Alex and Tom’s Wedding under the Wisteria Pergola in the Conservatory Gardens

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Alex and Tom brought eighteen grown up guests and three children over with them from the UK for their destination wedding in the Conservatory Gardens in August.  They had been together for six and a half years when they got married.

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The couple met at high school when they were both fourteen.  They we close friends for years and went to their high school prom together, but didn’t become a couple until eight years later. Alex and Tom are British, but had spent some time living in Australia before getting married.  After the wedding they moved back to the UK.

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Alex got ready at the Lombardy Hotel along with her three bridesmaids, the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom.

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They had their ceremony underneath the Wisteria Pergola in the Conservatory Gardens. The wisteria had grown sufficiently by August to provide good shade from the sunshine for the group. If you’re considering a wedding in the Conservatory Gardens, please note that a permit for a wedding there carries a higher charge than the other wedding ceremony locations in Central Park.

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We arranged for a violinist to play for the guests while they waited for the bride to arrive.  We had the photographer meet the bride and her party at the striking Vanderbilt Gate entrance to the Conservatory Gardens.

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The bride walked in to the ceremony with her father to the violinist playing Pachellbel’s Canon; a very popular choice.  After they were pronounced married, she played the Wedding March and then went back to some classical pieces as background music while they signed the paperwork and took group photos in the area.

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Their photographer Andy Mars took the group around the Conservatory Gardens for photos after the ceremony. The couple had decided that they didn’t need to go to the center area of the park for any photos.

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After the photos in the Conservatory Gardens the guests went over to the reception location of Frankies Spuntino in Brooklyn. It’s a great choice to have the reception over in Brooklyn if you’d like to take photos over on that side of the East River. It saves a lot of travel time.

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Alex and Tom went with the photographer alone in a car to the ferry landing over in Brooklyn Bridge Park for photos there with the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan skyline in the background.  Then Andy came with them to the restaurant for a few quick photos before leaving.

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If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, large or small, visit our website, or follow us on Pinterest where we pin all things New York or wedding-related, “like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram for beautiful photos of newlywed couples.

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Getting Married in Central Park in July

getting married in Central Park in July

I got married in the Ladies’ Pavilion in July, so I could say that this is my favorite month for weddings in Central Park.  The park is lovely and full of greenery and flowers at this time of year, but New York is hot in July!  The year we go married, our wedding date of July 1st was a Friday and so July 4th fell on the Monday that year, so we had a nice, long holiday weekend.  We had a small wedding in Central Park with two friends as witnesses and our dog, then we took the dog to the Catskills for our short honeymoon.

We do see quite a lot of weddings in Central Park in July.  New York is hot and humid in July and August, but Central Park is the coolest place in Manhattan during the summer – all that greenery keeps things cooler.  We got married in the morning in the shade of the Ladies’ Pavilion.  The photographers I work with would all suggest that you get married at the start of the day or the end of the day when getting married in high summer.  The sun is hot and bright in the middle of the day, so that will affect your photos if you get married in the early afternoon, which is generally a popular time for weddings.

Often, couples are worried about the rain when getting married outdoors, but at this time of year, it’s worth choosing a ceremony location that provides shelter from the sun, rather than the rain.  Photos will be better and everyone will be more comfortable if you’re in the shade for your ceremony.

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A great thing about getting married in the summer in New York is that a wedding party can wear pretty much whatever they want to – the weather will be temperate enough for the couple and the guests to be comfortable in any gown or suit.  Because the weather is so warm, you could take photos at the Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building or Brooklyn Bridge Park and not get cold as couple do when visiting these spots in the Winter months!

Sunrise happens at around 5:30am and the sun sets around 8:30pm in July.  So, you will get lots of daylight to enjoy New York and do lots of sightseeing!  Many couples may want to make the most of the long, light evenings and enjoy a dinner reception outdoors, a rooftop bar or a river cruise.

