Top Travel & Culture

My Wonderful Wedding

It’s an exciting time to be getting married, as the modern bride has unlimited choices at her disposal. From vegan catering services to silk colored flowers and alternative themed venues, one’s imagination seems to be the only limit. Gone are the days of cookie-cutter weddings, in its wake is a demand for unique affairs catered to the engaged couple’s outgoing personalities!  Bergen county offers various options for all brides (and the enthusiastic grooms), regardless of preference and theme.

Don’t just let your wedding be a dream, make it your own Wonderful Wedding with these various locations, caterers, florists, and amazing venues that are waiting for you to say ‘I do!’

Starting The Ceremony


Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley

  • Indoor & Outdoor
  • Religious Affiliations: Jewish

For a more traditional ceremony, Temple Emanuel is an ideal location for a wedding.  Located in Woodcliff Lake, Temple Emanuel has picturesque views of the scenic Pascack Valley from the sanctuary and cocktail room.  The temple itself features a tiered garden that can accommodate 100 people for an outdoor ceremony.  The rest of the celebration can continue at Temple Emanuel as well.  Temple Emanuel can even provide you a list of approved kosher caterers to add some ease for your event planning.


Holy Trinity Church

  • Indoor
  • Religious Affiliations:  Roman Catholic

Holy Trinity Church is one of the largest churches in Bergen County making it a perfect for location for a large ceremony.  Located in Hackensack, this church has a long history.  The parish was first founded in 1861 and has the charm of a time-established church.  It is also a great place to capture photos of the event due to its majestic marble columns, brass tabernacles and Roman Catholic Spanish style art. 


Interfaith Ministers

  • Weddings, Civil unions, Commitment Ceremonies
  • Outdoor
  • Religious Affiliations:  Interfaith

If you would like to opt for something a little more unique, you can have your wedding ceremony, civil union, or commitment ceremony with an interfaith minister like Reverend Ansi Boudin.  She offers a “Wedding Chapel in the Woods” which is an outdoor ceremony for those who want nature as a backdrop for the special day.  Her Ridgewood woodsy wedding chapel for is a private and intimate location that can host up to 16 people, if you’d prefer a close family and friends ceremony.  She also offers several locations in Bergen County where she can perform a wedding ceremony with nature as a backdrop.


LGBTQ Wedding Officiant

  • Religious Affiliations:  Interfaith, Interspiritual

For LGBTQ ceremonies, you can look to officiants like Ring, Candle & Knot’s Reverend Jack Cuffari to perform weddings for the LGBTQ community as well as custom ceremonies.  In order to create a custom ceremony, Rev. Cuffari starts by asking questions about the couple’s relationship, traditions, etc. to tailor a narrative that suits the needs of the couple.  He may also create personalized style by recommending readings or rituals to the taste of the celebrants. 


A Reception Worth Gossiping About

The Elan

  • Coat Check Room
  • Valet/Shuttle service
  • Max seated guest Capacity:  300+
  • Estimated Average Wedding price:  $

If you are planning to have a smaller reception, The Elan might be the place for you.  Although the venue can accommodate over 300 people, it is flexible enough to host a more intimate party.  Equipped with a Skylight Room that has a seated capacity for up to 90 guests for the ceremony this Lodi venue makes a great option for a small group.


Il Villagio

  • Wireless internet
  • Max seated guest capacity 201-250
  • Estimated Average Wedding Price:  $$

Located in Carlstadt, NJ Il Villagio is one of the wedding venues that can boast event exclusivity in order to give wedding parties their undivided attention.  This is also a good option for a bride and groom that wants their wedding to serve traditionally Italian fare, but it can also deliver a variety of options for other types of cuisines.  The venue is an indoors only location for those who don’t want to worry about weather unpredictability.


Indian Trail Club 

  • Lake
  • Fire Pit
  • Indoor & Outdoor
  • Max seated guest Capacity: 251-300 (indoor)
  • Max seated guest capacity:  400 (outdoor)
  • Estimated Average Wedding Price:  $$$

Indian Trail Club in Franklin Lakes, NJ is the perfect place for various wedding photo opportunities no matter the season.  There are many different sites within Indian Trail Club that has its own ambiance.  You can have a ceremony by lakeside to provide a unique location to create special memories.  The terrace creates a warm and cozy place for guests to mingle around a fire pit.  The ballroom has large windows to fill the room with natural light as well as Nano doors that can give you the feeling of being outdoors.


