Lucy (aged 39) and David Williams (aged 36) both from Wordsley in the West Midlands, UK, brought their friends and family over to New York in February to witness their long-awaited wedding in the Ladies’ Pavilion. The couple met through David’s brother Andrew, who was their best man, and Lucy’s best friend Michelle, who was her bridesmaid. Andrew and Michelle introduced Lucy and David at an Oasis and Stone Roses tribute night. They have been together for over thirteen years. “Most of our family and friends think our marriage has been a long time coming and had basically give up on it ever happening,” Lucy told me.
Lucy and David have never been in any rush to marry, but then David decided that, on his terms, when he felt ready, he would like Lucy to be his wife because she’d always been there for him and by his side through everything and he’d like that to be forever. “David is not romantic at all but he proposed in the most romantic way possible – on a blue-skied day at the top of the Empire State Building in New York City,” said Lucy. It wasn’t David’s first plan; he’d planned to do it in their hotel rooftop bar, but when they arrived at the hotel, it was closed for a refurbishment. He carried the ring around in his pocket for three days before finding the right moment. At the point when he asked Lucy, they were overlooking Central Park and discussing what a fabulous view it was. David then claimed he could improve the view…and he did, by presenting Lucy with a gorgeous engagement ring he had chosen himself back in January.
Getting married is important to Lucy and David because after living together, backpacking together, renovating a house together and realising what a strong team they were they wanted to finally make their team official and legally binding. They had also discussed the exciting prospect of starting a family and, for them, sharing the same surname as their children is really important.
Originally, Lucy and David wanted to get married in the Alps. Snowboarding is a passion they both share and they both love the snow and the cold. “From the get go, we knew we would have small, intimate destination wedding,” said Lucy. Once they started researching this, they realised the many pitfalls of a wedding in the Alps, from it not being legal (France) to the ceremony being conducted in German (Austria – where it was legal). It was important to Lucy and David that, if they were asking family and friends to travel to celebrate their marriage with them, the wedding would be legally binding there and then and the ceremony would not be ‘lost in translation’. Then, on a night out with friends, David began talking out loud about what they really wanted – cold, snow, outside ceremony, a ceremony in English, a destination wedding, in a location they loved which meant something to them. Then the light bulb moment happened…why not ‘book end’ the engagement with a winter wedding outside in New York City? So, later that night, when he returned home (after a few beers!) he put the idea to Lucy. Lucy agreed! When they started to suggest to close family and friends that this is where it might be, they were overwhelmed, surprised and excited by the positive responses. So, the research for an outdoor space and NYC wedding planner began!
“One of the best weddings we have ever been to was my brother’s,” Lucy told me. He got married in Lindos in Greece, seven years ago. “Destination weddings are definitely becoming more popular,” she says. They have several friends who got married either abroad (Cyprus, Greece, Spain) or some distance away in the UK (Stratford, Cornwall). “Personally, a destination wedding was the only way that we were ever going to get married,” she explained. “It was a way to maintain the privacy, intimacy and individuality that we both wanted. It’s also a fabulous way to cut out the ‘obligatory’ invites which many couples feel the pressure to send,” she added. It meant that they got to spend quality time (ie more than just a couple of hours) with the people whom they love most in the world, as well as each other. “We didn’t want to feel the pressure of having to circulate amongst a large group, being the centre attention and missing spending time with the person it was actually all about – each other” Lucy said. The cost was nowhere near what it could have been in the UK and they found that in the US, just because it was a wedding did not impact on the price of things. “In fact, we had several lovely gestures and ‘extras’ thrown in by different places because it was a wedding,” Lucy enthused.
A destination wedding also made Lucy and David’s celebration about more than just one day. They were fortunate enough to spend a week celebrating with family and friends. At their age (36 and 39), when else would they be in a city like New York with their siblings and parents all in one place? “Especially when you consider that David’s dad is 72 and one of my brothers lives with his wife in Australia, whilst my other brother lives with his wife in Worthing” Lucy said. This was a great opportunity to get all their nearest and dearest together. Whilst Lucy and David had some disappointments, they had no regrets about a destination wedding at all. The only family members they invited were siblings and parents. As for friends, some of them made it, some of them didn’t. Those that didn’t, they were Lucy and David’s one disappointment – not because they couldn’t make the journey, “we understood that – it was a lot to ask both cost and time-wise, but more how some of our friends handled it” Lucy explained, “one person to this day still has not sent an RSVP!” Whilst this did not spoil their day at all, they were a little upset by it. But, Lucy and David don’t deny that this is the risk you take with a destination wedding. They just weren’t prepared to marry in the more conventional way that other people would have preferred.
