Is love all you need for a great wedding? Love helps, but if you want to really enjoy yourself on The Day, it takes a lot of planning for your once-in-a-lifetime, spare-no-expense affair. Once in a lifetime? Let’s hope so. Spare no expense? Maybe not, but you do want to pronounce yourselves in a special place. If you’re looking for something different and memorable, a place with some soul, point yourself to the more rural corners of New Jersey. You’ll find exquisite historic buildings, rehabilitated and adapted for elegant hospitality. Or venues that meld perfectly with the best of New Jersey Skylands outdoors, your destination for rural romance.
Travelers and epicures in the Warren County are never far away from one of New Jersey’s finest dining and lodging experiences; the cozy accommodations and artful cuisine of the Inn at Millrace Pond in the village of Hope. A conversion to lodging in the early ‘80s, the site is a restoration of an historic gristmill built during the founding period of the village of Hope’s settlement by Moravians in the mid-eighteenth century. The seventeen-room inn, restaurant and tavern — in combination with three other restored buildings on the 23-acre property — is the perfect setting for timeless country charm, with indoor events for up to eighty guests or tented events for as many as two-hundred.
On the original milling complex there are, besides the gristmill, the Millrace House, and the stone Wheelwright’s Cottage. In 1996, the Inn’s owners moved a 170-year-old home from Hope village’s historic district to new quarters at the Inn property, restoring it to complement the ambiance of historic preservation already so appreciated by visitors to the grand rehabilitated Moravian gristmill. In years since, the sophisticated farmhouse has been central to the Inn’s ability to host larger, elegant affairs, as well as the smaller intimate weddings impeccably served in the confines of the gristmill, which houses a large formal dining room as well as a rustic tavern. The family and wedding party can enjoy a delightful rehearsal dinner, overnight stay in the gristmill’s charming, antique-filled guest rooms and breakfast the next morning before the big event. In the cottage bridal suite, the bride and her maids can prepare to meet the groom on a beautiful estate lawn, or even on a lovely wooden footbridge. For large affairs, cocktails can be served on the farmhouse veranda and food served from the house after the ceremony. The Inn’s expert kitchen and hospitality staff can tailor the needs of any group to their satisfaction. Start with a phone call, then a visit. Click or call 908/459-4884.
In the early to mid-1900s, the grand old barn that stands a half mile south of the junction of Routes 46 and 31 (1487 Route 31, Oxford), operated as the “Farmers Feed Service”, where farmers brought grain to have ground into feed for their livestock. In the 1960s, a local realtor and schoolteacher converted the barn into an antique co-op. As luck would have it, one of the antique vendors took ownership in the 1980s and continued to run the co-op for another decade as Jack’s Barn. As Jack moved into his retirement years the co-op closed, and after ten more years, he sold the barn and its 10,000 square feet of contents to two entrepreneurs, Darren Musso and Christopher Pozarycki, who wanted to use the building as a collector car showplace. Well, unfortunately the density of paraphernalia in the barn’s interior put a damper on that. So the new owners decided to resurrect Jack’s Barn antique co-op, selling antiques and home furnishings for another five years, until one day a young couple approached the owners and asked if they could marry in the barn’s loft space. Although it seemed an odd request, the owners agreed. Word of mouth traveled fast, and soon several more couples asked if they too could use the loft space for their nuptials. Recognizing its inimitable appeal, the owners renovated and outfitted the building with all the amenities required for the most sophisticated engagements, while enhancing the rustic and relaxed feel that makes The Loft at Jack’s Barn so attractive for weddings and special affairs.
Further south on Route 31, the town of Oxford’s historic district pays homage to the first furnace in Colonial New Jersey where iron ore was mined, built in 1741. Overlooking the rehabilitated Oxford Furnace, stands the Shippen Manor, a stone mansion built by Joseph and William Shippen, owners of the furnace. In the early 1840s, the furnace was passed from the Shippen family into the hands of Charles, Selden and George Scranton (for whom the Pennsylvania city was named). Charles occupied the Shippen Manor, while Selden constructed another stunning Georgian-style mansion just behind Shippen’s, the estate now referred to as Twenty Belvidere. In 2013, Loft Enterprises (Darren and Christopher, the owners of Jack’s Barn) purchased the property as the perfect complement to their budding business a mile up the road, offering clients an entire hilltop manor for accommodations during special occasions. It took two arduous years of relentless creative and loving attention to bring the historic home back to its glorious original splendor. But now visitors to Twenty Belvidere step back in time to the refineries of America’s past: twelve-foot-high ceilings, grand three floor center staircase, butler’s pantry, magnificent library and music room, opulent marble fireplaces, and eight well-appointed bedrooms. Whether in conjunction with a wedding at The Loft at Jack’s Barn, or for a corporate meeting, family gathering or weekend getaway, consider a private tour to see what Twenty Belvidere has to offer. Click or call 908/857-2054.
