So many of the couples who get married in Central Park with us who bring just a small group of their nearest and dearest say that they do so at least partly to avoid stress. In some cases, the couples have considered the traditional wedding close to home but found the whole thing too stressful, so started to look at other options.
Discuss things as a couple. This is good practice for when you are married! Don’t be alone in taking responsibility for making all the decisions when planning your wedding. I hate to generalise but I see this so much with brides. Talk to your partner about what you both want from your day, and make the decisions together, and sometimes you will have to compromise – that’s what a marriage is all about after all.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Think about the whole day, indeed the whole trip, and the bigger picture of what you want from your wedding. Don’t get caught up in worrying about the small details – nobody will notice all of those tiny touches anyway. Your guests will just want to enjoy the trip, see a few sights, have a big party with their family (and to get to know their new in-laws better) and celebrate your love.
Accept help. If your nearest and dearest offer to help – either to help find a great venue or the perfect hotel for you all, to offer vendor recommendations, or to make suggestions of awesome New York sightseeing trips while you’re away, or just to come with you while you try on dresses – then be gracious and let them do it.
Delegate. Think about the elements of your wedding planning that are causing you the most stress, or the parts that are just not making you feel too enthusiastic, and just don’t do them! If you’re not being offered help, just ask for it. Your people may want to help but not feel comfortable enough to ask, especially your in-laws who may not know you as well as your own family. Have your partner choose the music, let your mother help you to find a reception location, ask your partner’s mother order the flowers.
Know what to spend on and what to save on. If you are keeping to a budget, think about the major features that will make your wedding yours – will it be your dress or the venue, or some special unique touches? I can say with absolute certainty that your guests will always be blown away by New York and by the beauty of Central Park. That’s what they will remember in years to come. So, think about the features of the day that will be less important to you, perhaps you can save by making your bouquet yourself or having a guest video the ceremony? Save money on the less important features, I promise nobody will notice!
Remember that this is your day. You have to give some thought to the guests’ comfort and happiness. We all want our guests to have a great time on our wedding day, but don’t worry about doing things your way if it clashes with their wishes. They either had their turn or will get it in the future – this is your wedding, so if there’s something you want to do, then go for it!
Get some perspective. So many people think their wedding day is the most important day of their lives. Your wedding day is the first day of your marriage, so it’s worth keeping that in mind. This is an important step in your relationship, but it’s just one step down a very long road. Your marriage and your partner will be very important to you, not whether the flowers in your bouquet *exactly* match your shoes and ribbons!
Take time out. You don’t want to be rushing in to your wedding day in a flurry of panic and worry. You will only do this once (hopefully!) so slow down and truly experience this planning period. Maybe take a break to do something else for a little while, perhaps with your bridesmaids or your other half. If you do all your wedding planning in a panic then you won’t remember anything about it in ten years’ time!
If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding or elopement, which I can guarantee will reduce your stress levels, visit our website. Keep updated with our news and see lots of beautiful photos, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest.
Tanya and Pranoy are both from New Delhi, India. Tanya is 32 and Pranoy is 30. They both relocated to the US for work and school respectively. They got married on a wet October day at Wagner Cove.
The couple met in 2015 at a corporate event. The got engaged in Seattle in 2019. Pranoy had seen Tanya solving the Casper image puzzle ads in the New York Subway and had been so impressed he decided to propose in a similar way. He sketched a series of clues that popped the question. Luckily, Tanya was able to solve his puzzle and she said yes!
A wedding in Central Park was not Tanya and Pranoy’s first choice. Like so many couples this year, they have been forced to change their plans. They were planning to go home to New Delhi in India for a 400 person wedding in December. This obviously couldn’t happen due to Covid 19, so they briefly considered a smaller wedding with just immediate family, still back home in India, but they knew this may still be risky for their loved ones. So, they have decided to have their big celebration at home in December 2021.
Tanya and Pranoy decided that the best option for them to get married this year would be to keep things simple and get married in New York with friends and stream the ceremony as best they could for loved ones back home. Tanya first contacted me at the end of August and they were sure of their early October date then.
Tanya’s sister reminded her that some years ago, while watching the well-known last episode of Gossip Girl and saw the main characters getting married there, she said that she would love a wedding in Central Park! That was actually some years before Tanya had any plans to move to New York and was still living in New Delhi. “Little did I know that all the externalities around us would lead us to getting married in Central Park!” said Tanya.
The couple decided to meet our photographer in the park for an hour or so before the ceremony, to take their portrait photos around the park. They didn’t want to keep their guests waiting in between the ceremony and the celebration afterwards. I find that couples taking their photos before the ceremony is becoming increasingly popular. So, they took photos around Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, and Bow Bridge and the Lake before going over to meet their guests at Wagner Cove. “My favorite photos was taken at Bow Bridge,” Tanya said. Tanya and Pranoy walked down the steps to their ceremony together.
We kept the ceremony quite straightforward. The couple had prepared something that they wanted to say to each other before they began the vows and then they exchanged traditional vows, but they didn’t want to exchange rings yet. They intend to exchange rings at the big Indian function next year. They did say that they really enjoyed their small wedding, even though it wasn’t what they had originally intended. “Small and intimate weddings are the best!” said Tanya. “Having seen Indian weddings with more than 500 people in attendance, this was a fresh respite!”
Their friend was able to live stream the wedding to loved ones back home, so family members were able to see Tanya and Pranoy’s official wedding. It wasn’t being back in India for their wedding that was ever the important part for Tanya and Pranoy, the important part for them was to have loved ones with them, so they were sad that their families weren’t present for their wedding.
