingWire).

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The Hamilton Manor (Hamilton Township).  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.  The Manor’s vintage 1936 flat bed red fire truck has proven popular for photo opportunities. Owner/operators, the Salzano Family, offer professional service with a smile!  For additional photo opportunities in 2018, the Salzanos are adding an outdoor landscaped water feature, as well as building a 300 foot pathway through the woods to the protected creek on the back end of the property.

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 (146 reviews, rated 4.9 / 5.0 stars on WeddingWire).

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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/weddings (47 reviews on WeddingWire, rated 4.8/5.0 stars).

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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 palatial dimensions. Use the outdoor balcony for your own private fireworks show.  Website:  www.palacesomersetpark.com (244 reviews, 4.9/5.0 stars on WeddingWire).

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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 (9 reviews, rated 5.0 / 5.0 on WeddingWire).

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The Grounds for Sculpture / RATS Restaurant (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 unique 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:   http://www.groundsforsculpture.org/weddings (28 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0 stars)

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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 (47 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0).

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The Mountain Lakes House (Princeton).  Nestled deep in the woods of Princeton on 90 acres of natural preserve, the Mountain Lakes House is the perfect venue for an intimate outdoor gathering with its beautiful lakeside view.  Add delicious food and adult beverages from the venue’s list of recommended caterers, and weddings at the Mountain Lakes House are magical!  Website:  www.themountainlakeshouse.org (18 reviews, rated 4.6 / 5.0 on WeddingWire).

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The Lambertville Station Restaurant and Inn  (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.lambervillestation.com (50 reviews, 4.5 / 5.0 stars on WeddingWire).

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The Jersey Shore

Clarks Landing Yacht Club (Point Pleasant). With a 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 and fondly recalls past weddings for years!  Website:  www.clarkslandingcaterers.com (275 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0 stars).

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The stunning Grand Ballroom at Clark’s Landing. Image from www.clarkslandingcaterers.com

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 (136 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0 stars).

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The Oak Room at the Shadowbrook

The Sunset Ballroom (Point 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   (54 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0 stars)

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Crystal Point Yacht Club (Point Pleasant).   Another Point Pleasant entry for 2018, Crystal Point Yacht Club is located on the scenic Manasquan River, making a perfect backdrop for an onsite wedding ceremony.  The venue offers friendly maitre d’s and an attentive staff.  Website:  www.thecrystalpoint.com (248 reviews, 4.9/5.0 stars on WeddingWire).

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The 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 recently went above and beyond  to help us coordinate complicated logistics for a wedding. Thanks Angel!  Website:  www.versaillescaterers.com (136 reviews, 4.9 / 5.0 stars on WeddingWire).

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North Jersey

The Pleasantdale Chateau (West Orange).  The Pleasantdale Chateau is the ideal venue for those couples seeking a luxurious fairytale wedding. This venue has that “wow factor” that begins the moment you drive onto the property and come down the driveway with the massive manor looming in the background. Enjoy your cocktail hour in the distinctive “Music Room,” chat with friends in the library and stroll through luxurious parlors.  Be sure to follow the Pleasantdale Chateau’s well-maintained Instagram account at @pleasantdalechateau to enjoy breathtaking images from events  Website:  pleasantdale.com  (48 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8/5.0 stars).

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A Fairytale Wedding Awaits You at the Pleasantdale Chateau

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The Westmount Country Club (Woodland Park).  The “one and only” Westmount Country Club lives up to its namesake.  This venue shines for its artistic presentation of cocktail hour stations, designer martini menu, and epic dessert stations that roll onto the dance floor.   We particularly love the vibes in artsy Continental Room.  Let the wow factor begin!  Website:  www.westmountcc.com (211 reviews, 4.9 / 5.0 stars on WeddingWire).

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The Continental Room at the Westmount Country Club

The Park Savoy (Florham Park).  Our top rated wedding venue from last year’s study, 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. 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 (271 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0).

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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 (504 reviews, 4.9 / 5.0 stars on WeddingWire).

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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 (25 reviews, 4.8/5.0 stars on WeddingWire).

 

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.  Built in 1840, this historic Victorian mansion is host to only one wedding per day.  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 (133 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0 stars).

