I Just had my wedding at the MARITIME PARC in Jersey City in January 2012. My now-husband and I had originally planned to do a destination wedding in Florida in August 2012, but decided to move up our date, cut costs, and find an affordable yet storybook wedding in NYC. Oh, boy, our wedding went past any dreams or expectations we had. Maritime Parc was suggested by my father-in-law, and resisted by me initially -- until I set foot in the venue.
The wedding went so smoothly; unlike all previous warnings I've read about and heard about, NOTHING WENT WRONG. The staff kept up to all their promises -- and more. The planning process was so stress-free. Elizabeth Winship, who is the Events Director, was also our event planner. It feels like she is a family member now. She was so knowledable, helpful and amazing, mere words CANNOT adequately express the appreciation my husband and I feel for the amazing job she and her staff did!. She worked with us to enable us to stick to our budget. She is very experienced in South Asian weddings, and gave me a lot of helpful suggestions, even emailing us about a South Asian bridal show in the area. Elizabeth was in touch with our vendors to ensure all worked well. The decorators were allowed in with ample time to set up. No limitations like some other venues place on vendors. I am a Spanish girl, and ended up with the most amazing South Asian Wedding.
I cannot imagine how my wedding would have resulted with such magical and perfect results anywhere else. I often read about "Things WILL go wrong, relax," and other warnings about your wedding date. I am still in awe of how perfect our day went, largely as a result of the staff and planning at Maritime Parc.
FIRST.... You arrive through a scenic drive down Liberty State Park. At night the trees in front of Maritime are lit. The view of NYC in the backdrop is amazing; as well as views of the Statue of Liberty (also seen from inside venue and captured in some of my pictures). They have valet service for your guests, as well as an arrival foyer area with coat check, where waiters await your guests with drinks in hand. That alone was quite impressive to all. Then there are two other floors. The best part of it all, we had the venue to ourselves. There were not multiple weddings going on. It's like your own piece of heaven with Hudson River views, NYC skyline. And the third floor has a hatched roof -- which is breathtaking, as well as decks around the second and third floor where guests can mingle during the warmer months. They also serve cocktail hour BBQ, etc., in the deck area if requested. The staff dedicated all their attention to your event, to your guests, and to your comfort!!
FOOD.... Oh, the food!! While we had to have indian food catered in, we also opted for their catering as well. We had brunch there beforehand to try out their food. We knew immediately that any negative reviews were clearly unfounded, and their food was ... well, finger-licking-GOOD!! My now-husband and I were so excited. Our guests still comment about the food to this day... and sooo much food!! We had eight appetizers, and three grilling stations (which themselves each had four different appetizers) during cocktail hour, and then a three-course sit-down elegant dinner. Other venues offered more expensive options, for catering-hall-type food, and even buffet style while at the same time catering to 2-3 other weddings onsite. Maritime Parc is owned by an award-winning chef, and we clearly were able to see their attention to detail and quality in the food served, as well as the presentation of it.
THE CAKE!! What can I tell you about the cake. A similar looking/tasting gourmet cake would have cost us at least $2000 (we looked), and it was included with the booking of the wedding package. They worked with us to plan the cake, and even tried to place designs found in our menu/program cards on the cake. It was elegant, it was gourmet, it was super delicious!
GROOM/BRIDE ROOMS: There is a groom and bride VIP room (Separate rooms). These rooms were elgant (for picture taking), stocked with refreshments and a personal bathroom. While getting ready, an attendant was assigned to me. She made sure I had tea, water, juice, WHATEVER I NEEDED while getting ready. I had to do extra last-minute souvenirs due to an increase in headcount, she immediately asked where the bag was. I also had not done my place cards (things were running behind) And before I knew it, she had taken care of that as well. We forgot our personalized table card numbers, and Maritime Park also took care of placing numbers on the tables last minute. While taking pictures, my attendant and makeup artist noticed something not quite right with my dress. The attendant had a bag full of "bride's needs." She pulled out a scissor and cut away the extra paneling underneath the dress -- voila, perfect pictures. During my picture-taking, she also scooped out safetypins out of nowhere to tie my dupatta in place for a certain look. She was unbelievably prepared. She carried my lipstick, etc., throughout the night, and kept checking on me to see what I needed thorughout the reception, as well as making sure we had our food, refreshment, etc., during the night. I felt like a pricess with her lady-in-waiting! Magical, magical, magical!!
