Something this blog has been lacking is a general introduction to the basics about what a couple need to now about getting married in New York. I’ve planned over three hundred weddings now, including the first wedding I planned, which was my own! So, I know a thing or two about weddings in New York City, in particular; weddings in Central Park. But of course after our couples get married in Central Park, they go out on to the streets of the city to continue their celebrations. A while back I wrote an introduction to getting married in Central Park. In this blog I offer advice on lots of subjects that should be useful to anyone planning a wedding anywhere in New York. I discuss photo location suggestions, what to keep in mind when planning an outdoor wedding, how to keep stress levels low, what to wear, how to make a destination wedding easy on your guests, what else to do in New York on your wedding day and a (rather biased) debate about whether Central Park or City Hall is the best place to get married (it’s Central Park), along with so much more specific advice that I hope is useful. So, this is my basic introduction to anyone considering coming to New York to get married.
You need to get your license yourselves
Nobody else can do this for you. I can tell you what you need to do and answer any questions, but it’s pretty straightforward. It is possibly the dullest part of your wedding but it’s the part where you show proof to an official that you are who you say you are, so it’s important. The couple must go to City Hall together to pick up their license. I wrote a blog about getting your marriage license in New York some time ago.
You must have at least one witness but you can have two
The legal requirement is for a couple to have at least one witness to their wedding. There is space on the license for two witnesses, though. So, you can have one or two people witness your wedding. If you’re eloping, you can ask your photographer to be your witness. If you don’t have a photographer, we can help you to find someone to be your witness.
You can get married almost anywhere
You can marry in any of the public parks in New York City, and of course the vast majority of the weddings that we are involved with take place in Central Park. A permit is advised for a larger group marrying in a public park in New York City, and these vary in price, depending on location. Think about what you want from your ceremony, and what sort of backdrop you’d like and how much privacy you want. You can always take photos in the other locations you love, but you may have unique needs for the spot where you say “I do”.
The food choice is second to none!
The culinary world is truly your oyster in New York! There are so many awesome places to eat in the city, so you really will be spoilt for choice. Spend some time thinking about what you as a couple want to eat on your wedding day and what your guests would like, but also think about the trip as a whole, and how you can eat all that tasty food during the whole trip – that may make it easier to narrow down your choices for your wedding day.
You will get lots of attention
One generalisation about New Yorkers that I have found to be true is that they are not shy. If they see a wedding, or a couple walking around the city in their wedding gear, then they are likely to give their congratulations. I’ve been around Central Park and the main iconic places in New York City with newlywed couples and they have been thoroughly papped! Tourists and locals alike stop to take photos of newlyweds and often pass on their good wishes. The public do not interrupt a ceremony, but if you want peace and quiet while you get married then we can recommend ceremony locations that are quieter and more private.
Relax about your hair and makeup
You can get your hair and makeup done in your hotel room, or in a salon, a blow dry bar, or a store. There are lots of options to have you looking your best for your wedding day. Keep in mind when choosing your hair and makeup look that you’re going to be out and about all day. If you’re getting married outdoors, consider the weather. If it’s windy or very hot then try to choose a look that will withstand the weather.
Your photos won’t look like a photo shoot
In advance of your wedding, you may have been looking at lots of photos of beautiful couples in iconic locations around the city. Some of these will be real couples, but many of them will be models, especially all those photos of a bride alone somewhere stunning. Yes, you’re going to look amazing on your special day, but you’re a normal person and you may not be as used to being in front of the camera as much as a model is. You probably won’t have a hair and makeup team to tidy you up in between photos, and you’re unlikely to have the time (or desire) to spend a long period in each location, taking many shots in order to get the perfect one that makes it to publishing.
There are so many iconic locations to take photos in your wedding gear
The Empire State Building, Top of the Rock, Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, the High Line, Times Square and of course beautiful Central Park are the most popular locations. Keep in mind that New York is a big city and, whilst getting photos in all of these locations will make for an incredible wedding album, they will take plenty of time to get to. Think about what you want to be doing on your wedding day and how much time you want to give over to photography.
Your dress will get dirty
This is a tough one for many brides, but it’s a fact that you just need to accept and move on. The New York streets are dirty, the pathways in Central Park are dirty. Depending on the time of year, the ground may be wet, or even snowy or be covered in leaves or possibly blossom petals. If you are wearing a long dress, it will get dirty and that is unavoidable. Your photographer will do their best to take photos from an angle that doesn’t show it, and they can photoshop a little to make things look better. You can get your dress cleaned if you’re planning to wear it again for a reception at home, and nobody is looking at the hem anyway, so try to relax about it.
Your feet will hurt
Even if you take a cab as much as possible, there will plenty of standing and walking around on your wedding day if you get married in New York. This will be especially true if you want to take photos in a few locations around the city. Many brides have two pairs of shoes for their wedding day – an indoor pair and an outdoor pair, or a fancy pair and some flip flops for walking. I just wore flats all day because I don’t like heels. Some brides embrace it and wear Converse under their gown. If you wear heels a lot and think you’ll be fine then go for it, but I’ve seen several brides in pain on their wedding day and in some cases going barefoot for part of the photo session because they just can’t bear it any longer.
The busiest months are May, September and October
If you want to get married in New York on a Saturday in these months, book ahead. I work with several photographers and officiant so that we can do more than one wedding on one date if necessary, but we still get booked up on very popular dates. The same will be true with any good photographer or other service provider. Also, restaurants, bars and outdoor spaces will all be busy during these months. I apply for an event permit as early as possible for all of my couples, but if you’re planning a wedding with short notice during the busy months, then you may want to consider a weekday to ensure you can get a permit for your first choice of date, time and location. Also, you may well get a better deal on your reception.
Weekends are busy, holiday weekends are busiest
Further two my comments above, if you’re coming from out of town and can get married on a weekday, then City Hall will be quieter earlier in the week, you will have a better chance of getting your first choice of location in Central Park for your ceremony, and bars and restaurants and other reception locations will be quieter and they may well have lower fees earlier in the week. Other particular dates to avoid might be New Year’s, St Patrick’s Day, Thanksgiving, Pride, the NYC marathon, and other dates when the city is very busy – unless you’re in town for these events and these dates have special meaning to you!
I’d love to hear from other couples in comments about any hints and tips they may have for getting married in New York. Perhaps I’ve forgotten something that you can add, I’d love to hear from you! If you think you might like some help with planning your own New York wedding, visit our website. “Like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest.