Marc and David’s Autumn Conservatory Gardens Wedding

Central Park Wedding M&D

Marc and David brought six of their friends over from their home in the UK to get married in Central Park in November. They had been together for eleven years before they got married, they met on a night out in Cardiff. David was out with his brother Andy, Marc out with his friend Geraint. They met at a bus stop and clicked with one another. A few days later they went out on a proper first date and within a week they had moved in together and have been together ever since. Since then they added their two dogs, Bella and Cane to the family.

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They flew in on Halloween so they got to experience the fun of the parade and the streets of New York with everyone dressed up. They got their license the following day and got married on the 2nd. After their stay in New York they went on to Las Vegas to continue their adventure.

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Their original choice for their ceremony location was Wagner Cove but it wasn’t available due to the area being closed off for around a week. It was because they needed to set up for the New York Marathon which was coming through that part of the park. They were not issuing permits for any part of the park below 86th Street, which is most of the park, so we had to look at the north end.

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Marc and David decided on the Burnett Fountain in the Conservatory Gardens. The Central Park Conservancy charge a far higher fee for this area, and it’s right up at 105th Street, so it’s quite a walk from there to the more well-known areas of Central Park. On the other hand, it’s a beautiful and quiet area with lovely gardens. Few tourists make it up this far, although of course you’ll see more locals at this end of the park.

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After the ceremony they walked through the park with our photographer and officiant, taking photos as they went. A lovely spot on the route from the Conservatory Gardens to the center area of the park is the Reservoir, so they took advantage of the opportunity to take some pictures there.

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The all-male wedding party made an incredibly dapper group. They all wore matching suits, with Marc and David with tails on their jackets. If you look closely, you’ll see that the couple had slightly different vests (or waistcoats for British readers) with pinks ties and pocket squares, with white boutonnieres, and their party had grey ties and pink boutonnieres.

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Later on, they all took photos at Bethesda Terrace and Bow Bridge. So many couples worry about the weather when getting married at this time of year, but as Autumn turns to Winter New York often sees some beautiful sunny (but fairly cold!) days. They also just about caught some of the Fall colors on the trees. After all that, they went on to the Tavern on the Green to have a rest and to celebrate, and our photographer popped in to take a few pictures inside before she left.

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If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, whatever the time of year, visit our website, for more information. Everyone in our team welcomes same-sex couples, and if you prefer a gay officiant and/or photographer then please let me know and I can arrange that for you.

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You can also “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest where we pin all things New York or wedding-related.

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Alternative Wedding Ceremony Promises

When I write ceremonies for couples as part of helping them to plan their wedding in Central Park, there is usually a part where the officiant says something along the lines of; “Do you take him/her and promise to do these things under all circumstances, forever?” and each of the couple says “I do”.  More specifically, it tends to be something similar to this:

[Name], do you take [Name] to be your husband/wife; to live together in the covenant of marriage?  Do you promise to love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to share his thoughts, hopes and dreams; forsaking all others and to be faithful only to him, so long as you both shall live?

Then the bride or groom simply says “I do”.  It’s the classic part of a wedding ceremony, and it does the job.  Sometimes couples don’t want to say that, or they do want to say that, or something similar, but also make other affirmations, where they want to make promises more specific to them as a couple.  Here are a few of my suggestions.

alternative wedding ceremony promises

I, [Name], take you, [Name], to be my (lawfully wedded) husband/wife, secure in the knowledge that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love.

On this special day, I (affirm/give) to you in the presence of God and all those in attendance my (pledge/sacred promise) to stay by your side as your (faithful) husband/wife in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, as well as through the good times and the bad.

I promise to love you without reservation, comfort you in times of distress, encourage you to achieve all of your goals, laugh with you and cry with you, grow with you in mind and spirit, always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as we both shall live.

I, [Name], take you, [Name], to be my (lawfully wedded) husband/wife, knowing in my heart that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, and my one true love. On this special and holy day, I (affirm/give) to you in the presence of God and all those in attendance my (pledge/sacred promise) to stay by your side as your faithful husband/wife in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, as well as through the good times and the bad.

“I, [Name], take you, [Name], to be my wedded husband/wife, and in doing so, I commit my life to you, encompassing all sorrows and joys, all hardships and triumphs, all the experiences of life. A commitment made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope, and eternally made new.”

I promise to love you without reservation, honor and respect you, provide for your needs as best I can, protect you from harm, comfort you in times of distress, grow with you in mind and spirit, always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as we both shall live.

[Name], I promise to love and care for you and I will try in every way to be worthy of your love.
I will always be honest with you, kind, patient, and forgiving. But most of all, I promise to be a true and loyal friend to you. I love you.