MAKEUP ARTIST: My makeup artist was Susmita Patel. I CANNOT stress more what an amazing job she did! I visited a bridal show and all the other famous makeup artists were there, but you will immediately see Susmita has a special talent. Not only did she do my hair and makeup, she made sure my garments were secure. My husband's aunt (who had just married her daughter), came out to ensure I was comfortable. her daughter came out to warn me about the discomforts of the heavy bridal wear. Susmita sewed things in place; pinned things in place -- and I danced the night away without a care in the world. Everyone was amazed at her job! She also took it upon herself to call the photographer to steal me away for pictures. And she posed me, while at the same time placing my dupatta in different angles for picture taking. I would have been totally lost without her!
MUSIC: Because of my Puerto Rican background, we had a mix of music. We hired DJ Azad, who had fabulous reviews online. He is based in Long Island. DJ Azad was also so helpful to me during my planning process. He made so many wonderful suggestions as to the ceremony itself, scheduling, etc. We also went through him for the gobo lights, dhol player, and even an Indian wedding singer who was phenomenal. DJ Azad arrived super early to set up. He is very professional, kind, responsible, dependable, and just a wonderful soul. We had touches during the ceremony I had never seen elsewhere -- and I must say, DJ Azad made the suggestions. I must have kept him on the phone for hours at a time during the planning process, and he was just always eager to help. He provided wireless microphones, intelligent lighting, gobo lights (design and setup), and pictures are the evidence: NOT ONE SOUL SITTING DOWN, everyone dancing and having such a good time: from the 80-year-old grandmothers, to the kids. I have never seen my own mother dance so much.
We also had a CUBAN trio play during dinner. They are called Tres x Dos! Words cannot describe the ambiance they added to our reception. Before dinner was even served people were up dancing... They personalized their music with my name, and had me in tears with their music selection. Finally they slowed down to a jazz tempo so people can sit down and eat their food. And it was a romantic setting. We were able to combine an Indian wedding singer, a Cuban trio, and traditional banghra/bollywood music with Spanish Salsa and american music to create a memorable party. The Indian families were dancing salsa, and the non-Indian families were dancing banghra!! It was a hilarious and fun-filled celebration!!
DECOR: We used Abishek Decorators. We read they were the most affordable, and we found very professional. They were at the venue very early to set up. They went above and beyond that which was told to us. Every detail was attended to. They noticed the colors I picked did not go as good as a gold color, they made the suggestion, and it was absolutely perfect. They asked to see my dress before the event to ensure all went well. And frankly, they have to be the most friendly, professional, helpful decorators ever. Knowing I was Spanish, they offered to help me with any questions I had as to South Asian weddings, and were indeed helpful with any questions I asked. Two days before the wedding, the headcount increased significantly, we had to move to a bigger room... NO PROBLEM. They immediately increased the amount of table decorations, lights, and everything went smoothly. And I can't forget DJ Azad's cheering up the crowds during the bharat procession -- as well as announcing the entrance of the bride. I entered in a dholi beautifully decorated by Abishek Decorators.
My invitations, menu cards and Program cards were ordered from India -- and were unique, fabulous and people were raving. We had personalized shot glasses made, and Maritime Parc had these filled with mango lasshi, which were passed out by the waiters during cocktail hour. Each table also had a personalized box (from India) filled with after-dinner mints, as well as a small heart box filled with Pan Masala mix, and a sticker informing our non-Indian guests about the Pan Masala, and a number was placed inside each box. The number was later used to conduct a raffle for a lucky winner at the end of the night.
The ceiling at the Maritime Parc light up during the evening, and it just made the atmostphere so magical. Pictures, and even a site visit, does not adequately justify the atmosphere and magic created during the actual event; the professionalism of their staff; the way their staff just ensured that every detail was covered; that every T was crossed. My only complaint is, I wish my event also lasted three days. Due to our budget we only had a one-day event where we combined ceremonies. But the AHMED wedding, as our guests have told us, "will be the wedding of the century and one we will never forget."
While guests were leaving, after they received their coat from the coat check downstairs, a personalize goody-bag was handed to each family by the Maritime Parc staff; and therepon valet retrieved each guest's car. Goody bags were filled with personalized M&Ms with a picture of the bride and groom in personalized bags, a personalized scented reed diffuser with oil, and a bag of Indian/Spanish sweets. The end of a magical evening!
I strongly urge you to reach out to Elizabeth Winship at Maritime Parc. I am sure all their other event planners are awesome, but Elizabeth is in a class by herself!!