The couple must pick up their marriage license in advance of their wedding.  They must have it at least 24 hours in advance of the ceremony.  The City Clerk’s Office is closed on the day when Independence Day is observed, which might not always be the 4th.  So, check which day it is being observed on during the year you are getting married if your date is close to that weekend and keep it in mind when making your travel plans.  Also, this is a big holiday weekend in the USA.  This is when a lot of Americans get married.  So, if you’re not American, consider coming to New York on a different weekend when it will be quitter – unless you really love fireworks!

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Alwena and Amanda’s Elopement at Wagner Cove in December

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Alwena and Amanda came over to New York from their home in England with their close friend Keith to get married in Central Park in December. Alwena first contacted me on the 10th December and they got married on the 19th December, so I think this might be the shortest planning period of any wedding I’ve been involved with! Luckily, they had a clear idea of what they wanted from their elopement and we kept things quite simple.

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The couple got engaged at their home in Manchester on Christmas Day. Getting married was the next step for them. They are ready to start a family and they wanted to be married first. Before contacting me they considered a wedding at City Hall but they decided that it wasn’t for them. They wanted a no-nonsense ceremony but Alwena said that she thought a City Hall wedding “looked very cheap and impersonal,” and that is what couples who have married there have told me. It’s quick and easy but you may not get to say all the things you want to say to your partner, and the surroundings certainly aren’t as beautiful as Central Park!

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Their only guest at the wedding was their best friend Keith. Alwena said, “Mum was gutted she couldn’t see us marry but happy with the party at home we are having,” I do find that having a big party on your return allows couple to have the best of both worlds. “The pictures made up for it and we had the most magical day,” she added. Since they got married at a very quiet time of year we were able to get the photos edited the following day, which Alwena had requested because she felt that loved ones at home would want to see them straight away.

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They chose our new Elopement Package, where we offer the ceremony, permit and one hour of photography. They got married at Wagner Cove. “We loved all the places we were lucky enough to have photos taken,” said Alwena. “We got married in beautiful surroundings,” she said. “How many people can say they got married in the snow in Central Park?” she asked. I must admit, I do love a winter wedding, and many of our couples who do get married in the winter months are hoping for snow. Alwena and Amanda got just enough snow to make things pretty, but not so much that travel was disrupted.

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We kept the ceremony short and sweet. “It was good, we are not religious so we didn’t want anything along those lines,” said Alwena. “Also, we didn’t feel the need for a stranger to stand in front of us telling us how much in love we are when they don’t know us,” she added, “it was quite a straightforward ceremony but still amazing.” Many couples, especially the eloping couples, just want to be somewhere beautiful and say “I do”.

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Neither Alwena or Amanda wanted to carry flowers. The temperature was minus 5 so they wore thermal trousers and many layers under their coats! After the ceremony they all went to the Tavern on the Green to warm up and drink champagne. When they left Central Park they took a rickshaw around the city then had a meal at Gallaghers and continued to explore the city. This is the beauty of an elopement, especially when you get married in the morning as Alwena and Amanda did – you get the rest of the day to continue being tourists.

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I asked if they had any regrets about not having a big, traditional wedding close to home. They said no. Eloping was right for them. “Get married where you want, live the dream and no hassle of inviting people you don’t like!” said Alwena. I can’t argue with any of that! I asked Alwena if she had any advice for other couples considering a wedding in Central Park. She said, “do it.” That’s great advice.

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Thanks for sharing your story with us, Alwena and Amanda. If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, whatever the time of year, visit our website, or follow us on Pinterest where we pin all things New York or wedding-related, “like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram for lovely photos of happy couples.

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Destination Wedding Etiquette and Tips – How to Make the Trip Easier and More Fun for your Guests

The thing about planning a wedding is that most couples haven’t done it before, and usually if they have, they’ve done it only once before and they don’t want to do it the same way again!  If you follow tradition and hold a big event close to home then there are boxes to tick and a clear list to follow.  I find that couples come to me asking for help with planning a wedding in New York exactly because they don’t want to be checking boxes on a standard list – they want to do things their way.  It’s still helpful to have guidance from someone who has planned a few destination weddings and I’ve planned over three hundred weddings in Central Park to date – some elopements, some smaller groups and some with groups of fifty and above.  The vast majority of my couples come from another country or at least another state, so here are a few things I’ve learnt about planning a destination wedding.

