I have been planning weddings in Central Park since 2012, just after I got married there myself in 2011. I’ve done hundreds since then. When people first contact me, they often say “I just don’t know where to start”. This post is aimed at the absolute beginner; the person who has just had the idea to get married in Central Park and is starting down the road of figuring out what to do and how to make their dream wedding happen in this beautiful location. The first thing to do is to decide on what time of year you are coming to New York and who, if anyone, you are bringing with you. A lot of the choices you make will depend on these things.
Of course I think you should hire someone who has done this many times before to help you plan your wedding in Central Park. A seasoned wedding planner can answer all of your questions quickly and more thoroughly than online searches or word of mouth, and they can tailor their advice and suggestions just for you, based on what you tell them. And, more specifically, I think there are lots of reasons why I am the right person to help you to plan your wedding in Central Park. I’ve been doing this for six years and I’ve planned around 250 weddings in that time. It’s rare to be asked a question that I haven’t been asked before, and I can usually deal with any queries or requests.
If you decide to go it alone, then you will need to sort out your own paperwork, and apply for an event permit for your wedding. I can do it for you, but if you get your own, you will need to decide which of the many lovely ceremony locations in Central Park you want to have your wedding in. I can help couples to decide which one suits them, depending on what they value most – a rustic feel, a stunning view, privacy, seating, a roof, or just being pretty close to everything else. All of the locations have their pros and cons. Think about which spot you would prefer to say your vows in. Keep in mind that you can always have photos taken in the other locations.
All couples who marry in New York must go to City Hall at least 24 hours in advance of their ceremony to get a marriage license. I can tell couples what they need to do to get their license, but it is a legal requirement that the couple get it themselves. This is where you prove to an official that you are who you say you are. You must bring your license with you to the ceremony, and then you sign it afterwards, along with a witness. Then you can leave it with your officiant who will get back to City Hall for you. They will register your marriage and then mail your certificate to you, no matter where in the world you live. Alternatively, you can take the license back to City Hall yourself, if you wish to pick up your license in person. I can tell you everything you need to do to get the short certificate, or the long certificate and apostille, or one of our people can collect them for you, for a fee.
One very important part of your wedding is the officiant. You cannot have just anyone perform your ceremony if you need it to be legally binding, they must be a New York State registered officiant. I write the ceremonies for each couple individually. I ask a series of questions that allows me to write something personal to them. If you find your own officiant, make sure that you are happy with however they do it – some will have a standard ceremony wording, and some will write the ceremony with you. And of course, check their reviews.
Next comes all the other stuff – the photographer, video, flowers, musician, hair and makeup, transport and so on. The people I work with are all reliable, experienced and enthusiastic about weddings. If you are going to choose someone from the vast choice that New York offers, then make sure you read all the reviews that you can find. I’ve heard stories of couples being let down by their vendors and there’s little they can do about it. I have a good relationship with all the people I work with, and we value our relationship, so the people I book for your wedding won’t let me down. I’ve worked with a couple of not so reliable people in the past, and I just stop working with them. Think about what sort of feel you want your wedding to have, and what music you like, that will help you to choose a musician. Consider where you want to take photos; will just a short time in Central Park be enough for you, then you want to get down to the important business of celebrating; or do you want to take a day travelling around New York City taking photos in incredible places? Discuss your options with your photographer or your wedding planner, and really picture how your day will go; make sure that you’ll be making the most of it – whatever that may mean to you.
Many couples take their guests off to somewhere fabulous to eat and celebrate the wedding. It might be a restaurant, a show, a tour of the city in a cool vehicle, or many couples choose a dinner cruise on the Hudson. New York has a vast choice of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. Be sure that you have a good plan of timings for your day before booking any evening celebrations. Consider how long the ceremony will be and which locations you want to capture photographs in, and estimate how long that will take. That will hep you decide how long you will be in Central Park for, and also help you to decide how long you will need a photographer for. Also, you will need to estimate how long it will take you to travel to and from Central Park, and I do advise that you add on a little time to allow for Manhattan’s unpredictable traffic! Don’t plan a rushed day, try to leave some time for a little rest and for some alone time for the two of you, especially if you have a large group and if you have a lot planned. I do this for all my couples well in advance of the wedding and I think a clear and properly thought-out plan makes couples feel more relaxed about the whole thing.
It’s all as simple as that! There’s no need to do anything to register your marriage back home. A wedding in New York is legally binding elsewhere. As long as you get your license 24 hours before the ceremony, that is all that is required of you! Some people will choose to have someone like me who has lots of experience of this guide them through the process to save time and effort and to feel sure that all will go to plan on the day. Some people will enjoy doing all the searching and organising themselves. Either way, a wedding in Central Park is sure to be a unique and memorable experience for the couple and their guests!
For more information to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, visit our website, where we have lots of helpful information, or “like” us on Facebook for advice and inspirational posts, follow us on Instagram for some lovely photos of happy couples, and follow us on Pinterest where we pin like crazy with all things New York or wedding-related.