The Estate at Florentine Gardens

  • Indoor & Outdoor
  • Max seated guest capacity:  300+ (indoor & outdoor)
  • Estimated Average Wedding Price:  $$$$

If you want your weddings to have the works, then The Estate in Florentine Gardens is for you.  The mansion is truly picturesque from every corner with its fountains, gardens, gazebos, and its domed rotunda.   The Estate, located in River Vale, also boasts a variety of in-house entertainment services to make you feel like a superstar.   These entertainment services includes a musical photo montage, where your guests can view pre-selected childhood photos, early courtship photos or members or any thing of your choosing.  Another available service is black out shades to set the mood.


A World of Traditions

Although, many consider a classic, American wedding an ideal standard, there are many other wonderful weddings that are held right here in Bergen County. With a largely diverse community, such as Russian and Indian, it comes as no surprise that many different types of weddings are held each and everyday.

Before crafting the perfect, wonderful wedding image, let’s enlighten ourselves with the cultural traditions that are being practiced each and every day around us with these traditional wedding ceremonies.

Russian Weddings: поздравления

Believe it or not, Russian weddings traditionally last for two days! If you thought that wasn’t long enough, some newlyweds live in the honeymoon phase as their weddings can continue on for almost a whole week.

Like many other weddings, the celebration consists of dancing, singing, long toasts, beautiful vows and a lot of authentic Russian cuisine. Russian weddings have adopted some of western traditions as well, including bridesmaids and a best man.The best man and maid of honor are called svideteli in Russian, which translates as ‘witnesses,’ making them witnesses to the new couple’s promise of forever lasting love.

But what are some unique, unexpected things we can find in a typical Russian wedding? There is a comical twist to this romance the day before the wedding. Once the groom arrives at the bride’s home, he must pay a ransom for the bride, a term in Russian known as vykup nevesty.

After a few laughs, upon satisfaction with the ransom given, the bride’s family offer the bride to the hopefully generous groom.

Just like our symbolic rings, Russian wedding invitations often flaunt two golden rings as a design representative of commitment through marriage. During the wedding ceremony, the Russians also utilize crowns as a representation of a promise between two loves.

A priest will lead the couple into the center of the church on a piece of new, rose colored fabric, which symbolizes an entry into a “new life together.” Soon after an ektenia, Russian for litany, and a few blessings, the priest places crowns the bride and the groom and have them declare their love is not for another but by their own will given to each other. Thus starting their new life together as husband and wife.

Indian Weddings: बधाई

CHENNAI, INDIA - AUGUST 29: Indian (Tamil) Traditional Wedding Ceremony on August 29, 2010 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, IndiaHowever, if you thought Russian weddings maintained a lot of unique, cultural rituals, think again. Indian weddings maintain a bounty of somewhat unheard of but beautifully done rituals and practices that showcase the love of newlyweds in India.

Although some may assume that arranged marriages are a main method of engagement in India, which it still is, more millennials are taking a more modern approach on their choice of bride and groom, without the assistance of their parents.

Just like Russian weddings, the celebration continues on for several days. Although the weddings listed here involve close relations and friends of family, it is common for weddings in India to have up to 100,000 guests, whom neither the bride or groom may know or have any relations with.

Many wedding customs are commonly practiced among Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Muslims. However, these customs have adopted some Western features such as speeches, the first dance and the traditional wedding cake. They combine local, religious and family traditions, while adding some Western flair- but Hindu wedding ceremonies are well-rooted with practices dating from the tilak.

While many wedding ceremonies fall under a Hindu practice, it is not like any cookie-cutter wedding. Many newlyweds in India recognize several forms of marriage under the Hindu Vedic system. These forms include;

● Brahmana: The father of the bride sends an invitation to a properly qualified man.

● Daiva: The girl is married to a properly qualified Brahmana who was invited to perform a sacred ritual.

● Arsha: in which the married couple offer a symbolic gift of a sacred animal, usually a bull and a cow.

● Prajapatya: A bride chooses a suitable husband directly or indirectly.

