I am a wedding planner for couples who want to get married in Central Park. A decision that couples have to make quite early on in the wedding planning process is choosing a date and time and location for their wedding ceremony. We must have the event permit from the Central Park Conservancy to be certain that we have secured the location for the ceremony, and people often like to have that confirmed early on.
I have planned around 180 weddings to date with Wed in Central Park and I have found that the most popular time for a wedding is early afternoon. I think many brides like to have the morning to get ready and to build the excitement for the wedding in the afternoon. We usually suggest allowing around two hours in Central Park, for the ceremony, the paperwork and all the photographs. Then after that wedding parties tend to go on to various other places; either to a bar or restaurant, or maybe on to a cruise or somewhere like the Top of the Rock for more photos.
My advice to couples when considering what time they want to get married is to think about what else they want to do that day and that evening and work backwards from there. What a couple might want to do with their wedding day will depend on who they have with them on the day. If they are eloping and it is just the two of them, then they will have lots of options on what else they can do in New York City to make it a memorable day. I wrote a blog post with my suggestions on what to do in New York on your wedding day.
If the wedding party includes older people or children then their needs will have to be taken in to account when planning the activities for the day and evening. Sometimes couples allow for their party to pop back to their hotels to freshen up in between the wedding and the evening, some decide that it is best for the entire party to stay out and keep together for things to run smoothly.
The most common thing to do by far, in my experience, is to keep close to tradition and take the party somewhere for something to eat. Many parties book a table or private room in a restaurant, depending on group size. So if this is what you plan to do, then think about what time you want to eat, consider the travel time from Central Park to the restaurant, allow time for all the things you want to do in Central Park after the ceremony, such as taking photos in all the locations you like, and then that will help you to decide what time the ceremony should be. This is a big part of what I do during the wedding planning process, and how I can help, because I have made this sort of plan for lots of couples many times before.
The time of year will influence my advice on the best time for a wedding in Central Park. I would not suggest having a ceremony in the direct sun in the middle of the day in high summer. Nobody will be looking or feeling their best in that situation. Conversely, if it is winter time, then the middle of the day would be a better time to get married, because the light will be better for the photographs. A sunset wedding is a great idea in the summer time, but the sun sets so quickly in the winter that you would be risking it getting too dark too quickly to get good photos. If you want Central Park to be at its most peaceful, then an early morning ceremony would be most suitable, and then you have the day free to fit in lots of fun things to do during your first day as a married couple.
I got married on the 1st of July when it is very hot in Manhattan. So, we decided that the best time for us was late morning. We were living on the Upper East Side at the time. We had two guests who were friends from New York, and our dog. We got married in the Ladies’ Pavilion in the shade, then had photos taken around the Park, dropped the dog off at home, then went for lunch with our guests in Midtown. Then our friends went back to their homes, and we went back to our home. We called our families at home in the UK, chilled out for a while, then walked to a nearby restaurant with views of the East River to celebrate the start of our married lives, just the two of us. It was quiet, and hassle-free and it worked for us.
This is the beauty of getting married in Central Park, or some other non-traditional location; you get to choose how you want to do it. This is true about all of it; what you say to each other, what you wear, where you go to celebrate, and what time you have the ceremony. We at Wed in Central Park can help you to have the unique ceremony that suits you as a couple. I always advise couples to think through exactly what they want to do and then we work out the best time to do everything else, and that helps us to decide when is best for their ceremony time.