Same-Sex Weddings in New York’s Central Park in the First Year

I moved to New York City from Britain to New York in January 2011. So, I’m still learning about the complexities of this great country. One of the things I keep forgetting is that the people I meet in New York are maybe not a good example of the rest of the USA. When I tell New Yorkers that I like America or Americans, I am often reminded that I am not in America, I am in New York. New York City attitudes to many things have always differed from those of the rest of the USA, indeed the world, and homosexuality is certainly on the list of things. Being gay has been acceptable for some time in New York City, with all but the most bigoted of people. And, over the past year, many people who work in the wedding industry have dealt with more gay couples that straight ones.

I have my own wedding planning business for couples who wish to get married in Central Park. I got married there myself and that inspired me to start the business. If you’re from out-of-state or another country you don’t have the opportunities to meet the people who will be involved in your wedding through word-of-mouth as I did.

Everyone I know who works in weddings in New York was elated and excited in July of 2011 when we could finally start to perform same-sex weddings, it had been a long time coming, and I applaud the gay community for the hard work it took to make this happen. There was quite a stampede of same-sex couples flowing into New York in that first year, from the back log of people who had been waiting at the starting blocks for the law to change. So, two brides or two grooms together very quickly became something that we were used to seeing, and celebrating.

In the rest of the USA, and indeed many places in the world, however, this kind of acceptance of same-sex couples hasn’t yet occurred, politically. I asked Kristin what she thought about this, whose same-sex wedding story I posted a few days ago, she said that she feels that many straight people nationally as well as locally support marriage equality. She said “I think the act is helping to show people that we are all the same, we are all human beings”. Hopefully in time, as other states see from example that marriage equality leads to a better society for everyone in it, they will also recognize same-sex weddings.

Same-sex couples looking for guidance and suggestions for their weddings are just not finding themselves represented in nationwide media. It is as a result of this that gay wedding websites and blogs are popping up to meet the needs of same-sex couples, with inspiring pictures and stories to help couples get ideas for their own special day.

Of course, it isn’t just the lack of style advice that causes extra stress in planning a same-sex wedding. In many cases family members may not be supportive and may not want to be involved. This has led to a popularity of “elopements” for gay couples, they often have smaller wedding parties, or just the couple themselves at the ceremony. Central Park in New York has been a popular spot for eloping couples for some time, and it seems to be a natural choice for eloping same-sex couples too. We saw a big rush of same-sex couples in Central Park during the summer time of last year, but now that has slowed to a steady flow of people coming in to the park to tie the knot.

We have found that many gay couples feel that the traditional wedding vows do not apply to them, and they very often want something completely different, or want to add their own twist to the traditional. Either way, we can help with ideas and editing.

Since July last year there have been various discussion amongst the New York gay community about wedding etiquette. Who proposes? Who buys the ring? A Central Park wedding solves the issue of who gets to walk down the aisle, since most couples tend to arrive together, both of you get to do it together. Another thing we have found is that gay couples are often the ones paying for their own wedding, and having the ceremony in a public park can certainly keep the costs down.

Another issue that gay couples have little hard-and-fast rules about is whether to change their names. Discuss whether you will be changing your name prior to getting the marriage license, because you will have to declare it on the form. To get married in New York City both parties must take photo ID to pick up your license from City Hall at least 24 hours before your ceremony.

The average New Yorker is possibly even more excited to come across a same-sex wedding in their local park as they are to see a straight couple. I believe that the vast majority of New Yorkers are all genuinely in support of this long-due law change. If couples prefer a quieter spot for their wedding, though, this can be arranged. There are some suggestions on the Wed in Central Park website. There are lots of private places in Central Park, particularly the further North you get.

New York is a great place for a celebration of a gay wedding, and I am told that people here are more accepting of homosexuality than the average place, and certainly a huge choice of gay-run and gay-friendly restaurants, bars and clubs to go out and celebrate in. A wedding in Central Park is such a free-and-easy way to get married. There is no pressure to conform to a traditional wedding format because you have already thrown tradition out of the window by getting married in a public park!

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1 Response to Same-Sex Weddings in New York’s Central Park in the First Year

  1. Rev Raquel says:

    Note that if the ‘party’ includes more than 20 people, you must apply for a park permit. Also, the license requires a signature by at least one witness who is 18 years old and over. There is space for a second witness.

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