19 tips for choosing your New Jersey outdoor wedding venue

Congratulations on your engagement! Now — how do you find the right New Jersey outdoor wedding venue for you? Take a look at some of our tips to make sure you find your perfect venue so your outdoor wedding will flow beautifully and effortlessly.

1. Know the feeling or theme for your wedding

Before starting your New Jersey outdoor wedding search, ask yourself: What vibe do I want to create for my wedding? Do I want it to be upscale? Rustic? Or do I want an elegant, neutral backdrop that can be transformed to my look and feel? Think about your day. What will make you and your guests most comfortable? Are there any must-haves? It’s time to make a list of what’s most important to you in your NJ outdoor wedding venue!

2. What Is the maximum capacity of the New Jersey wedding venue?

It’s important you have an idea of how many guests you will be inviting to your wedding. Most venues have guest limits, and you don’t want to get your heart set on one to find out they can not accommodate your wedding. Will you be celebrating with under 100 of your close family and friends? So again, make a list!

You also don’t want to pack 250 guests who are bumping elbows into a venue that has a max capacity of exactly 250 people. Capacity limits can make or break a venue—you obviously can’t cram 300 people into a space that’s designed to accommodate 150.

Guest count plays a large role in where you can fit most comfortably. Brooklake in Florham Park, NJ can accommodate up to 350 guests, but is also perfect for a smaller, more intimate group of family and friends.

Be sure to consider the size of the dance floor. And of course, if you plan to have your wedding ceremony outdoors, find out how many can be comfortably seated for your outdoor ceremony.

3. How important is professionalism?

The answer should be VERY. Make sure there is a team of professionals who will be attentive to your needs and the needs of your guests. Make a list of venues that can accommodate an outdoor wedding, then take a tour. You will get a sense of the professionals who will best ensure your most perfect outdoor NJ wedding.

Look at reviews on Wedding Wire, The Knot and Google. Here’s what Milly L. posted on Wedding Wire. It may help you think about the type of experience you want on your wedding day.

Best Day of Our Lives!!! Thank you Brooklake!
I don’t even know how to start this review without crying. I’m a Covid bride, we went from June 6, 2020 to November 28, 2020 to July 31, 2021.

Brooklake was just so wonderful to us the entire process. The most attentive group of people I have ever met. Carol and Peter have been with us every step of the way. Making sure ALL of our questions were answered. All of our concerns are discussed. Our wedding day was the best day of our lives. I handed my wedding decor with a PowerPoint presentation lol and every little detail that I asked for was done to the T! The food was spectacular. We are big foodies and this was such a big part of our worry we wanted a lot of GOOD food and boy did we get it!! We added the seafood station and if you’re contemplating it, DO IT it was so worth it! Everyone is still raving about our cocktail hour. The Red Snapper, Chicken Wellington and Filet were all so amazing!!! Everything happened without a hitch and there’s a group of people behind that.

Maury, thank you so much for making sure our day was just perfect. I cannot begin to imagine the kind of work the Maitre D had to do to manage a 200 person wedding. Thank you!

Edith, my love I don’t know if I would have been able to have made it through this day without you. You were by my side the entire day making sure I took a second to breath, to drink, to make sure my dress and hair were in place for pictures. Holding my straw so I don’t ruin my lipstick. Grabbing us food and feeding us as we walk and talk to our guests. You are a saint.

Carol, I don’t even know what to say. I guess I can start with, you were right. I had the most amazing wedding a girl can only dream of. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking such an amazing care of my husband and I. Thank you for your patience, your kindness and your attention to detail. Everything was perfect just like you promised. I wish I would have listened to you when you told me time and time again not to worry.

Peter, I know I already cried and hugged you to death when we picked up our stuff after the wedding but Thank You just doesn’t seem enough to express our sincerest gratitude. I know that I am as organized as they come but you my friend have got me beat. You do not miss any detail. A true perfectionist in the best compliment possible. We will forever cherish our wedding day and it’s all thanks to you and the entire Brooklake staff.

We made the absolute right choice by picking this venue. The grounds were stunning. Our ceremony was picturesque. If you have any doubt in your mind if you should book Brooklake. Come find me, I’ll answer all of your questions and will put your mind at ease.”

