Jess, 29, and Nathan, 31, brought twenty five of their family and friends over to New York from their home in Yorkshire, England to get married in Central Park this August. They met seven years ago whilst working on board a cruise ship. Nathan proposed to Jess in New York! She had planned a surprise trip to New York for him for his thirtieth birthday. They flew a week after his birthday, and she presented him with the gift of the tickets on the day of his birthday (so he did get to pack!). Nathan had been planning to propose on their upcoming other vacation that summer, but once he knew they were going to their favorite city for his birthday, he changed his plans. The couple had shared several incredible trips to New York in previous years, so it was already a very special place for them. Nathan got down one knee in Central Park, next to the Ladies’ Pavilion and the Lake. It was a complete surprise to Jess! Of course Jess said yes. They both knew that they were ready to take the next step in their relationship to show commitment to each other for the rest of their lives. They want to start a family, and they wanted the same surname before they did.
They didn’t consider any other locations for their wedding, they had always said that they would get married in New York. So, when Nathan chose the Ladies’ Pavilion as his proposal location, they knew that this should be the place where they would say their vows to each other. They loved Central Park and a big reason why Jess was so excited for her wedding was to show it to her friends and family who hadn’t visited before. Jess knew that a destination wedding was what she wanted “I think that destination weddings are on the rise. I know lots of people who are considering one, or planning one,” she said. “I think they are the perfect way to make a wedding all about the couple and to make memories that will last a life time,” she added, “we particularly enjoyed how our destination wedding brought our families and close friends together for a week, we got to share and make loads of amazing memories together!”
Destination weddings are not without their concerns, though, and Jess did have some worries – the main one being the weather, which turned out to be glorious! She was worried about her dress, and whether it would be too big for a wedding in a public park, and she does say that if she were to do it all again she may choose something lighter, but then again she did look stunning and the dress is beautiful, “I just got very hot in it!” she said. Jess wasn’t able to have hair and makeup trials, with not getting married close to home, so she had been a little worried about that, “But it turned out amazing!” she said. “Every detail I worried about all turned out fine! I wish I hadn’t have worried so much!” Jess said. But I’m sure that’s how all brides feel!
I always ask the couple who get married in Central Park if they have any regrets about not having a “traditional” wedding closer to home, and Jess certainly has no regrets, she has the best of both worlds, “we are having an evening reception at home next month to celebrate with family and friends that couldn’t make it,” she told me. Jess and Nathan stayed in New York for one week, at the Empire Hotel on the Upper West Side, the neighborhood that I always sing the praises of. They had stayed there on their previous trip so they knew they liked it. Lots of their family and friends stayed there too. “But we had others stay at the Beacon Hotel, The New Yorker and The Gramercy and they all had no complaints!” Jess told me.
Jess told me that they were very happy with their decision to have the wedding ceremony in the Ladies’ Pavilion, since it turned out to be so hot. “The Ladies’ Pavilion was lovely on the hot sunny day, as we got a little shelter from the sun whilst we said our vows,” she said. “My favorite photos where at the Ladies’ Pavilion, and after that Claire had planned us a route to follow which included other spots to take photos.” She added, “we also loved our photos of us walking through Central Park, and our photos at the Bethesda Fountain.” Of course they managed to get a picture of the newlyweds kissing in the middle of a road crossing with the traffic behind them!
This wedding was a little bit DIY, due to their talented family. Nathan’s brother from Wood Photography was their photographer, which was lucky for them, and even luckier is Jess’ mum being a part-time photographer so she took the getting ready photos! Jess’ sister is a florist, you can find her on Instagram. She made up the bouquets for the wedding. “She did an amazing job,” said Jess. They went to the flower district on West 28th Street the day before the wedding to buy the flowers they needed. They had already decided on what flowers they wanted and the color scheme before they came and Jess’ sister had made up some mock bouquets. “The flower district was amazing!” Jess told me. “It is a whole street of flower shops full of all different kinds of flowers and at wholesale prices! We got some amazing roses in pink, blush pink and cream and they were amazing, everyone commented on how beautiful they were and what good quality! Amelia got busy making six bouquets and eight buttonholes in our hotel room and we had them all in plastic cups the night before!”
