Chris and Becky’s Engagement at Wagner Cove in Central Park

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Chris contacted me asking for some help with his marriage proposal to Becky for their New York vacation in early December of last year.  The British couple were visiting the city together and Chris decided that it would be a great time to propose.

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He initially considered making his proposal on Bow Bridge.  From there, the view of the Lake with the trees and the buildings behind them is spectacular.  It is not very private though.  Some couples are happy for the attention, or even oblivious to it.  But, for those who want some privacy I would not recommend proposing on Bow Bridge.  Keep in mind that you can always take posed photographs there later on, though.

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After some discussion, he chose Wagner Cove in Central Park as the ideal spot to pop the question.  He had considered also having an acoustic musician nearby playing some music he would choose, but in the end he decided not to, to keep the budget down.

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The couple had booked the trip without too much notice to spare, kind of on the spur of the moment.  So, we planned all this in the week running up to the weekend when he proposed.  We sorted it all out in a matter of days.

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I ordered a bouquet of fuchsia and white lilies for Becky, her favorite flowers.  We decided that the best way to present these would be for Chris to ask Becky to marry him, and then after she had said yes, the photographer would make herself known and then give her the bouquet.

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The couple went for lunch at a restaurant nearby, then for a walk in Central Park afterwards.  I had given Chris a map of Central Park, with his route mapped out, and I had exchanged photographs of the couple and the photographer so they would both know who to be on the lookout for.

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Our photographer waited at the top of the steps to Wagner Cove, hanging out, casually taking photos of the area.  Then she sneaked down the steps after them and, when Chris got down on knee inside the rustic wooden structure of Wagner Cove, our photographer captured some photos.  After that, they took some posed photos around Wagner Cove, on Bow Bridge and on Bethesda Terrace.

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For more information to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, or proposal, 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 proposals and weddings.

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Natalie and Jason’s Engagement by the Lake in Central Park

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Natalie and Jason got engaged in Central Park in June 2016. Then they got married under Bethesda Terrace in Central Park in November 2017. Jason planned it all to intricate detail, booked a photographer to capture the moment, and made sure Natalie would look fabulous for the event, without giving too much away. They had discussed marriage before, and they knew they were going to get married one day, but they had been dating for five years by the time Jason popped the question, so Natalie said that it felt like it was a long time coming!

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Jason asked one of Natalie’s friends to plan a nail appointment with her earlier in the day, and as luck would have it, Natalie decided on a whim to make it a day of pampering and got her hair cut that morning too. Jason did tell her that he would have a surprise for her that day, and she should wear something nice.

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Jason had a ring, which he had bought himself. “I had been hinting (and NOT subtly) at which ring I would want basically since we started dating, so he had an idea, but he still somehow managed to exceed my expectations!” said Natalie. She loves her ring, which has an emerald cut diamond, which is tricky to get right for a potential fiancé because you have to get the ratio of the sides just right!

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So, after the nail appointment, Jason started to give Natalie step by step instructions on how to get to him. First he told her which train to go and which stop to get off at, then which bar to go to for a quick drink, then to walk in to Central Park and then directions of where to go in the park. “By that point I had a VERY good idea of what he was up to,” said Natalie. “It was honestly the most exciting experience I could have ever imagined. It made it so much more fun to be anticipating the proposal and not knowing when he was going to do it, or where!” Natalie does love surprises, though; she loves an exciting build-up.

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Central Park is of course a very public place, and Jason had originally intended to propose on Bow Bridge, which is a popular spot for proposals, due to its beautiful view. But when he got there and saw how busy it was, he decided against it. He knows that Natalie is quite shy and would feel very self-conscious if he proposed there in front of all those people. So, he decided to move to a spot right by the water, close to Bow Bridge, in a secluded area off from the main pathway. Jason had photographer Jakub Redziniak in place to capture the moment.

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They were in a fairly private spot as Jason popped the question and the couple say that they felt like it was just the two of them until Natalie said yes and they kissed. “Actually, I said ‘finally!’ but ya know!” laughed Natalie. Then the people who were in rowboats on the Lake clapped and cheered. “I felt so comfortable during the proposal, since I didn’t realize anyone was watching,” said Natalie, “and then after I had accepted, it was so amazing to get that reaction and know that other people were almost as excited as I was” she said.

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The photographer, Jakub came out of his hiding place after Natalie had accepted and he took them for an engagement photo session afterwards. They were able to get plenty of posed shots in that public area on Bow Bridge. So, they got the best of both worlds – a private proposal and also photos with the iconic backdrop of Bow Bridge, and at Bethesda Terrace, where they would later get married. “I feel like you can tell from the pictures just how happy and excited we were,” said Natalie. “We are smiling from ear to ear in literally every single picture!”

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Once their engagement photo shoot was finished, the couple met up with Natalie’s friend who she had had her nails done with earlier and her boyfriend for celebratory drinks. After that they went to dinner at The Russian Tea Rooms, because Jason knew that it was a restaurant Natalie had always wanted to go to. Then they ended the night by staying at Gramercy Park Hotel, which was also on Natalie’s NYC bucket list.