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Explore David’s Country Inn at www.davidscountryinn.com

The Madison Hotel / Conservatory (Morristown).   We love weddings at the Madison Hotel!  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 (138 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8 / 5.0 stars)

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The Loft at Jack’s Barn (Oxford).  The Loft at Jack’s Barn is a turn of the century feed mill barn located on four acres in beautiful Warren County.  This venue combines the rustic with the refined.  Owner-operator Darren is intimately involved in the business and has a very “hands on” and attentive style.  Don’t worry about dust and barnyard smells – Jack’s is impeccably clean and smartly decorated.  Website:  www.jacksbarn.com/the-loft  (20 reviews, 4.9 / 5.0 stars on WeddingWire).

 

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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 newly opened “Lodge at Stirling Ridge” that fuses urban and rustic design elements.  We love how banquet manager Frank always greets DJs with a handshake and a smile! Website:  www.stonehouseatstirlingridge.com (74 reviews, 4.7 / 5.0 stars on WeddingWire).

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The Grain House at the Olde Mill Inn (Basking Ridge).  The historic Grain House restaurant is the ideal choice for couples seeking an intimate, rustic style wedding.  With delicious food and an attentive and professional management  team, the Grain House is one of our favorite venues.  Be sure to say hello to “George” the colorful horse figurine located at the entrance!  Website:  http://www.oldemillinn.com/weddings/grain-house-intimate-weddings/  (271 reviews, 4.9 / 5.0 on WeddingWire).

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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 (178 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0 stars).

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The Barn at Perona Farms with Rockstar Wedding Couple Sarah and Michael

The Conservatory at the Sussex County Fairgrounds (Augusta).  Located on the Sussex County Fairgrounds, this luxurious venue offers a climate-controlled conservatory and  photo opportunities galore in the assorted beautiful gardens.  Website:  http://alwayssomethinghappening.com/html/conservatory.cfm  (14 reviews, 4.6 / 5.0 star rating on WeddingWire).

 

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Jessica & Frank enjoy their first dance inside the Conservatory

South Jersey / Cape May

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.   The Reeds management 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 (22 WeddingWire reviews, 4.7/5.0 stars)

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The Reeds at Shelter Haven

One Atlantic (Atlantic City).  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 (153 WeddingWire reviews, 4.7/5.0 stars).

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Clarks Landing Yacht Club (Delran). While smaller than its sister property in Pt. Pleasant,  the same impeccable service is evident in Delran.  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 (84 WeddingWire reviews, 5.0/5.0 stars).

Tomasello Winery (Hammonton).  This venue is our top winery selection for 2018’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 (22 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9/5.0 stars).

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The Carriage House (Galloway).  The Carriage House is relatively new, having opened its doors about 10 years ago. The property is spacious inside and out, and beautifully designed as what is best described as a modern, opulent southern plantation. The Savannah Grand Ballroom is magnificent and reminiscent of an opera house.  The Carriage House offers an attentive staff, great food, and very reasonable package prices. Interestingly, the DJ booth is located on a stage one floor above the dance floor and guests.  Website:  www.the-carriagehouse.com (207 reviews, 4.9 / 5.0 stars on WeddingWire).

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   (24 WeddingWire reviews, 4.8/5.0 stars)

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The Merion (Cinnaminson).  The Merion is a grand, majestic complex offering numerous magnificent European-designed ballrooms. The Empire Ballroom is a particular favorite of ours, sporting the perfect environment for a Great Gatsby/Roaring Twenties party. Many couples opt for the Skylight Ballroom (with its distinctive dome) on the third floor. The Merion’s Viennese-style cocktail hours and desserts are over the top and may leave you in a state of food intoxication. We also enjoy their special “Rose Parade” (at the beginning of a reception) and “Sparkler Entrance” (for the unveiling of the desserts).  Website:  www.themerion.com (225 review, 4.8/5.0 stars on WeddingWire).

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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 info@ambientdj.com or p 609.672.1270

For More Information

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, 90 themed cocktail hour playlists and 12 songs NOT to play at a wedding.

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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 Spinz, DJ  Iron Mike, DJ Cloak Dagger and DJ Greg Nice. Ambient DJ is a 2018 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 2018, we had 205 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.

 

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Wedding Log – Jen & Moses, Woman’s Club of Ridgewood

Ambient DJ Service recently had the pleasure of providing wedding DJ entertainment for Jen and Moses at the Woman’s Club of Ridgewood in northern New Jersey.  For this Winter wedding, the weather was cool and crisp but with no snow in sight.

