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Ultimate Central Park elopement wedding guide​.

Are you planning to have a Central Park elopement wedding? Look no further; I have prepared a comprehensive guide covering everything you need to know. My guide has got you covered every step of the way.

I created this guide to simplify your Central Park elopement with helpful tips and a map of locations.

Let’s dive in.

To get started, grab yourself a cup of coffee and set aside 15 minutes of your free time. If you’d like to take notes, grab a piece of paper and a pen. The handbook I’ve prepared for you includes information that has been proven to work and has been gathered over years of experience as a New York wedding and elopement photographer.

It is designed with smart sections that incorporate planning, location options, and ideal times for weddings, as well as recommendations for pre- and post-ceremony activities.

As a photographer, I specialize in destination weddings in New York. Central Park is a popular choice for couples with a variety of beautiful locations for ceremonies and photoshoots. I have photographed many couples in this largest park of New York City, from quiet hidden spots to the most popular ones.

If you are planning to gather less than 20 people in a NYC Park, you don’t need a permit. However, it’s recommended to apply for one if you want to ensure that there are no scheduled ceremonies or events taking place in the area you desire.

How long does it take to get the permit? 30 days

What is the cost of permit: $25

Permit required: You must have a permit for groups larger than 20 people with the guests included. You can go to Parks and Recreation website and fill out the proper form.

There is a lengthy list of prohibited activities during Central Park Elopement Wedding Ceremonies. The most important restrictions are:

  • Parks and Recreation don’t provide any set-up like tents, tables, and chairs to the elopement ceremony spots in Central Park. However, you can carry chuppahs in and out after getting prior permission. Some ceremony spots like Cop Cot have benches as a part of their structure. If you are planning to invite your family elders, it would be best to choose a spot with seating arrangements. You can use the map to locate such spots.
  • Amplified sound is not allowed, but acoustic music is permitted. As a wedding photographer, I have captured many weddings where guests played musical instruments, and it always added a unique touch to the occasion. Incorporating your favorite song or music piece is a great idea to make your wedding more personal and memorable.
  • Alcohol is not allowed, although I have witnessed symbolic toasts with sparkling beverages on occasion.
  • No flowers, balloons, or decorations. I would add – from my personal perspective that wedding locations in Central Park are stylish and won’t need anything but you to make them even more special. Additionally, to this role, also the cleanup is mandatory, so it smart not to leave a big footprint.

Find the complete story of Kasia and Daniel here.

Firstly, you’ll need to obtain your marriage license, and then we can find the perfect location. Getting married in New York is a relatively straightforward process. First and foremost, you’ll need to obtain a marriage license, which typically takes just one day. However, if you’re in a hurry, you may be able to secure a judicial waiver, although you’ll still need to wait at least 24 hours. If you need more time to feel overwhelmed by the process and require assistance, I’d be more than happy to provide you with a free consultation and guide you through all of the details.

The accessibility of the ceremony area depends on the location you choose. If you opt for the park area, you can reach it via subway train. On the West Side, the ideal trains to take are either the F or 6 train. If you need to enter from the south, the F train would be the best option for you.

Nowadays, you can easily use any taxi app on your phone to get transportation.If you need help finding your way around the park during the wedding, I’ve created a map to make things easier.

The decision is completely based on personal preferences!  A lot of couples aim mostly for two seasons. Spring and cherry blossoms, as well as autumn foliage, offer a stunning display of colors. If you’re looking to capture unique photos, the first winter snowfall creates a truly magical atmosphere in the park.

However the Summer is fine as well the frequent temperatures and high humidity is something to keep in mind. Sometimes in August they can be hard to bear. You can of course plan your elopement wedding under one of the gazebos or do it right after the sunrise.

Central Park is a top tourist destination. If possible, it’s best to plan an elopement on a weekday instead of a weekend. This is especially true during the summer months when the park’s main attractions tend to get crowded.However, if you don’t mind crowds and prefer a more authentic and documentary-style feel to your photos, you can visit on any day. Just be prepared for the possibility of people in the background of your photos.

The “golden hour” provides the best opportunities for capturing beautiful light in photos. Personally, I love the sunrise in Central Park, even though it means waking up very early. The light at that time of day is just dreamy, and you have the whole park to yourselves. I especially recommend sunrise time for couples who want to take photos in popular and crowded spots like Bow Bridge or Bethesda Terrace. After the photoshoot, you can enjoy the rest of your day!

That being said, it is worth mentioning that getting married in Central Park is possible at any time of the day. However, it is important to note that as the day progresses, the number of people in the park increases, particularly in the southern areas that are most frequented by tourists and on weekends. Despite this, experiencing the sunset in Central Park is breathtaking, even if it means dealing with slightly larger crowds than at sunrise.