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And, a little over a year later, they got married in Central Park. They live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, so it seemed like the perfect choice for them. 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 proposals and weddings.

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Microweddings in Central Park

microwedding Central Park new york

I’m not usually a huge fan of buzzwords.  But I’ve been hearing the term “microwedding” quite frequently lately and I rather like this one.  The reason why I like it is because I finally have a name for the majority of the weddings I am involved in.  I have planned well over two hundred weddings in Central Park since I started this business.  Quite a lot of those weddings have been true elopements – ie just the couple are present and they have no guests.  The odd few have been forty or fifty people or even a few more than that – that’s a big wedding for us.  The majority of the weddings I help to plan have between five and fifteen guests.  It’s not an elopement, and it’s not a traditional wedding.  It is a destination wedding, but it seems that most people think of the beach when you say that.  But to summarize the main features of the weddings I do, I would say that a) they’re in Central Park (obviously!), b) they’re smaller than average and c) they’re lovelier than average (OK that last one is just my opinion).

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So, what to call these small weddings?  Well, “small weddings” is OK, but not too catchy.  Some wedding planners still call them elopements if they’re not near to the couple’s home and they only have a few guests, because it’s still kind of a similar vibe.  But to me, it’s not the same at all – I’m involved with lots of elopements and lots of small weddings and I think they feel very different.  Even a small audience as you make these big promises is still an audience, and when you’re having the wedding far from home, then if you have a small number of guests then that’s a very different trip with them there than if it’s just the two of you.

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I recently exhibited an “alternative wedding” fair, and some of my weddings have featured on some blogs of the same theme.  I’m all for being alternative and setting yourself apart from the norm, but what does that really mean?  I suppose it just means non-traditional, and getting married outdoors with just a few of your nearest and dearest is quite non-traditional (by western standards in very recent times).  But many of my couples are looking and saying and doing something fairly traditional apart from the location they do it in, which generally dictates a shorter guest list that they would have at home.  Would my couples describe themselves as alternative?  I doubt that most of them would.

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Some people argue that a major reason for keeping the guest list short is that it keeps the cost down.  And, while this might be true to some extent, and I’d argue that our weddings are cheaper than the traditional option at home, I don’t think people choose to marry in Central Park to save money.  I think they do it because New York is an incredible, unique and fantastic city, and Central Park is iconic, beautiful and romantic.  So I don’t think we can call them “cheap weddings” because that’s not always accurate either.  What a smaller wedding can allow, is a couple spending more money on each guest because they have fewer of them.  For example, they can go to an especially fancy New York restaurant if they only have a few people to feed, or their invites can be extra special since there will be far fewer of them to send out.  So, rather than using these smaller weddings as a money-saving method, it can be more of a money-spending re-direction. A smaller guest list frees up the budget to spend on other things.  So, instead of entertaining and feeding lots of distant family members who you last saw a few Christmases ago, you can get married in a spectacular destination, for example, and have wedding photos that really stand out.

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Once theme I have noticed is that many of the weddings I am involved with have a relaxed feel to them, so maybe we should call them “relaxed weddings”.  The couple who has decided to go away for their wedding, and not involve their wider social circle, but instead just those people who are closest to them, do seem to be taking it easier than the couples who are having a large wedding.  But then again, I’m sure there are many couples who have loved every minute of their traditional wedding at home with absolutely everyone they know.  It’s all about personal choice, and we’re all different people, so one person’s idea of relaxing could be someone else’s idea missing out.  So many of the couples who come to me for help with planning a smaller wedding in Central Park tend to do so after having considered a traditional big wedding at home and have found it stressful.  Perhaps they are fairly introverted people, so maybe we should call them “introvert weddings”.  So many of my couples have said that a big reason why they loved their wedding was that it was stress-free.  Many of my couples have described themselves as introverts, but if you bring a group with you for a few nights or a week and spend lots of time with them, then you would have to be fairly extroverted to enjoy it.

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I have heard the non-traditional wedding being referred to as the “anti-wedding” or heard it implied that these smaller weddings or elopements are for people who don’t care about or don’t like weddings.  This is just not the case at all, in my opinion.  In fact many of these couples have made a conscious decision to turn the focus away from their wider social circle instead on to themselves as a couple, and chosen to put emphasis on the people, rituals and customs that are most important to them.  They’re still doing many of the things involved in a larger wedding – getting dressed up, exchanging vows and rings, carrying flowers, taking photographs, eating great food and having a fabulous celebration.  They’re just choosing to do only the things that make them happy and not doing the things that don’t interest them but they might otherwise have felt obliged to do if they were having a traditional large affair at home.