As you can see from the photos, Tanya looked stunning in a red gown, purchased online from Lulu’s, and she didn’t carry a bouquet. Pranoy did her hair and she did her own makeup. After the ceremony they ate pizza and had wine by the roadside! “In my humble opinion, wayyyy better than those fancy dinners people talk about!” said Tanya. “It was personal, casual and us!” she added. I’m all about doing it your way, so I agree!
I asked Tanya how we did. “Thanks a ton Claire for the seamless planning, the brilliant troupe you work with and being so proactive!” she said. “All our guests had a lovely time and were all praises about the ceremony!” she added. If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, whether this is your plan A, plan B or even plan C as it was for this couple, visit our website. Keep updated with our news and see lots of beautiful photos, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest.
A very frequently asked question for me is where to go to eat after a wedding in Central Park. Check out my FAQs page on my website for some of the others I get asked a lot. This one about restaurants is such a difficult question to answer in a huge city such as New York with so many places to choose from with every cuisine you can think of and a vast range of budgets. My couples are all so different, too – they have varying tastes, budgets and group sizes.
In an effort to provide some general advice to get couples thinking, I’ve written my own list of New York restaurant recommendations, and followed that up with a second list of New York restaurant recommendations. After posting those I decided that my previous client’s recommendations may also be helpful, so I wrote a post summarising where all the couples who featured on the blog in 2016 ate after their wedding, then couples from 2015, then those from 2014, and also those from 2013. Below I summarise the couple’s recommendations who featured on the blog in 2017. I intend to cover the next couple of years on the blog soon! I have had to break the posts down year by year, otherwise they would be far too long (for me to write and for you to read!). Not every couple who I work with wants to be interviewed for the blog in fact, most don’t. The list that follows is of the couples whose weddings featured on the blog in 2017, and where they went to eat and celebrate after their wedding.
Hannah and Leigh got married in Cop Cot in May. They brought a group of ten friends and family over from their home in Melbourne, Australia. Their reception was held in a small private dining room at a French restaurant called Claudette in Greenwich Village. They said they loved the food and the service.
Michelle and Ian came from their home in the UK with thirty of their friends and family to New York in July to get married in the Ladies’ Pavilion. Their wedding receptions was held on a Spirit Cruises yacht on the Hudson River, a very popular choice. They hired an open top bus from CitySights NY to take the guests from Central Park to Chelsea Harbour to board the yacht, another nice touch that is popular with many of my couples.
Sabrina and Chris are New Yorkers, born and bred. They both grew up in the Bronx. The couple really love to travel so they considered eloping somewhere far away because they knew they wanted a small wedding. But they wanted their parents with them on the day, and they knew they would not be able to travel that far, so they decided to get married in New York, but to only invite their parents and to keep the ceremony location a secret so that they wouldn’t have any family members showing up unannounced! They had a relaxed ceremony in the morning, then they took their parents to nearby restaurant Pomodoro Rosso, on the Upper West Side, a block from Central Park. “It was our first time there and we loved it!” said Sabrina, “the food was delicious.” After the couple had said goodbye to their parents they had a kind of staycation for their wedding night; they stayed at the William Vale Hotel in Brooklyn. Their suite had a wrap around balcony that overlooked the Manhattan skyline. They ate dinner at the Peter Luger Steakhouse, and went for drinks at Brooklyn Winery and Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co.
Kevin and Stacye got married underneath Bethesda Terrace in July. They were on a budget for their wedding, so initially they began planning for the wedding location to be their living room with family and close friends. They had plans to go on a family vacation to New York, and while planning their wedding at home, they began to realize that their budget could go further if they decided to have it while on their vacation. They both have personal and family ties to New York. After their ceremony they had brunch at Sarabeth’s on Central Park South. They managed to capture some photos in the middle of the busy street before they ate a delicious brunch. From there, they took a taxi back to the townhouse to change, then rode the subway to Brooklyn. They stopped to take another fabulous photo, Kevin dipping Stacye on Washington Street, with the Empire State Building and the Manhattan Bridge in the background. They ate lunch at Grimaldi’s and then walked across the Brooklyn Bridge into Lower Manhattan, stopping for pictures along the way.
Elinor and Carl got married in the Ladies’ Pavilion in Central Park in the summer, but didn’t feature on the blog until January a couple of years later. They stayed at The Strand, which they said was in a great location. They had picked it specifically for its roof top bar with sensational views of the Empire State Building. T hey spent the evening of the wedding, and indeed every evening of the trip in this bar, “it was perfect,” said Elinor. Their wedding dinner was at the ever-popular Loeb Boathouse as the sun started to set over the Lake during their main course, “I can’t think of a better place,” said Elinor.
Jade and Sunil got married August in the Conservatory Gardens, underneath the Wisteria Pergola. They had photographs taken all over Central Park, and then in different places in New York City while their guests enjoyed some drinks and snacks back at their hotel Le Parker Meridien, which is on 56th Street. After the photos and when the sun began to set, the couple met everyone at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park for dinner.
Megan and Daniel got married in August. They had their wedding ceremony in the Ladies’ Pavilion. On the morning of the wedding, Megan went to Sarabeth’s opposite Central Park for breakfast with her parents and brother to spend some quiet time with her family on a very busy day. After that they walked back to the hotel through Central Park. After the wedding ceremony and group photographs in Central Park, the guests went on to the wedding reception in the Tavern on the Green, while the couple had a few more photographs taken alone. “We had reserved areas both inside the restaurant and outside on the terrace, a three course meal, open bar and a wedding cake from Magnolia Bakery,” Megan said. As the newlyweds arrived they saw that a jazz band were playing on the terrace outside the Tavern, and Megan’s mum asked if they had been booked by the couple. “They hadn’t been booked by us, but it was a lucky coincidence that we got to enjoy them!” said Megan. After the reception in the Tavern, Megan and Daniel got a pedicab back to the Empire Hotel where the group had an area in the rooftop bar reserved.
