Hayley and Mark got married in the Ladies’ Pavilion in May 2019. Hayley is 50 and Mark is 47 and they’re from King’s Lynn, Norfolk in the United Kingdom. They met at work, a manufacturing company in King’s Lynn. They had both experienced long-term relationship breakups, with similar circumstances. After meeting through work reasons, they realised that they got along well and would bump into each for social chit chat occasionally. Mark told Hayley that he had a trip to New York planned, Hayley had recently visited on a girls’ trip, so she has lots to share about her experience – so their initial friendship began with chatting about the city they eventually got married in! I don’t usually attend the weddings I plan in Central Park, but was lucky enough to be able to attend Hayley and Mark’s wedding.
The couple got engaged after five years together and married just under a month after their seventh anniversary of being together. They were on a five day Christmas break to New York, and Mark popped the questions on the 30th December 2017. “It was on our last full day, at the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park when Mark proposed,” Hayley told me. “It was the only day of snow and there was a beautiful powder snow covering everywhere when Mark bent down on one knee in front of the fountain facing the Bethesda Terrace,” she said. They were very lucky that a passing mother and daughter witnessed the moment and took pictures of them literally seconds after it happened!
I asked them why getting married was important to them. “It was important to us both to be married, not only reinforcing our commitment to each other, but also demonstrates to the world we are an official unit and wanted to unite both our families,” Hayley said. Mark always wanted to marry overseas, “I was unsure initially as I wanted to ensure our close family and friends who had supported us, prior to but also during our relationship, shared the day with us,” said Hayley. During their discussions about what they wanted from their wedding day, they talked about other places, “we knew we did not want it to be the usual Cyprus etc. as we needed to be special but also appropriate to our relationship” she told me. One of their favourite places is Ibiza and they considered it briefly, but they wouldn’t have been able to have a legally binding ceremony there, and would have had to do that in a UK registry office, so they decided against it. “We both felt the wedding vows should only be taken once,” Hayley said, “however have discussed a vow renewal in years to come!”
Before their trip to New York in December 2017, when they had got engaged, they were chatting with someone in a shop who said that she had married in Central Park and it was not as expensive as you would imagine. “Although we had no immediate plans to marry (or so I thought) we left the shop and said when we get married, we would consider New York” Hayley said. “Little did I know that Mark already had purchased the engagement ring and planned to propose during our holiday a few weeks later,” she added.
Hayley and Mark’s close family joined them in New York from the UK, and also some British friends who were currently living in New Jersey and friends of Hayley who travelled from Australia. “They all enjoyed the day and particularly my mum, dad and brother who still talk about it nearly two years later!” said Hayley. “We also had a picnic together as a group the day before the ceremony to enable everyone to meet each other and visit the Ladies’ Pavilion which was a lovely addition to the holiday!” she told me. Their picnic was from Perfect Picnic NYC. “I would not change our wedding day for the world, but I can see how an elopement on our own could be exciting,” Hayley said. “To be honest we look forward to renewing our vows one day just to experience the feeling again!” she added. Hayley thinks destination weddings and elopements are becoming more popular, “the cost of a wedding in the UK and the pressure to provide a certain standard to the world is too much I believe,” she said. “Although the choice of venue and service providers seems to cater for lots of options the cost can still be extravagant in the UK,” she explained. “The approximate cost of all we arranged; the wedding day, flying four adults out to New York, and hotel for six of us, and a lovely wedding reception in our local Town Hall could be the same cost for just one day for couples having a traditional wedding in the UK,” she said. “I feel very lucky that we were able to do both and will always look back with very happy memories!” Hayley said.
This trip was Hayley and Mark’s fourth visit to New York. They stayed at the Rui Plaza Times Square and this was the second time they had stayed in the hotel. They also returned in February 2020 for their second honeymoon! They felt that the hotel would be perfect for their family who would be travelling with them this time, and who had never been to New York before. They felt that to be nearer to Times Square made sense for their wedding party to be more independent if they wished. “We would highly recommend the hotel; breakfast is more than enough for anyone, the rooms are spacious and clean. With the building being reasonably new, the amenities are very lovely including dining areas, the bar and coffee shop. The reception and concierge had always been extremely helpful, and we never waited too long for our rooms neither,” Hayley said.
Hayley and her dad arrived at Central Park in a vintage yellow cab, and the driver was able to hang out nearby for a little while so that the couple could have photos with the cab after the ceremony. “The driver, Peter was fantastic,” Hayley told me. He does come highly recommended by all and I can pass on his contact details to any couples who want to use his services. “We will definitely look to use this service for special occasions in the future, it was one of my dreams to use an old NYC taxi so therefore will be a very prominent memory of our day and photos!” Hayley said.
The ceremony took place in the Ladies’ Pavilion in the late morning. We had a cellist playing for the guests before and after the ceremony. The bride walked down the pathway to the Ladies’ Pavilion to Yellow by Coldplay. A guest read from an excerpt from “The Bridge Across Forever” by Richard Bach, and the officiant read “Love is Friendship Set on Fire” by Laura Hendricks, which I’ll put at the end of this post. They took photos around Central Park after the ceremony then had a quick drink in the Tavern on the Green so we could all have a little rest. Then we all got picked up by a vintage trolley bus from the space in front of the Tavern – this is an advantage that the Tavern has over the Boathouse – vehicles can come up to the door for easy pick up and drop off. The bus took us to Brooklyn Bridge Park for photos with the whole group, then back in to Manhattan where just the couple and the photographer went into Grand Central for photos. Then the group went on to Bourbon Street Bar and Grille (now known as Tito Murphy’s) for the evening, which was conveniently across the road from their hotel on the same street.