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My second favorite term for these weddings is “intimate wedding” because that is the sense that these smaller weddings produce – they create a close and intimate feel for the couple and their guests.  A couple might be far more comfortable making very personal promises to each other in their vows when their guests are only the people who know them very well.  When couples bring a small group of their nearest and dearest with them to New York, the result will be that they will spend a lot more time with them than they would at a traditional, large wedding.  They might do their own sight-seeing during the day, and then meet as a group in the evenings to talk about what they have done and seen.  Or they might split the group in to a small hen (bachelorette) and stag (bachelor) parties in the run-up to the wedding.  I write each ceremony with the couples and with these smaller groups, we can mention each guest by name in a ceremony if the couple wish to.  In many cases, couples who do not spend time worrying about keeping a large number of guests feed and entertained and happy instead concentrate on making the ceremony and the whole wedding day more meaningful and unique to themselves.

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The reason why I like the term “micro wedding” or more commonly all one word “microwedding” is that it implies quite clearly that the event is a wedding, as we know it, just smaller.  Many of these couples are taking all the love and joy and celebration of any wedding, and then shrinking it, maybe even condensing it.  They are keeping the ceremony and the festivities but just trimming of the stuff (and dare I say it; the people) they feel they can do without.


Couples have many reasons why they might choose a microwedding.  Sometimes it is because they have a complicated family – perhaps parents who have split up and it’s too complicated to have them all together on this special day.  Sometimes it is that the couple, or one of the couple, would really hate all that attention on the day.  Perhaps they consider planning a big wedding an unnecessary hassle and excessive stress that they don’t need and wouldn’t enjoy.  It certainly seems to be a trend to reduce wedding guest lists, and these microweddings are on the rise.  I am all for it!

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For more information to help you with planning your own microwedding in Central Park, (or even a big 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, most of them small!

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Nikki and Andrew’s Wedding in the Ladies’ Pavilion

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Nikki and Andrew came to New York from their home in Essex in the UK to get married on Valentine’s Day. They visit New York every year together, and already had this trip planned when they decided that they would get married. They traveled with Nikki’s nineteen year old son from a previous relationship, their four year old son, their niece and, at the last minute two close friends decided to come along once they heard there was going to be a wedding!

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They had been together for over eight years when they got married. They share a property business, so they live together and work together! They got engaged in April 2011. Andrew gave Nikki a beautiful bunch of flowers with a card saying “will you….” and inside one of the roses was her engagement ring.

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They had wanted to get married for some time, to formalize their commitment to their family unit and their young son. With all the time pressures of having a young child and running their own business, though, they just never got around to planning a wedding. In the end, they decided to just do it. Andrew first contacted me on the 18th January. So, the whole process took less than a month to plan. I do love a last-minute wedding! They said that they love New York and only ever considered this location for their wedding.

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I asked if the couple had any regrets about not having the traditional wedding close to home. “No way!” said Nikki, we used Skype to set up a live feed so that anyone at home who could not attend could still see the ceremony.

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The couple know New York quite well, since they visit often, and Nikki knew straight away that she wanted photos on Bow Bridge. It’s possibly the most iconic spot in Central Park – with that view over the water with the trees and buildings behind it. “I love Bow Bridge, I knew I wanted plenty of photos to be taken there, it’s so picturesque,” said Nikki.

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They stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel. They tell me that they usually stay at the Waldorf, but it is closed for a refurbishment right now. They’re not planning on switching their custom to the Roosevelt in future. Nikki said that she and Andrew had a good sized suite, but she saw their guests’ rooms and she felt that they were too small.

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We arranged for their flowers to be delivered to their hotel (on the busiest day of the year for many florists, including ours!) and for hair and makeup artists to come to their room. “Claire made everything so simple and organised everything, I told Claire what we wanted and we got exactly what we asked for, I can’t fault anything,” said Nikki. So, we had the groom and guests waiting in the Ladies’ Pavilion with our officiant, and then Nikki walked in to Central Park and to over to the Pavilion with our photographer, Jakub Redziniak. They were lucky with the weather and it was a beautiful sunny day.

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We kept their ceremony short and sweet, with traditional vows. Nikki was very clear that she would love and honor Andrew, but not obey! The ceremony itself, along with the paperwork, took under twenty minutes.

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Nikki wore a long cream lace dress purchased from Jacques Vert with a blush pink shade under the lace. She wore a tiara and a wrap and shoes that matched the shade of blush in the dress. She carried cream roses and blush calla lilies. Andrew wore a navy blue suit and waist coat as did their sons and their male guest. The boutonnieres were cream calla lilies to match the bride’s bouquet.

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Andrew and Nikki got married in the morning, so afterwards they went for lunch at Keens Steakhouse, “we would definitely recommend this restaurant,” said Nikki. And they had a New York cheesecake as their wedding cake! Afterwards, they all went to see the New York Knicks play the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Gardens. “It was the best day ever,” said Nikki.

