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15 Picture-Perfect Central Park Spots For Engagement Sessions

Some New Yorkers escape to the Hamptons in the summer—the rest go to Central Park. Spanning more than four square miles of prime Manhattan real estate, the park is an escape from city living. From the romantic paddle boat rides on The Lake to the furry friends at The Zoo, Central Park offers picture-perfect settings for any couple’s engagement session! Click through to discover some of the best spots.

Central Park Spots
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Central Park Spots
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Urban New York City Garden Wedding

Inherently New York with a taste of British charm, this romantic garden fete planned in the hands of Bellafare is a composition of everything we love here at SMP. Be it a dash or ballroom glamour married with personal details (like the couples cat, Pearl), ethereal Jenny Yoo gowns paired with the Bride’s Gabriella New York dress, or Michael Antonia keeping the party grooving into the evening, Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography snapped it all to share!

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From the beautiful Bride… Jon and I met in an unlikely way. Jon is musician, and my former employer hired his band for an event. We instantly clicked and the rest is history.

It was important to us for our wedding to reflect us both as individuals, and as a couple. Jon hails from the UK, and obviously loves music, while I grew up in Manhattan, and wanted our wedding to feel inherently New York.

Our first task was daunting: to find a large space and make it feel intimate. We had a sizable guest list, but didn’t want our wedding to feel overwhelming or impersonal. We looked at many beautiful raw spaces, but when we came upon Gotham Hall, we fell in love. It took a bit of imagination and help from florist Bess Wyrick (the brains behind Celadon and Celery) but we ultimately created a romantic garden feel, inside of an art deco ballroom. To put our own twist on the space and evening, sketches of the Union Jack, an American flag, and our cat Pearl, were featured on napkins and cocktail stirrers; we had a “taste of Britain” station during our cocktail hour featuring bangers and mash, shepherds pie, and other UK treats; and a dessert bar hosting our favorite New York baked goods ranging from Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding to two Momofuku wedding cakes.

We also took the evening’s soundtrack pretty seriously. We worked with Venus Ensembles to perform some of our favorite songs via string quartet during the ceremony, and had a jazz trio for the cocktail hour. Our one request – make the cocktail hour feel like a Woody Allen movie—we think they did a pretty great job! And for the reception, DJ Michael Antonia did a fantastic job of keeping everyone on the dance floor, burning off the calories from the Momofuku cakes, we hope…

Photography: Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography | Videography: Kiss The Bride Films | Event Planning: Bellafare | Floral Design: Celadon And Celery | Wedding Dress: Marchesa | Cake: Momofuku Milk Bar | Invitations: Sue Coe Designs | Bride's Shoes: Chanel | Rings: Shivani Gems | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo | Catering: Thomas Preti Caterers | Makeup: Ana Sicat | Hair: Butterfly Salon | Lighting : Bentley Meeker | DJ: Michael Antonia | Groom's Attire: J. Crew's Ludlow Shop | Groomsmen's Attire: Zara | Officiant: Gloria Milner | String Quartet: Venus Ensemble | Venue: Gotham Hall | Bridal Boutique: Gabriella New York | Bride's Purse: 3.1 Phillip Lim | Cake Topper: Jolie En Rose Vintage | Dessert: Magnolia Bakery | Getting Ready Venue: The Standard East Village | Headpiece: Untamed Petals

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Whimsical + Elegant Wedding at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe

After their initial wedding venue closed, this couple, understandably, became discouraged with the wedding industry. Housing Works Bookstore Cafe came to the rescue, along with a team of vendors that lifted this couple’s spirits and created one joyous celebration. Brindamour Photography and Magbooth captured the fun and this gallery is a beautiful reminder that sometimes second choices are meant to be.

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From Brindamour PhotographyI’m so excited to share these photos from Yejee and Nick’s wedding last month. These two were one of the many couples left without a wedding venue after ReBar unexpectedly closed last year but as you’ll see in the photos, they didn’t let that get in their way. Instead they threw a kick-ass party at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in SoHo. Housing Works is one of my favorite venues and Yejee and Nick did a wonderful job of incorporating the venue into their wedding decor using books as table numbers and a cake stand. It was a freezing day (notice the snow in many of the outdoor portraits) and I have to give major props to this bridal party for being such great sports and allowing me to get the shots I wanted despite the cold. Seriously, these guys might go down as the baddest bridal party yet!

From the beautiful Bride… Growing up as the resident tomboy of the house for most of my life, I didn’t know what I wanted from one of the most important days of my life. It wasn’t as if I was exactly surprised to be engaged on November 9th, 2013. Nick and I had been dating for 7+ years since college, and since we had only dated each other, we were pretty set on being with each other for the rest of our lives. But when the ring was on my finger, there were so many things we needed to learn.

Some things were easy. I chose my dress in a heartbeat about a year before the wedding at David’s Bridal. Despite the many admonishments against choosing your wedding dress too early, I loved my White by Vera Wang dress and wore it for both the ceremony and reception. I know I said I was a tomboy before, but I loved this princess-y dress with the blush sash. The bridesmaids’ dress colors were a bit harder to decide on, but after searching through SMP posts, I decided on peacock at David’s Bridal. David’s Bridal worked well for us since my bridesmaids were scattered across the country (Florida, California, and New York) and they had time to go get their dresses sized and altered at the nearest location.

The biggest hurdle was the venue. Nick was a medical student (he’s almost done) in debt (he’s not done with that) and I, working for the New York City government, was not exactly rolling in dough. First, we decided on a New York City wedding to lower the number of guests we had to invite since both of us grew up and went to undergrad in Austin, Texas. Then, we tried to find cheap, but still unique, options for a wedding venue in New York City. We found ReBar in Brooklyn… and signed over all of our money to the venue. For a couple short on cash and not too picky about the wedding, it was a dream come true. If you’ve heard the news about ReBar (it closed and left 200+ couples stranded), you’ll know that we lost all our money that we’d paid in full to the venue. Our families were horrified, and frankly Nick and I were left feeling disheartened and discouraged about the wedding business in general. Thankfully, we had enough time (about eight months) to regroup.