Kayla and Matt brought got married in the Ladies’ Pavilion in September. The wedding party was twenty-four guests in total. After the ceremony and photos in Central Park, they went to the rooftop bar at STK, then walked along the High Line park a little until they got to the Chelsea Pier, where they boarded a cruise ship for a three hour sightseeing and dinner cruise. “The cruise was unbelievable; the food and atmosphere were amazing, we even got to have our first dance and they cleared an area on the deck to do our speeches, all with views of the New York skyline and Statue of Liberty,” said Kayla. “I would highly recommend that to anyone, not just wedding parties” she added.
Zoe and Andrew brought their nearest and dearest over to New York from their home in Bathgate, a town a few miles west of Edinburgh in Scotland, to get married in the Ladies’ Pavilion in September. After the ceremony and photos in Central Park, our photographer took them to Times Square to Brooklyn Bridge, to capture other iconic areas of New York City. We hired a vintage trolley to take the whole party around New York to have their photos taken in these other locations. “We took a cool box in to the trolley with prosecco, beers and juices and my sister had made a wedding music play list on her phone which we were allowed to play on the trolley,” said Zoe. So, while they travelled between photograph destinations they all drank and sang and danced their way around New York. The trolley dropped them at their wedding dinner destination, the Heartland Brewery, underneath the Empire State Building, where they enjoyed a three course meal with unlimited bar for a couple of hours.
Becky and Scott brought over forty of their family and friends over from Warrington in England for their wedding in the Ladies’ Pavilion this November. After the ceremony and the photographs in Central Park, the group went to Keens Steakhouse to eat in a private room there. “I would definitely recommend the service and the food,” said Becky. That evening they hired a function room in the Gin Mill where they enjoyed food and drinks in to the night.
As ever, I welcome anyone who would like to comment below with their own suggestions of great New York City restaurants – there are so many to choose from, and although there are some firm favorites that last over time we’re always seeing new ones! For more information to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, visit our website, or “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest where you will find lots of lovely photos and many more inspiring stories of real weddings.
Jacqueline and Jonathan, who live in Brooklyn, got married at Wagner Cove in August. They first contacted me in June, and were considering having their wedding at Bethesda Terrace at that time. When they first contacted me, the Central Park Conservancy still weren’t issuing permits for weddings, after stopping due to Covid 19 restrictions back in March. We had to wait for permit applications to open up again, although since they had no guests, they weren’t strictly required to have one. Actually, they were planning on having just one guest at their wedding – their dog – but in the end they didn’t bring him.
Due to Covid 19 couples cannot just go to City Hall to pick up their license for the time being, they need to make an appointment. Jackie and Jon already had their appointment, and their photographers ready, they just needed me to make the wedding happen.
Jacqueline and Jonathan had been together for five years when they got married. They met through Instagram. Jacqueline had seen Jonathan around in real life for quite some time, and decided to reach out through social media, “and I am forever grateful that I had the courage to do so,” Jacqueline said.
They had been together for four years when they got engaged. Jonathan proposed in Montreal under the famous Ferris wheel. It was the day before their anniversary! “I was caught completely off guard,” Jacqueline said. They got married one year and one day later – this time on their anniversary!
Like so many couples this year, they had big plans for their wedding that they had to cancel. They had planned to get married in Amsterdam and then would have gone on to Paris and the French Riviera for their honeymoon. Covid 19 ruined their plans, just as it ruined lots of other couples’ plans this year, “but our day was just as special regardless of the circumstances,” Jacqueline told me.
Their plan was to elope just the two of them anyway, so they were happy to have this sort of elopement closer to home, it suited them. “It was just us. We wanted it to be romantic and intimate. It was a wonderful choice,” she told me. “So much less stress and so very intimate” Jacqueline said. I asked Jacqueline if she had any regrets about not having a big “traditional” wedding. “ABSOLUTELY not. I’d do it all over in a heartbeat,” she said.
Jacqueline wore a vintage style lace ivory gown with buttons all down the back from David’s Bridal and Jonathan wore a grey suit with white tie and white shirt. Jacqueline carried an eighteen rose red bouquet, “it was to die for!” she said. After the wedding they went to nearby Crystal Springs Resort for a minimoon.
I asked Jacqueline how we did. “Wed in Central Park was fantastic. Highly recommend their services,” she said. If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding or elopement, whether you’re from near or far, visit our website. Keep updated with our news and see lots of beautiful photos, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest.
Many of our weddings are very small groups; maybe half of our weddings have between around six and twelve guests. We see lots of elopements, and weddings with under six guests, and we also do some weddings with twenty to fifty guests. Mostly we have weddings with a small number of guests. Recently, all weddings have had to involve a much smaller guest list than perhaps the couple had hoped for, but this is familiar territory for us at Wed in Central Park.
I find it quite common for a client to send me an initial email and say that they’re hoping to get married in Central Park, and they’re sure of that, but they don’t know whether it will be just the two of them, or if they will have a small group of guests with them. The majority of our couples have been from abroad in the past, so that usually means bringing a group with them from home. Although, not always – for some couples with loved ones spread out over the globe New York is an in-between convenient meeting place for everyone!
Some people in weddings call an elopement a small group, but when I say elopement I mean no guests at all. When I got married in the Ladies’ Pavilion, we had two human guests and our dog as guests and that suited us. We wanted an easy day with no fuss. Over three hundred weddings down the line from my own, here are some observations I have on the pros and cons of a small wedding versus an elopement.
The obvious advantage of an elopement is that if it just involves the couple, it can be done on the spur of the moment, and in secret, should you wish to. Many of our eloping couples already had a trip to New York booked and then decided to get married while they were there – so easy! They get to spend the whole day together and really focus on each other in a way that’s just not possible with others around. They can say exactly what they want to each other in the ceremony because there’s nobody else to hear them. They can eat whatever they want and do whatever they want to celebrate their day. If you’re not having to feed your guests then you’re also saving money with this option.
Some couples see the wedding as their day and a celebration of their love, and that’s why they want to be alone on their wedding day, to focus on each other. Another viewpoint is that a wedding is a joining of two families, and many couples feel that they want to share their big day with their nearest and dearest. If your friends and family have supported you over the years as individuals and as a couple then you may want them to be there with witness your wedding and to celebrate with you in the incredible city of New York. If you’ve been to NYC before and you know that you love it, then a trip to the city for a few days to share your small wedding is a great way to show this fantastic city to your loved ones. A short break together will allow your two sets of in-laws to get to know each other too, or for your friends to have a great group vacation. Also, a bigger group for the celebration dinner or reception could be more fun that just the two of you having a quiet dinner – the more, the merrier!
Of course, if you do bring a small group to New York then you are somewhat responsible for them, depending on your plans. You can ask them to book their own flights and/or accommodation or you can get everyone on the same plane and staying the same hotel. You can organise some group activities and nights out, or leave them to their own devices until the wedding day. You can make the group vacation aspect of the trip as major or minor as suits you. My advice would be to manage expectations of the guests well in advance, though. Inform people what you have in mind when you invite them, so they know what they’re letting themselves in for! I wrote blog post on how to make a destination wedding easy on your guests.
Many people consider the smaller, intimate wedding or micro-wedding to be the ideal compromise between a stress-free elopement or a big traditional wedding. You can involve the people who are closest to you, without having to worry about acquaintances and distant family members. This means that the couple do get to focus on each other much more than they would with a big wedding, but they’re sharing this important day in their lives with those who matter most to them. With a trip to New York, even if you’re paying for the reception, it will still cost less than a big, traditional wedding and will be a lot more memorable for the guests – the day in beautiful Central Park will stand out against all those other traditional weddings that can be so similar.
One thing to consider to get the best of both worlds is what many of my couples do on return from New York after either an elopement or a small wedding. You could just throw a big party for everyone on your return. That way people don’t feel left out and you include everyone, but still get a unique and unforgettable experience in the amazing city of New York. If you elope, then nobody except your partner gets to see how fantastic you looked in your dress or suit or whatever you choose to wear, so it’s a great excuse to wear it again. Another way to include people in an elopement or small wedding is to live stream or video the event and share with a wider group, they’re not quite there, but it’s a good compromise, especially if some people just cannot travel to be with you.
The main thing to keep in mind whatever you decide is that it is *your* wedding day, so you should have it how you want it. It might feel as though eloping is the ideal way to have the day just as you want it. I think that marriage, like life, is full of compromises so a small group might be the best way to help your nearest and dearest to feel involved in such an important day in your life. Eloping does avoid all that time spent planning, but then your wedding is a big day, planning it can be quite fun! A wedding is a celebration of your love and it’s good to celebrate with people who love you.
If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding or elopement, either with or without guests, visit our website. Keep updated with our news and see lots of beautiful photos, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest.
Phil and Peter got married in the Ladies’ Pavilion on a beautiful, crisp and sunny morning in October. They contacted me after searching on the Marry Abroad website at the beginning of September. They knew they wanted to get married within just a few weeks. They already had a travel plan in mind, and I just confirmed that it would work, and allow for them to collect their license in advance of the ceremony.
Their group was small. They had three guests to witness their wedding, and we kept the ceremony as simple and as straightforward as possible. Their guests were able to sit on the benches inside the Pavilion while they waited for the couple, but they all stood during the ceremony. We generally suggest that guests stand for a ceremony in Central Park, especially when they’re kept short as this one was.
Usually for the Ladies’ Pavilion, we say that the couple and the officiant can be in the structure, along with the photographer and videographer if they have one. Often the guests stand outside of the structure, if they are a medium to large group (up to 25 are allowed). This means that in case of rain the couple stay nice and dry but the guests need umbrellas. If the couple have a musician they can shelter in there too in case of rain to protect their instrument, but in good weather we’d have the musician outside the Pavilion.
The guests met the officiant at the Ladies’ Pavilion. Then the couple met the photographer Jakub Redziniak at the entrance to the park and walked in with him. The couple walked down the pathway to the Pavilion (kind of like walking down the aisle!) together.
Phil and Peter stayed at The Evelyn, an Art Deco styled hotel in the Flatiron District. They wore matching suits, which always looks lovely with two grooms. They picked up two simple white boutonnieres themselves in advance of the wedding.
After the ceremony, the guests left the park with plans for the grooms to rejoin them later on for a champagne lunchtime celebration. The couple took some time with their photographer to capture photos in the center area of the park, around the Lake and Bethesda Terrace.
If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding or elopement, large or small, visit our website. This should go without saying, but all of the Wed in Central Park team love same-sex weddings and we all support marriage equality, but if you prefer a LGBTQ+ officiant or photographer we can provide one for you – just ask. Keep updated with our news and see lots of beautiful photos, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest.