Lucy and David chose Central Park for many reasons: they were overlooking it when David proposed; they wanted to get married outside; they didn’t want to marry on a rooftop – Lucy tells me that she is scared of heights; “Central Park is just a beautiful calm peaceful oasis in the middle of a fabulous city, and the Ladies’ Pavilion was used in a scene in one of my favourite films, Sex and the City 2,” said Lucy. David and Lucy said that they had no concerns at all about getting married in New York; just pure excitement! “After considering the Alps, the legalities of it all were very easy in comparison, and there were no language barriers!” said Lucy. The only concern they had about getting married in Central Park was after they learned that I could not apply for their event permit from the Central Park Conservancy until the December before their wedding in February. This is a policy of the Conservancy that all of my couples who marry in the first few months of the year find very frustrating, but they inform me that it is due to yearly budgeting constraints. “It felt like really short notice and we struggled to believe that all would go smoothly – but it did, as Claire said it would!” said Lucy.
Their ceremony was at the Ladies’ Pavilion in Central Park; a wrought-iron structure chosen because it offered some shelter should they have had any bad weather, which they did. Their favourite pictures were taken on the rocks with the lake behind them, at Bethesda Terrace and Fountain and later on at Grand Central. “David loves the Grand Central building and so it was his decision to have photographs there,” Lucy explained. “This turned out to be the perfect choice as it did rain a little, and the photos were just fabulous!” she said. “Bethesda Terrace is such a romantic and beautiful place. The ceiling of the Arcade is absolutely amazing and how their photographer played around with light and shade there created some simply stunning photos,” Lucy said. As I often proudly tell people, those tiles on that ceiling were made in my home town of Stoke on Trent in the 1860s when it was built and they’re still made in my home town today. They said that they got such lovely photos because the place was deserted, probably because of the rain. “Every cloud has a silver lining!” said Lucy. David and Lucy also loved their more fun and candid photos. The one of them hailing a cab is one of their favourite shots as it encompasses NYC and their faces are brimming over with the happiness they felt.
“The ceremony was perfect in terms of timing and content,” said Lucy. I write all my ceremonies with my couples, so everyone has exactly what suits them. Theirs was around fifteen minutes long and included two readings – by Lucy’s older brothers. The vows Lucy and David said to each other were very personal, “we loved how we could have an input into what was said and how much was said by the officiant,” Lucy explained. They did not want to say too much themselves and so handing over to the officiant was a dream come true for them both. David is not fond of public speaking and Lucy knew that the less she said the better, because she knew that her emotions would take over and she would cry, which she did! The officiant shared the story of how they met, how David proposed and some of their best experiences together as well as thanking all of the guests for making the journey out to New York to be there on such a special day. “Being able to review and edit the vows before their wedding day was a great way to include exactly what we wanted to in our ceremony so that it was a true reflection of us as a couple,” said Lucy. They also really loved having a guitarist play and sing some of their favourite songs before, during and after the ceremony.
David and Lucy had fifteen guests in total: both sets of parents, Lucy’s brothers and their wives, David’s brother and best man, Lucy’s best friend and bridesmaid and five very close friends. Their decision to marry in Central Park caused nothing but excitement amongst their guests. “They were all very vocal about how much they were looking forward to it and knew it was going to be amazing – and it was,” said Lucy. They all commented that it was one of the best weddings they had been to, and one guest said that it was “like a fairytale.” Lucy had organised ‘wedding packs’ for every guest which included walking maps, so they also enjoyed getting to see and little more of the beautiful Central Park, as well as sampling a few drinks at the Tavern on the Green.
Lucy wore an ivory wedding dress. It was a tulle ball gown design with crystal beaded detailing, straps and an embroidered bodice. David wore a navy tweed suit with a grey waistcoat and red tie. Lucy had an organically inspired garden bouquet composed of wintry tones of deep red and white seasonal blooms including roses, ranunculus, tulips, lisianthus, and peony, trailed with slight sprays of textural greenery. It was tied with a double-sided satin white ribbon. Fathers of the bride and groom, Lucy’s brothers and David’s best man had dark red spray rose boutonnieres whilst the Mothers of the bride and groom and Lucy’s bridesmaid had purse corsages with navy blue and white ribbons.