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How They Found Us – the groom took the lead on booking a DJ and actually learned about Ambient DJ Service on Yelp where he read some of our reviews.  Yelp is becoming an increasingly relevant review site for weddings in New Jersey.  Moses holds a doctorate and works as a psychologist, while Jen works in the healthcare field.

Their Package – This friendly, music-loving couple opted for our Radiance Package plus some enhanced uplighting to highlight the architectural features of the beautiful ballroom at the Ridgewood Woman’s Club.  The couple exercised an option to rent the entire facility, thus allowing guests access to the board room and upstairs gallery.  Gregg Hollmann, aka DJ Gregg Ambient, served as DJ and Emcee, and carefully prepared an international playlist that included salsa, merengue, bachata, dancehall reggae, Filipino line dances, R&B and modern dance fare.  Regarding the uplighting, we used wireless intelligent uplighting that has two primary advantages: 1) no unsightly wires or trip hazards, and 2) the lights can change color at the press of a button, presenting a variety of colors for the wedding photos.  Jen and Moses requested a neutral white color for their first dance and the early part of the reception.

The Party – Special Dances and Key Songs

Seeking a streamlined wedding reception with more of a party feel than formal affair, Jen and Moses nixed some of the normal formal dances for a wedding.  Their first dance was “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony.  Later, they cut the cake to Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet it Is (To Be Loved by You) and closed out the evening with “For Your Precious Love” by Jerry Butler.

Tracks that were enjoyed on the dance floor included:

  • September – Earth, Wind & Fire
  • The Cupid Shuffle – Cupid
  • Scenario –  A Tribe Called Quest

 

Unique Features – one unique feature of this celebration was the international menu with numerous Filipino entrees, including lechon (roast baby pig).

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Lechon

We really enjoyed working with this fun and generous couple.  Thank you Jen and Moses!

About Ambient DJ Service

Ambient DJ Service is a New Jersey-based wedding DJ entertainment specialist and Knot Best of Weddings Hall of Fame winner.  Past satisfied couples have complimented our detailed planning, attentive customer service, multicultural approach, affordable packages and exciting options.  To learn more about Ambient DJ Service, visit www.ambientdj.com.

Need ideas on wedding music?  Check out our 2017 Wedding Music Master Class at https://ambientdj.wordpress.com/2017/01/25/the-wedding-music-master-class-2017-edition/

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New Jersey’s Top Wedding Venues (2017 Edition)

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.

To further explore the lures of New Jersey weddings, check out Erik Kent from NJWedding.com’s blog article “10 Reasons to Get Married in New Jersey”by clicking here.

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:

  1. Natural beauty and ambience (how does the venue look both inside and out?);
  2. Friendly and service-oriented staff (preferably with long-term staff retention);
  3. Delicious food (DJs are often provided an entree);
  4. 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;
  5. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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)

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Hotel Alcott

(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)

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The Waterside Restaurant – North Bergen, NJ

(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)

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(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)

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The Barn at Perona Farms with Rockstar Wedding Couple Sarah and Michael!

(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).

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The Oak Room at The Shadowbrook

(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)

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Tomasello Winery – Onsite Ceremony w/ DJ Greg Nice

(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)

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The Riverside Ballroom at The Inn at Lambertville Station

(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)

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The Boathouse at Mercer Lake

(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)

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One Atlantic

(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)

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Mercer Oaks

(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)

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The Reeds at Shelter Haven

(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)

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The Covered Barn at The Hamilton Manor

(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)

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The Prince William Ballroom at The Nassau Inn

(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)

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The Palace at Somerset Park

(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)

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The Estate at Florentine Gardens

(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)

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Why party at a banquet hall when you can party at a chateau? The Pleasantdale Chateau

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The Pleasantdale Chateau – West Orange, NJ

(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.

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Winter Wedding at The Park Savoy

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Detailed Woodwork on Ceiling above Dance Floor

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 info@ambientdj.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.

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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.

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New Jersey’s Top Wedding Venues (2016 Edition)

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.  This is our third 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 luxurious banquet halls with the most decadent Viennese spreads to romantic wineries, the Garden State is a great place to celebrate a wedding! We recommend couples to find a venue that suits their 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.

