New Jersey Wedding Planning Tips

Get all the venue, decor, and formal tips for your New Jersey wedding with Zola’s insider guide.

By The Zola Team

New Jersey Wedding Planning Tips
Photo by Nicole Klym Photography

The First Look ✨

  • New Jersey is a small but incredibly diverse state. For marrying couples, wedding options encompass the state’s variety of urban and rural venues, multicultural communities, and seasonal highlights.
  • Jersey’s three main regions—north, central, south—each have distinct personalities for hosting your wedding.
  • Out of all fifty states, New Jersey is the most expensive for wedding ceremonies. But that doesn’t mean you can’t throw a celebration on a budget.
  • Don’t skip out on the Jersey cuisine. Menus with local favorites like Italian-Jersey food, Atlantic seafood, and diner plates will please native guests and visitors alike.

New Jersey is a pretty small area in terms of square mileage, but this impressive state packs world-class cities, beautiful farmlands and parks, and a diverse population of millions inside its borders.

No matter your lifestyle or taste, Jersey has a spot for you—and the wedding of your dreams.

If you and your partner want a New Jersey wedding, Zola can help you lay the groundwork. Read on to discover our top tips and advice for marrying in Jersey.

When to Get Married in New Jersey

Tradition says the peak wedding season runs from late spring to fall. In New Jersey, that’s pretty much the case, with a few exceptions here and there.

This Atlantic coastal state has four distinct seasons, from snowy winters, to humid summers, to mild springs and falls. Late spring and early fall hold the most coveted wedding dates, but Jersey couples can still get married throughout the calendar year. From festive indoor holiday weddings to summer garden receptions, Jersey can handle the date of your choice.

Winter

During the colder months, New Jersey temperatures dip down to the mid-30s Fahrenheit, even reaching the low 20s. You can expect a fair amount of snow, alongside plenty of wind and a few icy storms—in short, it’s not the best time for an outdoor wedding. But that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate in style.

Consider a winter wedding in Jersey if any of these factors apply to your plans:

  • Lower Budget: Across the board, winter is considered the “off-season” for Jersey wedding venues (outside of specific holiday weeks). That means you can score off-season prices. From New Jersey wedding venue rentals to florals, almost all vendor categories reduce prices during wintertime.

  • Indoor Setting: Don’t let your guests risk frostbite. Unless you’ve got some serious heat lamps, Jersey winters simply aren’t built for an outdoor ceremony. Keep your ceremony and reception inside.

  • Festive Cheer: ‘Tis the season for celebration. The winter holidays bring a natural romance and festivity to any wedding. Channel the season’s cheer by holding your wedding in late November through December around the holidays.

Spring and Fall

With mild temperatures and sunny skies, spring and fall are prime wedding seasons in New Jersey. October is the most popular month for weddings due to the lingering summer warmth and picture-perfect leaves. But across the board, these two seasons set the stage for some stunning celebrations.

If you want a spring or fall Jersey wedding, check that any of these factors apply to your plans:

  • Higher Budget: Peak wedding season means peaking prices. For a prime spring or fall date, you could be spending anywhere from hundreds to thousands more dollars on venues, catering, and florals. Make sure your budget can handle all the peak season price menus.

  • Outdoor Setting: You can’t book a spring or fall wedding in Jersey and not go outside. With little rain and temperatures across the 50s and 60s, it’s the perfect weather for a garden, farmhouse, or estate grounds celebration. Spring brings out Jersey’s natural wildflowers, while fall creates beautiful red, gold, and brown leaves.

  • Large Celebrations: The longer your guest list, the more space you’ll need. While indoor locations can be spacious, you’re left with fewer large-scale venues during the winter months. During spring and fall, you have more available spaces that will give your guests elbow room.

Summer

New Jersey summers are hot, humid, and a bit rainy. Temperatures can climb up to the high 80s in July, but they can drop to the low 60s at night. While still considered peak season, summer is a slightly less popular time for weddings—it all depends on your location and venue.

