Welcome to our wedding website. We'll be posting information here as we get it, so check back often. Use the Quick Links on the right to search for posts that address specific topics. We look forward to celebrating with everyone on August 23!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Wedding Photos

You can check out some of our professional wedding photos on our awesome photographers, "Something in Blue" 's website... Check them out at www.sibblog.com.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dress Reviews

BRIDAL DRESS: Plumed Serpent in Westport, CT
Grade: B
They were nice, a little overbearing but nothing awful, and I got my dress after two trips since I didn't have much time. When I returned for my second visit, the dress that I originally wanted (and went back to the store to try on one last time and most likely buy) was no longer there, which was annoying. But I found another dress from their trunk show that I ended up with. I had a lot of the problems with the dress - which I believe everyone at the wedding heard of - but those are not the fault of the salon. At that time, I asked them for recommendations for a person to alter my dress in the New Haven area WAAAAYYYY before the dress arrived (the salon is 45-min away), and they said they knew some great people in my area - which was just lip service. Months later when my dress did not seem to be arriving at all, and I called them and they were like, oops, the dress should have been here already, let's find out why it's not here. So they weren't on top of things, the dress came late, and after repeatedly asking for a tailor in my area, and their assuring me they new people, and my waiting for their recommendation, they never gave me any suggestion, I took it to a random tailor since I had limited options b/c everything was late, and the tailor was not good. So while the salon did not ruin the dress, they contributed to my ending up at the tailor that did. If I had known that they wouldn't have had any recommendations, I would have just gotten the alterations at their salon and endured the 45-min one-way trips. But by the time I realized they were never going to give me a name of a New Haven tailor, it was too late.

TAILOR: Vittoria's Shop in Branford, CT
Grade: C-
They may be good with regular alterations, but they were not with my wedding dress. They were also not very organized and I needed them to be, since I didn't have much time to complete the alterations. On more than one occasion, they were not expecting me when I had scheduled an appointment the week prior. The most egregious error on their part was that they waited until my final visit (three days before my wedding) to tell me they could not bustle the dress. They had not mentioned this ONCE in the three weeks leading up to this point - I feel like they should have told me far earlier than this.

PRESSING: Gold Thimble in Rumson, NJ
Grade: A
I dropped off my dress two days before the wedding and they had it ready for me to pick up the next day. The pressing made my dress look like a completely different dress - believe me, this is a good thing. I have no complaints here.

Officiant Review

OFFICIANT: our friend Alex Chung
Grade: A+++
He became an official officiant (for the state of NJ, at least) through gaining online membership to the Universal Life Church. This method was recommended to us by the state of New Jersey, who we called to get the details. It was one of the best decisions we made. Even though it meant we had to work a little harder on the ceremony, and we put pressure on our friend Alex rather than let him enjoy the cocktail hour, it is WAAAAAY nicer, more emotional, more personal, more money-saving to have someone who knows you and loves you officiate your ceremony. It helps to have someone as good at it as Alex was. Who knows, maybe he will make this a regular shtick.

Accommodation Reviews

Grand Lady By the Sea
Grade: A+
Jamie, the proprietor, is so relaxed and helpful. He loves his home and really wants other people to have the chance to enjoy it as much as he does. WE LOVED our stay there. We split the groomsmen into another B&B, and this was the bridesmaids' B&B (although somehow Ryan snuck his way into this B&B, reportedly b/c the other one didn't have any room for him). We took the whole place for the weekend, and Jamie left town letting us do whatever we wanted with it. He even cleared out his fridge and let us use all his kitchen utensils for a Sunday brunch we threw there. Beyond that, he even went around asking his neighbors whether our guests could park in their driveways if we had parking issues. We cannot describe to you what an amazing backyard this place has, with a gazebo, a view of the entire Sandy Hook and Manhattan in the background. It is a perfect place run by a perfect owner.

