City Hall Marriage License Bureau | NYC Park Permits | Locations & Ceremony Size
Click HERE for our most popular post: a step-by-step guide on How to Elope in New York : how to get a marriage license, find a New York marriage officiant, organize your ceremony, and have your marriage legally registered. See a little more advice HERE,


"Giving away" the bride - the times have changed...

Well, I actually haven't seen an actual instance of 'giving away' for years. But the question still arises from time to time. People also confuse the procession (walking down the aisle) with 'giving away'. Of course modern brides often walk down the aisle by themselves, or with both parents, or their mom, or sometimes even enter with the groom. Regardless, you can give the person you are walking with a kiss and hug and proceed to the ceremony space yourself, of course.

But it is still nice to ask the family/friends for their support for your marriage, as you invited them to the ceremony because you presumably wanted their participation in this important event. So if you want to formalized their support, here's a bit of ceremony to add:

[takes the place of 'giving away the bride', a remnant of dowries and arranged marriages. In some cultures, there are actually 'sponsors' of the bride and groom, who are expected to act as a kind of 'godparent' through their married lives, offering support and assistance. In some other cultures, the family expresses their happiness that the bride and groom are leaving their family homes and establishing their own home together. Regardless, this is a way to 'break the fourth wall' (in theatrespeak) and ask your guests to participate in your ceremony. If you're holding a public ceremony, as opposed to eloping, it's assumed you'd like your guests to feel involved - so go for it. It's a nice alternative to the "who gives this woman to be married to this man?" question.

[May ask family members to stand, or join in a circle, or may simply address the guests together. You may use your own words]
As we gather here to join ___ and ___ in marriage. It is fitting that you, the families [and/or] friends of ___ and ___ be here to witness and to participate in their wedding, for the ideals, the understanding, and the mutual respect which they bring to their marriage have their roots in the love, friendship, support [and guidance] you have given them.

or, to parents:

As our sons and daughters (and/or friends) find partners and found homes for the next generation, each family (each group of friends) is enriched and enlarged.

To all:
This couple, ____ and _____, will need your love and support in the future, not only on this special day. Do you now offer your support and best wishes for this couple, wishing them the best of lives together? [If so, please answer "We do"]

Other ideas:
We have a few more ceremony ideas on our website:, including a selection of readings/vows which feature equal partnerships between the couples.
Here is a list of modern wedding vows, which feature equality and commitment.

I especially like this Irish wedding vow:

You cannot possess me for I belong to myself
But while we both wish it, I give you that which is mine to give.
You cannot command me for I am a free person.
But I shall serve you in those ways you require
And the honeycomb will taste sweeter coming from my hand.
I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night.
and the eyes into which I smile in the morning.
I pledge to you the first bite from my meat.
And the first drink from my cup.
I pledge to you my living, and my dying, equally in your care.
And tell no strangers our grievances.
This is my wedding vow to you
This is a marriage of equals.

and this one:

I [Name] take you,[Name],
to be no other than yourself
loving what I know of you
trusting what I do not yet know
with respect for your integrity
and faith in your love for me
through all our years
and in all that life may bring us.

Multicultural weddings - so many dresses! so little time!

In some cultures, the bride and groom change clothes for each separate element of a traditional wedding. I once witnessed a bride changing three times for a Chinese wedding, and also a Korean wedding. However, THIS wedding is astounding. Four changes, four ceremonies, 1000 people at the banquet - the horse, the band, the lion dancers -- it makes you want to scream "elope, already!" I hope they had a good party.

We have conducted several weddings which blended cultural traditions. As we specialize in non-religious weddings, we have sometimes co-officiated with religious clergy (an imam, a deacon, a rabbi), so that appropriate blessings and ceremonies could be performed by religious clergy. We handled the civil, legal parts. Or the bride and groom have had a religious ceremony or a private tea ceremony earlier in the day, and then we performed the civil ceremony in the western tradition. But many traditions are cultural, not religious. So we have also incorporated the arrhae, the cord and the veil from Filipino (Spanish) traditions, the fire ceremony, the 7 blessings, the wine blessing, the bread and salt, the tea and saki ceremony, handfasting, and many other lovely traditions in our standard ceremony. Write us if you're interested.

In some cases, it's possible to blend the ceremonies together. So once we included the garlanding of the bride, the 7 steps (fire ceremony) and the Filipino rope ceremony in one simple outdoor ritual of walking around a wedding candle, while the bride and groom were covered in a chain of flowers draped in an infinity (8) pattern. It suited the parents and the couple, and was lovely. But you can do this in a small family wedding or with even a handful of people. If you want the BIG FAT MULTICULTURAL wedding - better start looking for the horses.

Museum Restaurants - another idea for a celebration

Five Museum Restaurants Worth Visiting Even If You Don't See Any Art
So - here are some ideas for a wedding dinner - why not get married in Central Park, and then visit these restaurants for your celebration:
Robert at MAD: The food served in the restaurant atop the Museum of Arts and Design at Columbus Circle is just fine, but whatever. Because the views at this very mod American restaurant are truly spectacular. Seriously, if you are in the neighborhood it is worth going up just to get a drink at the bar so you can stare out over the expanse of Central Park.


