Central Park is one of the most beautiful and unique spaces for a wedding or elopement in New York City. There are so many breathtaking ceremony areas that it can be difficult to choose just one! Factors such as the number of guests permitted, distance from the street and available seating may help guide your decision.
We spoke to the experts, A Central Park Wedding, to learn more about the options available.
Here are some of their favorite Central Park Wedding Locations.
One of the most popular locations to get married in Central Park is the Ladies’ Pavilion. Wander through Strawberry Fields and you’ll stumble upon a beautiful cast-iron pavilion situated on the Lake. This lovely spot boasts stunning views of the cityscape and its distinctive blue design provides a pop of color against the natural setting. Add a touch of New York City history to your wedding – the Ladies’ Pavilion was originally a trolley stop at Columbus Circle before it was relocated to its current home in the park.
This location is about a three-minute walk from 77th Street and Central Park West and is best suited for groups of up to 20 people. There are two benches inside the Ladies’ Pavilion to allow a few people to be seated during your ceremony. It also offers protection from the elements, meaning you can hold your ceremony rain or shine!
One of the more private locations for a small wedding is Shakespeare Garden, a four-acre garden of plants and flowers, hidden in the middle of Central Park. Wind your way through its many pathways to locate the flowers mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays. Or relax on one of the rustic wooden benches scattered throughout the garden. The flower beds change depending on the time of year and late April/early May is the best time to catch colorful rows of tulips in full bloom.
Shakespeare Garden features an artfully sculpted stone bench that offers some seating for your guests. It’s about a 7-10 minute walk from the park entrance at 81st Street and Central Park West and is best suited for groups of up to 25 people.
Tucked away in the middle of Central Park, Belvedere Castle is one of the most romantic spots in New York. The castle’s terrace boasts sweeping panoramic views of the park and the city skyline. Enchanting architecture provides a whimsical backdrop for wedding ceremonies. The castle is located very close to Shakespeare Garden, so be sure to reserve time for a photo session after your ceremony.
Belvedere Castle is about a ten-minute walk from 81st and Central Park West and can accommodate groups of up to 25 people. Although it does not offer any seating, there is a covering that can be used in the event of inclement weather.
Restored in the late 1980’s, the Conservatory Garden is Central Park’s only formal garden. Pass through the grand cast-iron gates which once stood at the Vanderbilt mansion to enter the six acres of the Conservatory. The space is divided into three distinct garden styles: the French, Italian, and English gardens.
The Garden can accommodate up to 100 people and there are benches at each different area. This location is at the north end of the park, with the main entrance at 105th Street and 5th Avenue. Weddings here require a special permit, which goes towards maintaining the perfectly-kept grounds of the Conservatory Garden. The best time of year for weddings here ranges from early spring to mid-October.
Meaning ‘little house on the crest of a hill’ in Scottish dialect, Cop Cot features great views of both Central Park and the New York City skyline at the same time. This little-known location offers privacy during your wedding ceremony, yet is easily accessible from the park entrance. Take advantage of the park’s architecture and pose for some quintessential New York photos by Gapstow Bridge. Afterwards, hop in a nearby horse and carriage to tour Central Park as newlyweds.
Cop Cot is about a 1-2 minute walk from the park entrance at 6th Avenue and Central Park South. This location is best suited for groups of up to 30 people. There are benches in Cop Cot and the gazebo provides some protection from a light rain or snow.
It’s easy to miss the entrance to Wagner Cove, but that’s what makes it so perfect for an intimate wedding ceremony. Situated on the Lake, the wooden gazebo at Wagner Cove will add a rustic touch to your wedding photos. This location is so private that you’ll almost forget you’re in New York City. But once you head back up the small stone pathway, you’re only minutes from Central Park landmarks such as Bethesda Fountain Terrace and Bow Bridge. Both of which are perfect spots for wedding portraits to document your day forever.
Wagner Cove is about a 5-7 minute walk from 72nd and Central Park West, and is best suited for smaller groups of up to 20 people. The gazebo offers shelter from the elements for around five people.
Bethesda Fountain Terrace
As an iconic Central Park landmark, Bethesda Fountain Terrace is one of the most popular locations for wedding ceremonies and photography. Get married by the Angel of the Waters fountain or under the Arcade with its beautifully-lit mosaic ceiling. Centrally located in the park, Bethesda Terrace is within walking distance of other popular photo areas such as Cherry Hill, Bow Bridge, and Wagner Cove.
This location is about a ten-minute walk from 72nd Street and Central Park West and can accommodate up to 25 people. This is a popular location for tourists and locals alike, so those wanting a private affair should keep that in mind.
Central Park Weddings FAQ’s
Do I need a permit to get married in Central Park?
A permit is required if you have 20 or more people in your group. This will guarantee the use of your chosen Central Park ceremony location for your specific date and time. If your group is smaller than 20, it is still possible to request a permit if you wish to guarantee the availability of your chosen location. We strongly recommend that all couples apply for a permit if time permits. If you would like to get married in the Conservatory Garden, a permit is always required, even for groups of less than 20.
How do I apply for a Wedding Permit?
You must apply to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation to check the availability of your preferred location, date, and time. Permit applications must be submitted three weeks in advance for all locations except the Conservatory Garden. There is more flexibility with last-minute permits for the Conservatory Garden. The earlier you apply, however, the more chance you have of securing your preferred location. Approval can take up to four weeks.
The fee for a wedding permit is $25 for all locations, except for Conservatory Garden which has a fee of $500.
Do I need a separate permit for wedding photography in Central Park?
A separate photography permit is not required unless you are marrying in Conservatory Garden. If so, you will need to obtain a permit for your wedding photographer. The current fee is $100.
Do I need a Marriage License to have my wedding in Central Park?
In order to legally marry in Central Park, you will need a Marriage License issued by New York State or New York City. You may also opt for a purely symbolic wedding ceremony in Central Park if you are unable to obtain the necessary permit, of if you wish to marry at home or elsewhere.
How do I obtain a Marriage License in New York?
You must apply to the City Clerk’s Office for a Marriage license. This must be issued at least 24 hours prior to your wedding ceremony.
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About the Author
A Central Park Wedding specializes in planning and coordinating beautiful wedding ceremonies in Central Park. They offer full-service ceremony packages and take care of everything from permits to photography to floral arrangements and more. For more information, or to start planning your very own wedding or elopement in Central Park, visit;
Wedding Photography By: Fotovolida – Ladies Pavilion, Cop Cot, Wagner Cove & Bethesda Fountain Terrace / Entwined Studio – Shakespeare Garden / Jenny Flora Photography – Belvedere Castle / K&R Photos – Conservatory Garden