~ Central Park Weddings ~
by Marie April Gismondi
New York City’s Central Park Weddings have always been amazing, making it a popular destination wedding location. Central Park has also been the natural choice for native New Yorkers to wed as well as people who come from all over the world to elope in this beautiful and romantic setting. Interested? Here’s everything you need to know!
If you have less than 20 people no permit is needed, however I strongly recommend getting one if you have a spot that you are in love with. They are only $25. and they give you the right to ask anyone in your spot to move. This is particularly important if it rains, because everyone seeks shelter in the same spots… but only the one with a permit gets to stay. Sound handy? Here’s where to get yours! Central Park Permits
Some of my favorite Central Park Weddings have been at Wagner’s Cove, I like the Upper West Side because it has some of the most recognizable and classic Central Park photo opportunities all clustered together. You go in at 72nd & Central Park West in front of the Dakota, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono lived, and then walk through Strawberry Fields with the Imagine mosaic. Next you pass the Daniel Webster statue. This, in and of itself, isn’t all that WOW! But the inscription is “Liberty and Union, One and Inseparable, Now and Forever” which I think is a lovely prelude to the promises you are off on your way to make. Then you go up the hill and bare left to where Cherry Hill Fountain is. This Fountain is the one in the opening credits of “Friends” that they’re all splashing around in. The 2 buildings from “Ghost Busters” are clearly visible from there as is the skyline of the upper west side. Looking right in front of you is the lake and to the right is Bow Bridge. Getting married on or in front of the bridge is also popular.
The next terrace over is Bethesda Terrace. Under the stairs is a great space that just had a restoration done on it’s tile work a couple of years ago. It has lights under (up lit) to see the painting on them and the acoustics are great. There are usually musicians in there who for a nice tip play for you. This is great shelter in case of rain, but it is a walk to get to. The rest of the terrace is again classic central park architecture. The stairs are ornately carved…. you can see in the photos. And the Boathouse Restaurant has the best crab cakes I have ever had.
Belvedere Castle has several covered areas in front of it, weddings are not permitted inside, but it does make an impressive backdrop for the photos! The Garden right below the castle is the Shakespeare Garden, another popular location for the abundance of flowers and herbs, wooden benches, meandering paths and Middle Ages feel.
The Ladies Pavilion is at Hearnshead has many advantages and a couple of drawbacks. It is close to a park entrance so you’re not making older folks take a long walk. It has a roof and can hold 8 – 10 people if it’s drizzling. And of course, it is gorgeous! The only downside is that there is foot traffic and it can be a little noisy.
Betty & Jim dreamed of a Central Park Wedding and came all the way from Sweden to be married at the Ladies Pavilion. “Thank you for making our day so special. The day was wonderful and the location great!”
Cop Cot is a lovely Gazebo kind of structure with wisteria climbing, and spraying those purple flowers that hang like clusters of grapes all over it. Check for availability with renovations ongoing there this Spring.
Why do the last three paragraphs mention rain? As the queen of “Just In Case”, I believe in working Murphy’s Law to your advantage. A permit is only $25.00 and having a back up plan that includes shelter in case of rain ensures a beautiful clear day! Or at least it ends the stress of “what if”.
Picking up a horse drawn carriage at the Plaza Hotel (FAO Schwartz is across the street) is another option. The ceremony is performed right in the carriage during the twenty minute circle of the park and of course includes the line that “Marriage is a journey, not a destination.”
Central Park Weddings are great, yet for the real New York City, hustle and bustle feeling, is outside the park.
Grand Central Station is loved by designers, architects and historians alike.
The Brooklyn Bridge – Yes there are places on the foot path that are out of the way enough to stand with your guests. Talk about a New York moment!
I have done weddings on the Circle Line as it passed the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island, with the New York City Skyline as a backdrop.
Top of the Rock looks out onto the Empire State Building. It also has Rockefeller Plaza, and Radio City Music Hall right in front of the building.
Many of the city’s hotels also have amazing rooftop gardens that can host intimate weddings and dinner receptions. The suites in some of the hotels are perfect for smaller events that require an indoor option.
Please take into account that all this is just my personal opinion. Many of my couples like to explore the park and city on their own when they get into town and find a place that calls to them.
If you are coming from out of town don’t forget to take a look at the Marriage License Page. Every state is different and NY has a 24 hour waiting period before a license can be signed. City hall also doesn’t take cash, so bring a money order.
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