4. Know Your Budget

This connects to knowing your guest count. The more guests, the higher the cost. Your total number of guests has a significant effect on your budget. Have an idea of your budget range before you start looking for venues. This will allow you to cut venues that don’t make sense financially. There’s nothing more disappointing than finding what feels like your dream venue but then realizing later down the line that it doesn’t fit into your wedding budget. Think about how much you’re willing to spend on the entirety of your wedding and how much of that should be allocated to the venue specifically.

Don’t forget to consider the cost of your NJ wedding venue holistically. Some venues, such as Brooklake, might provide some important event services already in their overall price quote while others might charge extra for the same services. Expenses can add up quickly if you have to rent tables, chairs, a dancefloor, lighting, and other key day-of elements.

Things to consider in your overall budget include:

  • Venue
  • Catering
  • Rental Costs
  • Photography
  • Videography
  • Attire
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Decor
  • Entertainment
  • Wedding Planner
  • Stationery
  • Officiant
  • Transportation
  • Wedding Bands
  • Goodies for the Guests

5. Decide must haves for your NJ wedding venue

While it may be possible for a wedding venue to have all the features you want, it’s not likely. That’s why it is important to know what’s included so you are able to decide on what is a “must have.” Do you want a Cigar and Whiskey bar outside near a fire pit? Do you need room for a band? Do you want a romantic outdoor wedding with a lake as your backdrop? Do you need to have a venue that is accessible for guests with mobility issues? Look for venues with stone pathways if possible—guests will be able to walk around the property, especially those in high heels!

6. Choose a venue with numerous indoor and outdoor spaces

We know now more than ever, spacious rooms with safety precautions are everyone’s number one priority. We recommend finding a venue with multiple settings or areas. Airflow and space are key! Having a large room with doors that can be opened for air in nice weather or closed during rainy or cool days is optimal. Think about how the movement of your guests can flow from the outdoor veranda to the ballroom. Find a property that you do not have to be confined to just one area. Think about airflow and space with lawns and gardens for private conversations without being too far from the main party!

7. Use Mother Nature to your advantage

Think about the views! Who wouldn’t want a wedding venue location where you can have rolling hills as a backdrop but also be by the glistening water of a lake? Think of the backdrop of the trees, flowers, water and hills as your ready-made decorations. At a NJ venue like Brooklake, you won’t need to spend large amounts of money to make your vision a reality. Mother Nature (and the gardeners) already did it for you!

8. Parking

It may seem like a minuscule consideration, but it’s so important when choosing your outdoor wedding venue that you have easily accessible parking not only for your guests but your vendors too. Make sure parking is easy to find and that there is enough space, so you can eliminate headaches and confusion the day of your wedding. You don’t need people calling you or your immediate family asking where to go or reporting that the designated parking is full.

9. Availability

If you’re dead set on a particular date for your wedding, try and start looking at venues on the earlier side to increase your chance of venues still being available. If your date is more flexible, you should still start well in advance but chances are you’ll have more options since you can pick your date based on the venue’s availability rather than being constrained to a certain date.

Keep in mind, many weddings were postponed due to Covid, so availability may be a challenge. Start your planning as early as you can.

10. Comfort is Key!

Depending on the season of your outdoor wedding, make sure you think of heat and air conditioning as well. There is nothing worse than having an uncomfortable climate interrupting the ambiance of your big day.

11. Pavement on the Grounds

@miltongilphotographers Choosing an outdoor wedding venue in New Jersey can often come with challenges getting around for you and your guests. A small detail that you might not think of but makes a huge difference for you and your guests is having pavers, stones, or any kind of walkway that makes walking on the outdoor grounds easier. Neither you nor your guests want to worry about getting your shoes stuck in the grass or having uneven ground to walk through.

12. Choose an optimal outdoor month

Once you know the size of the party and your budget, decide the time of year you want to marry. Ask the immediate family if they have conflicts during this time. If possible, choose a month or even a season you want to marry, not a specific date. Many venues are booking weekday weddings now which gives you more choices. The greater the flexibility you have, the more availability wedding venues will have. Most newly engaged couples start looking for a venue right away, so popular venues book a year to even two years in advance.

Choosing “The Perfect Month” is a personal preference. Spring and summer weddings in New Jersey feature beautiful peonies, irises, and roses along with warm summer nights. September and October New Jersey weddings are breathtaking with the hues of fall colors that surround you. Nature at its finest! These are the perfect months if you want a classic fall wedding with the stunning leaf foliage in the scenery of your photographs. The weather is also perfect because it’s warm but you don’t need heavy layers just yet! Imagine sipping on a drink at an evening fire pit! (Yes, the Brooklake veranda has cosy fire pits.)

Fall is the most popular season for New Jersey weddings, but in Northern New Jersey, October is the most popular month, while in Southern New Jersey, it’s September. When figuring out when best to plan your outdoor NJ wedding, it’s essential to know something about the weather patterns in the area. You can predict hot and sticky summers, cold, snowy winters, and milder summers and falls. The hottest month is July, with an average temperature of 86 degrees, and the coldest is January, with an average temperature of 39 degrees. July is also the rainiest month, with 4.72 inches of precipitation during that month. Early summer and early fall typically have mild, temperate weather with a lower risk of rain, snow, or super-high heat or humidity. If you have your heart set on an outdoor wedding, these months are your best bet.

13. Want to say your vows at sunset?

Time the start of your ceremony 15-20 minutes before the sun sets. That way you’ll get that soft glowing light during your vow exchange. Consider the key players: officiant, musicians, readers, etc. and what kind of lighting they will need, if any. https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/@5101760

At Brooklake your wedding will face westerly direction. This gives you your best chance to capture extraordinary photos with the setting sun as your backdrop.

14. Your wedding planner or coordinator

Are you planning to hire a wedding planner? Some NJ wedding venues, such as Brooklake, will have a coordinator as part of their team! Your planner will guide you on every aspect of your day. Our event professionals are responsive and flexible throughout the whole planning process, paying close attention to every detail of your special day. The entire staff including our celebrated Event Manager, Culinary Staff, Bridal Attendants, Parent’s Attendants, Maitre’d, Valets… are incredibly attentive to make sure your day goes seamlessly.

15. Ask what is Included in your venue package – know what you are paying for.

Especially with an outdoor wedding, you need to know what is your responsibility to provide and what the venue already supplies. You might assume things like lights and tables will be included, but you won’t know for sure unless you ask. In addition, do you want the caterer to be part of the venue package so that you do not have to worry about finding the perfect one? Many couples who dream of an outdoor wedding do not want to have to worry about those kinds of decisions and do not want to have to bring a lot to the venue. Where will the bridal party relax and get dressed? Is there a groom’s room? Maybe you want an extended cocktail hour out at the gardens, and a whiskey bar at the fire pit.

Your outdoor wedding venue coordinator has probably seen his or her fair share of parades get rained on at their location. As a result, they’ll have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to alternative options and creative ways to keep guests dry at their unique space. They might even offer complimentary tents, umbrellas, or heaters. You don’t know until you ask!

16. Are there curfew or noise restraints?

Some venues have strict rules about when you will need to be quiet or just how noisy you can be. Make sure to ask if there are any noise restrictions. Outdoor venues, in particular, might enforce quiet hours after a certain time out of respect for neighbors. Your private event on the 150 acres of Brooklake has no such restrictions.

17. Talk to the venue coordinator.

Your outdoor wedding venue coordinator has probably seen his or her fair share of parades get rained on at their location. As a result, they’ll have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to alternative options and creative ways to keep guests dry at their unique space. They might even offer complimentary tents, umbrellas, or heaters. You don’t know until you ask!

18. Driving and traffic considerations

Guests may be traveling a considerable distance by car to get to your wedding destination. It helps to have a New Jersey venue that is centrally located. If you’re having a Friday evening event, take commuters into account, especially if your event site is in an area that gets bumper-to-bumper traffic. If you’re going to need lodging for some of your guests during your celebration, be sure to speak to your event coordinator who can help.

If you have guests arriving by plane, it’s certainly helpful if there’s an airport nearby. Brooklake in Florham Park, NJ is less than a half hour from Newark airport. If your co-workers, friends or family enjoy drinking, try to house them close to the event site.

19. When there’s a chill in the air, your guests may enjoy hot chocolate, tea, or spiked cider.

These welcome additions to cold-weather wedding menus can provide a classy and fun upgrade to any outdoor venues. For example, Martha Stewart has some elegant suggestions for how to serve hot chocolate at your wedding. You can even enlist the bartenders to create some delicious signature hot cocktails.

If you are interested in having an outdoor wedding ceremony, contact us at Brooklake. We have several outdoor ceremony options as well as great reception options, which provide great indoor/outdoor combinations.