Blue Bay Inn
Grade: A-
A modern, new, clean boutique hotel in Atlantic Highlands, so a little bit inland from the beaches. It is NOT easy to find nice places on the Jersey shore that would satisfy our Manhattan crowd, but this place was one of them. The staff was helpful. All of our guests received their welcome bags without a hitch. They do have a 2-night minimum like many other places in the summer, which discouraged people who wanted to come down on Saturday only. And managing our reserve block was a little bit difficult at times depending on who answered the phone, but in the end, our guests who did stay there had nothing but nice things to say. They were also very helpful with logistics throughout the course of our wedding weekend and even declined to charge a guest who did not show up for the reservation - clearly losing money in the process. The Blue Bay Inn is also walking distance from the SeaStreak ferry from Manhattan.

Seascape Manor
Grade: B+
We didn't stay here, but most of the groomsmen did. The rooms are nice and the view is fantastic (when they're NOT doing construction on the Highlands Bridge), but the owners are a little odd and surprisingly awkward, considering that they own a B&B. There are also cats and dogs running around the house, so beware if you are allergic to them.

Fairbanks Resort
Grade: B
We weren't expecting much more from this place (see our previous 'Accomodations' entry). The price is right considering it is directly across from the beach. They rooms are okay in decor, but everyone knew that going into the weekend. They did mess up on one of the reservations, but that was quickly rectified. They also had no desire to distribute the welcome bags that we had provided, so we had to hand-deliver them to the guests. Over our wedding weekend, there was a large group of people from Hedonism who were in the area to visit Gunnison Beach (the infamous nude beach). Apparently, Hedonism = middle-aged men milling about the Fairbanks. Just so you know the crowd that hangs there.

AA Getaway Coaches Review

Grade: C
We felt it was important to provide people with a shuttle so that there would be no designated driver issues. We spread ourselves a little thin in terms of the number of hotel stops along the way (5), but we compensated by having A LOT OF communication with the company prior to the wedding, printing EXTENSIVE directions and maps after spending hours determining the shuttle route, and even having one of our friends (thank you, Katie Lamb) go through the entire shuttle route in case the shuttle driver needed help. The guests reported that the shuttle driver often did not know the directions and needed a lot of help. Since neither Ryan nor I took the shuttle, we will never know what really happened on that shuttle, but to our guests, all we can say is we are sorry and had good intentions.

Hair & Makeup Review

Grade: A
She works at the Christian Dior counter at Neiman Marcus at Garden State Plaza. She was amazing and the makeup stayed strong despite my efforts to dance (see separate DJ review). I tried a couple of the more-advertised makeup artists, and I came out of those trials looking like a clown. The makeup was DRAMATIC but NATURAL considering I rarely wear makeup myself. And she is the nicest, coolest cat even when we had a contact lens catastrophe, which helped calm me down significantly. Because of her sweet demeanor, my grandmother agreed to have her makeup done, and she looked fabulous.

HAIR: Edith at Arlette's French Hair Salon in Fair Haven
Grade: B
Again, I wanted a really natural look and had several hair trials with the companies that come on-site, but they left me feeling like I had very fake hair, so I really appreciated that Edith understood my style from the beginning. We had a great hair trial, so I said screw the on-site people, we will all just go to a salon. I liked my wedding day hair, but it was not perfect. I guess my biggest problem is that she continued to try a couple of different things when we had really had the trial, and I just wanted her to re-create that. Instead, all the trying this and that just made my hair frizzier. Still, it is hard to pull off a down-do for a beach wedding, so for the most part, the hair held very well. My overall recommendation for brides is to just put your hair up so that you don't have to worry about it, it's much more manageable. My bridesmaids/mom did not love what she did with their hair, and I think that may be because she is probably not as good spontaneously and tends to play with the hair a lot, and also, her style, like mine, is a bit more natural. She is MUCH less expensive than a lot of other people in that area.