Same-sex marriage passes in New York Senate

Same-sex marriage passes in New York Senate

Breaking: Shortly before 10 pm on June 24, 2011, the New York State Senate voted 36-26 to approve same-sex marriage. The bill had already passed in the heavily Democratic state assembly by a lopsided vote of 82-47, and Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised to sign it.

Earlier on Friday, the bill was known to have 31 votes in favor, one short of a majority. When Republican Stephen Saland, who voted against a similar bill two years ago, told the Associated Press that he intended to vote in favor this time, passage of the measure appeared to be assured.
Hurrah! And here is Mary officiating at a couple of same sex weddings when up in  Toronto, and we can finally say that same sex marriage will soon to be coming to your neighbourhood in New York!


Photos: The High Line's Phase II, Now Open!:

Photos: The High Line's Phase II, Now Open!: Gothamist

The long-Phase II of the High Line, running from 20th to 30th Streets, officially opens tomorrow, but we got a sneak peak. And word on the Line is that they're currently letting everyone in.

Problems with rowboats in Central Park - the dress!

Problems with rowboats in Central Park - wear the right clothing!

Advice from Eileen:  "Twice last week the gowns were too big for the boats....elope in something smaller and let's row into your new life!!!"
(here's an old pix from Fall - witnesses in the other boat...)


Secret Central Park

Secret Central Park
Eileen reminded me about this older website, which has great closeup shots of some of the shelters and locations in Central Park. Yes, the Ladies Pavilion is pretty - but the ceiling is low (imagine those people standing up!) and I much prefer the Dene Hut, on the East Side.


Joy and photography in Central Park weddings

Here is one of our other favorite pictures, and another delightful photographer, Maria Melin. I have NO idea how she managed this, but this couple was extremely happy!

Central Park in Spring - horses, gazebos, and red flowers

A couple at their wedding in Central Park, making the acquaintance of a carriage horse on 59th.  The picture, and the one below, of them inside Cop Cot with Chaplain Eileen, is by Beowulf, a dear friend and a great photographer


The 2011 Summerstage Schedule

Something's Leaking On Twitter: The 2011 Summerstage Schedule!: Gothamist
Nothing like a SummerStage concert to intrude sonically into your peaceful Central Park wedding! Not to mention the lines... So keep an eye on this concert schedule and doublecheck with your wedding plans.

Fabulous Top of the Rock picture by Kim

 FABulous picture by Kim Coccagnia of a wedding at the Top of the Rock.  (Please note, this is a hard pic to get. We've avoided weather, hordes of tourists, guards, and all those things. This lovely couple isn't really ALONE, but who cares?  Great moment) 
Officiant was Eileen, Photographer was Kim


MacWedding? Apple Store May Be On Grand Central Terminal Balcony - Gothamist

SApple Store May Be On Grand Central Terminal Balcony - Gothamist
Further advancing the rumors that Apple will announce a new store located in Grand Central Terminal, the Post says, "The store, to be Apple's fifth in Manhattan, will displace Charlie Palmer's Métrazur restaurant. Métrazur's partners are scouting new locations."
The Post's source adds, "To make room, Grand Central may open the vacant northeast balcony, next to Michael Jordan's Steakhouse." A partner for Métrazur told the Post it's all just a "rumor." According to its website, "Métrazur [was] named for a commuter train that once ran along the Cote d'Azur en route to Monaco." So maybe they can find space at Penn Station? The Métrazur website also has a quote, presumably from Palmer, "When I stand at the top of the staircase and look out into the terminal, it's like cooking in the center of the world."   - well, pretty sad departure, if it's true. 
Here is a Grand Central elopement for a couple married by Eileen.  Love the people texting and paying no attention!

Best man, and Maid of Honour - wedding attendants, what is their role?

Why have a best man? What does the maid of honor do? Why all those bridesmaids? Why BOTHER with it all?

The traditional role of the 'best man' was to be the groom's supporter and legal witness -- and in some cases, to bravely fight off the bride's father and male relatives while the groom (Romeo) rushed out of side exit of the wedding chapel with the bride (Juliet). Obviously, the Maid of Honor was needed to pull her veil down over her head and stand-in for the bride, as Father Lawrence confuses everyone and gains time for the newlyweds.

But I digress. The maid of honor and the best man are the 'mini-me' mirror image of the bridal couple. They are often married (to each other) and represent married love. Or they're not married and represent "the next marriage". But they are not really necessary. Their 'traditional' role is to hold the rings, hold the bouquets, help the bride with her dress, and make speeches at the reception. But anyone over 18 can be your witness (your mom, the photographer, the waiter in the restaurant where you elope) and you don't really need rings at all.

So unless you want matching rows of brown tuxedos with chocolate-tipped ruffles (on the boys?), or those wine-coloured taffeta bridesmaids dresses, consider being un-traditional about your attendants. Have none. Or have odd numbers. Or mix and match the sexes (dress the girls in tuxes and the men in kilts). Or just have a couple of good friends or siblings stand up with you and hold things and then sign your license.