Part of my role as a wedding planner specialising in weddings in Central Park is to write a wedding ceremony for each couple. I have a standard list of questions that I ask them about who they are as individuals and as a couple, about their loved ones, about their relationship up to now and their plans for the future. Then I use their answers to create a first draft of ceremony wording for the couple to check over. Sometimes the couple are happy with the first draft, sometimes we go back and forth a little, making changes until we get it right.
It’s very popular in traditional weddings and also the less traditional destination weddings and elopements that I am involved with to include a poem or reading during the introduction of the ceremony. This might be read by the officiant, or by a guest. I am often asked for suggestions, so back in the summer of 2017 I posted twenty readings that my couples have used in the past, and some of my favorites. This is one of the most-read posts on my blog, and it’s been a couple of years, I’ve done lots more weddings since then, so I have a few more suggestions.
How Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog by Taylor Mali
First of all, it’s a big responsibility, especially in a city like New York. So think long and hard before deciding on love. On the other hand, love gives you a sense of security: when you’re walking down the street late at night and you have a leash on love ain’t no one going to mess with you. Because crooks and muggers think love is unpredictable. Who knows what love could do in its own defense? On cold winter nights, love is warm. It lies between you and lives and breathes and makes funny noises. Love wakes you up all hours of the night with its needs. It needs to be fed so it will grow and stay healthy. Love doesn’t like being left alone for long. But come home and love is always happy to see you. It may break a few things accidentally in its passion for life, but you can never be mad at love for long. Is love good all the time? No! No! Love can be bad. Bad, love, bad! Very bad love. Love makes messes. Love leaves you little surprises here and there. Love needs lots of cleaning up after. Sometimes you just want to get love fixed. Sometimes you want to roll up a piece of newspaper and swat love on the nose, not so much to cause pain, just to let love know Don’t you ever do that again! Sometimes love just wants to go out for a nice long walk. Because love loves exercise. It will run you around the block and leave you panting, breathless. Pull you in different directions at once, or wind itself around and around you until you’re all wound up and you cannot move. But love makes you meet people wherever you go. People who have nothing in common but love stop and talk to each other on the street. Throw things away and love will bring them back, again, and again, and again. But most of all, love needs love, lots of it. And in return, love loves you and never stops.
Reasons Why by Joanna Fuchs
Our love is the long-lasting kind; we’ve been together quite a while. I love you for so many things, your voice, your touch, your kiss, your smile. You accept me as I am; I can relax and just be me. Even when my quirks come out, you think they’re cute; you let me be. With you, there’s nothing to resist; you’re irresistible to me. I’m drawn to you in total trust; I give myself to you willingly. Your sweet devotion never fails; you view me with a patient heart. You love me, dear, no matter what. You’ve been that way right from the start. Those are just a few reasons why I’ll always love you like I do. We’ll have a lifetime full of love, and it will happen because of you.
1 John 4:7-19
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
We love because he first loved us.
Excerpt from The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo
“When he looked into her eyes, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke — the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert. What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. Because when you know the language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.”
A quote from Rumi:
“A life without love is of no account. Don’t ask yourself what kind of love you should seek, spiritual or material, divine or mundane, eastern or western… Divisions only lead to more divisions. Love has no labels, no definitions. It is what it is, pure and simple. Love is the water of life. And a lover is a soul of fire! The universe turns differently when fire loves water.”
Married Love by Kuan Tao-sheng, translated by Kenneth Rexroth and Ling Chung
You and I Have so much love, That it Burns like a fire, In which we bake a lump of clay Molded into a figure of you And a figure of me. Then we take both of them, And break them into pieces, And mix the pieces with water, And mold again a figure of you, And a figure of me. I am in your clay. You are in my clay. In life we share a single quilt. In death we will share one bed.
An Apache Blessing
“Now you will feel no rain, for each of you will be shelter for the other. Now you will feel no cold, for each of you will be warmth to the other. Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you. May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years, May happiness be your companion and your days together be good and long upon the earth. Treat yourselves and each other with respect, and remind yourselves often of what brought you together. Give the highest priority to the tenderness, gentleness and kindness that your connection deserves. When frustration, difficulties and fear assail your relationship, as they threaten all relationships at one time or another, remember to focus on what is right between you, not only the part which seems wrong. In this way, you can ride out the storms when clouds hide the face of the sun in your lives – remembering that even if you lose sight of it for a moment, the sun is still there. And if each of you takes responsibility for the quality of your life together, it will be marked by abundance and delight.”
Touched by an Angel by Maya Angelou
We, unaccustomed to courage exiles from delight live coiled in shells of loneliness until love leaves its high holy temple and comes into our sight to liberate us into life. Love arrives and in its train come ecstasies old memories of pleasure ancient histories of pain. Yet if we are bold, love strikes away the chains of fear from our souls. We are weaned from our timidity In the flush of love’s light we dare be brave And suddenly we see that love costs all we are and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.
Excerpt from “The Prophet” by Khalil Gabran
“You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of heavens dance between you. Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.”
Marriage is… by Anonymous
Learning to give not always to take, Learning to forgive each little mistake, Learning to give not always to take, Learning to forgive each little mistake, Learning to love whatever the cost, Always remember alone you’d be lost.
Trying so hard your partner to please, Trying to save whilst paying the fees, Trying to smile when things turn out wrong, Always remember to curb your tongue.
Never to think of only yourself, Never to say you wish you had wealth. Never to let your temper get hot, Always be thankful for what you have got.
If you remember all of these things, You will discover the joys that it brings, Then you will have what so many folks miss, A lifetime of love and a marriage of bliss.
