After going to see two more wedding places this weekend, our choice is now between the Riverview Pavilion in Belmar and the Oak Tree Lodge in Wall.
We crunched wedding numbers last weekend, and when we reviewed them tonight, I realized that I messed up with the Excel spreadsheet previously...so costs are more than expected (um, yeah, when you add additional rows after previously autosumming, it doesn't add those lines to the autosum, I mean, I knew that...). So the Oak Tree is more than originally thought. The Oak Tree and Riverview are actually equivalent in cost.
Oak Tree is more DIY and it's an outdoor covered picnic environment and it has mini-golf and picnic food (hot dogs and hamburgers). Guests would sit at picnic benches to eat. There's lots of room to roam around. There isn't anywhere directly nearby for guests to stay. It's very casual and relaxed. We could get married on the property itself so guests would only have to park once.
For the Riverview we'd get married in a gazebo in a park that's near the ocean and on a lake (we can see the beach and hear the ocean from the gazebo), then head over to the Riverview for the reception. The Riverview is a banquet place where we can have brunch food and it has a view of the Belmar Marina. It's also right next to the Belmar train station, so Pete's relatives could take the train from Newark Airport directly to the Belmar Marina and stay at the Belmar Motor Lodge that's on the property of the Riverview Pavilion. The rooms in the RP are a little small. But we felt the banquet manager really understood us and got our "bringing Hawaii to NJ" concept. And we definitely could bring cardboard Elvis to either venue (unlike the Mill, which is a little upper class for us and for carboard Elvis). There's a lot less DIY at the Riverview, but it's not outside.
Are you getting bored of this yet?
Revised text for reply card and the invitation. Fake date/time/place. Or maybe not!