Where are you getting married?
One of the greatest things about getting married in New York is the diversity of venues available to choose from. Want to have a wedding in a bank vault? No problem. On a horse farm? Of course. From the tip of Long Island through Manhattan and all across the tri-state, there is a place for everyone. My wife and I love the restaurant scene in New York so we had our wedding at Lafayette where Andrew Carmellini is the chef and Jen Yee was the pastry chef. We loved it because the food was a highlight and the whole thing felt very “us”. The more at home you feel in your venue the more natural you’ll look in your photos. In any given year, I’ll end up shooting at all the types of venues we’ll explore below. It’s not imperative that your photographer has shot in the exact space you’re getting married in, but with the diversity of lighting situations around town you’ll want to make sure whoever you choose can adapt on the fly.
Make sure to check out Part 1: Choosing a Date
Marquee Hotel Weddings
If the title includes the word “The”, there’s a good chance you’re talking about one of New York’s iconic hotels: The Plaza, The Waldorf, The Pierre, The St Regis… Hosting a wedding in one of these classic NYC hotels can bring the highest levels of service, opulence, and prestige to an affair. With the most polished vendors and on-site staff, the bride and groom can be completely hands off. As a photographer, there are a multitude of opportunities for photos in beautifully appointed spaces making it easy to give variety in a short period of time. Additionally, many of these properties happen to be across the street or a short walk from Central Park.
Modern Hotel Weddings
Offering all of the same conveniences as the classic hotels, a newer property keeps everything centralized and taken care of in a more contemporary environment. This is perfect for the couple that would like to keep things logistically simple but whose vibe is more Prince Street than 5th Ave. When touring these properties, ask which common areas are fair game for your wedding photography just in case they don’t allow photography in their famous-architect-designed lobby. One great place for this is the brand new Park Hyatt New York, pictured above. The possibilities there are endless and they’re A-OK with us taking pictures all over the palce.
NYC Event Space Weddings
For wow factor, the towering ceilings and grandeur of locations like Gotham Hall, Cipriani, the former Williamsburg Savings Bank and others offers something that will stop guests in their tracts. A knowledgeable planner is key as there are so many moving parts and decor decisions to consider. For couples getting married in these spaces, getting ready will generally occur at a nearby hotel before moving in to the decorated space or going around the city for photo ops. My wide angle lens is worth its weight in gold at Gotham Hall.
NJ Catering Hall Weddings
Columns. Gazebos. Marble staircases. Valet. 8x more food during cocktail hour than during dinner. Chocolate fountains. They’re one of a kind. I gotta say – they know how to take care of brides and grooms and have the flow of the night down to a science. When choosing a catering facility, pay special attention to the size of the grounds. Is there space to arrange a large bridal party? Are there some clean backgrounds with greenery available? You’ll want to ask if multiple parties are held on premises at the same time, and if so, which spaces will be available to you and for how long. I’ve been hurried along more times than I can count because another limousine has rolled up. If this is the case, check and see if there is a nearby park, botanic garden, or perhaps the grounds of your church that would offer some alternatives.
Country Club Weddings
Many couples who live in the city will opt to hold their wedding at a country club either closer to where they grew up or just because it’s a serene location. I like country clubs for their laid back feel and ability to dress up or down depending on the couple’s wishes. When the weather is nice, ceremonies or cocktail hour outside is a major benefit. Most will have a spacious bridal suite for preparation and will only host a single wedding at a time. When visiting these venues, ask about whether you’ll be permitted to venture beyond the perimeter of the club itself and explore the grounds for pictures. Some will be more willing to let you roam than others. In the case that a bride and groom aren’t keen golfers, it’s nice to have the opportunity to find a special spot that doesn’t emphasize the 19th hole.
In Westchester and other areas North and East of NYC, decades ago financiers built estates overlooking the Hudson River and other picturesque locations. As these properties changed hands over the years, many have become event spaces hosting weddings and conferences. These locations are kind of like a cross between a country club and a catering hall. You’ll have sprawling grounds with stone walls and lots of trees as well as the well-oiled-machine qualities of a hall. If you want a wedding outside the city that is beautiful and comfortable and not overly glitzy, this is a good way to go. As many of these former homes are located in residential areas, ask if there is a cut off time for amplified music before scheduling a visit.
A New York City restaurant buyout can offer tremendous value and be a unique experience for many of your guests. If there is a spot whose cuisine and atmosphere you love, you can have exactly that on your wedding day. Restaurants already have character built in so you don’t have to do a ton for decor. Tables, chairs, silverware, staff, water, wine and all the other things you might have to bring in at an event space are already there. The things that restaurants tend not to have is a space for getting ready and alternative areas for photography. This can be worked around with a decent hotel suite and pictures around the streets of the neighborhood. Sometimes the secret is to find a newer restaurant that is trying to get in to the event scene. With management eager to fill tables every night, you might find a lower minimum than you think.
Drive down any random street in New York and you may pass an inconspicuous door with an elevator. In many cases you’ll find a huge open space with giant windows upstairs. The ultimate blank canvas, you can literally do anything you want with a loft space. Requiring every fork and knife to be rented, lighting to be considered and no on site caterer, these spots call out for a talented coordinator. Some will have outdoor roof access with the city towering above on all sides. It can be pretty amazing and feels about as New York as it gets.
A leisurely drive to the North Fork or Hamptons of Long Island can give you the “destination wedding” you always wanted without having to get on a plane. Sprawling grounds and wineries break down the line between inside and outside. With so much out in the open, we’ll aim to take your most important photos during that magical last hour of the day when the golden afternoon light streams through the vines. For you locavore types, nothing beats serving guests wine from the vineyard grown just steps away.
Yacht Club Weddings
A few miles up the coast from New York you’ll find gorgeous yacht clubs in and around Greenwich, CT with sweeping views of the water. Often times the bride or groom’s family have been members for ages making it feel like an extension of home. Kind of like a vineyard wedding, the indoors and outdoors become one. Just outside the tent you can look out at the moon as it rises over the Long Island Sound or watch as sailboats tie up around the marina. If you’re planning a church ceremony, the nearby Christ Church in Greenwich is one of the most beautiful in the entire area.
The quintessential wedding up the Hudson River Valley is in a barn or back yard. Rustic and whimsical or elegant and understated, these weddings can be Style Me Pretty decorated to the nines or no-tie organic. With many on working farms, there are so many nooks and crannies available for the couple that wants to run through fields, stand next to a horse or lounge by a pond. Your NYC guests will love the respite and with little to no signal, they’ll be off their phones and wrapped up in the experience.