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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.