If you don’t mind having people in the background of your photos or prefer modern, photojournalistic/documentary images, sunset is the perfect time for a Central Park wedding.

There are few locations in Central Park that are covered in case of rain. You have the option to choose from three beautiful locations for your elopement in New York – Bethesda Terrace, Ladies Pavilion, and Dene Shelter. If you don’t mind a little bit of rain, we can still proceed with the ceremony and even add umbrellas to make it more romantic. I’m very flexible, so changing the location a few hours ahead of the ceremony is also fine.

Of course! I can recommend excellent officiants. I will send all the great vendors information enclosed as a welcome package for you after booking your wedding.

I love rowboats! It is the way to go if you want to have some romantic and unique photos. They are very inexpensive,, and you can rent them by the hour. I will happily run around, on and off the boat, to capture your love. There are plenty of little areas to make that happen. It is my little secret and I will promise to take you to the most spectacular ones. Check out the map for the rental location

Regarding the Central Park horse carriages, because of it is being  a controversial issue I personally stay on the side of not using them both for photos or even casual ride.

Find the complete story of Kasia and Daniel here.

Certainly! We have a couple of options available. We could either take the subway and capture some amazing photos on the way, or opt for a cab ride and arrive at the destination in just 30 minutes or so, depending on the traffic. Please note that the travel time will be included in the package that you choose. Additionally, if you would like to stay in the vicinity of the City Clerk’s office, I have compiled a guide of the best locations for photography and hosting a small party afterwards. Be sure to take a look!

New York is a city full of endless possibilities, whether you’re a New Yorker or just visiting for a romantic getaway. From Fort Tryon located in the northern part of Manhattan, to Highline Park and South Seaport in the south, there is so much to choose from. If you have a specific location in mind, please let me know and I will do my best to make it happen for you.

The Ramble

This location is quiet and intimate for sure. Specially weekdays might be a good choice for your elopement wedding.

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Wagner Cove

A small wooden pavilion, which was reopened in 2016, could be an ideal location for your intimate wedding. It’s situated next to the cove of the lake and is just a 10-minute walk from the C train subway. Although it is visible from the other side of the lake, it is not easily noticeable due to its location. The stone steps lead straight down to the pavilion, and there is also a narrow path to get there from the other side of the Cherry Hill. Wagner Cove is a compact location and can comfortably accommodate no more than 5-6 guests.

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Dene Shelter / Summerhouse

It is located on a hill with the view. The wooden structure would perfectly fit 8-10 guests. During the summer, it provides great relief from the sun, and benches inside can make a nice viewing experience for the ceremony. I really like this place because of the long isle on one side and the stairs from the other. Both make a nice backdrop for the photos. Dene Shelter is a little bigger than Wagner Cove, and it is more exposed to the public.

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The North Woods

This forested area is just very inspirational. It stretches along East drive in the Park and offers some intimate spaces. Huddlestone Arch and Glen Span Arch are among the most interesting. Some waterfalls and The Pool area are the ones I would recommend for the elopement session. Keep in mind that if you are traveling from Manhattan City Hall it will take the longest to get here but also, because of its location you can be almost sure your elopement ceremony will be just for your eyes.

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The Central Park best view elopement locations

Central Park offers a vast array of locations for weddings, catering to those seeking both intimate and grand settings. While some may prefer to have a private ceremony away from prying eyes, others may appreciate the beautiful views despite the potential audience of tourists passing by.

In New York City, where anything can happen, it’s not uncommon to have a crowd gathering to watch a wedding ceremony. With an extensive list of intimate locations, the list of the best spots with breathtaking views is equally impressive. Let me share some of my top picks with you.

Cat Rock & Empire Rock

I would set as top of the top if it goes to the Manhattan skyline view. Both places are spectacular but can also get crowded easily especially for the sunset time. I would recommend a very early morning weekday intimate wedding. If you are patient and willing to wait or have more than a few guests with you, you might also be able to do the ceremony during sunset time. Umpire Rock is located literally a 5-minute walk from Columbus Circle entrance, walk from Columbus Circle entrance and Cat Rock is just south of The Mall and above Wollman Rink. Also, Umpire Rock is much steeper. Therefore, I would recommend shoes with good grip and no more than 5 -6 guests.

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Belvedere Castle & Turtle Pond Overlook

If you would like to get married with the view of Gothic Castle from the 19th century you can plan your ceremony on the Quiet Lawn. You can also go for the castle itself, but I would advise to keep it short and rather in early morning than afternoon since the castle grounds can easily get busy with tourists. The Central Park website says that wedding ceremonies can be held on the Belvedere Plaza and there is no access to the castle itself.

