Central Park is a romantic and picturesque location to hold a wedding ceremony, that is why it is such a popular destination wedding location. I am a Central Park wedding planner so I am often asked for suggestions on the best wedding locations within Central Park for various needs and group sizes.
Each location has varying degrees of privacy. Some have nicer views than others, some are closer to the major sights in the Park, some are closer to Subway stops, or entrances to the Park where a car can stop. Each location has a guest limit specific to its size and area. Couples will want to take all these factors into account when choosing their location.
The Shakespeare Garden is a lovely four-acre flower garden named for the famed English poet and playwright because the flowers in it are all mentioned in his plays and poems. Since all the flowers in it are English, this garden may appeal to British couples, or perhaps not, since it will not be so different from what they are used to at home. It was added to Central Park in 1916. The garden is on a steep slope, so it may not be appropriate for weddings when the ground is slippy when the weather is bad. There is no shelter from the rain here.
There is a large stone bench in the shade at the top of the garden. The flowers in this area make for very beautiful pictures. There are no areas within the garden for larger groups, around 12 might the maximum. The clearing at the top of garden with rustic wooden benches, between the Shakespeare Garden and Belvedere Castle would fit a much larger group.
The Ladies’ Pavilion is a lovely spot by the Lake. It has charming cast-iron details and there are seats around the edges which are great if you have any guests who may not want to sit throughout the whole ceremony. It is one of the few spots in Central Park that gives any shelter from the rain, but not for big groups. It would fit up to twenty people inside, but that would be cosy. I have been to larger weddings here where close family stays inside the structure and other guests stand outside and that works very nicely, because everyone can see the couple then.
The Ladies’ Pavilion was originally designed in 1871 as a shelter for trolley passengers and sat near the Park’s Eighth Avenue and 59th Street entrance. When construction began on the monument that stands there now, the Pavilion was relocated inside Centrl Park. It is so-called because during the Winter the Ladies’ would change into their ice skates here, before skating on the Lake. If you have your wedding ceremony here then you would look out over the Lake, to the trees, and above them, the New York Skyline.
Cop Cot sits at the crest of a small hill at the very South end of Central Park. It has lovely views because of its position on the hill, and photos in this location would have the tress and the buildings of Central Park South up close. It is a slightly further walk to the other popular Central Park wedding photo locations than many of the other popular ceremony locations, but that would be a nice walk with plenty of photo opportunities, along the Mall.
If you are planning to eat anywhere near Central Park South then this location would be nice and close. Many couples like it for its rustic feel, it does provide a little shelter from the weather, too, especially in the Summer. It has seats around the edge, so some guests could sit for the ceremony. It also provides some privacy, because it is a structure and because few people know to walk up the hill to find it.
Bethesda Terrace is at the top of the Mall, which is designed to look like the aisle of a church, so is a lovely setting for a wedding. It overlooks the beautiful Fountain and the Lake. The magnificent stone carvings give great opportunities for stunning photographs. The carvings on the fountain side represent the four seasons and, on those facing the Mall represent the times of day.
A wedding underneath the Terrace would provide the best shelter from rain if you need it, and also shade from the sunshine, which can be very strong during the Summer. This is possibly the busiest area of the Park, though, so don’t expect any privacy for a ceremony here, do expect lots of passers by offering their congratulations, though.
Wagner Cove is an excellent location for a small wedding, and is a very private location. It is rare for people to pass by this location, because it is hidden away at the bottom of some steps, but it can be seen from the other side of the Lake, and sometimes people do take photos of weddings from there, but it is far enough away that it is unlikely to bother the couple. It is tucked away into a shady corner of the Lake, right on the water, looking out over Bow Bridge. This location is very popular with eloping couples, but would suit groups of up to twenty-five.
The steps that lead to it from the main pathway in Central Park are uneven, and so is the ground at the bottom around the wooden structure. Because of this, the location would not suit a wedding with any disabled guests, and the ground gets muddy if there has been heavy rain. This location is within close walking distance of many of the iconic scenes within the park, so there is not far to walk for your photographs. The original shelter dates from Central Park’s early years, when rowing boats would pick up passengers at one of six shelters that dotted the edge of the Lake and drop them off at another.
Bow Bridge is quite possibly New York’s most popular muse for photographers. The view from the bridge is also iconic to Central Park, with the Manhattan skyline towering above the trees. It is certainly not the most private spot in Central Park for a wedding, but would be one of the loveliest. Even with an event permit all areas of Central Park must remain a right of way to the general public, so this would not suit a very large group.
This beautiful bridge spans the Lake’s narrowest point and links Cherry Hill to the Ramble. It is the oldest cast-iron bridge in the Park, and the second oldest in America. Bow Bridge is very photogenic, either for couples to have their pictures taken while standing on it, or in front of it.
Belvedere Castle caps Vista Rock, Central Park’s second-highest natural elevation. Because of this it provides the best and highest views of Central Park and its cityscape. Weddings do not take place inside of the small castle itself but on the Plaza next to it, outdoors, under a shelter, so it would protect from some rain, but not if it is windy.
The name of the castle is fitting because it translates to “beautiful view” in Italian. It was built in1869 as one of Central Park’s many whimsical structures intended as a lookout to the reservoir to the north (now the Great Lawn) and the Ramble to the south. There is an outcrop of rocks and the Shakespeare Garden nearby, which make for some striking group photographs.
I help couples to plan their Central Park wedding. Click the links in the blog post above for more information and pictures of each location. Email me and we can discuss your desires and provide you with further descriptions of any of these locations, or your own suggestions of other spots within Central Park. If you have any comments on wedding locations in Central Park please add them below.
I can obtain your permit for whichever location you choose, and others, too, these are just the more popular ones. For more information, visit the Wed in Central Park website and for more Central Park wedding photos and updates, check out our Facebook page.