If you feel that your wedding deserves the rarified style and grace of an earlier era, look no further than Historic Rutherfurd Hall in Allamuchy, an 18,000-square-foot Tudor country house built by Winthrop Chanler Rutherfurd in 1902. Now a cultural center and a museum owned and managed by the Allamuchy Township Board of Education, Rutherfurd Hall is also a unique place to hold a wedding. Designed by famed architect Whitney Warren (1864-1943), the structure’s brick exterior, and its interior woodwork, fireplaces, ceilings, and original furnishings, echo Jacobean themes, an English architecture that delights the eye. Three rooms on the first floor are available, each of which can be designed for your event. For your reception you can incorporate a newly restored patio or employ the expansive manicured lawn and grounds, which offer breathtaking views of the Allamuchy Pond and surrounding area. Wedding rental prices vary based on hours at the venue, number of guests, use of tent, and other special details of your choosing. And you’ll be happy to know that these additional operating revenues help Rutherfurd Hall in achieving its mission of historical, cultural, and architectural preservation, as a self-sufficient enterprise. Click or call 908/852-1894 x 38.
The verdant and well-manicured landscapes common to all of Warren County’s wineries have served as suitable stages for beautiful outdoor weddings. And the spacious structures built to accommodate a steady procession of visitors for normal business, often suit the requirements for a catered reception. Wineries are happy to have the extra business, but for most, weddings are a sideline. At Brook Hollow Winery, however, Paul Ritter and his family decided to make their farm a wedding destination. Located near the base of the Kittatinny Mountains at the Delaware Water Gap (594 State Highway 94, Columbia), the winery is housed in an expansive production facility and tasting room with sweeping views towards the ridge over the vineyard. The venue has proven so popular for social events that the Ritters have invested in a new 4,000-square-foot banquet facility. In keeping with the winery’s popular brand of rustic hospitality, the building can accommodate two-hundred guests, with a large dance floor, 2,000-square-foot covered porch, and an attached 400-square-foot gazebo. A wedding toast with glasses full of vintage Brook Hollow wine completes the picture! Click or call 908/496-8200.
Some may prefer to get married on a warm, sunny afternoon amidst fields and forest, serenaded by songbirds, with the scent of spring flowers in the air. That’s the setting at The Pond at TripleBrook, a park-like setting in the Kittatinny Mountains, minutes from historic Hope and the Delaware Water Gap (58 Honey Run Road, Blairstown). An open air, seasonal events pavilion sits on the foundations of a historic dairy barn overlooking rolling fields, pastures, and the camping resort’s trademark private pond. Couples can exchange vows pond-side under a wooden pergola, then proceed to the pavilion, which can accommodate up to 235 guests. Canvas and vinyl curtains have been integrated into the design to help manage the weather and add a level of temperature control. Patio heaters or wall-mounted fans provide a level of comfort depending on the season. Two-tiered patios are a perfect transition from the indoor space to landscaped gardens that surround the building. After a spin or two on the dance floor, escape to a rocker by the fire pit for relaxed conversation or unwind with some outdoor lawn games. There are full-service restroom facilities and a bridal lounge. Three venue price packages vary according the length of your affair, your choice of seating styles, bar and outdoor amenities. Click or call 908-459-4079.
A canal boat captain and her daughters navigate the Bread Lock in June, 1863.
Restored c.1754 stone ironmaster's home associated with c.1741 Oxford Furnace.is open first and second Sundays, 1-4pm, for tours through Colonial and Victorian rooms with costumed docents. There are special events throughout the year as well as programs for schools. Sunday concerts on the manor lawn are a favorite during the summer.
Warren County's Montana Mountain, Merrill Creek Reservoir, and the Pohatcong Valley is equally rewarding for students of history and devotees of the outdoors.