When people start to think about their wedding in Central Park, as with any other location, an important factor to decide on quite early on is timings. Some coupes ask me when I advise they should get married, but I think it’s down to personal choice and whatever else you want to do on your wedding day. There are arguments for and against getting married at any time of day, we all have different priorities, although the time of year does affect things.
If you’re planning on getting married and then going off to do something very memorable with your day, then the morning is the obvious choice for you. We married one couple very early on St Patrick’s Day so they could be in the parade later on. Some couples get married early in the day, and go on a tour of the city taking photos in wedding attire; some with their guests and some eloping couples do it alone. We’ve had plenty of couples who get married in the morning because a lunchtime reception is cheaper than an evening one.
I got married in the late morning. It was July so it was cooler then, and it allowed us time to take our guests out for lunch after the ceremony, video chat with our families back home in England and walk the dog that afternoon and then go out just the two of us that evening.
Parties that include little children seem to do better with morning weddings; kids tend to be in a better mood in the morning and more likely to tolerate standing still for a little while for the ceremony. If you choose a time very early on the day, then the park will be quieter and you’ll have fewer passers-by in your photos!
If you are getting married in the warmer summer months then the photographers I work with would strongly recommend avoiding early afternoon. The morning is cooler and the sun is at its highest in the early afternoon so will be too bright and most people don’t want to be squinting in their wedding photos!
Perhaps the most popular time for our weddings is early to mid-afternoon. This can mean that event permits for the more popular wedding ceremony locations in Central Park get booked up first for the early afternoon slot, especially on Saturdays, so you may need to get in early if this is your preference. Also, weekend afternoons; especially when the weather is nice, will be peak times for other people to be in the park, so you may have to work harder to avoid passers-by in your photos.
Many brides tell me that they choose the afternoon because they want to take the morning to get ready with their party. They also build the excitement that way (although one reason why we chose the morning was to avoid being nervous for too long!). We’ve had some groups organising a brunch for the ladies and a brunch for the men in the morning and then coming together for the wedding ceremony in the early afternoon.
If you get married in the afternoon, then take a couple of hours for photos, which many of our couples do, then travel to your reception location, then if you time it right that can get you there for cocktail hour. I often suggest that couples work backwards from what time they’d like the reception to start and that will give them the best start time for them.
For couples getting married in the winter the afternoon will see much better light for photos. We have done some lovely sunset weddings in colder months, which look very pretty but the couples must be very cold. Also, in spring and autumn of course the middle of the day will be the warmest time of day, too.
In the warmest months, some couples are choosing to get married in the very late afternoon or early evening. Then they go straight off afterwards for the reception. This is quite popular for Friday evenings, and feels to me like the no-nonsense approach to a wedding when considering your guests – they can do whatever they like during the day and then you only take up their evening.
If you get married in the evening and then go straight off for the reception with your guests, then you may want to meet the photographer to take photos for an hour or so before the ceremony. This obviously breaks with tradition of the couple seeing each other before the wedding, but it does mean that the guests don’t have to wait around while the couple take photos. This idea of taking photos before the ceremony can of course be useful for a wedding taking place at any time of day, it also allows the photographer to capture a more genuine “first look” photo.
I find that we do have to time it just right with these evening receptions. I can check the predicted sunset time for your wedding date and make a plan that gets the best of the twilight hour or the beautiful light from the sunset, but for this to work, everyone has to arrive on time, and brides are known for being late from time to time!
My main advice is to think about what else you want to do on the day, and what suits you both as a couple. Some time ago I wrote a blog post with some general advice about the best time for a wedding in Central Park. Looking at that post, I’ve done over a hundred more weddings since then, but there’s still some thoughts that might be helpful. If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding or elopement, visit our website. Keep updated with our news and see lots of lovely photos; “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest.