Wedding Vow Renewal in Central Park

renewing marriage vows central park wedding

I very frequently get requests to help with a wedding vow renewal in Central Park.  My primary role is of a planner of legally binding weddings in Central Park, but we do plenty of renewals and blessings, too.  The photographs used in this blog post are of weddings as well as vow renewals.

central park wedding planner ladies pavilion

Sometimes I work with couples who have been married for many years and it is either a big anniversary or a big birthday, and they want to mark the milestone with a vow renewal.  Sometimes we have couples who have reached their first or second anniversary and they want to renew their vows in Central Park.  Sometimes couples happened to be in New York anyway, to celebrate the milestone, and they decide to renew their vows while they are there, or they might make a trip especially for the vow renewal and then have a celebration while they’re visiting.

central park wedding planner steps bagpiper

Often couples who have quickly got married recently at City Hall or in the UK; a registry office, contact me for a ceremony in Central Park, where they can plan it just how they want it.  Quite a common reason for a quick and unexceptional wedding that leaves a couple feeling like they want more is that they need a visa; these days quite often couples meet and if they are from different countries they need to be married to be together.  Sometimes couples cannot afford a big celebration when they get married but later on they can, so they want to throw a big party when they have the opportunity.

By Laura Pennace -

Sometimes a couple may have been through some challenges, such as serious health issues, or commitment issues, and it feels right to renew vows.  One couple told me that their original real wedding was a disaster due to some family members’ actions, so they wanted to do it all again and enjoy it this time!  For so many reasons; an already married couple might want to have a ceremony that is unique to them, in a beautiful location, and perhaps a celebration with friends and family.


In the past, I have planned renewals or blessings for vastly varying sizes of groups.  Because every ceremony I write is unique to each couple, we can cater to anyone.  I ask the couple a series of questions that allows me to write a first draft of ceremony wording that I pass over to them to check and then we make changes and go from there.  It is for this reason, and the time commitment from all involved, that the price is the same for a vow renewal or blessing as it is for a legally binding wedding.  The only difference could be that a license is signed at the end of a wedding.  Just like a wedding, we find that couples take their guests off for a meal and a celebration afterwards, or go for a meal together if it’s the two of them, so in many sense it all works just the same as a wedding day might.


On more than one occasion I have planned a wedding that is not really a wedding, for couple who are already married but have not told some or all of their loved ones.  In these cases, couples had to marry to have a visa in order to be together.  So, they had a quick, standard marriage at City Hall.  Then later on, when they have the time to plan a celebratory wedding, they have come to me for help.  We have even made fake paperwork for them to sign so that family members don’t guess that they are already married.

Sharon&Geoffrey (69)

A couple should consider which parts of their original wedding they want to keep, and which parts they want to change.  It all depends on how things went the first time around.  That goes for the guests – the couple may want to include the original bridesmaids and best man, and use it as a justification for a reunion, or they might prefer it if they’re not there.  They might want to wear the same attire, or some of it!  Or they may prefer to keep things more casual, or glam it up a notch!  It might not feel right for a father of the bride to give her away again, the couple could walk towards each other alone, or a son or daughter might accompany the bride or groom.  They might want to say some of the same vows that they said the first time, or if they didn’t get the chance to say anything special and unique to each other, now is their chance.  The couple might want to give each other a gift, to mark the occasion.  In many cases, the couple have children, so we may incorporate them into the ceremony in some way.

I12_G&P2 central park wedding

When renewing their vows, a couple could want to keep to traditional wedding etiquette for some things, such as invites and speeches and cake, or they may want to completely ignore them!  I’ve never heard of a gift registry or bridal shower for a vow renewal, but this would all depend on the couple.  My husband and I got married very quickly; our engagement was a matter of weeks, and we had only recently moved to New York before our small wedding in Central Park, so we didn’t know many people, so we had no bachelor or bachelorette parties, so if we were to renew our vows, I would certainly want to make that a part of the festivities.  A nice idea for some couples might be to use this as an opportunity to renew their wedding bands, if they have been married for a long time.