● Gandharva: A young girl and boy declare their love for each other and exchange vows and garlands.

● Rakshasa: A girl is abducted from her home against the will of her family; this type of marriage is also popular with Kshatriyas who want to overcome the blind opposition of the girl’s family to her wishes.

● Asura: A bride and her family receive gifts, boons or wealth from the prospective
husband to convince them of his good intentions and wealth.

While there are various types of weddings found in this rich culture, the practices and traditions vary based on religion, caste, ethnicity, language, region and many other factors.

In the end, these weddings all emit a beautiful message: that love is forever and, with the right person, can become the biggest promise and milestone in one’s life. There are many methods and practices to consider when planning your wedding, especially weddings as elaborate as Russian and ones in India. However you celebrate your glorious moment, through old traditions or new fusions, just remember to have your own wonderful wedding.

The Cinderella Story

Although we covered a plethora of wonderful venues, cultural ceremonies and their unique features, we have to dig deeper into the beauty that surrounds Bergen County that people can’t resist incorporating into their big day! If typical reception halls seem to stuffy and traditional, Bergen county has many other options for both the romantic and adventurer alike.

One of the more unique options in the area is the Saddle River Inn. A historic landmark, originating as a sawmill in the nineteenth century, the Inn today is known for its fine French cuisine. A seasonal menu created by chef Jamie Knott, focuses on fresh ingredients, sustainable seafood and organic produce. Housed in a historic barn, nestled along the banks of the Saddle River, the Inn offers a picturesque alternative. Other off the beaten path locations include, Boulevard East, a scenic thoroughfare offering amazing views of the New York city skyline. The area is popular for engagement and wedding photos, and unlike more pricey options offers the view sans the money.

Feeding your guests is an important element of any wedding reception. Fortunately, they are options that go beyond the conventional fare of chicken or steak. Those with dietary restrictions or specialty diets can find fare worthy of decadent sit-down dinner or a casual backyard affair. Above & Beyond Catering, located in Dumont, offers full-service catering and event planning. Their menus range from OU certified Kosher, to vegan and everything in between. With over 15 years of foodservice and catering experience, Above & Beyond, stands behind their catering services with experience and a myriad of satisfied customers. Their team offers everything from menu planning, food prep, event design, venue selection, music and photographers. A veritable one stop shop for the busy bride. Specialty menus include more than just certified Kosher offerings, including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, organic and farm-to-table. If you are looking for some beyond the norm, they are a company worth looking into.

Two Brothers Catering, is the perfect solution for the discerning, veggie-friendly couple. Offering vegetarian and vegan meals, prepared by veteran chef Joe Rosolen. Rosolen, a vegetarian/vegan himself for almost 30 years, has been been a professional chef for 12 years. Rosolen has taught vegetarian cooking privately and in schools, notably for The Integral Yoga Institute and Naturally Yoga. His menus include items such as baked tofu nuggets, red lentil loaf with gravy, swedish ‘meatballs,’ pumpkin ravioli and various vegan desserts.

For more traditional menus with a twist, Occasions Catering & Cupcakery offers regional catering menus and a plethora of cake and dessert options. From summer BBQ fare to Italian and Puerto Rican inspired, to American comfort food, menus are specified to a couple’s theme. It gets even tastier! Custom desserts include creative options like star-themed cakes for Planetarium weddings, a tray of assorted mini cheesecakes, cake pops, chocolate covered marshmallows, and more. Occasions is a full-service event planning company, which includes day-of planning and everything in between. Ever accommodating, they will create specialty items, as well as dietary requests and restrictions.

Market Basket is much more than a specialty food store. Voted “Most Raved About Caterer” and “Best Catering Service in New Jersey,” by New Jersey Monthly Magazine and NJ Savvy Living Magazine, The Market Basket is Bergen county’s premier option for your big day. Market Basket’s skilled chefs and staff caters events with style and expertise. Let your personal flair abound, with incomparable selections that include among others a tea time buffet, sushi platters, theme based and opulent elegance. In addition, they offer entertainers, floral arrangements, rentals, invitations and even valet parking. A must have for any wedding, we say!