For a wedding filled with warm sunshine, Jersey couples should consider these choices:

  • Mixed Settings: A summer wedding overlooking the Atlantic Ocean sounds like a dream. But after an hour in the sun, you and your guests will be sweating through your formalwear. Get the best of both worlds by securing separate indoor and outdoor settings. You can separate your ceremony and reception, or choose a venue that has both options.

  • Cooling Measures: When temperatures can reach nearly 90 degrees, it’s only responsible to cool off your guests at an outdoor ceremony. Cold towels, iced refreshments, fans, and special cooling stations will prevent overheating.

  • Raincheck Plans: July and August are the rainiest months in Jersey. Even on the most clear-skied days, a storm cloud can pop up. Play it safe by making a rain plan, whether that’s an outdoor tent or a nearby shelter.

  • Waterfront or Mountain Venues: Two areas where Jersey summers chill out? The oceanfront and northwest mountains. After winter, the ocean retains its cooler temperature during the summer, creating a milder environment near the shore. Similarly, you can find a cool breeze up in the New Jersey Highlands.

New Jersey Wedding Locations—Your Top Cities

As locals know, New Jersey is divided into three main regions: North Jersey, Central Jersey, and South Jersey. Each area has its own distinct culture, which means unique attractions and stunning wedding venues for your enjoyment.

North Jersey

Cooler and pricier, North Jersey is the refined older brother of the state’s regions. The area includes the following cities:

  • Newark
  • Jersey City
  • Hoboken
  • Elizabeth
  • Irvington
  • Newton

As the state’s most populated area, North Jersey is prime territory for chic metropolitan celebrations. In addition, New York City is just across the river, with more venue options and airports. However, you can also find some gorgeous mountain getaways in the Northwest Highlands.

If you’re seeking any of these venue categories, then North Jersey might be the spot for you:

  • Industrial or Urban Settings: Between its major cities, Jersey has plenty of industrial-chic spaces for your enjoyment. Minimalist warehouses, high-ceiling restaurants, and luxurious rooftops fill the downtown areas of Newark, Jersey City, and more. Bring your soft lights, stripped-down greenery, and monochrome decor to these urban centers.

  • Waterfront Properties: North Jersey offers both urban and countryside waterfront views, depending on your location. Say “I do” over the Hudson River skyline, or take your vows out to one of the many small lakes across North Jersey.

  • Farms, Clubhouses, and Lodges: Once you reach about 50 miles west of the Hudson River, you hit North Jersey’s natural splendor. This lush forest region has countless farmhouses, country clubs, and cabin-style lodges that range from rustic-boho to glamping luxury.

Central Jersey

Central Jersey is a bit of a debated region, with less defined perimeters. Depending on who you’re talking to, the area may or may not include the Jersey Shore or certain border cities. However, let’s consider these cities part of Central Jersey for the sake of wedding plans:

  • Trenton
  • New Brunswick
  • Perth Amboy
  • Edison
  • Asbury
  • Princeton
  • Linden
  • Toms River
  • Plainsboro

Central Jersey straddles the line between coastal and suburban. To the east, you have some gorgeous Atlantic Ocean views and waterfront properties. To the west, you get a mix of charming college towns, diverse suburbs, and sprawling farms. For a more relaxed wedding, choose these popular venue types in Central Jersey:

  • Parks and Gardens: From Mercer County Park to the famous Grounds for Sculpture, you can find plenty of wild and curated greenery in Central Jersey. Wait until late spring to enjoy the full splendor of this area’s natural beauty. It’s well worth the sights and smells.

  • Oceanside Settings: Like up north, Central Jersey has a few landlocked lakes and rivers. But the real waterfront view is the Atlantic Ocean. Marina houses, beach supper clubs, and chic seaside hotels make for a picturesque venue.

  • Historic Estates: In Central Jersey, you have towns and buildings dating back to the Colonial era. And these stately historic venues make for a pretty impressive wedding. Infuse your celebration with classic style at a charming Princeton inn or elegant Edison manor.