I am a big believer in the idea that a wedding should be just as a couple wants it to be.  It should be as big and exciting and lavish as they want, or as low-key and relaxed and fuss-free as they want.  I feel the same way about blessings and vow renewals.  It is my job to ask the couple what they need, and guide them through the decision-making process that ultimately gets them the wedding or vow renewal that suits them as the unique people that they are.  I think that a couple who choose to get married in a public park have already broken with some traditions, so they are free to break any more should they choose to do so.  This is even more true of a vow renewal or blessing; there is nothing that they must do, and they can choose to do exactly what they like.

Elizabeth&Karl (59)

For more information to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding vow renewal, visit our website, or “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest where you will find lots of lovely photos and many more inspiring stories of real weddings and vow renewals.  Please note that the photographs used in this blog post are of weddings as well as vow renewals.

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Pinky and Bones’ Surprise Elopement on Bow Bridge

real wedding Central Park P&B

Pinky and Bones (yes, they go by those names), are musicians from Glasgow in Scotland, who came to New York this month to get married in Central Park.  She is 25 and he is 23 and they met as emo-kids in Glasgow Central Station.  They have been together for seven years and decided to elope to New York to get married.

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They got engaged on the train following Pinky’s sister’s wedding, a destination wedding in Crete.  Bones had always said that she would never get married, but they were chatting and Pinky said “I think we should get married”.  Bones didn’t think too much of it and just said, “OK”, but as the night went on, as they were picking out rings and negotiating the terms of a wedding, they realized that they were actually going to do this!  As far as they were concerned, they were going to be together for ever anyway, but being married was important to Pinky, so Bones agreed because she saw that it was important to him.

central park wedding P&B bow bridge 7

They never really considered any conventional wedding locations.  “We thought about going on a ‘reconnaissance’ holiday and visiting a lot of different locations across Europe, including Vlad’s castle!” Bones told me.  They also considered using a family member’s back garden for the ceremony, and they knew someone who owns a lodge in a forest that they thought might be nice.  In the end they never officially agreed on a location and Bones surprised her groom the night before they left for New York with the news that she had organised a wedding for them while they were there.

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The main reason why Bones was not keen on getting married was the idea of having a big wedding, and all that goes along with one.  “I was having real terror about a traditional wedding, to the point I was just never going to do it if it had to be in front of lots of people,” she said.  “The pressure of it all did not sit well with me at all and I started reasoning against marriage which wasn’t fair to my partner,” she added.  This is such a familiar story for me.  So many of my clients would truly hate to say their vows with a huge audience, and an elopement is just the only way for them.

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They had no visited Central Park before, but they were happy that they chose it for their wedding ceremony location.  “It must have been meant to be,” Bones said, “we fell in love with Central Park.”  She said that she did have some concerns about getting married in such a public place.  “I was concerned about the foot traffic of Central Park and how respectful people would or wouldn’t be about what we were doing,” she told me.  “I needn’t have worried though, everyone was really respectful during the ceremony, and so friendly and encouraging before and after,” she said.  This is another thing people often say to me, and I observed it myself as I got married in Central Park – everyone sees a newlywed couple and congratulates them, couples say that it really adds to the joy in their day.

central park wedding P&B bow bridge 1

They held the ceremony on Bow Bridge.  “It was smaller than I expected after seeing photos online!” said Bones.  “It was a short and sweet ceremony and we said nothing but the vows we were asked to repeat.  We didn’t feel that anything else needed to be said.”  This is another great thing about elopements – there are no guests to worry about and no expectations other than your own, so you can do everything in the way that suits you.  After the ceremony they had photos taken with their photographer from I Heart New York Photography.

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The couple were in New York for six nights and stayed at the Hotel St James, close to Times Square.  Bones wore a tea-length ivory dress and Pinky wore a black kilt and traditional Ghillie shirt.  The bride had dyed her hair blue for the occasion and they both wore matching black leather jackets with skulls embossed on the backs.  There were no flowers.  They took a horse and carriage ride around Central Park after their wedding and then went to the Loeb Boathouse for their celebratory dinner.

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I asked what their friends back home thought of their decision to elope to New York.  “I think that married couples admire us!” Bones said.  “We’ve been married for just a week and already three couples have told me that wish they had done it like we did; just gone and married where we wanted to be with just the two of us,” she told me.