Destination Wedding Tips

Communicate with the guests

This means listening to their needs or requests as well as telling them information.  Yes, it’s your wedding and the day should be about you, but if you’re asking your loved ones to travel a long way to be there then you ought to keep them in mind when making decisions.  Really think about the location you’re getting married in – is it somewhere that everyone will enjoy, or at least not hate?  If they’re paying travel costs to go to a place your have chosen then this is the least you can do.

Make suggestions, but give your guests options

Once you have found your hotel, and if you have a great deal then of course you should share it with your guests.  But if some want to go up a level of swankiness, or stay somewhere more budget, then that should be fine, too.  If they’re travelling a long distance to be there while you say “I do” then let them do the rest of the trip however they want to.  Of course this is all fine as long as it doesn’t hinder your special day, or any other group activities that you may have planned – eg family meals or bachelor/bachelorette parties that you might want to do since everyone is together.  This is pretty easy in New York, because there are so many options.

Agree as a couple before informing guests

Good practice for married life is making a decision together.  Make sure you do this with your future spouse and not with your parents or your bridesmaids without your partner present.  It’s their day, too.  Being clear on what you have decided and having at least a loose plan as a couple before telling guests what’s happening will avoid any confusion if you start changing your mind, and you get confused about what you have said and to whom.

Don’t do anything you don’t want to

This rule can be applied to all weddings.  But this is especially important when having a destination weddings, because isn’t part of the reason for going far away for a wedding the opportunity to do things a little differently?  Choosing an amazing location to tie the knot is part of what makes your wedding unique.  For example, lots of our couples who get married in Central Park take advantage of being in New York with a huge amount of choice and find unusual ways to have a reception.  So, if there’s a tradition that you don’t like, then just don’t do it, and you don’t need to explain to anyone else why.

Try not to surprise anyone

Nobody likes surprises.  Least of all wedding guests who will need to get time off work, save up, maybe sort out child care, find the perfect outfit, and all that important stuff!  They may want to add on some extra vacation time around your wedding to make the most of the trip.  So, give everyone as much notice as possible as to what your plans are and what is expected of them, and that includes what you pay for and what you expect them to pay for.  Even if you’re not completely sure of everything, send out your save-the-dates as early as you are able to, with as much information as you have.

Accept non-attendance with good grace

A destination wedding can be a big deal for some people.  You may want to keep the guest list short if you think many of your loved ones might not be able to make the journey.  Several of my couples have told me that they are very touched by how many people are prepared to make the journey to be with them for their destination wedding, and several have said that they were sad that some people couldn’t come.  Lots of couples who have a very small wedding or elopement far away have a big party on their return – getting the best of both worlds in many ways!


I’d love to help you plan your own destination wedding in Central Park.  I wrote another post a while back with other thoughts on how to make a destination wedding better for your guests.  Check out our website, or “like” us on Facebookfollow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest where you will find lots of inspirational photos of destination weddings of all sizes, stories of real weddings.

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Kerry and Mark’s Wedding in the Ladies’ Pavilion in December

Ladies' Pavilion Central Park Wedding

Kerry and Mark, both 36, brought thirteen of their close friends and family over from their home in Lancashire, UK for their wedding in the Ladies’ Pavilion in December.  They met at a New Year’s Eve party in 2008, they didn’t get together straight away, though.  They had been together for six years when they got married.

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The couple have a son, Mikey, and getting married was important to them not only to show their commitment to each other, but also partly to formalise their relationship for his sake.  They said that they did think about the possibility of a large traditional wedding close to home.  But, neither of them felt they would enjoy a large wedding, and as they planned the day they found that their guest list just kept on creeping up.  “We felt like we would be paying a lot of money for everyone else to enjoy a venue we didn’t really want,” said Kerry.