I [Name], take you [Name], to be my husband/wife, to share the good times and hard times side by side. I humbly give you my hand and my heart as I pledge my faith and love to you. Just as this ring I give you today is a circle without end, my love for you is eternal. Just as it is made of incorruptible substance, my commitment to you will never fail. With this ring, I thee wed.”

I [Name], take you [Name], to be my husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

I, [Name], take you, [Name], to be my husband/wife, my constant friend, my faithful partner and my love from this day forward. In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.

I [Name], take you [Name] to be my husband/wife, my partner in life and my one true love. I will cherish our union and love you more each day than I did the day before. I will trust you and respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you faithfully through good times and bad, regardless of the obstacles we may face together. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love, from this day forward for as long as we both shall live.

I, [Name], take you, [Name], to be my husband/wife, loving what I know of you, and trusting what I do not yet know. I eagerly anticipate the chance to grow together, getting to know the (man/woman) you will become, and falling in love a little more every day. I promise to love and cherish you through whatever life may bring us.

[Name], I take you as you are, loving who you are now and who you are yet to become, I promise from this day forward. To be grateful for our love and our life. To be generous with my time, my energy and my affection. To be patient with you and with myself. To fill our life with adventure and our home with laughter. To encourage you to grow as an individual, and inspire you to do so. To love you completely. These things I pledge before you, our friends and our family.

“I, [Name], take you, [Name], to be my husband/wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”

“I, [Name], take you to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife. Before these witnesses I vow to love you and care for you as long as both shall live. I take you with all your faults and your strengths as I offer myself to you with my faults and strengths. I will help you when you need help, and I will turn to you when I need help. I choose you as the person with whom I will spend my life.”

[Name], I promise to love you, to be your best friend, to respect and support you, to be patient with you, to work together with you to achieve our goals, to accept you unconditionally, and to share life with you throughout the years.

[Name], I take you to be my wife/husband from this time onward, to join with you and to share all that is to come, to be your faithful husband/wife, to give and to receive, to speak and to listen, to inspire and to respond; a commitment made in love, kept in faith, and eternally made new.

“I, [Name], take you, [Name], to be my wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.”

“I take you, [Name], to be my husband/wife from this day forward, to join with you and share all that is to come, and I promise to be faithful to you until death parts us.”

“Let us take the fourth step, to acquire knowledge, happiness, and harmony by mutual love and trust. Finally, let us take the seventh step and become true companions and remain lifelong partners by this wedlock.”

[Name], do you pledge to love [Name] and throughout your years together to be honest, faithful, and kind to her/him? Do you pledge to give to her/him the same happiness she/he gives to you, and to respect her for who she is, not who you want her to be? (each responds, “I do.”)

[Name], with all my love, I take you to be my wife/husband. I will love you through good and the bad, through joy and the sorrow. I will try to be understanding, and to trust in you completely. Together we will face all of life’s experiences and share one another’s dreams and goals. I promise I will be your equal partner in an loving, honest relationship, for as long as we both shall live.

 


 

If I am helping you to plan your wedding in Central Park then I will work with you to write your ceremony for you and your partner.  Part of this process is to advise what the officiant and what the couple should say, and what suits you as a couple.  We would work out what order everything should go in to flow properly.  A few weeks ago I posted my thoughts on writing your own wedding vows, so have a look at that if you think that’s something you might want to do.  In a little while I’ll post some alternatives on what to say when you exchange wedding rings.  And some time ago I posted twenty wedding readings and poems that I like or that my couples have used previously.

Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and pin along with us on Pinterest to keep updated with what we’re up to on your social media platform of choice!

 

 

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Claire and Brett’s Wedding under the Angel of the Waters at Bethesda Fountain

Central Park Wedding C&B

Claire and Brett met in 2010 through their shared hobby of playing squash.  They got together a year later and got married in May by Bethesda Fountain.  They brought thirty-three guests from their home in Kent, England to the wedding; quite a large group by our standards.

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The Fountain is set in the center of a large paved area.  It has the famous arches and the steps that lead up to the terrace at one end and the Lake begins at the other, with a view over to the Boathouse.  On either side are two lawn areas, one larger than the other, both on a slight hill.  Our original plan was for the wedding to take place on the larger lawn area, but we discovered that the Central Park Conservancy were reseeding the lawn at the time of their wedding so we were unable to use it.  So the ceremony took place right next to the Fountain.

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Rather than walk down the stone steps from the terrace to the Fountain to make her entrance, Claire chose a more leisurely pathway that snakes around at a slight decline to bring a pedestrian to the lower level without taking any steps down.  This made for a dramatic entrance as they appeared between the tall trees.