South Jersey

Out of all the regions, South Jersey is by far the most laid-back. The area’s known for its cheaper prices, casino cities, and adoption of Philadelphia culture. Popular wedding locations in South Jersey include:

  • Atlantic City
  • Camden
  • Ocean City
  • Cherry Hill
  • Vineland
  • Moorestown
  • Glassboro

With its industrial cities and casual vibe, South Jersey has excellent venues that put the fun in any celebration. Check out these top New Jersey wedding venue categories:

  • Restaurants and Breweries: Whether on the beach or nestled in the city, South Jersey’s restaurants provide a warm and welcoming environment. You can go upscale with a fine-dining steakhouse or throw a cozy celebration in one of the area’s many taverns.

  • Inns, Hotels, and Resorts: Take your pick of South Jersey’s diverse hotel scene. Out west, you’ll find stunning inns, perfect for an outdoor lawn ceremony. On the eastern coast, Atlantic City and Ocean City have all the chic hotel rooftops you could ask for.

  • Ballrooms and Banquet Halls: As a casino capital, the South Jersey coast has plenty of swanky and stylish ballrooms. You can even browse the area’s best banquet hall venues with Zola’s vendor database, complete with custom search filters.

Budgeting for a Jersey Wedding

No good wedding plan exists without a budget. And in Jersey, you’ll definitely need a solid financial plan. In 2021, the average wedding cost $53,400 in New Jersey, making it the most expensive state to throw a wedding. That’s more than double the national average cost.

To start, you should break down your budget by spending categories. For most couples, the main wedding expenses include:

If you’re already sweating over future bills, don’t fear. With some careful planning, you can throw a beautiful wedding on any budget. Here are some specific tips for saving money on your Jersey celebration:

  • Choose a Weekday: No matter the location or season, most venues charge less for weekday rentals (Friday can be an exception). Check with your chosen wedding vendors about potential discounts for a Tuesday or Thursday wedding. This is also a great strategy for booking a date during the peak seasons.

  • Go Off-Season: Venues, florists, caterers, and more will often lower prices during the off-season. To cut costs across the board, plan your wedding anytime from November through February.

  • Size Down: It’s a guaranteed rule that the fewer guests you invite, the less you’ll spend on your wedding. If budgeting is a concern, then a 300-plus bash might be out of reach. Intimate weddings can make for a joyful celebration at an affordable price.

  • Head South: In Jersey, the farther north you travel, the more expensive it gets. Placing your wedding in one of South Jersey’s gardens, inns, or restaurants will save you major money in the long run.

  • Avoid Tourist Traps: Yes, the Atlantic City Boardwalk is a thrilling locale. But to cut costs, it’s best to avoid places with high numbers of tourists. Avoid the casinos, extra-busy downtown hotels, or festival weeks across Jersey cities.

  • Simplify: If you’re saying “I do” in a garden, maybe you don’t need extra florals and decor. Save hundreds in cash by stripping away unnecessary decorations or services. Instead, go for venues where the decor is already part of the environment (manors, gardens, restaurants, etc.).

  • Take a Package Deal: Certain venues offer (and even require) all-inclusive packages with a space rental. And as a whole, these package deals cost far less than their individual services combined. Seek out Jersey venues with inclusive services to save significant money.

Popular Jersey Wedding Decor

Across its many venues, Jersey has space for almost every wedding vision board to come to life. Whether you dream of a fairytale garden ceremony or a luxurious penthouse reception, it can happen in New Jersey. Try out these popular decor styles to match the state’s venues:

  • Rustic Boho: Embrace Jersey’s natural beauty and gorgeous farmlands with a rustic wedding. Vintage candle holders, mason jars, and fairy lights give any farmhouse an inviting, romantic look. Incorporate some of Jersey’s local wildflowers for a truly bohemian touch.