Something in Blue Review

PHOTOGRAPHERS: Something in Blue
Grade: no grade yet
We have seen some of the pics on their blogsite, http://www.sibblog.com/, which are phenomenal. We can't wait to see the rest. They have a great photojournalistic style, and have TWO great photographers rather than a photographer and an assistant. You have to know what you are getting yourselves into- you cannot make recommendations about what pics to take, they are not re-directable, if you will. But I totally trusted that they were going to take the best pics, and who am I to know photography better? They told me that we should take more 'getting-ready' pics rather than pics at the reception of the cake-cutting and bouquet-tossing, so that is what we did. So far it seems the decision has paid off. The only mini-mini gripe we have is that everything was running late that day, so we started the photo session one hour late (through no fault of theirs). But that meant that we had to crunch in our bride-groom pics, wedding party pics, and family pics with one less hour. Furthermore, my family arrived even later, so we didn't get to do a formal session with my family before the ceremony. We had so much going on that day, esp dealing with our DJ issues, that we wish that the photographers had been a little bit more proactive about forcing us to reassemble after the ceremony to get a "Sara's family" pic. However, as we mentioned, it was ultimately our own faults b/c of the lateness upon lateness, and if we had asked them to do it, we are sure they would have.

Food Reviews

MENU: Merrimakers
Grade: A-
They are the exclusive caterers at this site. We actually kind of had some doubts based on some of the reviews that we had read and the food at the tasting, but they really came through. The food was way better than it had been at the tasting. Most importantly, they were TREMENDOUSLY accomodating to our unique, quirky tastes:
  • We wanted a veggie meal that wasn't just pasta - they came up with a great polenta napoleon that was actually the best-rated entree even amongst all the meat-eaters.
  • We totally re-arranged their set menus, and they were like, "sure."
  • We asked for a higher-end beer option, and they gave it to us at no extra charge.
  • We wanted the cocktail hour before the ceremony, they said, "no problem."

It is these little unique and personalized elements that people complimented us for (we had no idea starting with the cocktail hour would be so popular, and at least it meant that I did not have to walk down the aisle alone since my father was 30min late). There were a couple of places for improvement (having two buffet stations so that people didn't have to wait so long and the food got a bit cold; also, we purposely got vanilla and chocolate cake so people would have a choice and explained that to them, but they served the vanilla first, then the chocolate) but when you are doing as much work as them, it is hard to be perfect.

Sandy Hook Review

SITE: Sandy Hook
Grade: A
The caterer Merri-Makers has gotten exclusive rights to manage the site which used to be an oceanside chapel at the tip of Sandy Hook but is now a beautiful, rustic hall with a large outdoor space next to it. They are calling it "The Chapel at Sandy Hook" and it used to be run by the US Park Service. The site has been holding weddings for about a year, and there have only been a handful, so they are learning with each wedding. The site definitely defined my wedding. I wanted to show the people not from NJ how beautiful it can be, and the site is right on the ocean in a National Park with a view of the Manhattan skyline in the background-- how beautiful. We had our ceremony right next to the water and the cocktail hour under a tent. The weather was PERFECT- not too humid, not too windy. We then proceeded inside the newly-renovated hall for the reception. We had 120 people, which really is the max I would recommend if you want to still retain a dance floor. Davina Feingold, the representative from the Fort Hancock organization, was also very involved and sweet.

Something Nice Floral Review

OUR BEST VENDOR: Something Nice Floral
Grade: A+
Carol went out of her way to make us feel comfortable through the process and give us exactly what we (let's face it: me, since Ryan didn't care) wanted. When she felt like I was just going along and not really into a certain concept, she would stop and force me to think about it rather than just go along. Other highlights:
  • The flowers were exactly in the style we had wanted.
  • Carol went out of her way multiple times during the planning process to meet us at the site.
  • All of the other vendors rave about how much they enjoy working with her.
  • Surprisingly inexpensive, considering the high level of work.
  • Carol solved a wedding-day mini-disaster by replacing the flowers on the cake that had wilted (the flowers had originally been provided by the bakery) without charging us at all.