The bride wore a lace wedding dress by Mark Lesley. She purchased it from Brides by Solo in Suffolk in the UK, who she highly recommends, “particularly Sadie who attended to me and made alterations and also repairs after I had ripped the bottom of my dress at Brooklyn Bridge on the wedding day,” she said. Her flowers were made from paper vintage maps by Alison at Paper Jackdaw based in the UK, whose work I’m also a big fan of. “They were all so beautiful, I could find no words to describe them, breath-taking and more than I could ever have imagined!” Hayley said. “They are now a lovely keepsake for us all,” she told me. Their fresh flowers from George at City Hall, which they used for the other buttonholes and flower girl posies. These were collected on the Friday before the wedding when they collected the marriage licence. They kept the fresh blooms in the fridge in their hotel room over the weekend, and this kept them looking perfect, this is also what our florist recommends to keep flowers looking fresh.
Hayley had her hair and makeup done by Beautiful Brides by Vesta and an assistant who also attended to the bridesmaids, Hayely’s mum and Mark’s sister. “Vesta was a lovely lady and very relaxed in her approach,” said Hayley. This isn’t the hair and makeup team that I work with, but Hayley was happy with them. “However, we were an hour late, resulting in the wedding being delayed significantly unfortunately and the schedule of photo stops either were missed or a wee bit rushed,” said Hayley. “However, top work by both ladies and the lateness did not detract from the artistic level of work carried out, all ladies looked lovely and this showed on the photos,” she added.
I asked if they’d had any concerns in advance of the wedding, and Hayley said that she had the same worry as everyone else – the weather! “But bad weather can happen in the UK,” she said. “We chose an area of the park which would be partly covered if the heavens opened,” she added. That is a big advantage of the Ladies’ Pavilion – good cover in case of rain! “Before leaving the UK and even on the plane I recall our conversations of the weather forecast showing thunderstorms but to be honest neither of us were worried, it would just be ensuring umbrellas were available,” she said. They had visited New York together previously in April and they wanted to get married when it was a little warmer than it had been then, “we recalled how during our visit the temperature had fluctuated between extremely cold winds to reasonably warm sunshine,” Hayley said. “We considered this, and the prospect of an outdoor wedding, and hoped a later May wedding would provide some reassurance of a comfortable temperature at the very least!” I’d say this was a wise move. March and April can still be quite chilly, and then the temperatures warm up very quickly in May. “On our wedding day the temperature reached at least 29 degrees C by the time we arrived at our post wedding meal at 5pm!” said Hayley. So, most people got changed for the evening meal; the groom in shorts, polo shirt, trainers and the bride in a short floaty lace dress with Havaianas wedding themed flip flops purchased by Mark for her prior to the trip!
I gave Hayley the opportunity to share any further thoughts on getting married in Central Park that she would like to share with others who might be considering doing what they did. “If this is a dream to you, it can be a reality and getting married in New York is not as costly as you may think. It is as expensive as a couple wish to make it,” she said. I couldn’t agree more. We have couples who do this simply on a small budget and couples who make it a very grand affair, and everything in between. Hayley said their wedding was “an unbelievable experience for us as a couple but to have shared this with close family and special friends was fantastic, we certainly have no regrets!”
When asked if she had any regrets about not having a “traditional” wedding closer to home Hayley said “absolutely not! If I could repeat the day every year for the rest of my life, I certainly would! To experience our wedding vows and the magnificent surroundings of the day all over again, it was truly magical, and I personally get goose bumps thinking about it. Although the day had some formal aspects, it was such a peaceful venue that it made it so informal and relaxed,” Hayley said. “To be honest if people in the park were looking, I was not aware, and nor did this detract from our special day,” she added, I do find this is common for couples who worry a little about getting married in a public place – they really don’t notice any passers-by once the ceremony is in progress. “For anyone who would prefer a more intimate and private ceremony the Ladies’ Pavilion was perfect,” she said, and I agree – the location and structure make it a lovely spot for a ceremony (It’s also where I got married!).
I asked Hayley if she would recommend Wed in Central Park. She said “the cost was very reasonable, and the process of booking was easy but also professional. I felt reassured after my first conversation with Claire that this dream could happen.” We did meet briefly in person at the start of their planning process at the Tiny Weddings Fair that I co-organise. “Overall, Claire was awesome!” said Hayley. “I feel that she went way beyond our expectations! Such a lovely lady who provided immense support, encouragement, and positivity to the whole event! Thank you again to Claire, it was unforgettable, and without a doubt encouraged the dream we had to make this become a reality and therefore will always be remembered!” Thank you so much for your kind words, Hayley. It was a pleasure working with you and an honor to be able to attend your wedding. If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding or elopement, whether you’re from near or far, visit our website. Keep updated with our news and see lots of beautiful photos, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest.
An excerpt from “The Bridge Across Forever” by Richard Bach
A soulmate is someone who has locks that fit our keys, and keys to fit our locks. When we feel safe enough to open the locks, our truest selves step out and we can be completely and honestly who we are; we can be loved for who we are and not for who we’re pretending to be. Each unveils the best part of the other. No matter what else goes wrong around us, with that one person we’re safe in our own paradise. Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person. Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.
“Love is Friendship Set on Fire” by Laura Hendricks
Love is friendship caught fire; it is quiet, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection, and makes allowances for human weaknesses. Love is content with the present, hopes for the future, and does not brood over the past. It is the day-in and day-out chronicles of irritations, problems, compromises, small disappointments, big victories, and working toward common goals. If you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things you lack. If you do not have it, no matter what else there is, it is not enough.