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I asked Nikki how she would summarise their wedding in Central Park and she said “It was a beautiful day in a stunning setting, and I got to marry my best friend hassle free,” which sounds fabulous! “OMG Claire was amazing” she added. “No stress. No hassle and everything ran perfectly. I would definitely recommend Claire and Wed in Central Park. Even our friends said that it was definitely the way forward in getting married rather than all the stress of eighteen months of arranging a wedding and being pulled from pillar to post by family and friends. There was no disagreements with the family as to colours, flowers and bridesmaids as we did everything our way. I loved it and can’t thank Claire enough”, she said. It makes me so happy to hear this; a stress-free, fun wedding day with those who matter most is truly the goal for all weddings!

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Thanks for sharing your story with us, Nikki and Andrew! I wish you lots of love and luck for your future together with your family. 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.

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2015 Clients’ New York Restaurant Recommendations – Where to Eat After you are Married in Central Park

couples new york restaurant recommendations 2015

Some of this blog’s most read posts are the ones about New York restaurants that couples could go to after their wedding in Central Park.  I wrote a post about all the places where couples who featured on the blog in 2016 went to eat and celebrate after their wedding.  I have had to break the posts down year by year, otherwise they would be far too long.  The following are the couples whose weddings featured on the blog in 2015, and where they went to eat and celebrate after their weddings.  This is a long post!  It turns out that 2015 was a busy year for me, and lots of couples were happy to feature on the blog (not everyone wants to).

Nicola and Nicholas – February

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Nicola and Nicholas eloped to New York in February to get married in the Ladies’ Pavilion.  It was a cold and snowy day, so after they had gone all over Central Park taking photos, they went back to their hotel near Times Square to warm up and relax a little, then they walked a block to John’s Pizzeria, since they didn’t feel like going far after being out in the cold all day in Central Park.  And when you elope, you can do whatever you feel like doing!

Denise and Sean – March

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Denise and Sean came from their home in Ireland to New York for St Patrick’s Day to be in the parade, but before that they got married bright and early in Central Park.  Then they had to get down to 44th Street to begin the parade, and afterwards they went around Upper East Side Irish bars, celebrating with the other people from the parade.  Theirs was certainly a unique way to celebrate their wedding!

Sara and Chris – April


Sara and Chris brought their friends and family to New York from Stockholm in Sweden for their wedding in the Ladies’ Pavilion in April.  After the ceremony and photos amongst the cherry blossom in Central Park they all had lots of champagne back at the hotel, followed by dinner at ABC Kitchen. “The dinner was amazing, and I can recommend ABC Kitchen,” said Sara, “it is a beautiful place with really good service and amazing food.

Amy and Laura – April


Amy and Laura came from Australia to get married in Central Park this April. They had twenty-seven guests, and after they had photographs taken around Central Park then went off to the location where they had a full-on proper reception, The Cube at Riverpark, “it was amazing,” said Amy.  It has a fabulous view of Manhattan from its position on the East River in Brooklyn.

Lisa and Jason – April


Lisa and Jason eloped to New York from their home in Australia in April to get married in the Ladies’ Pavilion.  We arranged for our guitarist, to sing to them at the ceremony.  After the photos, they took a dinner cruise on the Bateaux New York. The cruise is very popular with my clients.  It travels on the Hudson River to give an amazing night-time view of New York City.  After the cruise finished, they went to Smith’s Bar in Hell’s Kitchen to watch our guitarist do his regular job of performing there regularly.

Hollie and Craig – May

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Hollie and Craig eloped to New York from their home in England in May to get married in Cop Cot.  After the wedding they went to Times Square and the Top of the Rock for photos, so after being on her feet non-stop for four hours in dress and heels Hollie was exhausted, so they went back to their hotel room to relax a little before an evening meal at The Capital Grille, which they highly recommend. They decorated their table with hearts for them. The service was impeccable, the food fabulous and they all got complimentary desserts and a photograph to take home.

Melanie and Joshua – May

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Melanie and Joshua are New Yorkers, born and raised. They live in Bronx, NYC.  They got married in Cop Cot.  After photos in Central Park and other iconic NYC locations, the whole wedding party had a private room at Calle Ocho, on the Upper West Side which they said that they would certainly recommend.

Nicola and Marc – May

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Nicola and Marc brought around forty of their friends and family over from Scotland to get married at Bethesda Terrace in April.  The wedding reception was held on board World Yacht at Pier 81. This is a dinner cruise which took them on the Hudson to view the landmarks of Manhattan lit up at night. Their guests were wowed by the statue of liberty as they stopped right in front of it and they said that they had a lovely meal and drinks on board, and the DJ kept the dance floor busy all night.

Sarah and Howard – May

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Sarah and Howard brought ten of their friends and family in England to get married in the Ladies’ Pavilion in Central Park in May. After their wedding they had a meal in a private room at Davios in Midtown. “It was absolutely perfect,” said Sarah. “The service was amazing and they offered a good menu and drinks package for us. Other places we spoke to were not as flexible.” After that they went on to a pre-booked table at the Kimberly rooftop bar. “We wanted somewhere with good views of skyline at night where you are able to dance,” said Sarah.