She even gave us a box of chocolates as a wedding gift- could you be more thoughtful?!? In fact, it is weird to call her a vendor, b/c her personal touch made her feel more like a friend. We highly recommend using Something Nice Floral if you can.

DJ Jeffrey Heart Review

Grade: F

He did a good job for the cocktail hour and ceremony - Jeffrey himself was there and everything was fine - but then left some other DJ to do the the reception. The other guy had no idea what was going on. We don't know if this is Jeffrey's fault or the fault of the replacement DJ under him. We had made it clear during the planning process that we wanted OUR playlist of songs to be played at the wedding and even considered doing it ourselves with an iPod but instead ended up hiring DJ Jeffrey Heart, whose website promises "customized/personalized" service. Please find below a list of grievances and feel free to leave a comment (good or bad) here if you have had any experience with this DJ.

  • Only HALF the songs played at the wedding were from the playlist we provided even though he had assured us several times that he would have them all; we even offered to obtain them for him, but he insisted he was capable of pulling everything from iTunes. He claims that he provided all of the music to the replacement DJ; we don't know why it was not used in its entirety since there were more than enough songs.
  • We sent him the schedule for the reception via email - which he acknowledged that he received - but then the replacement had no idea what was going on. Sara ultimately had to re-write the entire schedule for him - in the middle of our own wedding reception!
  • The replacement DJ announced to the crowd 30 min too early that the wedding was ending, so people left the dance floor and started leaving. When I questioned the Jeffrey afterwards, all he could say was that he is not responsible for when people decide to leave.
  • The DJ omitted my dedication song to my bridesmaids; the response was that they were NOT contracted to play ANY specific songs even though Jeffrey's own "wedding day form" asks for requests, including a bridal party thank you dance.
  • They messed up our 'first dance' song - the music started/ stopped for probably 20 seconds/started again, and the moment was ruined.
  • The DJ played the SAME song TWICE during a 3-hr period.

Jeffrey Heart did a fine job when he was at the site during the cocktail hour and ceremony. But information did not get handed off properly to his replacement DJ - we don't know if that was Jeffrey's fault in the communication or the hiring of the replacement. In the contract, it does state that they are allowed to provide a replacement DJ under extenuating circumstances, but ours did not perform adequately. We feel that Jeffrey only partially provided the "customized and personalized" service that he advertises - whether that was his fault or the replacement DJ's fault we do not know.

Remember, leave a comment if you have had interaction with this vendor.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Transportation Update

This information is mainly for people coming from New York City or who are using public transportation, so skip this if you want. We looked into getting a ferry to return people to Manhattan after the wedding, but is was exorbitantly expensive so we had to abandon the idea - sorry to anyone who was relying on that option. There is still the Seastreak ferry that can get you to the wedding during the day, but their last Manhattan-bound trip of the day on Saturday is at 5:45pm - totally unhelpful. If you need to return to NYC on Saturday night via public transportation, you should check out the NJTransit trains. The Middletown and Red Bank stations on the North Jersey Coast Line are the closest stations to the wedding site, and the train leaves from Penn Station. If you're planning on taking the train, email Ryan - if enough people are in need of a ride to the train station, we'll try to add a stop there to the shuttle route.