The Garden of Romance

Aside from the venue and food, the next item to check off the big list is floral arrangements. Whether your choice is fresh in-season bouquets or artificial look-alikes, Bergen county has it all. Flor Bella Designs, located in Mahwah, gives each customer individualized attention. Their trademark is creating specialized arrangements based on the needs of their clients. They offer a broad selection of fresh flowers, plant and succulent dish gardens, as well as custom silk arrangements. Permanent florals have steadily gained in popularity in recent years. Faux flowers never wilt and produce a smaller carbon footprint, they come pre-arranged, are non-allergic and require no special storage or display conditions. When choosing artificial flowers, it is best to choose the silk variety, made from protein fiber spun from the silk worm, as they are the most lifelike of the varieties!

If live flowers are more up your alley and you are concerned about sustainability, then another option might be Tiger Lily by Encke in Teaneck. A fairly new venture by established florist Encke Flowers & Gifts, Tiger Lily focuses on environmental stewardship and artistic design. They use organic and Fair Trade certified flowers for their arrangements, as well as seasonal blooms. If you choose to pick your own arrangements then it is time for a stop at Fresh & Fancy Farms in New Milford. Fresh & Fancy is a new enterprise by the long-running Klinger’s Farms, which has been operating for 97 years. They provide an accessible way to enjoy all the benefits of a working farm. Visit the farm and choose from fresh-cut seasonal bouquets, adding a personal touch to your special day not soon to be forgotten.

A How To Guide For The Perfect Bride

An all important step not to be missed is the actual marriage license itself. Despite your religious affiliation or personal preferences, a license is required in order to be legally married in the state of New Jersey. Bergen County’s process is pretty straightforward, with no residency or blood test requirements.

Step 1

The cost to apply is $28, a paltry sum compared to all the other money you will be shelling out for your big day. Once your application is processed there is a 72-hour waiting period, so make sure to contact your local registrar well in advance for hours and availability. However, once you receive your license it is valid for 6 months. You can either apply in the town you or your spouse lives, or if you live out of state, in the town where the ceremony will take place.

For a downloadable application and more information go to

Step 2

Legal details out of the way, its time to focus on putting your best face (and hair) forward. This fall’s trends focus on bringing out a bride’s natural beauty, according to New York’s Bridal Fashion Week. For a romantic, dewy look combine a pearly shimmer highlight, with a light dusting of blush and pink glossy lips. Add a touch of drama with a strong filled in brow and matte brown eye shadow and liner to really make your eyes pop. A traditional chignon is always classy but perhaps consider instead letting your hair down for a more laissez-faire style. Adding texture for loose waves and face framing strands can give your look an effortless vibe. For a more unique statement try a loose, side swept fishtail, a face framing crown or a romantic knotted up-do.

Step 3

Saying yes to the dress can be one of the most stressful and emotional moments of the entire wedding process. Every bride deserves to feel beautiful on their wedding day and a huge part of that is the perfect dress. This year’s trends offer a variety of options sure to set your heart aflutter, including minimalist sheaths, sheer silhouettes, Spanish-inspired gowns, lingerie-like slips and delicate lace. The key to not getting overwhelmed is to grab your favorites ladies and try on different silhouettes with an open mind. Sometimes what you end up loving on could be a complete surprise, just don’t forget to bring tissues and an extra bottle of champagne. 

Step 4

Just because the weather is getting colder doesn’t mean you need to skimp on style when it comes to footwear. Peep-toe heeled ankle booties, bow-embellished glitter pumps, point-toe flats or daring strappy sandals will add the perfect complement to your look. If you go for a pair of high-heels make sure to have cute flats as a backup. The last thing you want is to be writhing in pain when you should be on the dance floor having the time of your life. Regardless of the style you choose, make sure it makes you feel excited and comfortable in your own skin. After all there is nothing more alluring than a glowing, confident bride.

The Last Step -A Happy Ever After

Another wonderful aspect of the many towns that can be found in Bergen County is the fact that each of these locations are multi-lingual! From Korean florists, Spanish caterers, Italian cake designers– you name it and Bergen County has it!

Being home to so much diversity and unique shops is what makes Bergen County the perfect spot for anyone’s Wonderful Wedding! Without a doubt, you can forget the cold feet and start your honeymoon vacation right away!

Myra Arcilla / Corinne Casella/Edward Leary

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