Lucy, her mum and her bridesmaid had professional hair and make-up done in Lucy’s hotel suite on the morning of the wedding. Lucy said that this was one of her favourite things that she did before their wedding. The hair and make-up artists were so much fun and made Lucy, her mum and bridesmaid look and feel just amazing! It was such a relaxed morning, during which they listened to music, drank prosecco and were made to feel simply beautiful. They were all thrilled with their hair and make-up and it looked pretty perfect right up until 2am! David, together with his best man and a close friend, went to a traditional New York City barbershop for a shave – complete with hot towels, moisturizers, oils, tipped back in the chair, it provided a bit of enforced relaxation for the nervous groom!
Lucy purchased her wedding dress from a local shop, Hagley Bridal Studio, who she said were fabulous. Buying locally meant that she could pop in pretty much whenever she liked for another try on or to match the dress with different accessories. This was a real advantage when it came to Lucy and her bridesmaid choosing their fur coats. They believe that between them they must have ordered and tried on around twenty! The dress was a Madeline Gardner New York design, appropriately. When Lucy wore her dress, she says she felt just amazing and didn’t want to take it off! After Hagley Bridal Studio suggested it, Lucy chose to wear a petticoat with a hoop underneath and believes that this made walking around Central Park and NYC so much easier! The dress glided with her rather than against her.
On the day of their wedding, Lucy and David left the guests for two hours at the Tavern on the Green whilst their photographer Jakub Redziniak took them for photos around Central Park and at Grand Central. This time away from the guests not only resulted in some fantastic photographs, but also meant that they had some quality time together to process that they had just got married and enjoy their first couple of hours as husband and wife, “it was just lovely and we treasured this time very much,” said Lucy. After this, once they had returned to their guests at the Tavern on the Green, they organised taxis to The Milling Room where they had booked a private dining room. “The food and staff were absolutely amazing and communication with us throughout the planning process was excellent,” said Lucy. “We selected our menu choices, added our own logo to the menu, and decorated the private dining room, and helped them to choose wines to accompany dinner,” she said. Guests commented that it was the best meal they had ever had – Lucy and David agree that the food really was phenomenal. After a three-course dinner and speeches, they caught taxis to Refinery Rooftop – a rooftop bar at the top of their hotel where they had booked an area overlooking the Empire State Building where Lucy and David got engaged. They said that they would strongly recommend you book an area if you wanted to do something like this as the bar was packed, especially being winter, as not all rooftop bars can accommodate the public comfortably during the winter months. They arrived here at around 10pm, freshened up in their room, then partied the night away until 2am! There was already a DJ on, who took requests, and they also had table service. The management even opened up the outdoor area for a few close-up photographs with Empire State in the background behind the happy couple!
Lucy and David and the majority of their guests stayed at the Refinery Hotel. A small group of guests stayed at the Archer Hotel. “Both hotels were fantastic!” said Lucy. All of the guests met at the rooftop bar at the nearby Archer the night before the wedding. Lucy and David ate at many different restaurants, to suit all budgets. Their favourites were The River Café (for utterly awesome views, service, food and cocktails), Bryant Park Grill (for great service, food and a more chilled vibe overlooking Bryant park) and Black Tap (for phenomenal burgers and shakes). They’d also recommend heading over to Brooklyn for a completely different, but equally as enjoyable, vibe to Manhattan.
I asked Lucy for any final comments that she’d like to pass on, and she said, “for anyone who would like a wedding that’s a little bit different, more intimate, with stunning views, in a city where people and places are totally awesome, then opt for Central Park and choose Claire at Wed in Central Park as your planner. From start to finish, Claire has been just brilliant and we can’t thank her enough for her support, advice, knowledge, contacts, organisation and suggestions. A wedding should be about the two people getting married and it should be a happy occasion. With Claire’s help, ours definitely was a stress-free and absolutely awesome day! Our only regret about getting married in Central Park is that it’s all over! But at least we have a reason to return…we’re already planning our wedding anniversary celebrations!” Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Lucy and David, and I wish you lots of happiness for the future. I look forward to seeing photos of your children snowboarding on the Alps in years to come.
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