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New York Central Park Elopement Wedding Guide

Ultimate Central Park Elopement Wedding Guide

Hi there,
Thank you for taking the time to visit my website. I’m a New York based wedding and family photographer. Over the Years my work – not only weddings –  was published in Forbes, National Geographic Traveler, and I also photographed major UN events at some point fulfilling government assignments as a photographer.

My work was recognized and published on “Modern Weddings” and “Equality Wedd” blogs among others. 

I made this Central Park elopement wedding guide to make your life easy with a lot of tips and map with locations.

WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR NOW?​

Cup of coffee and 15 minutes of your free time. Maybe a piece of paper and a pen if you would like to take notes.

Let’s Dive in

The handbook I prepared for you consists of information that has been proven to work and have been gathered throughout years of experience as a New York wedding and elopement photographer.

It is built in smart sections combing planning, locations regarding the futures, best times of year, week and even day to get married as well as an extra activity before and after the ceremony.

Table of Contents

If you would have any questions regarding your plans or this guide please let me know I will be happy to schedule a video consultation with you, to go over any details or questions you might have!

How to get eloped in Central Park

I feel having a high degree of expertise, when it comes to the subject of planning, helping and taking photos in multiple spots in Central Park.

From best views of the city to quiet, hidden and intimate places to say your vows to the most popular once there is something special for every couple. New York Central Park is one of the more popular choices for couples who want elope. 

In my experience as a photographer especially those coming for a destination wedding out of the city. Sometimes you can see multiple weddings happening throughout the day. I witnessed and was taking photos for many couples in love who decided to have their ceremony and photoshoot in this largest New York City park.

Central Park Cop Cot Elopement Wedding

Permit, and park booking fees

According to NYC Park roles if you are planning the gathering of less than 20 people you would not need a permit. However, if you want to make sure that there is no ceremony planned in the spot of your desire it is better to apply for one.

Time: 30 days

Cost: $25

Permit required: It is necessary you have a permit for groups larger than 20 people with the guests included. You can go to http://nyc.gov/parks and fill out the proper form.

Restrictions

There is a long list of what is not allowed during Central Park Elopement Wedding Ceremonies. Form most important ones are:

  • No set-up (includes tents/tables/chairs); chuppahs may be hand-carried in and out with prior permission. Some of the elopement ceremony spots in central park like cop cot have benches as a part of the structure. If you plan that your family elders would attend your wedding it would be a good idea to look for the place with seating spots. You can use the map to find them.
  • Amplified sound is prohibited (acoustic music is permitted). I have personally photographed weddings where one of the guests was playing a musical instrument. It adds a lot of character and is such a great idea to add a personal touch as your favorite song or music piece.

  • Alcohol is not allowed. With that in mind I advise you, not to consume alcohol in public places, I also have seen a celebration of a symbolic glass of sparkling beverage on more than one occasion.

  • No flowers, balloons, or decorations. I would just 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.

Do we need to have our marriage license a long time before eloping?

Obtaining the marriage license in New York is quite simple and the law requires that you wait at least 24h before you can get officially married unless you obtain a judicial waiver.

So, it is theoretically possible to get married on the same day. You just need to start the process early in the morning.  I can walk you through all the details during the free consultation. 

Access and way to get there

It all depends on the ceremony area you choose. To the park area you can get by subway train. On the West Side it would be or trains. On the West Side 6 train would work best. If you need to enter from the south F train would be the best option.

In this day and age, you can easily use any of the cab apps on your phone as well. If you would need help finding a place or directions within the park on the day of the wedding, I will make it very simple for you and make a map for your convenience.

More Private & intimate Wedding locations

The Ramble

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

Access
2/5
City Views
0/5
Intimate
5/5
seating
1/5
sheltered
0/5

Wagner Cove

Small wooden pavilion that was reopened in 2016 might be a perfect spot for your intimate wedding. It is right by the cove of the lake and 10 min walk from subway C train. You will be able to see it from the other side of the lake, but its location is little off site from the plain view. The stone steps are leading straight down to it. To get there you can also take a narrow path from the other side of the Cherry Hill. Wagner Cove is compact and the whole location would fit no more than 5-6 guests comfortably.

Access
4/5
City Views
0/5
Intimate
4/5
seating
1/5
sheltered
4/5

Dene Shelter / Summerhouse

It is located on a hill with the view. Wooden structure is would perfectly fit 8-10 guests. During the summer provides great relief from 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 little bigger than Wagner Cove and it is more exposed to the public.

Access
4/5
City Views
4/5
Intimate
4.5/5
seating
5/5
sheltered
5/5

The North Woods

This forested area is just very inspirational. It stretches along East drive in the Park and has some intimate spaces to offer. 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.

Access
2/5
City Views
0/5
Intimate
5/5
seating
0/5
sheltered
0/5

The Central Park best view elopement locations

I find that Central Park has a great variety of locations both for those who want to get married in an intimate surrounding and those who have a desire for grand views and don’t mind potential viewers or tourists walking by.
After all it is New York City and it might happen that you will have quite a group watching your ceremony. As the list of intimate locations is ferly long the list of best spots with the view might seem even longer. There are some of my favorites among them.

Cat Rock & Umpire 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 weekdays intimate weddings. If you are patient and willing to wait or have more than a few guests with you might be able to do the ceremony during sunset time as well. Umpire Rock is located literally 5-minute 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.

Access
5/5
City Views
5/5
Intimate
1/5
seating
0/5
sheltered
0/5

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.

