Jan 14, 2021

Historic Havens: Wedding Spots of Monmouth County

By Lori Draz

Christ Church in Shrewsbury

There have always been some couples who prefer intimate ceremonies in noteworthy spaces, and given the current restrictions on gathering sizes, that number has grown. Couples eager to take the plunge are opting for all kinds of small celebrations in some creative spaces, like backyards and boats. Many more are choosing locations with historic roots. Somehow these treasures seem to share their blessings of endurance and longevity with the happy couples.

There are many good choices. Most come with ample parking, spectacular photo backdrops and some even come with kitchen space that you can use for small receptions. Ask lots of questions and remember that due to the nature of historic properties, there may be limited access for those with mobility issues as well as limitations on entertainment and seating.

One of the oldest locations now accepting wedding reservations from non-members is Historic Christ Church in Shrewsbury. This true historic jewel has been hosting simple and elegant weddings for the past 250 years, and it’s so easy to find on the corner of Broad Street and Sycamore Avenue.

Christ Church was designed by the prominent Colonial-era Philadelphia architect Robert Smith who also designed Nassau Hall in Princeton. It is on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

As part of its 250-year anniversary, the Church recently restored its beautiful stained glass windows that add to the warm mood and draw the eye to the unique, vaulted ceiling. In the center, visitors will also see an authentic 18th century English-cut crystal chandelier which is identical to one hanging in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.

The nave is decorated in period colors of light yellow with white trim, red aisle carpeting and a splash of blue at the altar.

Christ Church is also home to the oldest church pipe organ in Monmouth County, a circa 1879 Odell Pipe Organ. The space also has a piano and choir loft which may be used by musicians during the service. You can even arrange to have church’s main bell peal as to recess the church.

The church is fully air-conditioned and heated and includes a handicapped ramp for accessibility. The neighboring Parish House Library is available as a changing room for the bridal party, and the Parish Hall may be used for receptions. Wedding Coordinator Noel Murgio and the staff put their whole hearts into the celebration, assisting with parking, pre ceremony set-up, and they will even conduct historic tours for your guests between the wedding and reception. The church grounds are also home to the Heritage Rose Garden, a lovely spot for pictures. To learn more, visit ChristChurchShrewsbury.org. To arrange a tour and ask more questions, call 732-741-2220 or email the church office at christchurchshrewsbury@verizon.net.

Another charming historic spot is the Allaire Chapel located within the Historic Village at Allaire. In its 180-year history, it has hosted more than 6,000 weddings.

The chapel was built in two parts. The first half was built in 1832, using lumber which had been recycled from an old ship. By 1836, the community had outgrown the original chapel, so members added an addition made with new lumber, which doubled its size. The new addition also included a bell tower and steeple. It was added to the new section due to concerns that the old half may not be able to handle the weight of the steeple and bell. The bell, which couples are encouraged to ring, is the original that was cast right there in the village in 1836. According to legend, James Allaire threw three solid gold coins into the molten steel to ensure the bell would always ring pure and true.

Historic Village at Allaire

Historic Village at Allaire

This was originally an Episcopal chapel, and pastors were sent from Christ Church in Shrewsbury. During the 1830s, Reverend Thomas Tanzer was the minister who also doubled as schoolmaster. When not in use for worship, the chapel also served as village schoolhouse. All the children at Allaire were required to attend school three days per week. In the 1830s, few people were educated and public school as a concept wasn’t in existence, so this was highly unusual and a great gift Allaire gave to his employees. Many of the students shared their education with their families, teaching their parents to read and write – a gift for these working class people who were generally denied a basic an education.

The current restrictions allow only 30 people inside the chapel at a time. In normal times, the space holds about 100, including the couple, any members of the wedding party, guests and any professional vendors.

Couples can bring their own officiant, musicians, florists, photographers, etc. or they can ask for their list of vendors who are familiar with the property. Rental of the chapel is also required for an outdoor wedding within the park as they chapel is held available in case of inclement weather. Couples can rent the chapel for affordable fees, starting at $700 or ask about their micro-wedding package through which the park will coordinate an officiant and ceremony musician for you and provide some basic chapel decorations. Couples have 90 minutes reserved inside the chapel, which includes setting up and disassembling decorations. The couple is also welcomed to use the grounds at the park before and after their reserved time for pictures for as long as they want, within the usual park operating hours, which vary by season.

To learn more, email info@allairevillage.org or call 732-919-3500, ext. 14.