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Claire’s bouquet was a stunning “brooch bouquet” made from dark red silk, silk flowers, brooches, fine jewellery, and lace.  These are a wonderful alternative to a traditional floral bouquet, not least because the bride gets to keep it!

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The bride, groom and officiant stood next to the Fountain with their guests standing around them.  The Fountain is a busy spot in Central Park, but having thirty-three of their nearest and dearest encircling them must have made the ceremony feel more private.  Our officiant read the poem “A Miracle” by Debbie Pottinger during the ceremony, which I’ve posted below.

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After the photos in Central Park, they all got on the vintage New York Trolley Bus for a two-hour scenic route around Manhattan.  The trolley bus allows riders to bring drinks on board so this served as their mobile reception.

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After the bus, they took the Staten Island ferry over to Staten Island for their reception meal at the River Dock Café, which has an outdoor terrace with stunning views of downtown Manhattan.

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If you think you might like some help with planning your own Central Park wedding, visit our website. “Like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest.

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“A Miracle” by Debbie Pottinger

At first I thought we would just be friends.
A little did we know, our friendship would bend
To a love that’s so big for the world to see
that you and me are meant to be.

Sun or snow, rain or shine
forever, forever you will be mine
Mine for me, mine to be
Mine for all eternity.

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Tips on Writing Your Own Wedding Vows

Some people just want to say “I do” to each other during their wedding ceremony and want the officiant to do all the talking while they avoid saying anything else at all.  That’s perfectly fine.  Some people want to write their own marriage vows to say to each during the ceremony.  Of those people, some have a very clear idea of what they want to say and they can go and write something beautiful, entertaining and heartfelt quite easily.  This blog post if for the subset of people who want to write their own vows, (or their partner wants them to write their own vows!) but they need a bit of help.  Here are my top tips, from what I’ve learned in the past few years of planning weddings in Central Park.

writing your wedding vows

Read some examples for inspiration

Have a search online for what other have said, or ask me for some examples of what previous couples have said to each other (I won’t be posting personal vows of my clients online, even though some of them are gold!).  There’s nothing wrong with using other people’s ideas for inspiration, or even downright plagiarism if it sounds right.  If it works for you and you think it will resonate with your partner, then steal it (and maybe modify it to suit you).

Write some notes about your relationship

What have you shared in the past?  Do you have any great memories that you’d like to recall as you get married?  What are the highs and lows so far?  Why is getting married important to you?  What do you hope for or expect in the future together?  What do you especially love about your partner?

Decide what you will promise your partner

These are your vows, your chance to make a special promise or pledge for the future to your significant other.  Are there special promises that you want to make?  There are the traditional love, comfort, honor and cherish promises, but are there other things that you want to promise to always do for this person?  You might want to think of a couple of serious ones and a couple of promises that might be a private or a public joke between you.

Make sure you have the same tone

After you have thought a little about what you might want to say, agree with your partner that you have the same style, format and tone for your vows.  If you want to keep what you are going to say as a surprise until the day I can help with this by checking your drafts of vows for you.  Check if it’s OK (or encouraged) to put a few jokes in.  Agree how personal you want to be in front of whoever is there, of course this isn’t an issue if you’re eloping!  Do a quick word count to check that you are both talking for roughly the same amount of time.

Write a first draft

Have a go at writing it all out as far in advance of the ceremony as you can.  Cover all the things you think are important and see how it reads, perhaps against what your partner has written.  Perhaps you could leave it for a little while and give it some thought for a few weeks and then return to it and see if anything else occurs to you.  You’ll only be doing this one time, so you need to mean what you say.  Try to keep to two paragraphs, you don’t want your guests (and certainly not your spouse!) to lose interest if you have pages and pages to read!

Edit the words until they feel right

Have a good think about saying all this out loud to the one you love, probably in front of all your nearest and dearest.  Is any of it cheesy or cliched?  Does it truly sound like your voice?  It can be difficult to strike the balance between being personal and heartfelt, without putting too much out there in the open in front of an audience.  I usually try to write the ceremony wording with a couple as far in advance of the wedding as possible.  That is because I think it’s good to write something, then go away and come back to it with fresh eyes and read over it again and see if it still sounds good.  I’d suggest that for your vows, too.

Write or print it clearly on card

Sometimes we have our officiant bring the vows with them and sometimes the couples bring their personal vows with them on a piece of card.  Whoever brings it, I strongly suggest reading it rather than trying to memorize it.  That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t read it out loud a few times in advance – you should – but nerves can ruin memory so plan on reading it out.  One of our couples wrote their vows in a greetings card that they could then give to their spouse to keep, I think that’s a lovely idea.

LM Central Park Wedding ceremony

If I am helping you to plan your wedding in Central Park then I will work with you to write your ceremony for you and your partner and I can also help you to write your personal vows.  Doing this isn’t for everyone, so be sure that you and your partner agree on what you’re comfortable with in advance of any of this.  And if you don’t agree, then find a way to compromise, after all, that’s what married life is all about!  Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and pin along with us on Pinterest to keep updated with what we’re up to on your social media platform of choice!

If you’re interested in some alternatives to the traditional “love, honor and cherish” part of a ceremony, then watch this space, I’ll be writing some ideas for that soon.  And if you’d like to see some ideas on what to say when you exchange your rings then I’ll be posting about that in a few weeks, too.  If you’d like to see my list of twenty wedding readings and poems, a mixture of some that my previous clients have used, or just ones that I personally quite like, then check out my post on that.  I’d love anyone to share their tips for writing their own wedding vows in the comments below.

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Melanie and Dean’s Intimate Wedding in the Shakespeare Garden

Real Central Park Wedding MD Shakespeare Garden

Melanie and Dean brought a small group of their nearest and dearest over to New York from Australia for their July wedding in Central Park. They had been together for eight and a half years when they got married. They met in Fiji on what the Aussies call ‘Schoolies’, “a week long party/holiday that Aussies traditionally take to celebrate finishing high school – definitely not a place you would expect to meet your future husband/wife!” Melanie told me. “Our two groups of friends met on the beach and we spent the night talking until sunrise,” she said.

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Melanie and Dean feel that they have grown up together. “Since we met just as we finished high school, we were really only just children. We’ve matured into adults together and helped shape each other into the people we are today,” she explained.
They were in town from the 3rd to the 12th July and they got married on the 8th. The sun is high and bright and hot, and not too flattering for photos in the middle of the day in July in New York, so they opted for a later afternoon ceremony. The Shakespeare Garden is lovely in the summer, but there’s no cover or shade there.

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Our officiant met the groom and guests in the Shakespeare Garden and our photographer met the bride at the 81st and Central Park West entrance to the park and walked in with her. Our photographer was able to let the officiant know when the bride was nearby, so she announced her and that was Melanie’s sister Mardi’s cue to perform a song on acoustic guitar for Melanie as she made her entrance.

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Their sister-in-law Joanna read the poem ‘The Union’ by Robert Fulghum. It’s a popular one for weddings, and I think it’s very lovely, so I’ve put the text at the end of this post. They had the traditional vows, which end with them saying “I do”. After that, they put in some light-hearted promises that were private and public jokes about their characters, such as “Do you promise to always nod and smile politely when listening to her boring teacher stories?” and “Do you promise to learn sign language when his eardrums burst from listening to too much heavy metal?” which they also answered “I do” to. I love it when couples are able to show their personalities this way, when they only have a small group in attendance, so they feel comfortable saying quite personal things, that distant family and acquaintances just won’t get.

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They requested photographer Andy Mars, after seeing her photos on our blog. They took lots of fun photos around the Shakespeare Garden, and Belvedere Castle, which is very close by. They had a little bit of rain while taking the photos, but they took it in very good humor.

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If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, whatever the time of year, visit our website, or “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest where we pin like crazy with all things New York or wedding-related.

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‘The Union’ by Robert Fulghum

You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married”, and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.
The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”

Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.

For after today you shall say to the world –
This is my husband. This is my wife.

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Renewing your Wedding Vows in Central Park

renew marriage vows in central park

A request that I seem to be getting more and more frequently recently is for help with planning a wedding vow renewal in Central Park.  Quite often I will get an inquiry about a vow renewal and I tell couples that we generally charge the same for a vow renewal as for a wedding, because it takes the same amount of time, effort and costs to do it.  In many cases, though, a couple renewing their vows don’t want to spend as much on the occasion as a couple who are getting married.  The problem is, if they want me to write a ceremony for them, provide an officiant to perform the ceremony and a photographer to take as many photos as they would for a wedding, then it’s difficult for me to charge any less than I would for a wedding, because that’s exactly what we do for a wedding.

I hope I’ve reached a compromise in my new Elopement Package than should be quite appealing to couples wanting to renew their vows as well as eloping couples.  If it’s just the two of you (and maybe a very small gathering of guests) and you want to renew your vows in Central Park from Monday to Thursday, then I have a deal for you!  We can do all that I’ve listed above, but with just one hour of taking photographs instead of the two hours that I suggest for a wedding for over $300 less than our most popular wedding package.

I originally designed this package for eloping couples, who often come from abroad and might be in town for several days, so can be flexible on what date they get married.  Photographers understandably don’t want to commit to coming out for just one hour of work when that could mean that they would be unavailable for a full day of photography at another wedding.  That’s more unlikely during the week than at weekends, though, and the photographers I work with get steady referrals from me, so are happy to take on some shorter jobs during the week to accommodate the couples who don’t feel the need to take very long taking photos around Central Park.

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Couples have lots of different reasons for renewing wedding vows.  Sometimes couples who got married with a rather basic ceremony at City Hall in the US or a registry office in the UK might contact me for a more personalized experience where they truly get to show their personalities and their love for each other.  Sometimes I work with couples who have been married for many years and they have come to either an anniversary or birthday, and they want to mark the milestone with a vow renewal.  Sometimes couples just happen to be New York for a vacation, and they decide to renew their vows while they are there, which turns the occasion in to an opportunity for a lovely family photo shoot in beautiful Central Park if they have their kids with them.

Sometimes a couple may have been through some challenges, such as serious health issues, or commitment issues, and it feels right to renew vows.  One couple told me that their original real wedding was a disaster due to some family members’ actions, so they wanted to do it all again and enjoy it this time!  For so many reasons; an already married couple might want to have a ceremony that is unique to them, in a beautiful location, and perhaps a small celebration with friends and family in an incredible city with something for everyone.

In the past, I have planned renewals or blessings for vastly varying sizes of groups.  Because every ceremony I write is unique to each couple, we can cater to anyone.  If you want to have a big group with you for your vow renewal, and you want to do it on a weekend, then due to the time commitment from all involved, then the price is probably going to be the same for a vow renewal or blessing as it is for a legally binding wedding.  The only difference from our perspective is that a license is signed at the end of a wedding.

When renewing their wedding vows, a couple should consider which parts of their original wedding they might want to keep, and which parts they would want to change.  It all depends on how things went the first time around.  I have shared a few thoughts about in this previous blog post about renewing your wedding vows in Central Park.

For more information to help you with planning your own Central Park marriage vow renewal, visit our website, check out our prices here, or “like” us on Facebookfollow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest where you will find lots of lovely photos and many more inspiring stories of real weddings and vow renewals.  Please note that the photographs used in this blog post are of weddings as well as vow renewals.

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Rochelle and Sebastian’s Winter Conservatory Gardens Wedding

Real Central Park Wedding R&S

Rochelle and Sebastian got married in the Conservatory Gardens in February. They are New Yorkers, and met during high school. Rochelle went to Sebastian’s sister’s school. They say that the first time they met was quite awkward but a memorable moment for the both of them. They had known each other for about ten years when they got married, although they had dated for far less than that, but nonetheless they were sure that they had found the on they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with.

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They were living in the East 90s at the time, so they were very close to that part of Central Park. The main entrance to the Conservatory Gardens is at 105th Street and Fifth Avenue. They knew Central Park well, so it was fairly easy for them to choose their ceremony location.

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Rochelle and Sebastian got married by the Burnett Fountain in the South Garden of the Conservatory Gardens. The fountain honors the children’s author who wrote The Secret Garden, and this part of the park is quite hidden away so it is fitting. The fountain has water in it during warmer months, but not in February. This meant that the couple were able to stand inside of the fountain for some photos, next to the snow!

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The Conservatory Gardens tends to be quieter than the areas in the center and south end of the park, and there are larger areas here, suitable for big groups. This is perhaps why a permit to get married her costs considerably more than a permit to get married anywhere else in Central Park, and you must apply for it through a different process that any other location in Central Park. Also, there are more time limitations on when a wedding can take place here. Rochelle and Sebastian’s group was not too big, though; around twenty guests.

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It was New York in February, so of course it was cold. There were still piles snow on the ground from a recent snowfall. Rochelle wore her coat some of the time, but took it off for the ceremony, and for many of the photos.  We arranged for our florist to deliver Rochelle’s flowers to her apartment. She carried blush and cream roses. We also arranged their photographer and a videographer to record the event.

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We arranged for a violinist to play at the ceremony, playing for the guests while they waited for the bride to arrive, and playing Wagner’s Bridal Chorus for her to arrive to, and Mendelssohn’s Wedding March for their exit. Then she continued to play as background music while group photographs were taken and the couple cut their wedding cake in the Conservatory Gardens.

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We had three readings during the wedding ceremony. The fist was from Corinthians, chapter 13, verses 4 to 13 and the second was the poem Married Love by Kuan Tao-sheng. After they exchanged rings, the officiant read from Matthew, chapter 19, verses 4 to 6, which ends with “what therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

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