Ask your male friends to dress nicely -- and identify them with a buttonhole flower, bought at a deli. Ask your girl friends to pick a nice dress and just let you know what they have in mind (theme? black and white?). Give them some flowers from the deli as well, that you can simply wrap in ribbon and let the ties hang down.

And, of course, the couple can have witnesses and attendants of ANY sex - boys on the bride's side, girls on the groom's side - or both, if the couple  is same sex,  SO - any combination of relatives or friends or family can be your wedding party.  They are there as your friends and supporters - however they dress, and whatever they wear.  Thank them!

Or just have your friends sit or stand near you, and come forward at the appropriate time to help. No procession, no dyed shoes -- but a clearer idea of their role: to act as the representatives of the community, supporting you in your decision to form a new family unit. It's a good enough role without the matching shoes...


What is a wedding? from Kim Coccagnia

(Here is a bit of the article by KIM from her photographer blog, I edited it a teeny bit for space, so go read it all..)

"...To some it involves a limo, a beautiful white dress, tuxedos, 8 bridesmaids and groomsmen, 200 of your closest friends and relatives, favors, a cake, a year in planning etc… that’s what most think of when they think of a wedding anyway. However a wedding can also be a couple, 2 plane tickets, an intimate ceremony with or without a few close friends and a romantic dinner after. Is one better than the other? An affirmative NO!

I'm writing this because I was recently interviewed by the NY Daily news and it occurred to me how many people are unaware of the concept of "Eloping". The Daily News story was actually focused more on 'Guerrilla Weddings' and they contacted and myself and asked us about our experiences (with) Guerrilla weddings or 'Flash Mob Weddings'... when the couple and say 50 of their guests show up and surprise a public venue with a ceremony. These weddings are often frowned upon, because they are looked at as a nuisance. So don't even think about it.

The more I spoke to the interviewer the more she was surprised (and happy) to know that there are other options for couples. The weddings we do are more quiet, legal and sweet...

It has become a trend to come and get hitched here in New York City. Alone or with a few close guests whether you’re from New York, London, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iceland, Sweden, or Chicago. New York welcomes you. Frankly I believe New York is the best city in the world to get hitched, with so many fun options.

You can wear a Red dress, Blue dress, Black dress, snake skin boots, you can pick up your flowers on the way to the ceremony at a bodega (NOTE FROM MARY: That's NY for "deli" or "corner grocery"). Eloping here REALLY does mean anything goes.

When you choose to elope, there is no major planning process, no stress, and no worrying about where to sit your crazy aunt Helen, JUST the two of you... All of our couples do pick a fun location somewhere in NYC, whether it be a park, a cozy side street in the east village, or the city clerks office for the ceremony.
Some..get married at the lunch or dinner local. The only thing this requires is to have the officiant come to you, perform a short 5-minute ceremony and Voila. You’re Married...

...I have also had couples that choose a combination of the two, an intimate quiet wedding WITH a white dress and a cake...  Here are a couple having a nice lunch at City Hall Restaurant, Granite Room...

At the end of the day there is no right way to be married. Its what fits you best and what means something to you. If that means a wedding with 500 people, fantastic, if it means you, me and an officiant, that’s fantastic too!"

Kim Coccagnia featured in NYDaily News

Our friend Photographer Kim Coccagnia was recently featured in a NY Daily News article on 'Guerilla weddings'. See all the details on Kim's Blog

Yeah Kim! Note that she is offering a romantic VALENTINE's DAY WEDDING SPECIAL with our good friend Chaplain Eileen. It looks like a swell deal, says I.


Winter Formal Wedding on Bow Bridge

The Storm can't keep romance away. Here is a lovely couple from the UK on Bow Bridge, just after the big storm. The officiant was Chaplain Eileen, who took this great pix. Top hat! White Wrap! Snow! (I would had added white faux fur earmuffs)


HiLine in winter - a brief glimpse at the snow

Notice the absence of people, too - a great place for a quick winter elopement.


Winter Wedding in Central Park

Winter wedding, Central Park, Officiant, Eileen Regan.

A New York elopement, and an article in Glamour

Our friend Photographer Sarah Sloboda was recently featured in an article in Glamour Weddings, called "Real Weddings - Alice and Andy".  The officiant was our good friend Eileen, who has married couples at practically all of these locations, and in all sorts of weather.   No you can't get MARRIED at the Guggenheim without a big trust fund (you can see the article for pix of the real wedding in Ladies Pavilion) but you can always go INSIDE the lobby and take some informal shots....Hurrah for Sarah!

Fed up with wedding planning? Warning: This super-simple New York wedding might just make you want to elope!  Alice and Andy were married on September 27 in New York City’s Central Park. They spent the morning of their (rainy!) wedding day with their wedding photographer, posing for pictures at New York City landmarks—Grand Central Station, the Guggenheim Museum—and in an iconic yellow cab. Then they were joined by three friends, their witnesses, for the ceremony at the historic Ladies Pavilion in Central Park.