Lodging Update

Now that we're inside six weeks until the wedding, it's really time to book your hotel rooms if you haven't done so already. This is especially important at the hotels where we've blocked off rooms - they will all release those rooms back into the general pool on Tuesday, July 22nd - a week from today. After that, not only will the rates be higher, but the rooms may disappear quickly. Here are some more detailed notes on the hotel rooms as of today (July 15th):
  1. Blue Bay Inn: All of the rooms in the block have been taken, but they have a couple rooms left. If you want to stay here, you'll have to talk to the manager (Bob Hilton) and sweet-talk your way into the wedding rate. Remember that there is a 2-night minimum here.
  2. Best Western Hazlet Inn: there are 12 rooms remaining here in the block and if 7 of them are taken everyone gets a much-reduced wedding rate ($110 instead of $159). If we can get a critical mass of people staying here, everyone benefits. This is one of the hotels where we're planning on sending the shuttle, and it has NO 2-night minimum for those who are only staying on Saturday night.
  3. Holiday Inn Express: there are 15 rooms remaining here in the block and they have NO 2-night minimum. Currently no one has reserved a room here, so we're probably going to skip this hotel as a shuttle stop.
  4. Molly Pitcher Inn: we haven't called them because we couldn't block off rooms here but some guests have definitely reserved here. NO 2-night minimum.
  5. Fairbanks Resort & Marina: no blocked rooms but there is availability and required 2-night minimum.
  6. Sandy Hook Cottage B&B: we haven't called here either, so you should try it, but it is a small B&B, so the rooms may very well all be taken. 2-night minimum.
  7. Ocean Place: Um, probably more expensive than ever.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wedding Party

Drum roll, please... and with some topics for discussion in case you run across them at the wedding.

Andrea Woo- maid of honor
Ask her about: being a fierce bridezilla in her own right
Don't ask her about: the fact that her own wedding is only weeks away

Sophie ChheangAsk her about: why she can't eat chocolate cake, strawberry shortcake, raspberry mousse cake (what cake will she eat??? made picking the wedding cake quite challenging)
Don't ask her about: anything before 12pm, she will be asleep

Sophia Isani
Ask her about: how excited she is to be a bridesmaid, makes Wednesday Addams look like a warm & loving sister

Komal PandyaAsk her about: chocolate covered w/chocolate inside a chocolate shell w/ chocolate fudge drizzled and chocolate sprinkles on top
Don't ask her about: when she is going to have children

Michelle Umali
Ask her about: being a design diva, makes Martha Stewart look like kindergarten arts and crafts
Don't ask her about: why she can never finish a beverage and has to leave a swig at the bottom every time

Dave Whitelaw - best man
Ask him about: travelling to Burma and, heck, essentially all of Asia
Do not ask him about: the mysterious and divergent properties of water and vodka

Kevin FergusonAsk him about: his latest motorcycle trip
Do not ask him about: the "water cycle" (or is it "water system"?)

Will Fox
Ask him about: his urban garden/vineyard
Do not ask him about: advisors with a knack for abusing hand-crafted physics equipment

Andrew Kohn
Ask him about: the ghosts of Gettysburg
Do not ask him about: Madagascar

Graham Spence
Ask him about: his impending fatherhood
Do not ask him about: sinking the Spanish Armada

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Registry Update

Here is our final registry information:

Amazon lots of items w/ free shipping
Bloomingdale's or as Sara used to call it "Boomies"
Bed Bath and Beyond both online and available at hundreds of stores nationwide

We met with the site/caterer and the florist this weekend and were able to finally settle a number of things on both fronts. Coming out of this weekend, we feel like we're finally over the hump in terms of planning. We still have a number of small things to work out, but we're thinking that all this planning can drop from 110% of our free time to maybe only 85%.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Directions to Sandy Hook

The wedding ceremony and reception are both at the same site: Sandy Hook, NJ. The wedding site is a former chapel that has been completely renovated into an event space immediately next to the ocean. Because it's inside the park and is fairly new, it doesn't have a real address; you might be able to find it as Fort Hancock, NJ or just by the lat/lng coordinates: 40.464781, -74.005600. It's officially in Middletown Township, and the closest other towns are Highlands, NJ and Sea Bright, NJ. It's inside the Sandy Hook part of Gateway National Recreation Area, which is the northernmost part of the Jersey Shore. Sara grew up going to the beach at Sandy Hook; it's in the national park system, Fort Hancock - a former US Army fort - is at the tip of the hook, and on a clear day you can see the New York City skyline.

Below you can find the directions that we included in the invitations. But if you're like me and need to see this all on a map, I've provided some links of example routes for each section. After clicking on the link, you can simply change the "From" location to get full directions from your own starting point. If you want directions from your hotel, I've also provided links on our Accommodations page from each of the hotels to the wedding site. Or if you want to do it yourself, use the lat/lng coordinates.