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Thanks for sharing your story with us, Pinky and Bones!  I wish you lots of love and luck for your future together.  For more information to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, visit our website, or “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest where you will find lots of lovely photos and many more inspiring stories of real weddings.

central park wedding P&B bow bridge 9

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Five Most-Read Blog Posts of 2017

wed in central park top 5 posts of 2017

I try to post something on this blog once per week, either some real wedding inspiration, or some general advice pieces that should be useful or interesting to anyone considering getting married in Central Park.  Every now and again I check which posts are proving to be useful to people and try to write more on a similar theme if possible.

Below are my top five posts of 2017. That is to say; the most viewed posts over the course of the year, in fact none of these pieces were posted on the blog in 2017. In fact four out of five of the posts were written in 2014. Anyone who knows me a little bit might spot that this was the year after my first child was born (he was born November 2013) and before I got pregnant, and consequently, very tired, with my second child (he was born September 2015). Throughout 2016 I certainly slowed down with writing content for the blog, a toddler and a baby took up much of my time, but in 2017 I stepped up the social media side of things, to try to reach more clients. I found that I have some great content on my blog that couples were finding very useful, but that I could use all the platforms out there to reach more people.

Another thing that this might show is that I have written all my best advice already and I have nothing left to say.  Although, in my opinion, the advice pieces I have writing more recently are just more specific.  For 2018 I have some beautiful and unique real weddings lined up, along with some more recommendations of where previous clients have dined in New York, advice on New York neighborhoods, music suggestions for your wedding ceremony, and a piece about wedding vow renewals in Central Park.  I would love to hear any suggestions of what other subjects you would like to see me write about in the coming year.

So, this is what my followers have been reading in 2017.

1 Restaurant Recommendations for your Wedding Day
This has been a clear winner for a long time. Written in 2012, so a touch out of date, I wrote about the restaurants that I personally thought would be great places to celebrate in following a wedding in Central Park. I tried to keep in mind all group sizes, including eloping couples. It’s popularity caused me to write More Restaurant Recommendations for your Wedding Day, and a list of where couples who had featured in the blog in 2016 had eaten. I have already written the list of where my clients who married in 2015 ate, and I intend to post that later on in the year.

2 The Top Ten Best Places to Take Wedding Photos in New York
I find that lots of couples want to take advantage of being in the incredibly photogenic city of New York for their wedding day, and take a trip around the city to take lots of photos in their wedding gear. I love this idea, so I wanted to write something with a few suggestions of where people might like to go, whether they get married in Central Park or anywhere else in NYC. I’ll admit that I suggest several places in Central Park for photographs, but it should come as a surprise to nobody that I love Central Park. My second favorite is probably Brooklyn Bridge, even though it’s a bit of a hassle to get to from Central Park.

3 Central Park Marriage Proposal Ideas
I started getting requests from people who wanted some help and advice with proposing to their partner, so I decided to begin offering a service where I help someone to plan their marriage proposal in Central Park, along with suppling a photographer, musician, flowers and many other things that people might want to make the moment special. So, I wrote this blog post to suggest a few ways and locations for a lovely proposal, depending on what people think they would like, and what time of year they’re proposing.

4 Things to do on your Wedding Day in New York City
A big advantage that getting married in New York has over almost anywhere else in the world, is the huge choice of awesome things you can do there. I wrote this list with small parties or eloping couples in mind, since in those cases the wedding might actually take just a short amount of time, so couples might want to fit in other memorable experiences, simply because they can! Some of these suggestions can and have been worked in to a wedding day with a large party. For example, one couple sent their guests on a boozy tour of NYC in a vintage trolley bus while they took photos at the Top of the Rock, and another couple had their reception very close to the Highline, so seized the opportunity to take some photos there for a little while. Making a plan of your wedding day and working out how to fit everything in is part of how I can help couples.

5 Tips for a Winter Wedding in Central Park
This one being so popular is a bit of a surprise. Overwhelmingly, my busiest period for weddings is from May to September, with a quiet period over the Winter. That is true for many weddings, all over the Northern hemisphere. And yet, when I talk to people about a wedding in a crisp, cold, snow-covered Central Park, they get all dreamy! I think many of us all love a Winter wedding, so we may all consider having one ourselves. I would love to get more clients requesting a Winter wedding – not least because I love the photos!

