Once you have decided that you want to get married in Central Park, then the next decision is to choose where exactly you would like to have the ceremony. The location that suits you best might depend on how many guests you have, how much privacy you need, if you want a stunning view, if you need seats or perhaps whether you’re concerned about rain (or too much sunshine!).
Whichever location you choose, Central Park is sure to impress you and your guests. When thinking about where you’d like to have the wedding ceremony, you may need to think about other factors besides beautiful photos. So, here are some of my thoughts on the pros and cons of the various popular locations in Central Park where you can get married.
If you want your ceremony to be in front of a stunning backdrop, then Central Park is the place for you! If you get married in the Ladies’ Pavilion then your backdrop is the iconic Lake with the tress and high buildings of Central Park South beyond. You’ll also get this view from Bow Bridge, with the addition of the striking buildings of Central Park West from a slightly different angle, and you might also get a rowboat or two in your photos! There isn’t really a view to enjoy from inside Cop Cot, but for the group photos outside the structure, you’re right up close to the high buildings of Central Park South with the trees in front. From Cherry Hill you would have Bow Bridge as your backdrop and from Bethesda Terrace you would of course have Bethesda Fountain in the background. Belvedere Castle Terrace is the highest point in Central Park, so you have a lovely view of Turtle Pond and the Great Lawn from there, but the only buildings you have a good view of are the less striking ones on Fifth Avenue.
Shelter from the weather
You will be at the mercy of the weather when getting married outdoors; there’s just no way around that! The location which provides the most cover for a large group in case of rain is the space Underneath Bethesda Terrace. If you made a plan to get married there, you could be out beside the Fountain if it’s dry or underneath the Terrace if it’s wet. The Ladies’ Pavilion has a roof and is a great spot to provide shelter from rain or strong sun for an elopement. If you have a group then the guests could wait undercover before the ceremony, but it could be a bit cramped under there for the ceremony, so the couple can be under cover but the guests would need to have umbrellas. Wagner Cove has a small structure that will provide cover from light rain for the couple and the officiant. Belvedere Castle Terrace has roofed areas, but it is the highest point in Central Park, so if you’re getting married in the Winter, keep in mind that it could be windy and cold up there. If you are worried about rain then one option could be to prepare for plan A good weather scenario but have a plan B wet weather scenario. That may involve purchasing a backup bad weather permit. So, if you’d really prefer to get married out in the open, then plan for that, but have a back up permit for a covered area just in case.
Some of the popular ceremony locations are easier to get to than others. Wagner Cove is down some stone steps so isn’t appropriate for everyone, but there are seats in the wooden structure if you can comfortably get down there. The Ladies’ Pavilion is a roughly seven minute walk to get to, but there are benches inside. Bethesda Terrace is of course down some strikingly beautiful stone steps but it can also be reached by a sloping pathway. The Shakespeare Garden is on a very steep slope, but there are benches once you get there. Belvedere Castle used to be quite difficult for people of limited mobility to get to, but it has recently been renovated and a wheelchair-friendly path has been added. Pedicabs can take people from the major entrances to the park to locations that might be too far for some to walk. Cop Cot can be seen from Central Park South so is the location that requires the shortest walking distance to get to, although it is up a steep hill, there are lots of benches in there. The Central Park Conservancy does not allow chairs for the guests, but I have been to weddings in the past where a couple of chairs have been brought along for those who can’t stand for too long, and I’ve sat on one myself when I was pregnant!
Some couples want the best of both worlds – a wedding in a public park in the heart of a very busy city, but with a little privacy! There are some locations in Central Park that are quite tucked away from passers-by. Wagner Cove is down some stone steps and right on the Lake – that’s a very picturesque and private spot. Also, the structures of Cop Cot and the Ladies’ Pavilion provide some privacy because people generally won’t go wandering through a wedding going on inside a structure like these. The Shakespeare Garden is rather peaceful and quiet, and has a wooden platform that is open but quite private. The Conservatory Gardens offer some privacy simply because they are further away from the busier area of Central Park, so don’t see as many tourists as the southern end.
If you are eloping then you can get married pretty much anywhere! Although couples tend to choose the smaller spots for an elopement, you could get married in a bigger area if you wish. Most of our couples with a large group tend to go for the Conservatory Gardens. The Central Park Conservancy will allow events for larger groups in other parts of the park, but I think couples choose the Conservatory Gardens for a big group because it’s quieter and easier to get a lot of people in and out of the area without getting lost! The fee to get married in the Conservatory Gardens is much higher than the rest of he park, though, so if you’re on a budget and have over 50 people then I’d suggest Cherry Hill. If you have a large group of under 50 then Cop Cot is a good spot. The maximum that the Central Park Conservancy will allow at the other more popular locations is 25 people, but I wouldn’t advise a large group on Bow Bridge or Gapstow Bridge for example; they suit elopements better.
As with many of my blog posts, this is a long answer to a frequently asked question. I have a page on the website that discusses each popular wedding ceremony location in Central Park in detail. If you click the links from there you will find lots of photos intended to show the locations in greater details to help you to decide. I also wrote a blog post a while back, summarising each of the popular wedding ceremony locations in Central Park so check that out for more information.