From Northern NJ/ Westchester:
Take the GARDEN STATE PKWY SOUTH to Exit 117. Then take ROUTE 36 South. Follow Rt 36 for 13 miles. Cross over the HIGHLANDS BRIDGE and stay in the right lane. Follow the signs for and take ramp for SANDY HOOK GATEWAY NATIONAL PARK. See directions below: To Wedding Site. Example: from Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

From Southern NJ:
Take the GARDEN STATE PKWY NORTH to Exit 105. Then take ROUTE 36 EAST towards Long Branch. Turn left onto OCEAN BLVD NORTH/ RT 36 NORTH. Follow the signs and take the ramp on your right to SANDY HOOK GATEWAY NATIONAL PARK. See directions below: To Wedding Site. Example: from Toms River, NJ.

From Manhattan:
Take any of the Hudson River Crossings (George Washington Bridge, Lincoln Tunnel, Holland Tunnel) to I-95 SOUTH and continue to Exit 11 for GARDEN STATE PARKWAY SOUTH. Then follow directions above: From Northern NJ. Example: from Grand Central.

To Wedding Site:
From the Park Ranger Booths at the entrance to the park, follow the main road HARTSHORNE ROAD. For the wedding, you will NOT have to pay the entrance fee. After 4.1 miles, you will see a large missile with a FORT HANCOCK sign. The road will divide, and you should stay left and pass a row of houses on your right. Continue on this road for another 0.7 miles and you will come to the tent/reception hall on your left side on the bay. Turn left into the PARKING LOT. On a map: from the entrance to Sandy Hook to the wedding site.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Initial Transportation Notes

I'm sure we'll have much more on this subject in the coming months, but we wanted to tell you about a couple things we've been working on, transportation-wise.

1. We are planning on providing a shuttle for everyone to travel from the hotels to the wedding site and back at the end of the night, so that people who so choose will not have to worry about driving. We're looking at a single coach bus that will make a few stops: one will definitely be at the Blue Bay Inn and we'll figure out the others as people book rooms at the hotels. Looping past all of the hotels would take a long time, so we're going to try to strategically choose the stops to serve as many people as possible while making the loop as short as possible. The shuttle will probably make two trips both for the pick-up and drop-off, so anyone can choose an early or late arrival/departure. Look for information about this on the RSVP card (when we send out the invitations).

2. For all of you who are based in New York City, you could think about taking the Seastreak ferry, which has a couple stops very close to the wedding site (we'll try to time a shuttle bus stop at the ferry terminal to bring you the rest of the way to the wedding). The problem is that it does not provide late-night return trips, so we're looking at the possibility of hiring a boat to ferry you all home at the end of the night - thus eliminating a hotel stay for you after the wedding. It would be a single trip at the end of the evening and would make a single stop somewhere in Manhattan (hopefully near a subway). I'm told the trip takes 30-45 minutes. We currently have no idea how much this would cost, so it may be prohibitively expensive, but we're hoping to find out more details soon. When we do have more information, we'll be better able to sketch out a plan for those who are interested.

Accommodation Update

It's now only 3.5 months until the wedding, so we hope all of you have already made reservations or are planning on making them soon. Remember that August is a very busy time of year on the Jersey Shore and you may have trouble finding accommodations if you wait too long. We've blocked off rooms at various hotels (see our previous post) to ensure rooms for you all, but remember that those rooms will go back to the general public 30-60 days before the wedding - make sure you take them before the end of June.

