I drafted a list of places, sent it to Mr. B and our parents (it's exciting for them too so I wanted them to feel included), and we made our list to visit based one everyone's feedback. In order of favorites:
I'm loving Clark's Landing Yacht Club, in Pt. Pleasant. Point's got a lot of relationship significance for Brad and I (first dates, first annversary, etc). The room is beautiful and overlooks the marina and I love the water backdrop-- imagine our wedding pics with boat docks as a backdrop!! Swoon.
Brad's top choice is the Liberty House in Jersey City. It's got a rustic interior, full of beautiful windows, and overlooks the Manhattan skyline. Definitely a dramatic view, and anything NYC gets his attention.
My dream venue is Bonnet Island or Mallard Island in LBI (same owners & similar looks). They are beautiful, classy waterfront venues. My mom hates them, she doesn't go for the water thing and finds the sparse ceremony area a bit too "Puritan," but I am in love. Mom will probably have her way though, rumor has it a wedding at Bonnet Island easily costs $55K (before flowers, photography, etc).
The Palace at Somerset Park is kind of the exact opposite of everything I want, but I think it looks really classy, and for whatever reason, I have a good feeling about checking it out. It's one of David Tutera's top pick venues, and that's some quality endorsement right there.
The Eagle Oak Golf and Country Club in Farmingdale is another contender. Mr. B says its too "golfy" (no kidding...) but I think I gravitate towards these understated places. I can't stand the typical over the top NJ wedding venue (Venetian, Rockleigh, I'm looking at you).
And despite what I just said about hating the typical "Jersey" venue, we are considering Seasons in Washington Township (if this isn't Jersey, I don't know what is). I've heard great things about the food and cocktail hour from a close friend whose taste I trust, and with its beautiful dance floor, nice ceilings, and copious windows, it's at least worth looking at.
I'm also feeling the Westmount Country Club. I know a few people getting married there, and it does look nice- more "wedding venue" than the beachfront places, but also modern enough that I like it. Check out that cool chandelier (I think this is the cocktail space). I've heard some negative feedback about the reception room layouts though.
Other places warranting consideration, although not enough consideration to bother with pictures, are the Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank, the Hyatt Jersey City, and the W Hoboken.
We've got appointments for the first few, and I'm starting to get back pricing and date availability info from the others. The hunt begins!!