Hillary and Ben – May

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Hillary and Ben brought twenty-six of their friends and family Australia for their Cop Cot wedding in May. After the wedding ceremony, they had photos taken in Central Park and then they went to the Highline to take some more photos. After that they met their guests at Spice Market, in Chelsea for an early dinner, following that we went to a roof top bar on the eighteenth floor overlooking the city.

Jemma and Lee – June

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Jemma and Lee brought their family from England to get married in Cop Cot in May.  They had plenty of photos taken as they walked north through Central Park from Cop Cot at 59th Street, and they left the Park at West 72nd Street.  They had four kids with them – two of whom were their own, so they needed a family-friendly restaurant.  They hailed cabs for the short distance to Carmine’s on 91st Street for an Italian meal.

Emma and Paul – June


Paul and Emma eloped from England to get married in Cop Cot in May.  They were happy to see each other before the wedding, so they met their photographer in Midtown and had lots of cool and unique photos taken around town before their ceremony, then they came to Cop Cot, we had the ceremony, then we walked through Central Park for some more photos.  They are cat lovers, and owners of four cats, so they went to the Meow Parlour, a cat-themed cafe in the Chinatown area after a brief chill-out back at the hotel. After two hours with the cats they went to the Top of the Rock for a sunset view of New York, and then finally on to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. “After such a hectic day it was nice to relax with a big burger, fries and a cocktail,” said Emma.

Magda and Kamil – July

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Magda and Kamil are originally from Poland but live in New York City. They met at Coney Island through a mutual friend, they got married in the Ladies’ Pavilion in July. Magda’s dad was there to give her away, and Kamil’s mother was there too. They also had some friends as guests.  After the wedding they went back to their home in Brooklyn for a relaxed and fun BBQ party.

Priyanka and Amit – July

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Priyanka and Amit got married on Belvedere Castle Terrace.  They have lived all over the US.  The couple had lived in New Jersey before Amit moved to Delaware and Priyanka moved to California for work, they have lived apart for the past two years.  New York was a convenient location for everyone, including their guests, who also came from all over for the wedding.  After their photos in Central Park, they had their reception in Fig and Olive, Fifth Avenue. They had a beautiful cake from Ferrara Bakery delivered to the restaurant. In the evening, they went to a New York City bar.

Kelly and Dylan – August


Kelly and Dylan brought their family and friends from Canada to get married on Belvedere Castle Terrace in August.  They had twenty-five guests, who loved the idea of getting married in Central Park. They said that they were very happy that so many people were able to make the journey to join them on their special day.  After the wedding they went to Tony’s DiNapoli in Times Square for dinner then to Beer Authority for more drinks into the night. Kelly said that she would recommend both venues.

Janet and Tim – August

By Laura Pennace -

Janet and Tim brought their children with them from Canada to get married in Cop Cot in August.  After the ceremony and photos in Central Park, they all dinner at the Loeb Boathouse, and later went to see Mama Mia on Broadway.” They all wore their wedding clothes to the theater, which got them noticed, which got them some special treatment and celebrity, so any other couples considering seeing a show on their wedding day may want to bear that in mind.

Emily and Lee – September

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Emily and Lee brought their family and friends from the UK in September for their wedding on Belvedere Castle Terrace.  After the wedding ceremony, the couple laid on a picnic for their guests on the banks of Turtle Pond, with a view of their wedding ceremony location, Belvedere Castle.  While they enjoyed that the bride and groom were whisked off for photos around Central Park.  Later that evening they all went for a meal at Rare Bar and Grill on Lexington Avenue. They said that they would highly recommend this restaurant, “the steaks are amazing and the restaurant has a rooftop bar, so we hired an area up on the rooftop and paid for an open bar for our guests to enjoy drinks all evening,” said Emily. “We had great views of The Empire State Building, The Chrysler Building and The Freedom Tower! We would highly recommend a visit,” she said.

Line and Mads – September


Line and Mads brought their close friends and family over from Denmark to get married on Cherry Hill, overlooking the Lake and Bow Bridge in September.  After the ceremony and the photos the party went to The Gramercy Tavern for dinner and celebrations. “It is an amazing place with the best gourmet food. We had booked the restaurant’s private dining room and everything was just perfect; the room, the décor, the atmosphere, the food, the wine, the service etc,” said Line.

Alice and Russell – October

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Alice and Russell brought eighteen family members over from the UK to get married in the Wisteria Pergola in the Conservatory Gardens in September.   After the ceremony our photographer walked with the party through Central Park to Bethesda Fountain for some more photos, then they had a boat ride on the Lake with their guests. Then afterwards they all went to the Club A Steak House for dinner where they had hired a private dining room.

Kayleigh and Andrew – October

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Kayleigh and Andrew brought a very small group of friends to New York from the UK to get married in the Ladies’ Pavilion in October.  At the time they got engaged, they had already booked the trip to New York to celebrate Kayleigh’s thirtieth birthday, so they decided to get married while they were there.  And after the ceremony they went over the Loeb Boathouse for a celebratory drink, then on to an Italian steakhouse called Davios. “Amazing food and service,” said Kayleigh. “I would definitely recommend eating here.”