We described most of the accommodation options in our first post on this subject, so use that as a more detailed reference. Most of the rooms at the Blue Bay Inn are already taken, so you should move quickly if you'd like to stay there. As for the Holiday Inn, only yesterday did I realize that they didn't have our block in their records. Oops. That problem has now been fixed (please email me if you call them and they still don't know what you're talking about when you mention the Isani-Martin Wedding), and I'm sorry to anyone who called them previously. In addition to the places we've already mentioned, we forgot to tell you about the Molly Pitcher Inn:

Molly Pitcher Inn
88 Riverside Avenue, Red Bank, NJ
This is a very nice hotel on the banks of the Navesink River - we even considered this as a site for the wedding. Though they don't offer room blocks or reduced rates for weddings not hosted in their hotel, the prices seem totally reasonable for the area ($180-$200 per night) and there is no two-night minimum. Red Bank has one of those cute downtown areas that are great for a leisurely stroll in a summer afternoon, and it's walking distance from the hotel. The Molly Pitcher Inn is slightly inland (though not as far as the Best Western in Hazlet); it would take maybe a 15 minute drive to get to the ocean, with another 10 minutes to get to Sandy Hook. NO 2-night minimum.

Directions to the wedding site.
Directions to the rehearsal dinner.
Directions to the brunch.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Accommodation Information

We worked hard to get a good list of accommodation options for the wedding weekend. A few notes before the actual places/descriptions:

  1. The NJ shore will be beautiful but BUSY! Beach-goers are going to be streaming in from NY, NJ, Philly, and the World, and all those people are going to want to take your hotel rooms. So please, book rooms ASAP. Better yet, book them yesterday, if you can.
  2. If you're driving in, beware of the traffic. Although Sandy Hook is 1hr 15min away from NYC, it can take hours on summer Fridays or Saturdays.
  3. Buyer beware~ because of the demand, many hotels (referring to hotels, B&Bs, motels, etc) require a 2-night stay. There are some options on our list that don't, but be sure to ask if you're planning on staying for only Saturday night. Also, make sure you understand their cancellation policies with regards to getting your deposit back.
  4. We'll get you more details about this later, but we're planning an event for Friday night for everyone in town. We may throw something together for Sunday morning too.
  5. For the wedding, we're planning on organizing a shuttle from the main accommodation locations so that everyone who so chooses can take full advantage of the open bar. We'll solidify this later, but if you find other accommodations you may need to get yourself to the wedding or one of the pickup sites on your own. None of the accommodations is within walking distance of the wedding site as it is at the tip of the "hook" of the national park.
  6. The rooms that we have blocked off for the wedding will generally be released 1 month before the wedding, at which point you will no longer get a break on the price. That said, we still recommend booking NOW if you can as none may be left in July.
  7. We know some of you still have to figure out details of vacations and can't book yet. If you book late and are having trouble, email or call us to see if we have anything up our sleeves.

Here is the actual list:

Blue Bay Inn
51 First Ave., Atlantic Highlands, NJ

This small boutique hotel is located in Atlantic Highlands, about 8 minutes from Sandy Hook. We reserved rooms here, so mention our names. We visited this hotel and it looks great, with a nice restaurant right next door. The rooms range from $199 (a Deluxe Queen) to $229 (a Deluxe Double, with two double beds) with a complimentary continental breakfast. On their website, they have AAA discounts, so ask them if you can combine the AAA with the wedding rate to save more. 2-night minimum stay

Directions to the wedding site.
Directions to the rehearsal dinner.
Directions to the brunch.

Sandy Hook Cottage Bed & Breakfast
36 Route 36, Highlands, NJ

We haven't visited this B&B, but it looks nice and it's very close to both the beach and the wedding site. It seems like you could probably walk/ride a bike to the beach if you wanted to; if not it's not even a five-minute drive. Since it's a B&B, we couldn't block off any rooms, but they do still have availability: 2 rooms for $219, 1 room for $299, and a suite for $299. This B&B is going to be within walking distance of some important locations for the wedding. 2-night minimum stay

Directions to the wedding site.
Directions to the rehearsal dinner.
Directions to the brunch.