It was then that my friend Jennifer suggested the Housing Works Bookstore and Café in SoHo, Manhattan to me. Ironically enough, another friend, Justine, had shown me a blog post about a Housing Works Bookstore & Café wedding to me years ago, even before I had moved to New York City. I had gushed about the event, telling her “I would love this kind of wedding, but there’s no way I would be able to have this wedding.” When the second recommendation came, it really seemed as if God had dropped the obvious solution in my lap. There was no reason why I couldn’t check if that lovely bookstore wedding would be possible. When I had mustered up the courage to ask about the wedding venue, Amanda and Josh at Housing Works understood our ReBar situation and helped as much as they could to make the wedding possible!

The rest was easier than expected. Josh suggested the library-card-theme for the placement of our guests, which we took off with: hand-stamped library cards, numbers written on library card sleeves (a la my dad), then pasted on real books (my own copies to be given as favors) as table numbers, and the bookstore itself added its own charms with their hanging lights and illuminated bookshelves.

The day-of went perfectly, from the gorgeous styling by Tara Jarvis from Bloom Beauty Lounge (and her sweet, encouraging words as I got ready), amazing camera work by Rima Brindamour (the bridal party had a lot of fun running out of the way on green lights), never-ending dance floor engineered by DJ Ben (former ReBar DJ who stuck by many ReBar couples), beautiful and unique flower and cake flower arrangements by Kristen Usui (recommended to us by married friends), silly photo booth pictures by Magbooth, and gorgeous cake by Silk Cakes (mmm buttermilk cream). Our ceremony venue, German Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Paul, was also a very considerate and communicative host, and the custodian Frankie assisted with every problem we came up against. Lastly, I have just got to say that Josh, our event coordinator at Housing Works, helped us relax and have fun during the reception by being absolutely attentive and sympathetic to the needs of the event!

A Few Tips:

Tip 1: Attend your friends’ weddings and learn from them.
Tip 2: Be very clear with your bridal party and family about what you like or don’t like about weddings.
Tip 3: Don’t spend your resources on things just because you merely feel like you have to.
Tip 4: Choose a bridal party composed of friends who you are completely comfortable with – if you’re thinking “Will she be offended because I don’t ask her?” you probably shouldn’t!
Tip 5: Hire our vendors if you’re in the NYC area! ☺

Photography: Brindamour Photography | Floral Design: KRISTEN USUI At Happy Tears | Wedding Dress: White By Vera Wang | Cake: Silk Cakes | Ceremony Venue: St Paul's German Evangelical Lutheran Church | Reception Venue: Housing Works Bookstore Cafe | Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaids' Dresses: David Bridal | Hair And Makeup: Bloom Beauty Lounge | DJ: DJ Ben | Photobooth: Magbooth

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
For membership information, click here
These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
For membership information, click here
Elegant NYC Wedding at The High Line Hotel

Just when I think I’ve seen my share of elegant NYC weddings, I come upon a gem like this one and my heart beats a bit faster once more. Karen Hill worked her magic behind the lens, capturing this gorgeous affair planned by Classic Events, and from the beautiful Bride’s veil (swoon!) to the epic dance party thanks to Around Town Entertainment, it’s proven once again the glory of a classic city celebration.

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From Karen Hill PhotographyThe wedding day story of Liz and Bert’s wedding begins at the Refectory at the Highland Hotel where I found the florist, Putman and Putnam, busy finishing the beautiful floral arrangements. I love shooting with film because of how beautifully film renders its subject and how it captures it with such softness. These days photographers who shoot with film are becoming more and more scarce so when a client connects with my images and loves what I do, it makes me feel it’s worth while.

The High Line Hotel is a complete site with everything needed for a beautiful city wedding. The garden, Refectory and Gothic Chapel are amazing. It’s a grand venue.

Liz and Bert are both from the south and have called NYC home for the past ten years. By day, he’s a lawyer and by night he’s in two bands, the Stemms and The Post, while she’s a writer for Diane von Furstenberg by day and a writer for herself by night. Their wedding was celebrated with friends and family for an unforgettable day, filled with love, laughter and beautiful light.

Photography: Karen Hill Photography | Event Planning: Danielle Elder, Classic Events | Floral Design: Putnam And Putnam | Ceremony Venue: Theological Seminary | Reception Venue: The High Line Hotel | Catering: Peter Callahan Catering | Band: Around Town Entertainment

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
For membership information, click here
Romantic Early Morning NYC Wedding Session

After hosting their wedding in Korea, these adorable lovebirds wanted to capture some iconic wedding pics in New York City, where they first met, fell in love and now reside. They donned their wedding attire and headed out to the Meatpacking District and West Village in the early morning light, sharing intimate moments, with Rebecca Yale snapping away. The finished results are nothing short of magical.

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From Rebecca Yale PhotographyJamie and In-Hee had their wedding for their friends and family in Korea, but decided to have photographs taken to commemorate their wedding in New York City, where they met, fell in love and currently live. We hit the streets of the Meatpacking District and West Village in the early morning to capture the empty streets filled with golden light.

Photography: Rebecca Yale | Wedding Dress: Trina Turk | Shoes: Jenny Packham | Ring: Cartier | Hair And Makeup: Obmre By E.J. Kim | Getting Ready Hotel: The Dream Downtown | Watch: Rolex | Wedding Dress (short): Monique Lhuillier

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
For membership information, click here
These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
For membership information, click here