“Carrie’s Poem” from Sex and the City His hello was the end of her endings Her laugh was their first step down the aisle His hand would be hers to hold forever His forever was as simple as her smile He said she was what was missing She said instantly she knew She was a question to be answered And his answer was “I do”
I like you by Sandol Stoddard Warburg
I like you and I know why I like you because you are a good person to like I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s special And you remember it a long, long time You say, Remember when you told me something special And both of us remember When I think something is important you think it’s important too We have good ideas When I say something funny, you laugh I think I’m funny and you think I’m funny too Hah-hah! I like you because you know where I’m ticklish And you don’t tickle me there except just a little tiny bit sometimes But if you do, then I know where to tickle you too You know how to be silly – that’s why I like you If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag, then you are getting ready to jump
I like you because when I am feeling sad You don’t always cheer me up right away Sometimes it is better to be sad
I like you because if I am mad at you Then you are mad at me too It’s awful when the other person isn’t They are so nice and oooh you could just about punch them on the nose
I can’t remember when I didn’t like you It must have been lonesome then Even if it was the 999th of July Even if it was August Even if it was way down at the bottom of November I would go on choosing you And you would go on choosing me Over and over again And that’s how it would happen every time
A piece of advice from Bob Marley
“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.”
Marriage is Madness by Anonymous
Marriage is about giving and taking And forging and forsaking Kissing and loving and pushing and shoving Caring and sharing and screaming and swearing About being together whatever the weather About being driven to the end of your tether About sweetness and kindness And wisdom and blindness It’s about being strong when you’re feeling quite weak It’s about saying nothing when you’re dying to speak It’s about being wrong when you know you are right It’s about giving in, before there’s a fight It’s about you two living as cheaply as one (you can give them a call if you know how that’s done!) Never heeding advice that was always well meant Never counting the cost until it’s all spent And for you two today it’s about to begin And for all that the two of you had to put in Some days filled with joy, and some days with sadness Too late you’ll discover that marriage is utter madness.
You and I Become One
Hear my words, The silence has been broken, In the air I taste, The feeling of this moment.
You’re the one that reaches me, You’re the one that I admire, Every time we are together, My soul feels like it’s on fire. Nothing matters to me, And there’s nothing I desire, ‘Cept you
No more lies, the feeling is true, Look into my eyes, and all you’ll see is you. That’s when you and I become, You and me as one
Now we make our loving memories, Living heart to heart, Walk beside each other, Until the end of time.
That’s when you and I become, You and me as one.
Everything by JM Storm
when I say I love you. what I really mean is you are my everything. and when I say everything, i mean you are my fire and my rain. i am saying that you are my wind and my calm. you are my sword, you are my shield
My Fate by Atticus
Does the sun promise to shiine? No, but it will even behind the darkest clouds it will- and no promise will make it shine longer or brighter for that is its fate to burn until to can burn no more- so, to love you is not my promise it is my fate to burn for you until I can burn no more
The Lantern in the Lifeboat, written by Iain S. Thomas
I am nervous. I’m afraid. But I will stand here in the white hot heat of you. I will play Russian roulette with your playlists. I will tell jokes I’m not sure you’ll find funny. I will hold on until there is no more reason to. And in the end, I will break the stars and resurrect the sun.
This Marriage by Rumi
May these vows and this marriage be blessed. May it be sweet milk, this marriage, like wine and halvah. May this marriage offer fruit and shade like the date palm. May this marriage be full of laughter, our every day a day in paradise. May this marriage be a sign of compassion, a seal of happiness here and hereafter. May this marriage have a fair face and a good name, an omen as welcomes the moon in a clear blue sky. I am out of words to describe how spirit mingles in this marriage.
Neil Gaiman’s Poem for a Friends’ Marriage
“This is everything I have to tell you about love: nothing. This is everything I’ve learned about marriage: nothing. Only that the world out there is complicated, and there are beasts in the night, and delight and pain, and the only thing that makes it okay, sometimes, is to reach out a hand in the darkness and find another hand to squeeze, and not to be alone. It’s not the kisses, or never just the kisses: it’s what they mean. Somebody’s got your back. Somebody knows your worst self and somehow doesn’t want to rescue you or send for the army to rescue them. It’s not two broken halves becoming one. It’s the light from a distant lighthouse bringing you both safely home because home is wherever you are both together. So this is everything I have to tell you about love and marriage: nothing, like a book without pages or a forest without trees. Because there are things you cannot know before you experience them. Because no study can prepare you for the joys or the trials. Because nobody else’s love, nobody else’s marriage, is like yours, and it’s a road you can only learn by walking it, a dance you cannot be taught, a song that did not exist before you began, together, to sing. And because in the darkness you will reach out a hand, not knowing for certain if someone else is even there. And your hands will meet, and then neither of you will ever need to be alone again. And that’s all I know about love.”
Sarah and Gareth got married on Bow Bridge in May. They eloped to New York, just the two of them and had a party on their return home. They were considering having their children as guests, but in the end they couldn’t attend due to work and school commitments.
The couple are British, but both fly for a living and they met in Texas. We kept the ceremony wording quite straightforward and short since they had no guests. The couple are Catholic so we had a traditional and religious ceremony with an ordained officiant.
Sarah had her hair done by Salon Ziba on the morning of their wedding. She decided to book that herself, as well as order her own flowers.
Their photographer, Jakub Redziniak, met them at the entrance to Central Park and took some photos at Strawberry Fields before walking into the park with them to meet their officiant at Bow Bridge. That’s where the ceremony was held. Since they had no guests their photographer was able to be their witness. On a marriage license in New York State couples are legally required to have at least one witness, but there is space for two if they would like two witnesses.
