Today's post comes from NYC Wedding Planner Claire Ady of Wed in Central Park! Claire has been planning weddings for couples who want to get married in Central Park in New York City (and a few other outdoor locations in the city) since 2012. Since NYC is one of the most expensive cities in the country for weddings, I thought her budget-savvy expertise on getting married in Central Park would be helpful to all of you considering an NYC wedding! Enjoy her advice below.xoxo, Jessica
Getting Married in Central Park is the Perfect Way to Have a Budget-Savvy NYC Wedding!
Some of my clients want a big, lavish wedding with a huge group of guests, an expensive gown and a big reception somewhere exclusive with a stunning view of New York City. Some of my clients are looking to have a fun and relaxed day… a unique wedding with beautiful photos, but to keep the costs down. And then there’s everything in between. The vast majority of my clients come from out of town, and most are from outside of the US, although some are New Yorkers.
I've personally planned over 300 NYC weddings, and I love the unique and breathtaking wedding options the city provides. Central Park Weddings are great for couples who want to get married in New York City without breaking the bank. Just like with any wedding location, all couples should determine what is important to them to help decide what to splurge on and what to save on. Below, you'll find a basic breakdown of the costs involved and some tips to save when getting married in Central Park!
How to Get Married in Central Park on a Budget
Things to Keep in Mind, Options to Consider, and Ways to Save!
Flights and Travel to NYC
Many of my clients are from the UK, Ireland or Australia, and flights between those countries and New York are pretty steady in price all year round. January is often when I take most bookings from clients. Also, it is when many airlines have their sales. So, snag a bargain if you can! There isn’t really a cheaper season to visit New York, although in general the further ahead you book, the better the prices will be.
Many couples come to New York to get married and then go on to another part of the US for their honeymoon. I’m going to count this as a cost-saving method because if you were planning on a honeymoon in Mexico or Hawaii or Vegas, then New York might part of the way there.
The Wedding Ceremony
As a planner with years of experience with NYC weddings, I've found great quality officiants, photographers, videographers, hair and makeup artists, florists, and musicians to pull together a great Central Park Wedding. But if you're prepared to do your own searching online, it's certainly possible to find great people to be involved in your wedding all by yourself. Just make sure to check reviews! To suit a range of needs, I offer several package options for couples who want to have a wedding in Central Park.
Read this: Tips for Planning a Public Park Wedding
NYC Wedding Photography
Some couples want to save money by not hiring a professional photographer, but I think this is a big mistake! Don't miss out on an opportunity to get photos as a lasting memory of a very important day in your life. I offer a budget-savvy package that includes only the ceremony, meaning the couple can find their own photographer from the vast choice that New York offers, or in some cases a guest might take their photos.
My most popular option is a package with two hours of photography, but I also offer a package with all-day photography at a great rate, as well as an option with a musician, flowers, and video included. My newest offering is an elopement package (weekdays only) with only one hour of photography for couples who want professional photos but don’t want to pay for more hours of coverage they may not need.
Your Central Park Wedding Flowers
You can get a bouquet of lovely fresh blooms delivered right to your hotel room, but of course, this comes with a fee. When I got married in Central Park, I was living on the Upper East Side and I had a florist on the corner by our apartment. I ordered a bouquet of roses and a boutonniere and sent my groom in to pick them up on the morning of our wedding. I was not especially fussy about my arrangement, and I was happy with roses, so I saved some money that way. There are florists all over New York, so I recommend that a couple do that if they want to keep costs down.
Another option for affordable wedding flowers that takes a little more effort, is to go to the New York flower market and arrange your own bouquet! The Market is located on East 28th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. Sure, it's not as convenient, but doing this will allow you to put more a personal stamp on your wedding. As a tip, my florist strongly suggests keeping your flowers in a fridge if your room has one.
Music for your Wedding Ceremony
Music can add atmosphere and mood to a wedding. The Central Park Conservancy does not allow amplified music at events in Central Park, so if you would like music at your wedding, it will have to be a live acoustic musician.
Anyone who visits Central Park will notice people playing music either on the benches, on the pathways, or under Bethesda Terrace hoping for donations from the public. Central Park is always full of musicians. One couple I worked with asked me to find them one of these people to play at their wedding the day-of and I accepted the challenge. I found a man playing beautiful cello at the 72nd Street and Central Park West entrance to Central Park. I offered him $50 to play at their wedding and he was glad to take it! A guest brought a chair for him to use, and it was a total budget-savvy win!
NYC Wedding Videography
Some couples want a lasting record of the wedding ceremony, and a video is great to show friends and family who have not been able to attend the wedding. It's also a particularly nice touch if the couple is having a party with their loved ones when they return home. The team I work with can even stream your wedding on the internet for friends and family back home to view in real-time!
Some of my couples even bring devices to self-record their ceremony! I've seen them use an apparatus to attach their phone to a structure to record the whole thing that way. Of course, if you have guests, you can easily bestow the role of camera-person on a responsible friend or family member.
Your NYC Wedding Meal
If a couple is eloping, the wedding meal is fairly easy. I once read that you can eat out every night for 54 years in NYC without going to the same restaurant twice! There is truly something for everyone in New York in terms of food. Couples who elope can enjoy any number of fabulous eateries for their celebratory wedding meal. Plus, hosting your wedding reception at a restaurant is low-stress and much more affordable than renting an event space!
If a couple is having a destination wedding in Central Park with friends and family in attendance, then this will be part of the wedding day that takes up a large chunk of your budget. For a smaller group, it would be acceptable to just book a table in a restaurant and pay for everyone’s meal.
If your group is larger, consider booking a private room. The cost of this varies greatly throughout the city's different restaurants. As an example: a classic old-school family Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side charges a minimum of $1500 for a room that holds up to 40 people. It will take some shopping around to find the restaurant that fits your taste and budget and size requirements.
Accommodations for NYC Weddings
Accommodations can be the biggest expense for a destination wedding, particularly in an expensive city like New York. How long you stay in New York will, of course, have a large influence on how much it costs you to be there.
Many of my clients stay in large chain hotels near Times Square, against my recommendations. Personally, I don’t like to spend much time in Times Square, and I think every New Yorker would agree. The hotels there are expensive and there are a lot of restaurants in the area that are poor quality tourist-trap chains.
If a couple plans to get married in Central Park, I always recommend they book accommodations on the Upper West Side. It is in between the Hudson River and Central Park, it has beautiful buildings, a vast choice of restaurants and bars, and great transport links. There are lots of nice hotels there, such as The Hotel Beacon. Real people live on the Upper West Side and go out there, so a restaurant only stays open if it is good.
How to Save Money on NYC Accommodations
However, my key tip to save money on a trip to New York is to use Airbnb. I have used this myself. I would not suggest renting one room in an apartment if you are going to be newlyweds, but I would recommend this to any wedding guests who are looking to save on accommodation in New York. New York City is so very dense and built up, so you really can't go wrong with an Airbnb in any area of Manhattan. The homes listed are often right next to where the hotels are (except in Times Square) so wherever you stay, there will be restaurants and Subway stops nearby.
If you rent a whole place on the Upper East Side or Upper West Side Manhattan you can be really close to Central Park and plenty of great places to have a reception afterward. These will not be spacious apartments, but they will be bigger than a hotel room and will have a small kitchen, so if you are really looking to save money, you can prepare some meals in the apartment.
Get Married in Central Park on a Budget
I hope you've found this information helpful if you are considering planning a wedding in Central Park. Please don't hesitate to reach out if I can be of any help in your wedding planning process!
See Real Weddings in Central Park on The Budget Savvy Bride