Fairbanks Resort & Marina
344 Ocean Avenue, Sea Bright, NJ

The term "resort" is a little bit of an overstatement. It's essentially a motel, but it is a stone's throw away from the beach - you literally walk across the road and you're on the sand - and it has beautiful bay views from the rooms on the opposite side. It's also close to the wedding site and compared to some of the other options it's relatively cheap: $120 for a single Queen, $140 for a single King, $170 for a two-double bed, $190-210 for the "suites". They don't really block off rooms for weddings, so these rates are the public rates. We visited this place in person -the hotel is definitely worn and is not luxury by any means, but it has a clean bed to sleep on . So if the words "cheap" and "beach access" appeal to you, stay here; if you're looking for a real hotel, try something else. 2-night minimum stay

Directions to the wedding site.
Directions to the rehearsal dinner.
Directions to the brunch.

Best Western Hazlet Inn
3215 Highway 35, Hazlet, NJ

Now we're getting farther away from the beach. We blocked off 15 rooms here, all of which have either a single double or a single king bed (no two-double rooms available, sorry). They are giving us a wedding rate of $110 (double or king, doesn't matter), but only if we book 10 or more rooms as a group; otherwise the rooms are $159. When you call to book a room, give them this code to identify the wedding: "CGRYAN". This hotel is in a commercial area (highway with strip malls) and is a 20-minute drive away from the beach (and thus the wedding site). If you don't mind driving and don't mind the lack of scenery, this is the cheapest option we could find. NO 2-night minimum

Directions to the wedding site.
Directions to the rehearsal dinner.
Directions to the brunch.

Holiday Inn Express
294 Highway 36 East, West Long Branch, NJ

This hotel seems fairly new. We blocked off rooms here, too, so mention our wedding to get the rate of $179 for the rooms with 2 double beds or $199 for the 2-room suites. The location of this hotel is fairly close to the Long Branch beaches (a 10-minute drive), but it's farther south than the other options above; it would take probably 25 minutes to drive to Sandy Hook. It's also on a busy highway. There is probably a complimentary continental breakfast. NO 2-night minimum stay

Directions to the wedding site.
Directions to the rehearsal dinner.
Directions to the brunch.

Ocean Place
1 Ocean Blvd, Long Branch, NJ

This place is too spendy for us, but we mention it for all you high rollers out there. Ocean Place is a nice hotel/spa that is literally on the beach - no walking across the street required. The rooms are also upwards of $400 per night (no wedding discount). It is right next door to a mid-to-high-end shopping area with a number of good restaurants. It is a 10-15 minute drive from Sandy Hook. 2-night minimum

Directions to the wedding site.
Directions to the rehearsal dinner.
Directions to the brunch.

If we find any other good options, we'll update this post. There is a smattering of other B&Bs, motels, and far-away hotels in the general area, but these are your best bets. We're hoping that everyone will be concentrated in a couple of these places - to enjoy the communal atmosphere of a wedding weekend - so organize with your friends. And if you're having trouble or need further advice, please feel free to get in touch with us - we know the area much better now than we ever expected to.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Believe it or not, we're actually going to have a wedding

Well, it's now been almost 10 months since we became engaged and after lots of time spent alternatively a) looking at sites and not deciding on anything and b) doing absolutely nothing for the wedding, we finally have a date, a site, a caterer, and a photographer. Sara gets much of the credit for spending most of her two-week vacation in February trying to really answer some of the big questions in this whole wedding thing. And now, after writing and mailing no fewer than four different checks to vendors, we can officially say that we're getting married on August 23, 2008 in Sandy Hook, NJ.

I know, I know, six months isn't much time to plan a wedding. So I hope that in between panic attacks Sara really listens to and hears me when I assure her that we will be able to get everything done by then. Really, I think we can. Okay so maybe we'll have to forgo a spectacular skydiving entrance. And dance lessons. And an immediate honeymoon. But Sara will have a dress (we hope - fingers crossed) and we do have the rings and some wildly accommodating friends who will be able to join us on semi-short notice, so that's all we need. Well, that and free booze and uninhibited dancing (see caterer [check] and site [check] above). We'll post more details here as we get them, but for now wish me luck in finding affordable lodging for the aforementioned accommodating friends.