After the ceremony, couples can leave the completed license with the officiant to mail back to City Hall if they’re not in a hurry for the marriage certificate. Then City Hall register the marriage and mail the marriage certificate to whichever address the couple give them, including addresses abroad. Sarah and Gareth preferred to keep the license to take back to City Hall themselves to get certificate straight away, since Sarah was eager to change her name. We can also do this for a couple, for a fee and with a signed and notarized letter.
The original plan was to take some photos around the ceremony location and then walk down the Mall with their photographer, stopping at Gapstow Bridge for more photos. In the end they decided to get a cab from 72nd Street down to their hotel. Sarah was wearing heels and didn’t fancy the walk!
They finished up at their hotel, The Plaza, which is on Central Park South. They had wanted to take photos there since it is such a lovely hotel. We had them check with their hotel beforehand that it would be allowed, since some hotels and venues require the photographer’s information and a certificate of insurance in advance if they are to allow it.
I asked Sarah how we did. “Thank you, Claire, it was just amazing and we were blessed with the weather” she said. “Jakub was great, as was Reverend Barbara, very happy with the service” she added. She did say that her feet were very sore since she’d worn heels in the park, so any other brides thinking of doing a similar thing may want to bring some back-up flip flops!
As many readers of this blog will know; I’m British. I moved to New York in January of 2011 and the campaign to legally recognise same-sex marriages in the state was huge during the first half of that year. The Marriage Equality Act passed in July of 2011, coincidentally the month that I got married. I had signed any petitions that I was asked to sign for this act to be passed, but I never really thought about what a hugely important fundamental human right it is to be able to legally declare your significant other until I was actually considering doing it myself. This is especially true in America, where someone may need to be married for their partner to be covered by their health insurance. I hadn’t considered this, until an officiant that I work with pointed it out to me recently as Project Cupid was launched to allow people to get married in New York during the height of the Covid 19 pandemic.
LGBTQ+ people and their allies worked hard for the right for their relationships to be treated with the same respect as straight relationships are. The Marriage Equality Act passed that July, and lots of weddings popped up all over New York City and NY State straight away. New York was the sixth state to recognise same-sex marriages. Nowadays, around 12% of weddings in New York State are same-sex weddings. It just happens that around 12% of the weddings I do with my business Wed in Central Park are same-sex weddings, too.
My clients, whatever their sexuality, come from all over the world to get married in New York. Over the years, in some cases, the same-sex couples who married with us in NYC may not have a legally recognised marriage in their home country, but they want to get married in a place with marriage equality. So far, when these countries have caught up and begin recognising same-sex marriages, the New York wedding will become legally binding in their own country. Everyone I work with is LGBTQ+ friendly, I wouldn’t work with them if they weren’t. Several of the photographers and officiants are gay themselves. So, if you would prefer a gay person to marry you then just let me know.
A survey of 500 same-sex couples by the Gay Wedding Institute said that two-thirds of same-sex couples are paying for the wedding themselves. Think about how you prefer to spend your money on your wedding day – a big party close to home with all of your friends and acquaintances, or a smaller affair in an amazingly inclusive city, which truly has something for everyone and is certainly one of the most gay-friendly cities on Earth? Which is likely to be more memorable for both the couple and the guests? OK – I’m biased on this one – it’s New York every time for me. Another possible benefit to a destination wedding, is that if there are any issues with family members that you don’t want to invite to your wedding, then having it far away is the perfect way to more easily exclude anyone who may be a bit difficult.
It’s quite straightforward to get married in New York. All you need to do is go together to City Hall with your passports and $35 to get your license. I wrote a blog post with a bit more information about how to get your license in New York City. Then you wait 24 hours after picking up the license before you can have the ceremony. I’m now offering five choices of Central Park wedding packages – all of which can be adapted to a different location in another public park in New York City – Brooklyn Bridge Park, with a view of the Manhattan skyline anyone? I will book a New York State registered officiant for you, and write the ceremony especially for you. I ask all couples a series of questions that allow me to write something just for them. We can completely personalize a ceremony to suit the couple. After the ceremony, you both sign the license, along with the officiant and at least one witness (we can provide one if you need us to, or your photographer can be witness!), we can return it to City Hall for you, and they register your marriage worldwide.
The New York Marriage Equality Act says that the State and local courts and governments must not discriminate against any marriages, and they cannot refuse to sanctify a marriage on the basis of the sexuality of the couple who are marrying. It does allow religious organisations to decline to officiate same-sex wedding ceremonies, though. If my clients wish to incorporate religion into their ceremony, then it’s easy enough for me to find the right officiant from my contacts. I write the ceremony wording for each couple individually, so we can include as much or as little tradition, spirituality, symbolism or religion as you like. I work with several multi-faith ordained officiants, and everyone I work with is very happy to be involved with same-sex weddings.
I can also book a photographer for you, for however long you need one, and I’d work with you to make a plan of the day, with timeline estimates and all the photo locations that you want to get to. I can also provide someone to make an edited video of the wedding, or a live stream for people back home to watch as it happens. I can provide a musician, flowers, hair and makeup and lots of other pieces of advice that should make everything smooth and stress-free. I’ve planned over three hundred weddings, and I estimate that 30-40 of them have been same-sex weddings, so it’s quite difficult to ask me something that I haven’t been asked before!
I’ve read a number of times that “a gay wedding is just a wedding” and I agree with that to a certain extent, and of course love is love. I see plenty of similarities when it comes to weddings – gay and straight, but I think it’s important not to assume a hetero-normative idea of traditional weddings from any of my couples, same-sex couples in particular. I see my job as a planner to listen to the couple and give them the wedding that they want, not to try to fit them in to a cookie-cutter idea of a wedding that everyone has.