Their ceremony went just how they wanted “the ceremony was wonderful – just how we imagined it!” Jess said. “Our officiant was lovely and made us both feel a lot more relaxed. Claire had written our ceremony wording several months before so we had a chance to read through it several times so that relaxed us, too,” she said. “The ceremony wording was based on questions we had answered about ourselves and our relationship and our family and friends and thanking them for being there,” she explains. They decide to stick to traditional vows and we included a poem called The Art of Marriage which they felt was suited their view of what a marriage should be like. I asked what their guests thought about their decision to get married in Central Park. “They were all very excited and supportive about us getting married in New York, even my mum who is scared of flying and has never flown that far before!” said Jess. “We did have a few family and friends that we invited who couldn’t make it but we totally understood and spoke to them on the day of the wedding so it felt like they were there,” she added. We do have the capability of live streaming a wedding in Central Park over the internet, so your loved ones at home can watch it live. But of course Jess and Nathan had a second party on their return home, so they got to celebrate all over again!
Jess wore a Justin Alexander dress with lace at the top with a low cut back and a stunning train. She purchased it from Angel Brides in Leeds, close to her home. The bridesmaid dresses were from Boohoo, the flower girl dress from Monsoon and the page boy outfit from Next. Nathan got his suit from Slaters, also in Leeds. Jess found her hair and makeup artist, Giselle on Instagram. “We messaged each other lots leading up to the wedding,” Jess told me. “She was so lovely and reassuring as I was so worried about my hair and make up. I had a trial two days before my wedding which was on the day of my hen night, which went amazing, Giselle had really listened to what I wanted and did a fantastic job.” She added, “compared to other quotes I had got Giselle was very well priced and worth every penny!” Her bridesmaids all had their make up done at mac and were very happy with it.
The wedding took place at 3pm, so Jess had breakfast with her side of the family and then spent the morning of the wedding chilling with her mum and sister in their hotel room, opening gifts and watching Sex and the City. “My sister wrote me a lovely letter for my wedding day which made me cry!” she said. “I also opened my card from Nathan that he had left for me which was lovely!” she added.
The ceremony took place in the Ladies’ Pavilion. The officiant read the poem The Art Of A Good Marriage by Wilferd Arlan Peterson. After that, they walked through Central Park, taking photos, and went on to the Tavern on the Green. “We had a few drinks there before getting cabs to our wedding reception which we had at Hardings in the Flatiron district,” Jess said. They had their meal and speeches there, and then walked round the block to their sister restaurant, Casa Neta, where they had hired and decorated a room where they could play their own music. They had brought their decorations from home with the help of their guests, who each brought some in their suitcases. That is where they did their first dance, cut the cake and Jess threw her bouquet. “The staff at both venues were very accommodating,” Jess said, “we had our own signature cocktails made up at Casa Neta – one chosen by me and one chose by Nathan and paid for a two hour free bar package.
I asked if they had any places they would like to recommend for anyone visiting New York, and Jess had a list for me! “We got our cake and cupcakes for the wedding from Magnolia Bakery, their cakes are amazing the best we have ever had!” Jess said. “Our guests even went to purchase more after they’d eaten theirs!” she added. They love the walk across Brooklyn Bridge and exploring Dumbo on the other side. They recommend Katz’s Deli for a quick bite. “Our favorite place for breakfast is Cafe Viand, on 75th Street and Broadway, we go here every time we go without fail and our guests fell in love with it too!” Jess told me. They loved the rooftop bar at the Empire Hotel, where they stayed. “We finished our nights back here many nights after we had been out,” Jess said. “We also had a breakfast buffet in the Empire Hotel the morning after the wedding with all our quests,” she added. “Ray’s Pizza is definitely the best place in New York to grab a slice!” she told me. And they also recommend the hop on, hop off bus tours and the Staten Island Ferry for great ways to see the sights.
I asked what advice they would give others who might be considering getting married in Central Park. “You should most definitely do it!” said Jess. “We would do it all again in a heartbeat!” she added. “We planned and budgeted for everything which really helped! We did lots of planning before we went, so when we got there we only had a few things to do then we were set!” she said. They got their wedding favors for their guests from the souvenir shops – they got magnets and toy taxis for the children, and Jess said that they went down a treat! “I would definitely recommend Wed in Central Park and Claire! We couldn’t have done it without her! She literally made the whole process so easy and stress free! All we needed to do on the day was turn up!” said Jess. They were lucky to have a photographer and a florist in the family, so they were able to get the Just the Ceremony package from my website, and have an awesome wedding at a reduced cost. “Claire was always very helpful when we had and queries and I did have a few!” Jess said, I do like a bride with questions, and Jess was obviously the sort of person who loves a clear plan. “Claire always had all the answers and was very reassuring,” she added.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Jess and Nathan, 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 in Central Park and New York.