Central Park in New York is such a timeless, iconic location and it’s super popular as a wedding venue. In fact there are numerous venues within the park to say your ‘I do’s’. But where do you begin when planning a Central Park Wedding?
No problem, and stay with us as we have just the person to guide you through planning your dream Central Park Wedding. In fact, we’ve featured Claire at Wed in Central Park a couple of times on the blog now, and her posts are always really popular.
Whether you’re planning to quietly slip away and have an elopement wedding, or if you’re planning a much bigger affair, inviting friends and family, Wed in Central Park will be able to give you invaluable advice and help plan your day perfectly.
In this post, we’ve asked Claire to take us behind the scenes to describe life as a Central Park wedding planner, it’s a fascinating and essential reading for all of you considering this stand out location for your big day. Over to Claire now for more.
For couples considering a Central Park Wedding, especially those from the UK, where do they begin?
Around half of my clients are from the UK. Getting married in the US is not nearly as complicated as many British people first assume. The first thing to consider is what time of year you want to get married, then once you have a rough idea on the date, check with your nearest and dearest if that date works for them, if indeed you do want to invite anyone!
Then, once you know everyone’s availability, pick a date, book some flights and a hotel and then get in contact with myself or someone like me. My job is to guide couples through the decisions that need to be made to choose the right ceremony location for them, what kind of extra bits and bobs they may want (flowers, music, video, etc) and how it will all fit together on the day.
Tell us what’s actually involved in planning a Central Park Wedding, again with the focus on couples coming over from the UK
We need to choose a ceremony location, then apply for an event permit for the from the Central Park Conservancy. There are lots of beautiful locations in Central Park, of varying size and with their pros and cons, so we discuss all that.
The next stage usually is for me to ask couples a series of questions that allows me to write a wedding ceremony just for them. Also, the couple needs to decide where they are staying and where they will go to celebrate their wedding – either a restaurant table or private room, or perhaps a whole function room, or maybe – a very popular choice – a sightseeing dinner cruise on the Hudson River.
I book the New York state registered officiant, the photographer, and any other people the couple may need involved with their wedding ceremony. Then, as things start to come together, we make a plan of timings for the day and make sure everyone knows where to be and when to be there.
We’re guessing you don’t actually meet your wedding couples in person. How do you organise everything and keep them up to date in the run up to their wedding?
I have to be quite protective of my time, and use it very efficiently to be able to offer the prices that I do, so I rarely attend the weddings. Many of my clients might be in a different time zone to me, and with the busy lives many of us lead, we often find that email is the easiest way to communicate.
Quite often at the beginning of the planning process, when we have lots to discuss and the couple has lots of questions then we might chat on the phone or via Skype, that way we can cover lots of information. I like email because then I have a record of what we have told each other, and I can go back and check things later.
We discuss lots of detail in the months leading up to the wedding, and then right at the end I send the couple a summary email with the main points, timeline plan, maps, permit, ceremony wording, photos of everyone they will need on the day, and contact details of all involved. Then the couple can have a chat with either myself, the photographer or the officiant, or indeed all of us, over the phone to straighten out any tiny details and be confident that all will go smoothly on the day.
It must be lovely when you do get to meet couples?
Yes, I do love to attend the weddings, and there have been a few brides I have met in person during the planning process. Some couples just want to get the day planned, but some are incredibly friendly by email and in many cases I feel that I really get to know them even though we’ve never met in person – we’re discussing such personal things, and I’m helping them make decisions for a very symbolic part of their lives together.
I love keeping in touch with couples, usually through social media, after a wedding, and seeing how their marriages develop, and additions to the family that they make.
Can you talk us through any last minute details you usually need to organise?
I work very hard to avoid doing anything last minute! Some couples are organised and have made all their decisions way in advance, but some aren’t and I have to coax them along a little. This is a tricky thing to do when they are the ones who are paying me, but I really try hard to have everything sorted by at least a week in advance of the wedding, and preferably a longer period than that.
The only thing I do last minute is check the weather forecast, and if it looks terrible then sometimes couples want to discuss a change of plans, which we are often able to do. Other than that, I just keep my phone by my side all the time on the day of a wedding, just in case.
What are the most challenging and the most rewarding aspects of your work?
I do find it challenging to find my people. I do marketing through lots of channels and it’s difficult to know which bits are successful. I ask clients how they found me and they usually say that they Googled “Central Park wedding” and found my website that way, so that suggests that most people have already decided what kind of wedding they want before looking for and finding me.
The most rewarding part is the wedding day itself, and knowing that I have helped a couple start their married life off together in a way that is best for them, and that I have made it all easier and smoother for them. I love seeing the photos of the weddings and keeping in touch with the couples after they are married. After all, it’s the marriage that is the most important thing, not the wedding.
Can you briefly describe a Central Park Wedding?
Actually, not really. We see lots of different weddings in Central Park. There are elopements, with just the couple with the photographer as their witness, or we have small ones with just a handful of guests, or quite big ones with maybe fifty or sixty people.
I have planned ones which are very low budget, and ones which are huge and lavish affairs with much celebration in fancy New York establishments. I do gay weddings and straight weddings. I do short and sweet ceremonies, ceremonies where couples write long lists of promises for each other, I do traditional ceremonies, I do ceremonies where a guest sings or reads a poem, ceremonies with a surprise for one or both of the couple. I do dressed-up super-fancy weddings, I do weddings where the couple both wear jeans.
I have planned weddings for very young couples, some who have been together less than a year, for couples who have recently had children together, and those who have older children together, and for those who have been married before.
Each one is unique, and that is one thing I really love about my job. What they all have in common is that they take place in this stunningly beautiful, iconic and historical public park in the centre of one of the world’s finest and craziest cities.
All images courtesy of Wed in Central Park