Increasingly over the years I have been planning weddings, I’ve seen many couples questioning the traditions around marriage, such as who arrives first (if anyone – the couple can of course arrive together), is anyone given away, who carries the flowers (if anyone), does anyone change names, what exactly do couples promise each other during the ceremony (love, honour and obey, anyone?) and of course who pays for it all? So, I try to be careful not to make too many assumptions when planning a wedding. In many ways, I think same-sex weddings have started to influence straight weddings. Straight couples are seeing same-sex couples break traditions in small but significant ways and they are following suit. For example, I see lots of same-sex couples walk to their weddings together, and increasingly I’m seeing straight couples arrive together now, too, rather than the tradition of the groom waiting for the bride to walk to him.
Some of our couples, gay or straight, might get ready together and arrive together to their wedding, instead of the old-fashioned way of arriving separately. This is especially common with a more low-key elopement. We’ve all seen the traditional wedding where the groom waits for the bride to arrive and when she does, everyone gasps. We can have one of the couple waiting with the guests and the other arrives later, or we can have the couple arrive together (to receive a collective gasp!) and on some occasions, we’ve had one of the couple first walk down the aisle to receive their gasp, and then the other of the couple to walk down the aisle. According to the Gay Wedding Institute, 30% of lesbian couples walk down two aisles or from different directions, and 81% of gay grooms walk together down one central aisle holding hands. If you’re getting married in a park you’re already breaking some rules, so you can do it however you want to.
Couples getting married in New York won’t find choosing a reception location a difficult task – except for the vast array of choice! The law under the Marriage Equality Act states that marriage licenses cannot be denied to same-sex couples, and that no government or private entity can deny the rights, benefits or protections of marriage to same-sex couples who are legally wed. So, no vendors should refuse to serve same-sex couples because of their sexual orientation. This is New York City, and many of the venues are extremely gay friendly. The whole of New York City welcomes LGBT+ people, and the well-known gay-friendly areas such as Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and the Village certainly not the only option. Rest assured that couples can choose from lots of awesome reception venues – some of which will of course be gay bars.
If you would like some help planning your wedding in New York, whatever your sexuality, then get in touch with me via email, or have a look at the website where many questions are answered. If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, 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 – I try to show a good reflection of our gay and straight couples in my social media feeds. New York City is known for welcoming LGBTQ+ people, so you will have a fantastic time if you choose to get married in this incredible city!
New Yorkers Caryn and Kristopher got married in the Ladies’ Pavilion in October. They seemed to pick the peak time of the middle of the month to see the loveliest Fall colors on the trees. Caryn first contacted me in August – just two month before their date! I do love a last-minute wedding.
Caryn and Kristopher met at work, they were friends and work buddies for about three years before he asked her out. They had been together for almost nine years when they got married and they had two children.
They live in Manhattan so they knew Central Park quite well, so they had a fairly clear idea of what they wanted. They knew that a wedding in Central Park suited them. They were originally interested in getting married in the Dene Summerhouse, but when I told them that is one of the few popular wedding ceremony locations which the Central Park Conservancy do not issue permits for they weren’t so keen. They wanted to feel certain that we had laid claim to a spot so that we would be sure the day would go to plan. If you don’t have a permit for your chosen location you can still get married there with a group of less than twenty, which Caryn and Kristopher intended to have. They had restaurant reservations afterwards, though and we had planned a ceremony start time as well as time in the park taking photos. They knew that if they arrived at the Dene Summerhouse to find another wedding taking place there, then they’d need to wait for that event to finish before their guests could move in. Many couples don’t want to risk that happening.
After a chat on the phone with me, followed by some location scouting (an advantage to living just a few blocks from Central Park when planning a wedding there!) they decided on the Ladies’ Pavilion for their wedding ceremony location. “We visited Ladies’ Pavilion and fell in love!” said Caryn. “That’s the location for us. Love the views!” she said. This spot suited them partly because they had some concerns about rain, and the Ladies’ Pavilion provides good cover for a small group such as theirs.
When it came to timings we worked backwards from when they wanted to start lunch with their guests. Caryn knew that she wanted everyone to be seated by 1pm so we planned back from there. They chose the package with two hours of photography, so we planned for them to have left Central Park in time to get to the restaurant with ease. So, we had a mid-morning ceremony to allow them time to take photos around Central Park before leaving for their lunchtime celebration.
Even though Caryn and Kristopher are locals, they were still a little concerned about their guests getting to the wedding ceremony location without getting lost. I made them a route map to show the simplest and shortest way into the Ladies’ Pavilion from the entrance to the park. I also made them a route map to show where they would need to be walking to capture the photos after the ceremony that we had planned. This is helpful for brides when thinking about their shoes!
The pathway to the Ladies’ Pavilion is a lovely way for a bride to make her entrance. Caryn had considered walking down to the ceremony location with her eldest child but in the end Caryn’s brother walked her “down the aisle” and it made for a striking entrance.
We discussed fresh flowers before the wedding, and Caryn had a clear idea of a lovely Fall arrangement that she liked. In the end she chose to carry silk flowers, and I think they looked amazing, as did her whole outfit. She also decorated the reception table with matching silk flowers.
Caryn and Kristopher wrote unique vows to read out to each other as part of the ceremony. They have two kids and they took bubbles along for the kids to blow after they were pronounced husband and wife. This is a lovely alternative to confetti, which is not permitted in Central Park. After the ceremony, their photographer Jakub Redziniak took them around Central Park to take photos.
I asked Caryn how we did. “It was truly a wonderful day! Everything came together so nicely and the weather held up. I cannot wait to see the photos from Jakub! He was very easy to work with and took us to some beautiful locations in the park. It was truly a memorable and beautiful day.”