Getting Married in New York City (with rainbow bagels)
Getting married abroad was something I knew I always wanted, even before I was engaged, and it is becoming increasingly more popular to many couples. Luckily when the time came I shared that dream with my husband to be. Here I want to share my wedding abroad experience in both planning and on the day.
First off, picking a destination. Before getting engaged I hadn’t actually put any serious thought into where exactly I wanted to get married. I just was just drawn to the thought of a small, intimate wedding in a beautiful setting for the big day with a much more informal get together once we were back home. Of course beach is the first thing that comes to mind when you think abroad wedding so of course that was where the pinterest board started. Ya know, the board you keep hidden away just for you! It is all very well and good lusting over set up wedding shots online but where do you start with picking a beach? I’ve never been to the Caribbean, Mauritius or the Seychelles. Those kind of places your mind goes to when you think beach wedding. Crystal water, walking barefoot in white sand. Sure in my younger years I’ve travelled to the more local Balearics and the Canary Islands, heck there’s even a vague memory of an 18-30 week in Ibiza. Did I ever stop and think ‘Wow, this is where I want to get married!’ ….. Nope! To be perfectly honest looking back now, I didn’t have that feeling when I first stood in the place I ended up getting married either! Since I have been old enough to really think about the reality of marriage and a wedding abroad I never had that image that stayed in my head. That one place that I pictured my dream day happening. Not that it made much difference to me at the time, I wasn’t even thinking about planning a wedding …. yet! That was until one freezing cold January day in 2014 (the 16th to be precise) on my first trip to NYC. There we were, just the pair of us, sat on the cutest bench in a secluded little part of Central Park right by the Bow Bridge, bare trees, grey sky, frozen lake. New York in mid winter. There sat a big growed up, 29 year old me with a ring on my finger!
A few weeks later, when the initial engagement hype calmed down, we started thinking about actually planning a wedding. It actually turned out to be an incredibly scary thing when I realised what a huge task it was. How do you plan something so big with absolutely no experience to work from? Trying to achieve your prefect day is extremely daunting when you only have one stab at it! First was breaking the news to the family that we both wanted to get married abroad. Now I come from a large family, with an even bigger extended group of family friends, all very close knit, and news travels fast! Family occasions are a big thing and the assumption that I would be having a traditional local wedding was evident. People were so excited for us that I felt awful for taking that day away from them. Plus I knew that if we went long haul there would be some people that, for whatever reason, wouldn’t be able to make it. Guilt aside, it was our day, as my Hubby to be reminded me a number of times, and we decided to throw a traditional afternoon and evening wedding reception once we were back home to celebrate with everyone. We knew what we both wanted and we stuck with it. For a long time we actually had to keep our plans and wedding thoughts on the quiet. Since we hadn’t picked a location yet we had absolutely no idea how many people we could bring along. There was an awful lot of ‘we aren’t really sure yet’ and ‘we haven’t thought about it’ until we had something set in stone.
After a few months of online browsing, trying to find that perfect location seemed to be an impossible task. For a while we were both pretty sure we wanted to get married in Florida. I had been there a number of times and it was a place we have been together and loved it. I had a pretty good idea of what was where and of course we could tie it in with the honeymoon also. Was that a bit too much to ask of people? It isn’t exactly a city break short stay kind of trip. A city break like…. New York?? Duh… it hadn’t even occurred to me. What would be more prefect than getting married in the city where we got engaged? After some quick inter web searching it was a done deal. Central Park has multiple wedding venues and the Bow Bridge was one of them. Literally right next to where we got engaged. It was agreed, we had that ‘it just feels right’ feeling straight off the bat. After contacting 3 or 4 wedding planners in New York we eventually chose the lovely Carol who runs Fabulous NYC Weddings. She was absolutely amazing and was more than happy to tailor our wedding package to meet our needs and was always so helpful answering any questions. It was booked, April 30th 2016. Our wedding day! We kept the invites to immediate family only, because our venue of choice had a max capacity of 15 people, giving them the option to come and if not we completely understood. I wasn’t going to demand people attend, nor would I expect them to. It is a very big ask, however the location was very well received and both our families were only too excited to share our dream with us. So what exactly was there to plan? In all honesty not a huge deal! Carol took care of the venue, the permits and securing our marriage licence. We had flights and a hotel to book. Wedding dress, a suit for Rich, wedding rings, bridesmaids dresses and bouquets. I did my own hair and make up, including the bridesmaids. I was extremely fortunate to have a close friend who was a photographer and he jumped at the chance to come to NYC with his girlfriend and be our wedding photographer and also made us a short video of our day. We were extremely blessed and eternally grateful that he did this for us, his work is amazing and I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else! Thank you Sam Burge Photography! We booked a table for our wedding breakfast in our hotel, they allowed us to order our own cake, we chose the Magnolia Bakery of course, and stored it for us on the day. That was pretty much it. Certainly not 2 years of solid planning. All completely hassle free. We did have to book a venue back home for the party afterwards but again since it was just the reception part of the wedding it was still pretty stress free! My mum and I made all our wedding decorations for the wedding party back home. I will be writing a separate blog post on cost effective ways to do your day right and money saving tips I came across along the way.