Access
3/5
City Views
4.5/5
Intimate
1/5
seating
0/5
sheltered
0/5

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.

Access
3.5/5
City Views
3.5/5
Intimate
3.7/5
seating
1/5
sheltered
0/5

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.

Access
3.5/5
City Views
3.5/5
Intimate
3.5/5
seating
1/5
sheltered
4/5

Sheep Meadow

One more of my favorite spots for the 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 shades 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.

Access
3/5
City Views
5/5
Intimate
0/5
seating
2/5
sheltered
0/5

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 place 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.

Access
5/5
City Views
5/5
Intimate
1/5
seating
5/5
sheltered
5/5

Other Central Park Elopement wedding Locations

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.

Access
2/5
City Views
1/5
Intimate
0/5
seating
0/5
sheltered
0/5

Bow Bridge

For some reason I have a great sentiment to this location. It is – so to speak – the epicenter of it all. The view from here is splendid and historic charm is undeniable. It looks especially attractive during Autumn when the tree colors change to shades of gold and red. One major thing to keep in mind. It is an active bridge so I would plan the ceremony to be short and very early morning on a weekday, so it goes uninterrupted.

Access
3/5
City Views
3/5
Intimate
5/5
seating
1/5
sheltered
0/5

Gapstow Bridge

Both sides north and south offer an attractive view for the city skyline as well as the bridge itself. If you would like to have your Central Park elopement photos on the bridge, I would recommend planning the ceremony for a weekday and off the busy season. It is a passage for others as well after all. Also, there are no seating places except the aisles leading to the bridge. According to the Park guidelines the bridge can fit 20-25 guests.

Access
4/5
City Views
3/5
Intimate
0.5/5
seating
1/5
sheltered
0/5

Bethesda Terrace

I consider this location as heart of Central Park. It is beautifully located and has a historic charm. There are multiple mini locations ad backgrounds for your intimate Central Park Wedding right there. One of the great advantages of this spot is that it is fully covered therefore it is a great alternative for rainy days weddings. I would recommend planning an early morning weekday wedding ceremony though. Bethesda Terrace is on of the most touristic places in entire New York City 

Access
4/5
City Views
2/5
Intimate
0.5/5
seating
3/5
sheltered
5/5
Central Park Elopement Wedding

Can we get married in 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.

What is the best time of year to get married in Central Park?

The decision is completely based on personal preferences!  A lot of couples aim mostly for two seasons. Spring and cherry blossom as well as Autumn with beautiful color changing foliage. If you would like to have unique photos you can wait for first winter snow. The park just looks magical then.

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.

which day of the week to choose - Weekdays or Weekends?

Central Park is a major tourist attraction with that in mind I would always choose any weekday over weekend. Especially in Summer when the park main points of interest can be packed. However,
if you are not afraid of crowds and don’t mind people in the background on your photos or are looking for more organic – documentary feel of your photos any day will work great.
New York Central Park Rowboat Elopement Portrait

What Time of Day is best for our Central Park intimate Wedding?

I think that “golden hour” gives the most opportunities regarding the light qualities. I love the sunrise in Central Park. I know it’s very early but, if you have the chance nothing beats early morning in the park. The light is dreamy, you have wole park just to yourselves. The rest of the day you can celebrate. I recommend sunrise time especially to those couples who really want photos in- otherwise super crowded spaces – like Bow Bridge or Bethesda Terrace,

With that said, of course you can get married at any time of day. Just note that as the day goes on, the crowds increase. This is especially true in the southern reaches of the park that are most popular with tourists and on weekends. Sunset is also beautiful in Central Park, there are just a few more crowds to deal with then at sunrise. 

If you are the couple who doesn’t mind having people in the background on the photos or look for modern, photojournalistic / documentary images, sunset time is the great time to get married in Central Park

What if it rains?

There are few locations in Central Park that are covered in case of rain. You can choose between Bethesda Terrace, Ladies Pavilion and Dene Shelter. If you are ok with a slight drizzle, we can make it a go but at

any locations and make umbrellas a romantic addition to your ceremony. I’m also very flexible and even changing the locations few hours ahead on the day of your New York Elopement is completely fine.

Do you know someone who can marry us for our wedding in Central Park?

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.

Rowboats or Horse Carriages?

I just love rowboats! If you want to have some romantic and unique photos it is the way to go. 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.

Can we go to Central Park for Photos after the City Hall Wedding?

Absolutely! We can take both subway and take some photos on the way or jump in the cab and be there in 30-minutes or so depending on the traffic. The travel time will need to be calculated in the package you are aiming for.
If you would like to stay locally around the City Clerk’s office, I also build the guide of the best ideas and locations around to go for photos and host a small party afterwards. Make sure to take a look.

We are looking for something unique. Can we take photos somewhere else then Central Park?

New York is a city of possibilities. It doesn’t matter if you are coming just to get eloped and have great photos or you are a New Yorker. There are so many choices to choose from. From Fort Tryon in the northern part of
Manhattan to Highline Park and South Seaport on the south. Possibilities are endless. Also, if you have your mind set on any of your favorite locations, please let me know will find the way to make it happen!

Location Map

Legend

Each point on the map represents different elopement wedding location regarding its character. 

Forest Map Icon

Forested & dense greenery areas

Meadow - Garden Map Icon

MeaDows & Gardens

Bridge

Bridges

Rocks-Mountains Map Icon

Rocks & Boulders

Monument Map Icon

Fully or Partly sheltered locations

Row Boat Map Icon

RowBoats Rental

Walk map icon

Best Walking access to certain locations 

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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