For more information to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, visit our website, or “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest where you will find lots of lovely photos and many more inspiring stories of real weddings. I would love to hear any suggestions of what other subjects you would like to see me write about in the coming year, please comment below if you have any ideas.

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GIVEAWAY – Help me to Find Clients for 2018

A reminder that I am running a giveaway for any client referrals. Please share my website or this blog (not this post!) or just tell people about me and if I get a booking from your referral then I’ll send you a goodie bag of some cute stuff with a NYC and Central Park theme.

Weddings in Central Park, New York

Central Park Wedding Referral Giveaway Pin 1I am looking for ways to reach new clients for 2018.  I’ve been taking it a little slower these past couple of years, with having two young children, but now I’m ready to take on more clients for next year.  I need your help and I am offering something in return.

I have been running this wedding planning business since 2012.  In the first couple of years I worked so hard at promoting this business.  As anyone who knows anything about online marketing will agree, it is all about the search engine optimization.  I was busy planning weddings, but probably spending more time on promotion.  Towards the end of 2013 I had a baby, Thomas.  Then, 21 months later, in 2015 I had another baby, Joseph.  This meant that I had two very little kids to look after and a small business to run.  As a consequence I reduced…

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Becky and Scott’s Fall Wedding in the Ladies’ Pavilion

real wedding Central Park B&S

Becky and Scott brought over forty of their family and friends over from Warrington in England for their wedding in the Ladies’ Pavilion this November. Becky is twenty-six and Scott is thirty-four and they had been together for over ten years before they got married. They got engaged in the same place they got married, the Ladies’ Pavilion, in June of 2015.


They had always liked the idea of getting married in New York, but they did look at options of wedding at home because they both have big families and they wanted everyone to be there on their special day, but they had Central Park in the back of their minds while they were looking. “When looking at different venues nothing really compared to the Ladies’ Pavilion,” said Becky. “We decided that we needed to do what we wanted to do for our wedding, and that our family would understand our decision because New York is a very special place to us”, she added.


Becky said that she has not personally attended any other destination weddings herself, so she and Scott had very little to go on when making decisions on what they wanted for their wedding day. She said that she found it difficult at first because they were having to choose restaurants and bars that they hadn’t set foot in themselves. So, they had to either go off recommendations from other people, and put their trust in complete strangers. She said that this was balanced by the feeling that choosing a wedding location that was special to them both made all the stress and nerves disappear with the certainty that they had made the right decision. I asked her if she had any regrets about not having a traditional wedding closer to home and she said “Definitely not! Best decision made by far”.


Another concern for a couple marrying outdoors in November was of course the weather. We did see some rain that morning, but once the couple started to say their vows the rain stopped. Also, the Ladies’ Pavilion provides cover for the couple and some of the guests for a group this size. Those standing outside did have to put up their umbrellas!


The couple had originally wanted a harpist to play at their wedding, but the harpist that I usually deal with was concerned about how her instrument would cope in cold and damp weather. We couldn’t be sure what the weather would be like on the day as we were planning, so we decided to go with a violinist to be on the safe side. Our violinist wasn’t worried about the temperature ad she could stay under cover in case of rain. So, Becky walked down the pathway to her wedding to Have I Told You Lately That I Love You by Van Morrison. And when the couple were pronounced married our musician played Don’t Stop Believing by Journey. We also had some Alicia Keys pieces while the guests were waiting for the bride to arrive.


This was the fourth time Becky had visited New York, and the fifth time for Scott, and they both like to stay on the Upper West Side whenever they come. This time they stayed in the Lucerne Hotel for a week. It’s no secret that I love the Upper West Side, too. I always recommend it if anyone asks for suggestions. It is close to Central Park, close to the Hudson, had great bars and restaurants, great transport links, and it’s beautiful.


After the ceremony ended, our photographer got busy taking Becky and Scott to lots of lovely spots in Central Park to take photos. “He took us all over Central Park for photos, but instead of all the tourist spots used his experience of the Park and took pictures in quiet places that he knew would look lovely”, Becky told me. “We did have a couple of group shots over-looking the Lake near the Ladies’ Pavilion,” she added, “which is nice to have, because every time we have been to New York we take the same photo here as we love the backdrop of the Lake, trees and the iconic skyline.”


