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 this September. They have been together for six years and have a three and a half year old son, Harry.
They met at a wedding, and they got engaged in New York City. The wedding where they met was Andrew’s cousin’s and when he proposed Zoe’s parents and both her sisters and their partners were present. So, family is a big part of their story. Andrew proposed on a cold and windy November night on top of the Empire State Building. Their son was a year and a half old at the time, and Andrew put a vest on him which said “mummy, will you marry daddy?” and then he got down on one knee. They already share the strong bond of parenthood, but marriage felt like an important stage in their relationship, “marriage is important to me as it feels like we are one unit. I love having the same name as my small family. I feel linked to Andrew in a special way being his wife,” said Zoe.
They discussed getting married at home in Scotland, but they decided that it wasn’t for them. “We aren’t people who would enjoy the attention of a hundred guests,” Zoe told me. “We also thought it would be very pricey as we both have large families,” she said, “and we didn’t want to plan our wedding around trying to please other people.” All these points are excellent ones, and reasons that many of my clients tell me drove them to choose a destination wedding with just a small group. They also considered getting married in Orlando, but Zoe decided that she didn’t much like the idea of getting married in that heat and humidity. Also, they felt that New York was a suitable location for a shorter stay, and a more appropriate length of time for a trip with a group of guests. They felt that an Orlando trip could end up turning in to a two-week honeymoon with their closest family, which wasn’t what they wanted!
After some discussion, they knew that they wanted a destination wedding. “I love the idea of elopements and destination weddings, they are fun and very different,” said Zoe. “I think they are becoming a lot more popular because people don’t want to spend a fortune and are looking for something different and unique,” she added. I asked her if she had any regrets about not having a traditional wedding closer to home. “Not one bit,” she said. “There were a few people that couldn’t make it, but I know they wished us all the luck and love in the world. There was also a select few that we were thankful couldn’t make it,” she added, laughing.
Zoe and Andrew turned to the internet for inspiration. “I can remember searching the internet for information about weddings in New York, I was day dreaming and thinking this would never be finically possible,” Zoe told me. “I came across Claire’s website Wed in Central Park and decided to look further into the idea of marrying in Central Park,” she said. “I was very surprised that her prices were within our budget but I thought it was too good to be true so I emailed her without telling family and friends about the idea in case there were some sneaky hidden charges or the website wasn’t legit,” she said. This is a tricky one for me. There is a vast range of prices couples can pay to get married in New York and Central Park. Some (travel agents in particular) must be taking a huge profit, and some wedding planners charge much more that I do because they offer other parts of the service that I don’t think are necessary so I take them out to save costs, but I’m not the cheapest! I do try my best to find high quality people to work with on our weddings who don’t cost the earth; that has always been my aim.
I asked Zoe if she had any worries about their decision to get married in Central Park. “Yes, many,” she said. “I worried at the start that I was sending money to someone I didn’t know and then I would let people down by trusting someone I barely knew,” she admitted. Again, this is a tricky one for me. I ask for as small a deposit as I possibly can to secure all the people involved, and then I hold off for the balance until two weeks before the wedding, to try to avoid too much worry, because we will have done most of the planning by the time the wedding is two weeks away, and generally couples feel much more confident about handing over their money by this point. Also, this blog exists just to prove that we are a legitimate business, planning real weddings for real people.
Zoe and Andrew stayed in New York for a week, in the Bentley Hotel on the Upper East Side. “It was a lovely hotel and good to get away from the madness of Times Square,” said Zoe. My thoughts precisely. I love the Upper East Side, it’s very close to Central Park, has great places to eat and lots of beautiful buildings. It baffles me why so many visitors stay in Times Square, when it’s so very busy and expensive. “A few guests felt it a little out the way but we enjoyed it,” said Zoe. I don’t think anywhere below 110th Street in Manhattan is out of the way, but I know that others disagree!
Zoe and Andrew had twenty-three guests at their wedding. “Our family and friends were astounded when we said we asked if they would consider coming to New York to witness us getting married,” Zoe told me. “Many of them were surprised that everything went so smoothly and that we actually did pull off a wedding in Central Park!” she added.
Zoe wore a full wedding gown in ivory. She carried artificial flowers, which she had brought from home, to save money. She was a little reluctant to buy them but she was very happy with them and now she gets to keep them forever. Zoe and her ladies decided to do their own hair and makeup, also to save money. They had professional hair and makeup lessons at home and practised doing each others’ hair several times before the trip. I think it paid off and they all look fantastic.
As I mentioned previously, and as you can probably tell by the photos of the men and little guy in kilts, Zoe and Andrew are Scottish. And they wanted to keep a Scottish feel to their wedding, so we arranged for our bagpiper to meet Zoe at the entrance to Central Park and walk in with her, piping as they went. We kept the ceremony fairly short. “Andrew and I don’t like the focus on ourselves for too long so we asked for a pretty short ceremony where we had traditional vows and mentioned a couple of stories based on us meeting and about our family and those who couldn’t be with us,” said Zoe. “The ceremony was just perfect, our favourite part was when our officiant welcomed all our guests to Central Park at the start, it brought it home that this was our dream wedding come true,” she added.
The wedding ceremony took place in the Ladies’ Pavilion. “Our favourite pictures were taken there and at Bow Bridge,” Zoe said. “I liked these areas for their beauty and tranquillity from the mad inner city.” Our photographer also 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.
Afterwards, 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. They had tentative plans to go out partying afterwards, but in the end they were all worn out and decided to head to bed after that.
I asked Zoe if she had any advice to share with other couples considering a wedding in Central Park. She advised that anyone even considering it a little bit should look in to it. “It might seem like an impossible dream, but through Claire’s professionalism and expertise our dream wedding actually came true,” she said. She also suggested that couples ask me lots of questions through the planning process. I agree. “It settles your nerves,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to ask Claire anything; she has a wealth of information waiting to be shared. Trust Claire with her recommendations. Every little thing was just perfect due to her fantastic service.” Thanks so much for your kind words, Zoe. And thank you for sharing your story with us. I have long considered making it a condition of my contracts with Scottish couples that the men folk wear kilts, but after seeing your gorgeous little boy Harry dressed so smartly, I’m thinking of adding that in for little boys, too! I wish the three of you lots of luck for the future.
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