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The Lake View

This place is one of my favorites. It is off the plain site but also has a beautiful view for the Lake and San Remo towers in the background. It is also very conveniently located. Right past the Bow Bridge And 5 away from the Bethesda Terrace / Bethesda Fountain, which can be a great spot for photos of the two of you. It is also quiet with few benches and can fit about 25-30 people comfortably. Late afternoon elopement ceremonies there look best on the photos since the sun would be setting right behind the lake and illuminated you beautifully.

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Ladies Pavilion & Hernshead

I love this place for its unique and historic charm. Since the elopement ceremonies most popular spot is right under the roof there is no seating place for the guests except two benches inside the pavilion. As a reward you get a beautiful view of Manhattan and the lake. After the ceremony, we can do family photos and your portraits at Hernshead which is right behind the Pavilion. It is one of the most popular places in Central Park for elopement weddings, so my advice is to make a written reservation ahead of time. The whole area can fit around 20-25 guests.

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Sheep Meadow

One more of my favorite spots for an intimate wedding in Central Park. It needs to be said that it is very popular among New Yorkers, especially during the weekend. But an early morning weekday ceremony with the Manhattan skyline would be just beautiful. You can also find shade spots under the trees. The best part is that, since it is a large lawn, you can encourage guests to bring blankets and let them sit right on the grass for a more laid-back feel.

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Cop-Cot

This is one of the most popular places for elopement wedding ceremonies. I think it has a lot of advantages. The location is very convenient – only 10 min form F train subway and almost right at south the entrance to the park. As one of the larger structures is equipped with benches all around so your guests can view the ceremony comfortably seating. The other great thing about this spot that it is sheltered and during summer it provides nice cool shade for all.

Afterwards I can take you for a nice stroll to the park or towards the city so you can have some photos also in urban surroundings. The rocks around the Cop-Cot are fantastic places for portraits with the city backdrop and the ail leading to the Gazebo is great for the first look if you wish to have one. I suggest reserving the place ahead of time to make sure it is available just for you.

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Shakespeare Garden

Great spot for short and small ceremony. Especially beautiful in the blooming season. Located close to Belvedere Castle and the Ramble is a perfect starting point for you wedding session. If You are a fan of museums, we can also stop by the Museum of Natural History just 10 min walk from the garden.

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Bow Bridge

There is something special about this location. It is, in a sense, the center of everything. The view from here is breathtaking, and the historic charm is undeniable. The place looks particularly beautiful during Autumn when the trees change their colors to shades of gold and red. However, it is essential to keep in mind that this is an active bridge, so it is best to plan a short ceremony very early in the morning on a weekday to avoid any interruptions.

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Gapstow Bridge

Both sides, north and south, offer an attractive view for the city skyline as well as the bridge itself. If you’re considering having your Central Park elopement photos taken on the bridge, it’s best to plan the ceremony for a weekday during the off-season, as the bridge is a popular passage for commuters. Keep in mind that there are no seating areas, except for the aisles leading to the bridge. The park guidelines state that the bridge can accommodate up to 20-25 guests.

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Bethesda Terrace

I consider this location the heart of Central Park. It is beautifully situated and has a historic charm to it. There are multiple mini locations and backgrounds within this spot that are perfect for an intimate Central Park wedding. One of the great advantages of this location is that it is fully covered, making it a great alternative for rainy day weddings. I would recommend planning an early morning weekday wedding ceremony to avoid the crowds. Bethesda Terrace is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of New York City.

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City views

Intimate

Sitting

Sheltered

Conservatory Garden

The Conservatory Garden being the only formal garden in Central Park has it’s restrictions. The permit is required and there is no way around that. Good news is that it includes a photo permit as well. Getting Eloped is currently worth going through the process. It resembles a European palace garden. Divided into separate spaces will provide multiple opportunities for photos after you say “-yes”. 

I find that most preferable spots are two. One around the lily pond reflecting pool on the south side or a Terrace above the garden providing more shade and the view for the garden. Both are fantastic spots!

You can apply for the permit here: Conservatory Garden Wedding Permit.


About the author.

As a professional photographer based in New York, I specialize in wedding and family photography. My work has been widely recognized, having been featured in Forbes and National Geographic Traveler. In fact, my skills have also been commissioned by the United Nations to photograph major events. I have also had the privilege of completing various government assignments using my photography skills. It’s exciting to note that recognition and publication of my work can be found in popular blogs such as “Modern Weddings” and “Equality Wedd.” If you would like to learn more about me, please visit the “About” section of the website.

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I’m confident that this Central Park elopement Wedding Guide provided you with a lot of helpful information. I can provide a great dose of help, if you are planning your intimate wedding in New York City. Please do not hesitate to message or call me if you would have any questions.


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