We wrote a fairly short and sweet ceremony for the couple.  Scott’s sister Kerry read a poem she had written herself, using the first two lines of I’ll Be There For You, by Louise Cuddon, then the rest being written especially for the couple. It is quite chilly in New York in November, so a short ceremony was probably preferred by many of the guests. Becky and Scott were touched by how many people were able to make the journey to share in their special day. “We were overwhelmed by the number of people who attended our wedding and made it extra special” Becky said. “Everyone thought it was a beautiful location to get married and were very happy that we decided to get married in a place that was very special to us,” she added.


Becky wore a fitted ivory lace White Rose dress with a sweetheart neckline and a sparkly belt, accessorized with a Swarovski hair vein. She carried a white rose bouquet with navy accents. The bride and her mother, sister and niece all had their hair and makeup done by Appease Inc, Becky said she was very happy with the service and price.


After the ceremony and the photographs in Central Park, the group went to Keens Steakhouse to eat in a private room there. “I would definitely recommend the service and the food,” said Becky. That evening they hired a function room in the Gin Mill where they enjoyed food and drinks in to the night.


I asked Becky how I did. “Having Claire’s help throughout my wedding planning was well worth it as it took pressure off me but also Claire knew exactly what I would like and used her experience of planning many weddings to make our day one we will never forget!” Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Becky and Scott, and I’m so glad that the rain stopped for you!


For more information to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, visit our website, or “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest where you will find lots of lovely photos and many more inspiring stories of real weddings.


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Wedding Planner Meme

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Eleven Reasons to get Married in Autumn (or Fall!) in Central Park

reasons to get married in central park autumn fall

1) Number one has to be the colors. When it gets colder and the leaves change color, Central Park looks completely different. The lush greens we know and love are gone and there is a vast array of yellows, oranges and reds.

2) There are 174 species of tree in Central Park (at the last count). Imagine how many different shades of color you can see in Central Park in the Fall.

3) If you choose a date towards the end of the season, as it is turning chilly, then it’s the perfect excuse for a long-sleeved gown if you want one, or to accessorize with a faux fur shrug or jacket. But it’s not so cold that you have to wear your thermal socks under your dress!

Central Park Fall Wedding B&S

4) You will see migrating hawks and other large birds leaving Central Park for warmer climates at this time of year. A great place to spot them from is from the upper terraces of Belvedere Castle.

5) Your bouquet and bouttonieres, and other wedding accessory colors can reflect the autumnal shades.

6) Fall colors for bridesmaids can be a lot more flattering than the pastels so often chosen for their dresses, and easier to wear again at other occasions. Also, grooms may choose brown or navy to complement the seasonal shades.

Central Park Fall Wedding M&D

7) The light is beautiful in Central Park during the Fall. We see lots of crisp, clear blue skies. Of course the sunsets provide some lovely photo opportunities, which happens between 4:30 and 6:30, depending on when in the season you are there.

8) Your reception food can reflect the season. Do you like pumpkin-spiced everything? Then you can offer it as part of your wedding! Or mulled cider, or comfort food such as apple pies.

9) You can time your visit to New York to also enjoy the Halloween parade, Oktoberfest or Thanksgiving. Or you could visit the Catskills in Upstate New York after your wedding, to enjoy the Fall colors there, too.

Central Park Fall Wedding A&R

10) The Mall in Central Park was designed specifically to mimic a church’s aisle. In the Fall the trees forming the “roof” all turn orange at this time of year.

11) It’s really not that cold in the Fall in New York. September can be very warm, actually. It gets cold very quickly, usually in November. We have had some weddings in Central Park in September on unseasonably hot days, which has surprised everyone! But it’s still not as hot as Summer, so nobody has to suffer in the stifling heat.

For more information to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding, in the Winter, or any other time of year, visit our website, or “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest where you will find lots of lovely photos and many more inspiring stories of real weddings. We can help with advice and guidance to help you through the planning process to be certain that your day goes smoothly so that you can relax and enjoy your wedding.

Central Park Fall Wedding H&D


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