Danielle and Michael – October

central park wedding nyc restaurant 2015 M&D

Danielle and Michael eloped to New York in October to get married on Belvedere Castle Terrace.  That evening they ate at Le Bernadin, a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars. Michael is a chef so dining at a high quality restaurant was a top priority for the couple.  They both had the 7-course tasting selection with the wine pairings, and they said it was amazing.

Holly and David – November

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Holly and David came to New York alone to get married on Bow Bridge in October.  After the wedding ceremony their photographer took them for photos around Central Park, and to Times Square, then back to the Waldorf Astoria, where they were staying, for photos there.  After that Holly and David went for dinner at Asiate at the Mandarin Continental. “This restaurant was amazing,” said Holly. “The service was fabulous and the view of both Central Park and the city was amazing!!” She highly recommends this restaurant for dinner for anyone else considering a dinner following a small wedding or elopement.

Jennifer and Steven – November

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Jennifer and Steven brought thirty of their friends and family over to New York from Scotland for their wedding in the Ladies’ Pavilion in October. Jennifer and Steven had their bachelor and bachelorette parties in New York, too. The night before the wedding, all the women met at the Sky Room, a rooftop bar. “The atmosphere was kind of like a nightclub,” said Jennifer. “I wished we had stayed longer but I felt I had to get back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep before the wedding,” she said. On the same night, the men went to Jimmy’s Corner, a bar with a boxing theme.  After the wedding ceremony they had group photographs taken at the Ladies’ Pavilion, then a smaller group went to Bethesda Terrace to take more photos while most of their guests made their way to the Tavern on the Green.  Then everyone met up there a little later. They stayed there for glasses of Prosecco while the father of the bride, the best man and the groom did their speeches. Afterwards they all went on a yacht cruise of the Hudson for their dinner. Then on to Tanner Smith’s in stretch limousines, where they had reserved a private area downstairs.

I would love to hear any other suggestions of great New York City restaurants in the comments below – there are so many to choose from! 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.

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Natalie and Jason’s Wedding Underneath Bethesda Terrace

real central park wedding N&J

Natalie and Jason got married underneath Bethesda Terrace in November last year.  They are both 27, and live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, but are both originally from Florida.  They met in college.  They say that officially they didn’t start dating until they graduated, but others thought they were together all through college, when they admit they did hang out during any free time they had.

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The couple got engaged in Central Park, in one of the several tucked away little nooks that are right on the Lake.  They felt very secluded at the time, but any passer-by on a row boat could be witnessing your proposal when you’re by the Lake.  “We feel that getting married is about making a public declaration about your commitment to one another,” Natalie explained, when asked about their reasons for marrying.  “So, while we both knew that we were 100% committed to each other for the rest of our lives, we wanted to let the world know too,” she added.

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The couple lived quite close to Central Park, so they had walked through it and seen other couples either taking wedding pictures or getting married there, so they always had in the backs of their minds that it was an option.  During one of their walks through Central Park Natalie looked at the arcade under Bethesda Terrace and she just knew that it was where they would get married.  “When I pitched the idea to Jason, he saw my vision (or at least trusted it) and was 100% on board from the start,” Natalie told me.  “Central Park is iconic, beautiful, timeless, FREE, and you don’t have to decorate it!” said Natalie.  “It was the perfect setting for a casually elegant wedding,” she added.

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Natalie thinks that maybe smaller and more non-traditional weddings are becoming more popular among the people she knows, but they are still far from being the norm.  She loves that they had an intimate wedding, which was a destination wedding for their guests, with most of their family being from out of state, but just down the road for them.  “I can honestly say there was not one bit of our wedding that revolved around anyone else – it was all about celebrating our marriage in our own way – and because we limited the guest list to immediate family only, it made everything so relaxed and it allowed us to actually enjoy everyone’s company,” Natalie said.

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They were certain from the start that a traditional wedding at home was not for them.  “Nothing about a traditional wedding sounds like something Jason and I would like for ourselves,” Natalie said.  They generally don’t do things the conventional way, and they like to do things on the spur of the moment.  An epic planning project would not have suited them!  Natalie did purchase her dress from close to home, though, from dress store Ann Marie’s.  She wore a customized Casablanca bridal gown. It was a fitted, ivory colored, long sleeved, off the shoulder dress with an illusion back and a fantastic long train.  Natalie’s incredibly beautiful mantilla veil had a lace border that matched her dress, and it extended past her dress by around two feet.  I think all will agree that it is very striking and it is the perfect finishing touch.

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Though the couple live in Manhattan, they stayed at The Nomad before and after the wedding, and their guests, who were visitors to the city, stayed at the Doubletree Chelsea, which is much more budget friendly than the Nomad and only a couple of blocks away.  Natalie and her ladies had their hair and makeup done in the hotel by Beautini.  Their flowers were supplied by Buds of Brooklyn.

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Natalie said that her favorite photos were taken at the stairs leading in to Bethesda Arcade, just at its entrance, and out by the Mall, in the colors of the leaves changing.

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Their photographer was Bryan Sargent.  “The arcade was perfect for us because it was covered, so even though it drizzled during our ceremony, everyone stayed dry,” said Natalie.  “Also, the arcade is just beautiful.  The architecture, the background with the fountain and lake, the stairs for my entrance – it all looked like the location for a photo shoot or movie scene” she explained.  “Then the mall was just amazing for our pictures together, since the trees framed us perfectly with the changing leaves,” she added.  They also had logistical needs, such as getting a grandma in a wheelchair, and they knew they could get her to the location relatively easily down a gently-sloping pathway.

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Natalie had a piper accompany her as she arrived to her wedding.  He was a surprise for Jason, who is part Irish and loved the bagpipes.  A close friend of the couple officiated the ceremony.  This friend had introduced them and been their mutual friend for a long time.  He did the ceremony in English and Spanish so that Natalie’s grandmothers could follow it.  The guests were just immediate family; the couple’s parents, grandparents, siblings, and their significant others.  And their friend MJ, who officiated.  They said that they thought it was gorgeous and suited them very well.  After the ceremony the piper accompanies them on a walk from Bethesda Arcade, up the Mall, and along to the Tavern On The Green.  At the Tavern on the Green they had drinks at the bar for a little while and relaxed.

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Their reception was held at the indoor rooftop of the Nomad Hotel, where they had a cocktail hour, played the shoe game “this is a must for all couples!” said Natalie, and then had dinner with everyone.  “It was the most perfect night!” said Natalie, “there were so many toasts and laughs and stories, I just wish we could do it all over again!” she said.
I asked Natalie if she had any tips for others planning a wedding in Central Park at this time of year, and she said “plan for rain! Buy everyone those clear bubble umbrellas, they look amazing in pictures and they’re an apt party favour at a relatively small price.”  Another tip she wants to share is that because she knew she would be walking a lot, she had her dress hemmed about a half inch shorter at the front so that it wouldn’t drag on the floor and pick up lots of dirt, or trip her while she walked.  “I think it was a great move, since it made it easier to walk through the park, and with less mess on the bottom, the pictures came out nicer, and I don’t think the shorter length was really noticeable.”

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Thank you for sharing your story, Natalie and Jason! I wish you lots of love and luck for your future together in New York, or wherever else you may live together. 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.

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Neighborhood Recommendations – My Suggestions on Where to Stay When you get Married in Central Park, New York

where to stay in new york neighborhoods central park wedding

I am often asked for hotel or neighborhood recommendations.  To help with booking travel and accommodation I would need different insurance from the one I currently have for my business of planning weddings in Central Park, because it falls under a travel agent’s duties, so I try to avoid commenting too much on this sort of thing.  But here are a few thoughts that visitors to New York might find useful on the different areas of New York, and my own opinions and views on them.

I always recommend the Upper West Side as a great place to stay to couples who are getting married in Central Park.  It’s a beautiful area, with grand old brownstone buildings and wide streets.  It has lots of nice hotels and it is where normal, well-off New Yorkers live, so there are many really good bars and restaurants to choose from – ranging from cool and modern to very old-school classic New York eateries.  If you stay on the Upper West Side you can probably walk to a wedding in Central Park, but you can also walk to the Hudson River, and even to Times Square, depending on what area of the UWS you are staying in.  There are good transport links in the roads and Subway, too.

I lived on the Upper East Side for a while, and while most of the area is not as pretty as the Upper West Side, since most of the buildings are more modern, it is still a good place to stay.  This is except for Fifth Avenue of course, alongside Central Park, which is beautiful.  It is wider than the Upper West Side, so it may take longer to walk to Central Park, depending on where in the area you choose to stay.  As a general guide, the North end is the cheaper end, the South end has some of the most expensive real estate in the world.  It has great transport links, and it is the most densely populated neighbourhood of New York, so there are lots of places to eat and drink to choose from.  If you stay close to the East River, you can go over to that side and have a view of Brooklyn and the bridges.

I find that Midtown is the most popular area for my clients to stay in.  I’m going to say something that some might find controversial; I find this area of Manhattan decidedly meh.  And Times Square? I can’t stand it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the live shows there, but I get in to see the show and then get right back out again.  The hotels are expensive chains and the restaurants are too.  It’s crazy busy and unpleasant to walk around and it just is not a good reflection of the awesome city that New York is.  The northern end of Midtown borders on Central Park, so I’d say that it has that in it’s favour, but prices of hotels there are very high.

Hell’s Kitchen is on the West side of the middle of Manhattan Island – kind of to the West of Times Square.  There are some incredible bars and restaurants here, and if you were looking for a bargain Airbnb place to stay in, this would be a great spot – close to all the action and to Central Park, and you could just walk downstairs from where you are staying and be on a street of great places to eat.  It’s not the most beautiful of areas, though.  This is where many of the river cruises go from, which are very popular for receptions with couples marrying in Central Park.

Moving South from here are Chelsea, which is very nice, artsy and super gay-friendly, with great bars and clubs, but expensive.  This area is home to the Highline park, which always seems like a great idea, but it is always crowded and in my opinion the industrial buildings around it make it tough to get any particularly nice pictures, for anyone considering taking any wedding photos down there.  Also, the small area of the Meatpacking District, which is cool and artsy, with great bars in old warehouses on cobblestone streets.  And the West Village and Greenwich Villages are quite similar, with their brownstones on tree-lined streets and celebrities drawn there by the atmosphere and culture.

There’s a section to the East of Midtown that I quite like, that contains Murray Hill, Turtle Bay, Tudor City and other smaller neighborhoods on the East River.  It’s not as handsome as the West side, with its modern buildings and huge retail stores, but there would be some great Airbnb properties here.  It does have some beautiful architecture, such as Radio City Music Hall, Grand Central, the Rockerfeller Center and the New York Library, though.  It’s not as good for transport links as the West side in my opinion.  Then, going South from here there’s the East Village and the Lower East Side.  This area has a rich history that dates back to the early days of Manhattan, and the richness of the immigrant cultures can still be seen here.  Now it has lots of unique, tiny stores, eateries and bars to choose from.  There is lots of nightlife in these areas, ranging from “dive bars” to hip and trendy clubs and boutique hotels.

The Southern tip of Manhattan is home to the Downtown area, or the Financial District, which is pretty boring and quiet after the workers have left for the evening, and completely dead on weekends.  It also has Little Italy and Chinatown, home of authentic and wonderful restaurants and eateries.  Tribeca and Soho are on the West side of this far end.  They have some very posh restaurants (the former posher than the artier latter) and great access to walk along the Hudson River.  This end of the island is quite a few miles from Central Park, so not ideal unless you are planning to do other things while staying in this area.

At the other end of the island of Manhattan is Harlem, Morningside Heights and Washington Heights.  On the West side, this is a beautiful area North of 110th Street, where Central Park ends, the East side is more modern so not as handsome.  Parts of Harlem have fabulous old brownstones, lovely churches, and some iconic New York theaters and restaurants.  This is also where Fort Tryon Park is on the Hudson River, which is where the Cloisters are.

Some of my clients who are on a budget, or those who know New York well and fancy a change have chosen to stay in Brooklyn.  It’s a great option for anyone looking to get a bit extra for their money.  There are lots of nice areas to stay in and it you also consider having your reception or meal after the wedding over in Brooklyn, then it’s a pretty convenient place to me.

Williamsburg is the hip place to be in New York right now.  It has lots of cool places to eat and drink and shop.  There are some fabulous rooftop bars here with views of Manhattan.  Bushwick and Greenpoint are nearby, and also have some great places, that are either edgier and cooler, or not as posh, depending on your tastes.

Park Slope, Prospect Heights and surrounding areas are close to the lovely Prospect Park.  Anyone considering getting married in Prospect Park or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, might consider staying here.

Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo are where you can get fabulous views of Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan.  Many of our couples have gone over there for photos after their wedding, then some go on to restaurants in Brooklyn afterwards to celebrate.  Brooklyn Bridge Park lines the East River on the edge of Brooklyn Heights, and this is a lovely place to get married in the Summer, with the skyline, bridge and river in the background.

Brooklyn is a highly populated borough and has many affluent areas, with true New York eateries, so it is certainly worth checking out, but keep in mind that it will take a little longer to get in to Manhattan from here for any sightseeing.

Queens covers a huge area of New York.  Most tourists and people visiting for a wedding in Central Park who are considering staying Queens would probably look at Astoria and Long Island City.  If you stay close to a Subway stop then these areas would be very quick to get in to Manhattan from.  They are just across the East River from Midtown and from the Upper East Side, which is right next to Central Park.

I don’t think any of my clients have stayed in the Bronx or Staten Island quite yet, but there is always a first time!  Check any journey times from these areas to Central Park and to wherever else you want to be, if you are considering staying there.  I think I may have had clients who stayed in New Jersey, and I’ve certainly had clients who have eaten there on their wedding day.  Just like Brooklyn, there are restaurants and bars along the riverside with fabulous views of Manhattan there.

As a general tip, I would suggest checking any location on a map to see what is nearby – check for Subway stops and restaurants.  Think about what else you will be doing while you are in New York.  What sights do you want to see?  Do you want to walk to Central Park, or is a car OK?  Also, consider where else you want to go on your wedding day.  Most of my clients stay in Manhattan, and it’s not a huge island, but if there is a restaurant you like near to Central Park and a hotel you like near to Central Park, then it all makes things much easier on the day.

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.

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