What You Need to Know About Getting Married in Central Park

This is a post for the couples who have recently started to think about getting married in Central Park.  It’s not really for those who are brand-new to the idea but maybe they have made a few decisions about what they want from their day.  I wrote a post with the basic introduction to getting married in Central Park but this post is intended to discuss the smaller things that might affect your day that perhaps couples haven’t thought of.

You will be at the mercy of the weather.  OK, most couples will have considered this, and it’s the most common worry my clients have.  I get asked for advice on a plan B location or what to do if it rains.  There are ceremony locations that are good for keeping the rain off, but the day will certainly be affected if you do have rain, even if you choose a location with a roof.  The couple and the guests will have to get to the ceremony location, and then if you want to take photos around the park after the ceremony then you will have to accept that you will get wet if it rains.  There are far fewer people around when it is raining, though so your photos should be free of passers-by.  Another issue could be the sun.  If you are getting married in the middle of the day and it is high summer then the sun will be very bright, so try to avoid that if you can.  Nobody wants to be squinting in all of their wedding photos.

There are so many options.  Manhattan has around 24,000 restaurants.  So, if you are looking for somewhere amazing to eat, drink and celebrate then you have so many choices!  Of course there are also some great places to choose from in the other boroughs of New York, many with amazing views and more space than Manhattan.  Some couples see a Broadway show or a big sports game or take a river cruise on their wedding day, there are so many unique and memorable ways to mark your wedding day in New York.  This is fantastic but also can be quite overwhelming, especially if you are planning the wedding from out of town or outside of the country, and especially if you have a big group to organise. 

It can be exhausting.  If you take a group of your nearest and dearest to one of the busiest cities in the world for a big celebration, expect to be worn out at the end of it all!  Your dress will get dirty on the streets of New York, and it may get a little crumpled in cabs.  Your feet will hurt because there will be plenty of walking and standing, so keep that in mind when choosing your shoes.  If you are getting married in the summer you will get very hot and sweaty and if you are getting married in the winter, then bring a coat!  If it’s windy your hair will get blown around.  If you want to travel all over the city for awesome photos this will take time in traffic so could take up a large part of your day.

You are getting married in a public place.  I often get asked which locations are the most private, but then again I often get asked which locations have the best views.  The trade-off is that if you are in a tucked-away quiet location then you won’t get the views.  And nowhere is completely private because you are in the heart of Manhattan!  Also, even if you get an event permit the area must remain a right of way to the general public.  So, there will be no fencing-off of an area.  New Yorkers are bold and friendly people and many of them will congratulate a newlywed couple if they spot one, so beware of this if you are shy!

There are rules to abide to.  The event permits issued for weddings in Central Park come with a list of what is and is not acceptable.  You can’t just do whatever you like – see above, you’re in a public place and other people are also using beautiful Central Park.  Amplified sound is not permitted, so there can be no bringing a small speaker for music, if you want music you need to hire an acoustic musician.  Chairs, canopies and table are not allowed, this is listed on the permit.  There are some ceremony locations that have some seating, and I have been to weddings in Central Park where the couple brought along just a couple of chairs for those who could not stand for a long time – and I sat on one of them once when I was pregnant.  As I have said above, there can be no fencing off or blocking of walkways.  No cooking, no smoking or drinking alcohol.  No balloons or signs affixed to park property.  And this should go without saying but unfortunately many ignore this – permit holders should clean up the area when they leave.

Your wedding is not a photo shoot.  This is true for all weddings everywhere, of course, but so worth highlighting.  So many of those beautiful wedding inspiration photos you have seen are not real weddings.  They might well be models in styled shoots whose job it is to look amazing and who are used to being photographed.  They have also taken each shot many times and then edited everything.  Our photographer will be with you from when you enter the park for as long as you want them for and they will capture the ceremony, take posed portrait shots and also candid photos.  Your photos will be beautiful, and they will be edited, but they are unlikely to look just like a style shoot.  Photos should capture your memories of your wedding day, which is special and unique to you as a couple, and not compared to social media and magazines.

It’s pretty easy.  There is plenty to keep in mind when planning a wedding in Central Park, but a wedding here in New York is quite simple compared to many places.  All you really need to become legally married is to get your license from City Hall, wait at least 24 hours, find a NY state registered officiant to perform the ceremony and they can send the completed license back to City Hall and that’s really it!  If you have a large group you should get a permit, and of course you can hire a photographer and book a reception but all of that can be as grand or as simple as the couple prefers.

I’d love to hear from anyone in the comments who has other pieces of advice for those new to considering getting married in Central Park.  If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding or elopement, and make a lot of the things I’ve talked about above much easier, then visit our website or drop me an email at info@wedincentralpark.com.  Keep updated with our news and see lots of beautiful photos, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest

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