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Kerry said that a destination wedding really suited them.  “The people who really want to be there make the effort to come,” she said.  “Weddings at home are becoming more about the guests and the party rather than the actual couple,” she added.  I asked her if she had any regrets about not choosing the big wedding at home and she said “absolutely zero,” so I think we can safely say that they made the right decision!

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I asked if they had had any concerns about getting married in New York.  “Lots,” said Kerry.  They had the standard worries that I find common with all of our couples, people not turning up, and of course the dreaded weather!  “In the end it worked out perfectly,” said Kerry.  I do ask couples to write a review for us, to help this worry about people not turning up, although we can’t control the weather!  We did two weddings on this first Saturday in December (the other wedding on the same day was John and Mark) and luckily the skies were blue and, though it was very cold, we had a beautiful sunny day.

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Kerry and Mark visited New York for five days and they stayed in the Kitano Hotel, which they would recommend.  They brought thirteen guests, with them, mainly family.  “I think they thought I had lost the plot when I originally suggested getting married in Central Park,” said Kerry.  “But when they saw the venue for the ceremony and the weather they just got it,” she told me.  “My parents especially wanted us to have a traditional wedding but after the day they were on an absolute high and completely understood why we wanted it,” she said.  So, I hope that is comfort to anyone considering a wedding in New York who has parents who are not too keen.

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We kept the ceremony quite short, given the time of year nobody wants to stand around in the cold for a long time!  “It was a gorgeous ceremony; not too long and said exactly what we wanted it to say,” said Kerry.  After photos at the Ladies’ Pavilion the guests went on to the Tavern on the Green for a drink in the warmth which the couple went to take a few more photos around Bethesda Terrace.  After that they walked over to the Tavern for a photos with their lovely Christmas tree, and then had a few photos taken inside where Kerry could take her coat off!

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They got married in the morning, so had the day to enjoy after their wedding.  After Central Park they all went to the Grey Bar and Restaurant for a meal and drinks and then for dinner they went on to take a cruise on the Hudson with a buffet and DJ.

 

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They were both so glad that they chose Central Park for their wedding.  “It’s a beautiful location, and just the most incredible venue for photos,” said Kerry.  I asked where her favorite photos were taken but she said “I can’t choose, they were all just incredible.  Every single photo is perfect.”

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I asked if they had any advice for other couples considering doing what they did for their wedding, “anyone considering it; just do it, don’t hesitate,” said Kerry.  “It was the best day of our lives.”

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Thanks for sharing your story, Kerry and Mark.  If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, no matter what time of year, visit our website, or follow us on Pinterest, “like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram for photos of happy newlywed couples.

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Getting Married in Central Park in June

getting married in Central Park in June

June is a lovely time of year to get married in Central Park.  This is really the start of Summer in New York, but the heat and humidity that we sometimes have to deal with in high Summer has not yet kicked in, instead the weather is usually sunny, dry and quite lovely.

Sunrise happens at around 5:30am and the sun sets around 8:30pm in June.  Of course June is when we see the longest days in the Northern Hemisphere.  So, you get more daylight each day – worth keeping in mind if you and your guests want to fit in lots of sightseeing!  Many couples may want to make the most of the long, light evenings and enjoy dinner outdoors, a rooftop bar or a river cruise as the sun goes down slowly over the iconic skyline and the river.

Central Park can get busy, but there are no public holidays in June, so there are no weekends that tend to be especially busy.  Although there are plenty of events in the city in June – the mermaid festival at Coney Island, Pride week in Greenwich Village, and the New York Philharmonic performs in Central Park in June, too.

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A great thing about getting married this month in New York is that a wedding party can wear pretty much whatever they want to – the weather will be temperate enough for the couple and the guests to be comfortable in any gown or suit.  There’s always a risk of rain when getting married outdoors, although it’s a fairly low risk in New York at this time of year.  Because the weather is so perfect, you could take photos at Brooklyn Bridge Park or the Top of the Rock or the Empire State Building and not get cold – these places do get very chilly in the Winter months!

