It might be that your first idea when you think “destination wedding” is a white sandy beach with bejeweled blue water lapping at a distant shore. But that vision might not be the same for everyone. For some couples, jetting off to the big city, full of iconic cityscapes and places they’ve seen only in the movies, may well be the big dream. And if that’s what you have in mind, then this blog post is for you!
For a destination wedding that’s full of excitement, glamour, and charm, New York is the place for you. We’ve put together this guide on how to have a destination wedding in New York City with you in mind. Read on to find out all the essential things you’ll need to know!
But there are beautiful elements around the city whatever time of year you choose. In winter, you can’t beat a snowy backdrop for photos full of snuggles and love. In the fall, you’ll be lucky enough to have the most glorious backdrop of fall colors as you exchange your vows. And yes, the blossoms of spring and the bright, endless blue skies of summer have their charms too.
Whatever time of year you choose, our top tip is to book accommodation and vendors as early as possible to avoid disappointment!
Whether you’re coming from another state or hopping in from overseas, the city is incredibly accessible with lots of airports and ways into the city. However you’re arriving, investigate and plan before you get here to make things easy and stress-free. We recommend checking out the NYCGo website for all the information you’ll need.
As lovely as the idea is of rocking up to City Hall, paying your fees and lining up to get yourselves married, the reality is a little different. They’re not going to show you the boring paperwork side of things in the movies or on TV, though, right?
To get married in New York City, you will need a marriage license, and you’ll need to get it at least 24 hours before you exchange your vows. So, factor this into your travel plans and make sure you allow enough time before your planned ceremony date. The license costs $35, and you’ll need ID and proof of age to have it granted. To get your marriage license and find out more about how the process works, you can head here.
As well as a marriage license, another requirement for your destination wedding in New York City is to have your ceremony conducted by a wedding officiant. If you’re planning a City Hall wedding, you can skip this step as that part will already be taken care of. But, if your dream is to get married in one of the city’s iconic locations (more on those shortly!), you’ll need to find and book an officiant.
Officiants must be people who are registered and allowed to perform ceremonies. This could be city officials, judges or religious ministers or people who have been ordained online (so you could have a friend or family member officiate if you like!). Choosing an officiant who knows the process of marriage in New York is helpful, though. They’ll know what paperwork needs filling out and how to file it correctly.
The great thing about officiants is that there are all kinds to suit you and your personality. Some are more formal; others will have a more personal approach, so explore your options and see what you prefer.
And if you find yourself struggling to find the perfect officiant, ask your wedding photographer/s! We get to work with lots of amazing people regularly, so we’re always happy to make recommendations if you ask us.
Of course, a destination wedding in New York City needs a wedding photographer (or two) to capture those special moments, right?
We bet one of the reasons you’ve picked our epic city for your nuptials is because of the amazing scenery and iconic backdrops for your wedding photos. So, booking a wedding photographer should be an important part of planning your New York City destination wedding.
We’d recommend making this an early part of your planning process, especially if you’re looking at booking a local photographer. Because (handy tip!), a New York wedding photographer can give you so many tips, tricks and lots of inspiration when it comes to planning your destination wedding.
That’s a nice way of saying we “get about”, but it’s true! We’ve shot a lot of weddings in this incredible city. We know the best places to exchange your vows, the loveliest spots to stop for romantic photos, and where all the best brunch and dinner spots are.
Tap into that wealth of knowledge by booking your wedding photographer/s as soon as possible. Because we’ll always be on hand to offer suggestions and referrals along the way if you get stuck.
There are so many incredible places around the city to have some truly memorable photographs taken, before and after your wedding ceremony.
If you close your eyes and think about New York City for a minute, which locations immediately spring to mind? We’re betting places like Central Park, Times Square, Rockefeller Center & Top of the Rock, the Empire State Building and The New York Public Library spring to mind. Along with many, many more. There’s the Flatiron Building, Grand Central Station, Radio City Music Hall, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty that we can also think of in the blink of an eye. We could go on and on!
Bad news, though. Given the number of places and how far apart they are, it’s impossible to shoot at all of them. We know, sad faces. But you wouldn’t want to either. We guarantee you’d have photography fatigue by the end of it! So, have a good search online and pick 4-5 of your favorites (or choose a handful that are all close by) to include as part of your destination wedding shoot in New York City.
Whether you’ve visited the city before or not, it might surprise you how busy it gets as the day develops.
With a population close to 9 million, a daily commuting population of 1 million and around 65 million visitors per year, there are a whole lot of people everywhere. Whatever the weather, whenever the day or season, it’s fair to say New York City is a busy place. There’s a reason they say it’s the city that never sleeps!
Saying all that, there are times of the day when the streets are a little quieter and when it’s possible to get photographs. Or, you know, exchange wedding vows without a huge crowd of people staring at you.
Our best advice to anyone and everyone is to start early. It’s one of the best times to avoid the crowds and see the city at its very best. The light is always gorgeous first thing, and it’ll be a more peaceful and serene version of the city you may already be familiar with.
Staring early might seem like hard work but, we promise you, you won’t regret it. So, get yourselves a good night’s sleep. Then you can be up and ready early in the morning to catch those sunrise rays as they fall across the city while you say ‘I do’.
Yes, it’s true; we’re pretty food-centric over here! We love a great brunch, but there are endless incredible food spots dotted all over the city, whatever your preferences.
On your wedding day, celebrate with a super fancy meal by making sure you pre-book a reservation at a nice restaurant. After all the excitement, the early start, and the hours on your feet wandering the city for beautiful photographs, you’ll be hungry and looking forward to sitting down to a great meal.
Go all out for this momentous occasion and book something super special. There’s nothing that says ‘We just got married’ more than a high-class restaurant experience.
You could book a table at the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center for a meal with iconic views across the city skyline. The spectacular River Cafe in Brooklyn overlooks the stunning skyscape of lower Manhattan for beautiful views. Or what about a dinner cruise for something a little different?
Whatever you decide, make it truly special and memorable. After all, you’ll only get married in NYC once, right?
Hudson Valley wedding photographers capturing candid, authentic moments. Documenting elopements and wedding days in Westchester, the Catskills, and beyond. Available in Ulster County, Orange County, Dutchess County, and beyond. Wedding photographers based in Beacon, NY serving all throughout the Greater New York Area including Tarrytown, Hudson, Kingston, and more. Proudly serving LGBTQ+ couples.
© BROOKLYN WEDDING PHOTO LLC (DBA MEGAN & KENNETH) 2023