Sophie and Ben got married in Central Park this January. Sophie is 25, Ben is 28 and they are from Northamptonshire in England. They met at work. Ben hired Sophie in 2014 and was her boss for a while. They have been together since 2015. They got engaged in Central Park in January 2017. Ben proposed beside Bethesda Fountain, and after Sophie had said yes they went to Tiffany’s on 5th Avenue to collect the ring he has chosen.
A January wedding wasn’t their original plan. When they booked their wedding with me it was for November 2018. Then the couple had the wonderful news that they were expecting a baby in October, so they decided to move the date back a little. They wanted to be married for the stability of the family. Sophie has two daughters and now they have a baby son together. “We just felt as if we were ready for that commitment,” Sophie told me. “It is important that the children feel they have a secure life, like Ben did growing up, his parents have been married 30 years last year, his grandparents the same, married all of their adult lives. We wanted that for our family” she said.
Central Park hadn’t been their first choice for a wedding location. “We actually booked a pretty big wedding here in Northamptonshire, at a beautiful venue.” Sophie told me. “We had booked the registrar, and were in the process of sorting photographers, cakes etc, but we had a conversation one day about how that just was not for us – the thought of 180 people staring at us and being there for us made me want to faint!” she explained. I hear this so much – couples start down the road of planning a traditional big wedding at home and then they realize that it just isn’t for them. So, once they decided that they wouldn’t enjoy a big wedding, they started to think about other options. “Almost straight away we thought of New York!” said Sophie.
I asked Sophie if she thinks destination weddings are on the increase. “I don’t really know much about them to be honest,” she said. “I’m in a few wedding groups on social media and destination weddings in places like Cyprus and Italy are popular, but those places are just not for us,” she told me. Sophie explained that a destination wedding wasn’t really a deliberate choice for them, “the choice of location was more about coupling up our favorite city with the biggest milestone of our lives; plus we got engaged there too so it was very special to us!” she said.
I asked if they had any regrets about their decision not to have a “traditional” wedding closer to home, as was their first plan. “None, whatsoever,” said Sophie. “All of our family and some of our friends came to the wedding, minus my Gran,” she told me. “We would have liked some of our other friends to have been there but that’s not always a possibility, which is something you just have to accept with a destination wedding,” she said. I can’t argue with that, there are pros and cons to escaping to somewhere fantastic for your wedding, and sometimes you just have to accept that not everyone can be there. “Two of our friends did manage to make it though; their cruise from their honeymoon ended in New York on the day of our wedding so they were able to join us!” Sophie told me. Their guests were close family; their three children and their parents and siblings, and some very close friends.
I asked if they were nervous about anything when planning their wedding from England. “Yes, we had some concerns,” said Sophie. They were a little worried about getting their licence on time, since they arrived on the Thursday, had to get the license on the Friday and they got married on the Saturday. But in the end they had lots of time to get the license – in fact they were up bright and early on the Friday and they walked from their Upper West Side hotel all the way downtown to City Hall.
They also worried about the weather; a common concern for anyone getting married outdoors, but a perfectly reasonable on in New York in January! Anything can happen at this time of year! In fact, a snow storm was forecast for the weekend, and we were watching the weather forecast closely. In the end it snowed a little before the wedding day, but it had melted by Saturday, and then the big snowfall came the following day. It was very, very cold that weekend in New York, though. Sophie is a big Gossip Girl fan, so they stayed at the Empire Hotel when they visited. It is very close to Central Park so they were able to walk there, which I think is a lovely thing to do on your wedding day. They stayed for eight nights.
It turned out that on their wedding day there was a women’s march through the city, so Central Park West was closed. With that and the weather forecast we were in close contact in the days in the run-up to the wedding. “There was a road closure all down Central Park West, literally where we were staying and where we needed to go,” Sophie said. “Claire told us and everyone else involved as soon as she knew about it. Nothing at all that could have been done but she made sure all people involved knew where to go, how else to get into the park etc!” Myself and the fabulous people I work with made sure that everyone was kept informed of the changing situation with road closures and we ensured that all went as smoothly as possible.
They day passed in quite a whirl and Sophie said that she felt like she forgot most of the ceremony. It took place in the Ladies’ Pavilion, and Sophie’s mum gave her away. “I am so glad we had a videographer because neither of us remember a lot of it, we were so scared and nervous it just flew by,” she said. “The guests said it was so beautiful. No idea what we said to each other!” She laughed. Luckily, we had the officiant do most of the talking, with a good introduction detailing their relationship to this point, and thanking everyone involved with the wedding. Ben had necklaces to give to Sophie’s two daughters to symbolize his commitment to them as their stepfather, and we incorporated that in to the ceremony, before the exchange of rings between Sophie and Ben.
Sophie had purchased a wedding dress and shoes in advance of the wedding. I am so impressed with her managing to do that just a few months after giving birth. Her dress came from Anna McDonald Bridal Gallery, in Thame, Oxfordshire. The designer was Wendy Makin. On the morning of the wedding she decided to give up on he wedding shoes, though and switched to her Converse! Sophie and her bridesmaids carried blush and white bouquets with ranunculus, garden rose and lisianthus to create a textured feel. Sophie’s maid of honor did everyone’s hair and make up!
Because it was so cold, we had the guests take some group photos with the couple at the Ladies’ Pavilion and then they left to go back to their hotel to warm up. Sophie and Ben continued with the photographer for more photos around Bow Bridge and Bethesda Terrace before returning to the hotel to meet everyone and get warm themselves. They had a few drinks there and took Gossip Girl style photos in the lobby. Then they went over to the Tavern on the Green for their dinner, and then back to the Empire Hotel for drinks in their rooftop bar. “The Tavern on the Green was amazing, the food was incredible,” said Sophie.
I asked Sophie how we did. “I’d recommend Claire and Wed In Central Park to anyone, our wedding was amazing, the guests loved it and even though we had been nervous because we weren’t planning the wedding ourselves, we literally had nothing to worry about!” she said. I asked if she had any advice for anyone considering getting married in Central Park. “Go for it,” she said. “It’s amazing and you will not regret it!” Great advice.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Sophie and Ben, I wish you lots of luck for the future. If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, whatever the time of year, visit our website, or follow us on Pinterest where we pin all things New York or wedding-related, “like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Instagram for lovely photos of happy couples.