  • Modern Minimalist: When overlooking the Hudson River or city skyline, you don’t want to block the view. Stay sleek and modern with a minimalist design inside one of Jersey’s urban settings. Colored lights, geometric shapes, and a less-is-more attitude will make your wedding pop.

  • Lush Romance: It’s not called the Garden State for nothing. New Jersey’s curated green spaces are some of the most beautiful wedding venues around. Bring out the innate romance of these lush spaces with overhanging flowers, warm colors, and sweeping canopies or tents.

  • Classic and Light: Jersey’s historic venues and elegant inns are the perfect backdrops to a classical taste. Traditional wedding elements like white tablecloths, roses, calligraphy signs, and silver tableware will complement these stately venues.

New Jersey Cuisine for Wedding Season

The food of New Jersey is just as diverse and delightful as the state itself. From immigrant-owned restaurants, to local farms, to countless delis, there’s a bit for everyone to enjoy in Jersey. Let the local cuisine shine at your wedding with one of these Jersey-themed menus:

  • Multicultural Celebration: Out of all the states, New Jersey ranks among the top five for the largest immigrant population—and it shows in the tasty food. Channel Jersey’s blended culture with Indian, Mexican, Dominican, Filipino, Chinese, or Korean dishes at your celebration.

  • Farm-to-Table: Even within such a small area, New Jersey has over 9,900 distinct farms that produce seasonal crops all year long. Certain countryside or farmhouse venues partner with local farm-to-table caterers, delivering you the freshest food around for your celebration.

  • Upgraded Deli: Not many know that New Jersey is considered the diner capital of the world. Bring the flavors of these local hangouts to your wedding with home fries, mini deli sandwiches (don’t forget the pork roll), grilled cheese bites, milkshake shooters, and other classic dishes.

  • Jersey Italian: No cuisine is more associated with Jersey than Italian food. For the traditional route, go family-style with large trays of baked pasta, chicken parmesan, meatballs, and other red-sauce favorites. A more upscale menu could have a sit-down dinner with authentic primo, secondo, contorni, and dolci courses.

  • Atlantic Seaside: Bring the catch of the day to your reception with local seafood (and a nautical wedding menu to match). Fish like sea bass, bluefish, fluke, skate, and swordfish are all freshly caught off the Atlantic Coast. And for shellfish, Jersey oysters and clams make for delicious appetizers.

New Jersey Marriage Laws, Licenses, and More

We know: Weddings should be fun and joyful, not bogged down with formal paperwork. But to make your ceremony count, you’ll need to apply for a New Jersey marriage license.

Every state has its own marriage license peculiarities and details, and Jersey is no exception. To start, you and your partner must both meet some personal criteria to legally marry, which includes being:

  • 18 years or older
  • Unmarried
  • Unrelated to your chosen marriage partner

If you meet those standards, then you are free to apply for a marriage license at a New Jersey county office. Application requirements vary from county to county, but almost all offices will require these documents or materials:

  • Photo ID with age (driver’s license, passport, state ID, etc.)
  • Proof of residency
  • SSN card or number
  • A witness who’s 18 years or older
  • $28 application fee
  • Death certificate of former spouse (if applicable)
  • Divorce decree for former marriage (if applicable)

Once you’ve received your marriage license and waited the required 72 hours, you and your partner can marry within New Jersey. Just make sure your ceremony has a legal officiant and one witness. It should also occur within six months of receiving the license.

Like most wedding plans, the sooner the better with marriage licenses. Don’t wait until the last minute to apply. That way, you’ll have one last thing to stress about before the big day.

Just Say Yes in Jersey With Zola

From the rustic Highlands to roaring Ocean City, you have every wedding option at your fingertips in New Jersey. So let your personal style shine. With our planning tips and your sparkling vision, your ideal wedding is a possibility across Jersey’s diverse locales.

Want to take your Jersey wedding plans to the next level? Let Zola be the hub for all of your needs. Our tools include customizable websites, free guest list managers, and the best wedding stationery designs around. Start with a Zola registry, and the rest of the plans will feel as breezy as the Atlantic shore.

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