The bright lights and big city promise of New York is sometimes impossible to resist. Loud, romantic, beautiful, insatiable – create memories together in New York and it might just be your perfect gay wedding destination. Wedding planner Claire Ady, specialises in curating weddings in New York’s Central Park – a popular place for couples wanting to elope or hold a wedding abroad.
“It is an incredible city and Central Park is an iconic and beautiful spot in the centre of Manhattan,” explains Claire. "There are so many choices available to you here. From quiet locations to something more public location; from rustic to art deco, weddings in Central Park can be as big and lavish, small of intimate as you want. Around 12% of my clients are same-sex couples, and its increasing every year.”
Elope to New York or Destination Wedding?
So how do you choose whether to elope or whether to make New York your destination wedding city of choice?
“Many couples like the idea of an elopement because it brings the focus on them as a couple. They can plan their wedding solely for their own needs, and not worry about guests,” says Claire. “But others want their friends and family around. In fact, many of my clients from abroad say they can’t justify the expense of a traditional wedding at home and would rather spend the same amount of money and have a vacation with their loved ones instead!”
“It’s also interesting to note that an increasing number of couples these days hail from two different countries, and might even live in a third country. This makes a destination wedding in New York even more appealing as it’s a great way to get two families together from different sides of the globe.”
Whatever your reason for holding your wedding in New York, find inspiration from some of the weddings Claire has planned recently in Central Park.
Rivka and Dani
Rivka originally comes from New Zealand and Dani comes from England. They live together in Sydney and - because same-sex marriage was not yet legal in Australia - they decided to get married in New York.
“For many of our guests, especially those from New Zealand, it was a great excuse to come to a city they had always wanted to see,” recalls Rivka. “We had Dani’s family from the UK and some of my family from New Zealand, along with friends from the UK, Australia and France.” They chose Central Park for their ceremony location “because it is so quintessentially New York as well as beautiful,” and as soon as they saw Cop Cot, they knew we had found the place.
Rhiannon and Danielle
Rhiannon and Danielle were on a road trip in the US with two friends when they decided to get married, and chose Central Park for their location. Rhiannon says they didn't want "the hassle" of a big wedding, and after looking online, asked Claire to help arrange their wedding day.
“Claire was fantastic – she helped with everything, and even gave us some nudges in the right direction when we weren’t sure,” said Rhiannon. They married in Central Park's Shakespeare Garden which features a small wooden platform that is great for intimate ceremonies.
One they'd said their vows, they went for a beer before heading up to the Top of the Rock for some breathtaking views of the city. “It was a wonderful way to finish up such a lovely experience,” said Rhiannon.
Jamie and Paul
Jamie and Paul live in the UK and met through friends 10 years to the day before they got married. They got engaged on New Years' Eve 2015 in Manchester when Jamie played Paul a video showing of their lives together so far; the last frame flashed to Jamie holding a board asking Paul to marry him.
The plan had been to wed in the UK, but as the more they went through the wedding planning process, the more they realised they were planning their wedding for their guests, not for themselves. Eloping to New York was their solution, and the married in the Ladies' Pavilion in June 2016. “It was a great day, very relaxed,” said Jamie. “We ate breakfast in Central Park, and then went for a boat ride in the sun on the Lake. Then we went for lunch at the Tavern on the Green.”
Mitchell and Brian
Mitchell and Brian had been together for more than 15 years when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of equal marriage.
“We never really thought much about marriage for the first fifteen years of our relationship,” said Mitchell., "but when it became legal, we were excited to publicly pledge our love to each brought."
Then came the planning - they needed somewhere on neutral ground that would suit Brian's family from Texas and Oklahoma, and Mitchell's family from Nebraska; after settling on Kansas the planning got out of control and, during a drip to New York, they decided to marry in Central Park's Dene Summer House instead.
"We visit New York at least once a year," said Mitchell. "Central Park is such a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city that we both love. We found the Dene Summer House by accident several years ago after being trapped under a bridge nearby waiting for the rain to pass,” he said. It was the perfect spot for them to say their vows in front of close friends and family.
Laura and Louise
Laura and Louise got engaged during a fireworks display at Chatsworth House in 2013. Knowing they didn't want a conventional wedding, they decided to fly out to New York with their family and friends from Sheffield, and marry in the Ladies' Pavilion in Central Park. They married 12 years to the day after they first got together.
"The Ladies Pavilion was the perfect setting for our vaguely 1920s style wedding outfits!” said Laura who wore a dress by Jenny Packham, whilst Louise wore a Vivienne Westwood shirt with tailored trousers. They didn't want flowers and, keeping the whole thing low-key, invited Laura's parents, brother and three friends.
After the ceremony they travelled in pedicabs to the iconic Bow Bridge and Bethesda Terrace and Fountain.
“One of the best things about the day was how amazing the people were who happened to stumble upon our ceremony, and then afterwards as we took a stroll back through Central Park to our hotel. People were so complimentary, with so many people saying “Congratulations”, comments on our outfits, and people stopping to talk to us about the ceremony and our plans for the rest of the day. It made us feel really special,” said Laura.
The next morning they enjoyed a helicopter tour of the city, bought for them by their family as a wedding gift.
Claire Ady runs Wed in Central Park, a specialist wedding planning services that does exactly what it says on the tin. Find out how she can help you plan your destination gay wedding in New York.