To further explore the lures of New Jersey weddings, check out Erik Kent from NJWedding.com’s blog article “10 Reasons to Get Married in New Jersey”by clicking here.

What Makes an Exceptional Venue?

Factors that impress us:

  1. Natural beauty and ambience (how does the venue look both inside and out?);
  2. Friendly and service-oriented staff (preferably with long-term staff retention);
  3. Delicious food (DJs are often provided an entree);
  4. 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.
  5. 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” and not as some jerky DJ. 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

  1. Research your venue on WeddingWire (www.weddingwire.com), the Knot (www.theknot.com) or Yelp (www.yelp.com). See 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Ask your wedding planner, DJ company or other wedding vendors for recommendations.

The Top 25 List

Here’s our list, presented in countdown fashion. Drumroll, please…

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 mid-January.

(25) S.W. Bowne Great Hall (at Drew University in Madison, NJ) – Modeled after Oxford’s Christ Church hall (which was also replicated for Harry Potter’s Hogwarts), Drew’s Great Hall boasts a dramatic stone staircase and magnificent wood-paneled hall with leaded-glass windows.  This unique and stunning venue left an incredible impression on us for Christopher and Annie’s 2015 wedding.  However, Great Hall is currently only available to Drew alumni and staff.  This policy may change in the future according to Drew University’s event coordinator, so interested couples are encouraged to inquire.  Website:  www.drew.edu/calendar/event-rentals/ (unrated on WeddingWire) (photo below courtesy of Ed Hafizov of Zorz Studios (click on the Zorz Studios link for more photos of Great Hall)

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(24) Hotel Icona Diamond Beach (Diamond Beach) –  For lovers of beach weddings, this contemporary, upscale all-suite hotel overlooks the ocean and is located on one of New Jersey’s only private beaches.  The 3,000 square foot luxury tent “The Pavilion” is located on the beach and available from May through October.  The Lani Rooftop is found on the hotel’s 3rd floor and open year-round.  Friendly and attentive management and staff. Website: www.iconaresortdiamondbeach.com (4 reviews, 4.9 average rating)

(23) Minerals Hotel (Hamburg) –  The Minerals Hotel at Crystal Springs Resort offers a  rustic pavilion for wedding receptions with beautiful views of the golf course below and mountains of the Appalachian Valley in the background.  The 175 room Minerals Hotel offers an array of year-round amenities, including its Elements Spa.  Friendly staff.  Website: www.crystalgolfresort.com/stay/minerals-hotel/ (4 WeddingWire reviews, 4.9 average rating)

(22)Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 3.35.29 PM The 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 (20 reviews, 4.8 average rating)

(21) The Prallsville Mill (Stockton)– The Prallsville Mill is a historic grist mill located on the Delaware River in Stockton NJ. This unique and intimate venue is particularly well-suited for rustic Fall weddings. The dance party action occurs downstairs, where historic mill equipment and whirlpools add to the ambience. Website: www.brillmansrentalbarn.com (4 reviews, 3.5 average rating)

(20) Triumph Brewery (Princeton) – Located directly across the street from Princeton University in the bustling downtown area, Triumph Brewery is a unique space that can be reserved for your wedding. Imagine guests enjoying craft beers brewed onsite with huge metal beer tanks looming in the background. Triumph’s professional management team is very well-regarded. Website: www.triumphbrewing.com (5 reviews, 5.0 average rating)

(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 (146 reviews, 4.8 average rating)

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(18) The Sunset Ballroom at Jack Bakers (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 (44 reviews, 4.8 average rating)

(17) The Shadowbrook (Shrewsbury) –  We love the Shadowbrook for its beautiful 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 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 interior of the mansion are currently underway.  Be sure to ask about the Shadowbrook’s caviar/vodka bar option for cocktail hour!  Website:  www.shadowbrook.com (102 reviews, 4.9 average rating).