The trees, flowers and plants will be in full bloom and many areas of Central Park will be looking their best.  The Shakespeare Garden and the Conservatory Gardens in particular are very lovely at this time of year, and perfect ceremony or photo locations for someone who loves flowers.  Ceremony locations such as Cop Cot or the Wisteria Pergola in the Conservatory Gardens will have full cover of foliage by June, so will provide good shade for a wedding underneath.

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John and Mark’s December Wedding at Wagner Cove

JM Wedding Wagner Cove Central Park

John and Mark came down to New York City from their home in upstate New York to get married at Wagner Cove in December. They had been together for seventeen years before they got married. They had always talked about the possibility of being married one day, and this was the right time for them.

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They didn’t get engaged in the traditional way. A few years ago while John was away with his work Mark ordered their rings. He had the John’s ring inscribed with some lyrics from a Tina Turner song that they both love ‘my beginning and my end’. “So this is how I guess you would say we became engaged,” said John. “Neither one of us have ever been big with labels, just our love for one another.”

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They considered a few options for the location of their wedding before settling on New York City. They looked at a few options in the Catskills. “However, after touring and looking around the area it did not seem like a good fit for us” John said. “We were not planning anything too big and honestly eloping was a great option for us,” he said.

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I asked them why getting married was important to them. “Getting married for us brings our relationship to a much higher level and shows our true commitment and love for one another,” said John. “Although we always knew we would be together, being married creates an everlasting bond, which is truly a beautiful thing,” he added.

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Eloping to New York City suited them both. “We are very happy with our choice to elope to NYC and would not have done any differently,” John said. They had their kids and their significant others and one their sisters as guests. “They all loved the location and the idea,” John told me. “Everyone we wanted to be present was,” he said.

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They visit the city frequently, so they know it well. “We decided on Central Park because it is an iconic, romantic and beautiful place” said John. “It reminds us of telling a love story,” he said. The ceremony was held at Wagner Cove. They were certain that was where they wanted the ceremony from the very beginning, they liked its privacy.

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Both grooms wore matching shirts, ties and boutonnieres with their suits. We kept the ceremony short and sweet. Although John and Mark love to talk to one another Mark is a bit shy in front of an audience, so they didn’t want to say a great deal in the ceremony.

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After the ceremony their photographer Jakub Redziniak took them around Central Park for pictures. Immediately following that they went to a nearby cafe for something warm to drink as it was very cold that day. Then John and Mark went back to their hotel to change for their dinner at Joanne Trattoria restaurant, which they highly recommend. “It was very nice and cozy, plus the food was great,” John said. Then they went to some clubs afterwards and celebrated.

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John told me that they often come into the city in early December to visit the Christmas markets in Bryant Park, so they did that on this visit, too. They stayed in Midtown on this visit and they stayed for three nights. They also saw a Broadway show about Tina Turner’s life, visited various restaurants, and went to some clubs on the night of their wedding. So, the celebrations lasted the whole trip.

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I asked John how we did. “Wed in Central Park was wonderful with helping us to navigate what we wanted to accomplish in regards to location and the type of ceremony which suited us” John said. “We were very pleased with the timeliness in responding to our several emails and questions. Overall it was so nice having some help to navigate the process. In addition, Claire did a fantastic job with paring our photographer and officiant as they were wonderful and adding a positive touch to our special day,” he added. “If you are looking to elope we would highly recommend Wed in Central Park without any reservations as Claire was great to work with.” Thanks so much for your kind words, John, it was a pleasure to plan your wedding with you, I wish you both every happiness for the future together.

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Thanks for sharing your story with us, John and Mark. If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, whatever the time of year, visit our website, or follow us on Pinterest where we pin all things New York or wedding-related, “like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram for lovely photos of happy couples.

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