Moving on, 2 years later… we arrived in NYC. We booked to stay at the Novotel in Times Square. A very big and busy hotel right in the heart of it, not something I would usually choose, but we wanted somewhere special with a view. We had a lovely big room (for anyone that has been no New York you’ll know exactly how small rooms can be!) on the 30th floor with an amazing view of TImes Square. The day before our wedding we had to haul ass Downtown to City Hall to meet with Carol and get our marriage licence. This I have to say was a sight to see in itself. It was a non stop conveyor belt of couples, hundreds of them! Some in traditional wedding get up, some more casual. Some with full on bridal party and photographer in tow and some just couples in smart casual dress just doing it for themselves. It was a take a ticket and wait to be called kind of situation. Like a more glamorous marble floored Argos! I could have sat there all day watching them come and go. It was insane! Once we had our licence we headed over the Brooklyn Bridge to… well Brooklyn… to scope out some places to have pics taken the next day. The weather forecast wasn’t great and it was raining on and off. The risks you take for an outdoor wedding! We spent the rest of the day being tourists, met up with the families for drinks in the evening, steamed my dress, prayed to the weather gods and got an early night!
The morning of the big day was actually quite chilled! We got up, took a shower, grabbed a Starbucks, h2b went and picked up his daughter, our bridesmaid, and brought her to our hotel, grabbed the cake from the bakery, we said our ‘ see you laters’ and went our separate ways. Well I stayed where I was. My sister, maid of honour, came over baring gifts of more Starbucks coffee and cinnamon rolls, closely followed by my Mum and Sam, the photographer, and his girlfriend taking photos. As I have already mentioned I did my own hair and make up, as well as the bridesmaids. My mum helped out the girls with their hair and mine was pretty straight forward. I wanted loose curls and that was it. This may sound like the biggest chore to some brides but since I wasn’t in the position to have trials before hand I would much rather do it myself rather than risk it, hate it and have no choice but to go with it. I am a qualified Beauty Therapist and I’m OK-ish with hair so I have the knowledge and experience to pull it off…. or at least I hoped! No it wasn’t the morning pampering sesh a lot of brides experience but I was happier and lets face it I saved money!
Sam also headed over to the hotel where h2b was getting ready with his brother, and best man. It was such a huge ask for Sam to go back and forth but I am so grateful to him for this.
I actually got to Central Park in a cab… yes, a NYC yellow cab. Me and my Dad closely followed by the girls and the photographer. There we were stood on Broadway hailing a cab in full wedding attire and we stood out like a sore thumb. I didn’t care, it was my wedding day and the sun was shining! Luckily a nice new SUV cab pulled up, much more room for the train of my dress and whats more the wonderful driver was so friendly and didn’t charge us which was so sweet (we did insist I promise). It was only a short distance to Central Park but as the sun was out for the first time that week it was so busy and took a little longer than expected. 30 minutes longer. I was half an hour late and hadn’t even began the 15 minute walk through Central Park to the bridge.
I was met at the roadside by Carol and we literally ran/awkwardly power-walk shuffled through Central Park to get there. It was at this point that Carol mentioned the park was so busy due to the weather the Bow Bridge itself was absolutely heaving and, since it is a public place you can’t ask people to leave the area, there was a small area nearby where everyone was waiting for me. At this point there wasn’t much I could do but go with it, in my head thinking that we had booked that location for a reason and I hoped it wasn’t too far away. As we approached the bridge I saw my little bridal party, gathered in the spot where we got engaged. The exact place, and it turns out that Rich suggested it bless his heart. That cute rustic little bench was not only the place where he proposed but it was the place we sat and signed our marriage licence. I could not have been happier, there was just one feeling overpowering my happiness…. how much my feet were killing me already!
We said our vows and were cheered by hundreds of onlookers in the distance. It was perfect and I wouldn’t change a thing. Maybe aside from being late, but what bride isn’t late right? We spend the rest of the day having photos taken around New York and we even arranged to stop at The Bagel Store in Brooklyn, home of the infamous rainbow bagel. We got to meet Scot Rossillo and the lovely Francine, had some pics taken with him and enjoyed some of the wonderful bagels he and his team have created. One thing off of the bucket list! It was such a wonderful day from start to finish and as I am typing now feels like a complete blur. We got some amazing pictures to remember our day and it’ll always give us a reason to go back to the city that stole our hearts.
There you have it. Mr and Mrs NYC style. Feeling like a celebrity for the day was an understatement. There were a lot of people stopping to gush and take pictures, shouts of ‘congratulations’ constantly throughout the day. Doing it the way we wanted, our cab hailing, subway riding, converse wearing DIY wedding and we absolutely loved it. Ruined feet and black wedding dress included. If you have made it to the end of this very long blog post I thank you and I hope you have enjoyed! There will be a follow up blog post on how we found wedding money saving tips and DIY decorations coming up soon.