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(16) The Inn at Fernbrook Farms (Chesterfield) – The spacious grounds include beautiful seasonal gardens, a cottage and water tower. Tented wedding receptions are the norm here. Max Hansen, the recommended caterer, provides a delicious ensemble of gourmet food. The Inn at Fernbrook Farms is particularly well-suited for a rustic Fall wedding. Website: www.innatfernbrookfarms.com (14 reviews, 4.2 average rating)

(15) The Merion (Cinnaminson) – The Merion is a grand, majestic complex offering numerous magnificent European-designed ballrooms. The Empire Ballroom is a particular favorite of ours, sporting the perfect environment for a Great Gatsby/Roaring Twenties party. Many couples opt for the Skylight Ballroom (with its distinctive dome) on the third floor. The Merion’s Viennese-style cocktail hours and desserts are over the top and may leave you in a state of food intoxication. We also enjoy their special “Rose Parade” (at the beginning of a reception) and “Sparkler Entrance” (for the unveiling of the desserts). Website: www.themerion.com (192 reviews, 4.8 average rating)

(14) The Lake Valhalla Club (Montville) – The Lake Valhalla Club is a building of Tudor-style architecture, rich in character with a dark, classical interior.  The Lake Valhalla Club is the antidote to large, impersonal banquet halls.  Great food and service.  An onsite ceremony with the beautiful lake in the background is highly recommended. During warmer months, newly married couples can enjoy a boat ride on Lake Valhalla and capture some epic photos in the process. Website: www.lakevalhallaclub.com (62 reviews, 4.9 average rating)

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(13) The 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 evening celebration dancing under the stars. Website: www.madisonhotelweddings.com (106 reviews, 4.8 average rating)

(12)Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 3.34.19 PM 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.  Delicious food and friendly management and staff.  Website:  www.reedsatshelterhaven.com         (11 reviews, 4.7 average rating)

(11) The Liberty House Restaurant (Jersey City) – With a jaw-dropping view of the lower Manhattan skyline directly across the Hudson River and the most delicious Chilean Sea Bass ever, the Liberty House shines.  Website: www.libertyhouserestaurant.com (109 reviews, 4.8 average rating)

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(10) Laurita Winery (New Egypt) – New Jersey offers numerous vineyard options for weddings.  Laurita Winery, located in Central NJ in New Egypt (not so far from Six Flags Great Adventure) is our favorite for its upscale and trendy environment.  The picturesque grounds and venue are top notch.  Website:  www.lauritawinery.com (20 reviews, 4.8 average rating).

(9) Park Savoy Estate (Florham Park) – 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.  Take a stroll through the beautiful onsite gardens.  Website www.theparksavoy.com (197 reviews, 5.0 average rating).  Also consider Park Savoy’s sister property, Nanina’s in the Park in Belleville (www.naninasinthepark.com)

(8) 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, three staff members have been with David’s for more than 25 years! Also check out the antique coffee maker in the cocktail hour space. Website: www.davidscountryinn.com (77 reviews, 5.0 average rating)

(7) The Hamilton Manor (Hamilton NJ) – 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 Salzano Family runs a top-notch professional operation and continues to expand the property, most recently with a covered outdoor patio barn (for cocktail hours, pictured below) and outdoor ceremony area.  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 (105 reviews, 4.9 average rating)

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(6) The Estate at Florentine Gardens (River Vale) – This newly 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 (336 reviews, 4.9 average rating)

(5) The Stone House 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. Banquet manager Frank always offers a warm smile to DJs and guests! Website: www.stonehouseatstirlingridge.com (51 reviews, 4.8 average rating)

(4) 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 (33 reviews, 4.9 average rating)

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(3) 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 (196 reviews, 4.9 average rating)

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(2) Clark’s 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 (215 reviews, 5.0 average rating)

(1) The Pleasantdale Chateau (West Orange) – Congratulations to the Pleasantdale Chateau for repeating this year as our top pick!  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 (41 reviews, 4.8 average rating)

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Comments are welcome. Please let us know what venues would be on your list of favorites!  For any banquet managers interested in providing us an introduction to your venue, please contact us at info@ambientdj.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 2016” that contains over 1,800 song ideas spanning ceremony music, First Dance songs, Parent Dance songs, Cake Cutting Songs, Bouquet Garter Songs, grand entrance songs, grand finale songs, 65 themed cocktail hour playlists and 10 songs NOT to play at a wedding.

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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. Ambient DJ is a 2016 winner of the Knot Best of Weddings award as well as of the WeddingWire Couple’s Choice Award.  As of mid-January, we had 160 WeddingWire reviews with an average rating of 4.9 out of 5.0 stars.

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 / 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.