New Jersey Style Weddings?
This introduction to the general progression of a New Jersey wedding was written for WeddingAces.com.
Many years ago when I was considering a relocation to Atlanta, it came to my attention that there are many different “styles” of weddings, all of which are common to the region in which they are held.
When visiting Atlanta, I picked up several bridal magazines. One had an article entitled (excuse me for summarizing) “New Jersey Style Weddings?” I, of coarse, found this article very interesting because I lived in New Jersey and was considering opening my wedding entertainment business in Atlanta. Why would there be an article in an Atlanta bridal magazine with such a title? As it turns out there is a rather larger population of people living in Atlanta that have moved there from New Jersey. So it makes perfect sense.
Wedding receptions in New Jersey are almost always 5 hours, which is broken into two segments, cocktail hour and a four hour reception. The cocktail hour is ideally held in a separate location on the premises of the reception. For example, guests might enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in one room and then move to a much larger, lavish room for the 4 hour reception. At some point before entering the main ballroom, guests will be directed to their assigned seats. As guests are finding their seats, the bride, groom, their parents and bridal party are lined up outside the ballroom for their grand entrance.
Introductions has long been the indicative start to the celebration aspect of the reception. In other words, NJ weddings typically begin with fun and exciting introductions that build to the main event which is the grand entrance of the bride and groom and the dramatic turnaround to their first dance as husband and wife. Assuming their is a similar number of gentlemen as ladies, a bride and groom will invite their bridal party out half way through the song to share in the first dance. While all eyes are on the dance floor, it’s customary to follow the first dance with parent dances. The bride dances with her father first. Then the groom will dance with his mother. After these three dances, time is made for a blessing or grace and the best man and/or Maid of Honor toast(s). In it’s entirety, from welcoming the guests to the best man’s toast, is what we call “introductions” and it generally takes about 20 minutes.
The next part of the reception will usually revolve around the food. The norm is to have a sit down dinner with several courses, ie. appetizer, salad, and main course. The unique aspect of the dinner part of the reception in NJ, is that it is acceptable and even desired to have dancing in between each course. So there might be some dancing after the appetizer. Then guest will sit down to enjoy their salad, after which they will dance for 25 minutes. Everyone will sit down to eat the main course and then get right back up for more dancing. So the general feel for the second segment of the reception (after introductions) is one of dance-eat-dance-eat-dance, etc.
By the time guests are finished with their main coarse, the first two hours of the reception have passed. The band or DJ is generally given the next 45 minutes to an hour for uninterrupted entertainment. With approximately one hour left, the bride and groom will cut and feed each other the cake, throw the bouquet and garter, and then dance until the last minute possible.
It’s very difficult to describe the typical reception without embellishing with all the new, creative, and soon to be traditional alternatives to the popular New Jersey Style wedding. I will surely reference this post in future writings that will describe some of the new ideas, such as cocktail receptions. In the meantime, I would love to hear how the standard reception in your area differs or compares to the New Jersey Style Wedding! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org