Tips for Getting Married in New York City | Advice from a NYC Wedding Planner
New York Wedding Tips for those thinking about a NYC Wedding
Many couples think about getting married or eloping in the Big Apple. New York City is a prime destination because of it’s iconic charm and urban excitement. But the prospect can also be daunting for outsiders. After all, New York is a very unique place with an intimidating personality. There are lots of questions and unknowns about having such an important event here. I talked to Michelle Fernie-Oley of Michelle Elaine Weddings Inc. to find out about New York City weddings from a planner’s perspective. She gave some great New York wedding tips that you’ll be sure to find useful.
Can you tell me a little about yourself and your work?
I met my husband 18 years ago in high school. We were not high school sweethearts we dated on and off for years until deciding to get married. We have a little long haired chihuahua named Chocolate Chip, he is our baby for now. I also run marathons in my spare time! As far as work, I am very detail oriented, organized. I am crazy about every detail for each client. I am chronically late to everything in my personal life but I’m always 15 min. early for anything to do with my business or a client! I take my client’s wedding days seriously and honestly treat each one as if it were my own.
Who are your ideal clients?
My ideal clients are those who understand the value that a great wedding planner adds. Trust is the key, my ideal clients put their trust in me and know I always have their best interest in mind. They can let go and enjoy the process while I do exactly what I’m here for.
What makes New York City weddings special?
Weddings are all about bringing people together from near and far. To me, New York City is special because you can meet SO many different kinds of people. They have lived around the world, yet are here in Manhattan because no other place compares. There is so much culture, life and diversity here and it sets the tone for joining two families.
What factors go into a great New York City wedding?
There are many factors that go into making ANY wedding great! Logistics, planning for possible issues, and creating something personal, not only what’s trendy. New York City weddings in particular, I’d say you need to have experience here. There are permits, rules, and an oversaturated market of vendors, some who popped up today. You need someone who knows people, places and things in New York. These New York wedding tips will make your wedding everything you dreamt.
What events do you usually plan for your out of town guests?
When none of the guests are from NYC, I recommend a weekend of events. Welcome drinks and rehearsal dinner start things off. Then, a fun after party (guests want to experience the nightlife), and Sunday brunch to wrap things up!
What are some of the benefits of getting married in NYC that many might not consider?
Keeping guests entertained. You don’t need to cram in a bunch of extra events for the weekend because guests will likely want to take in the city. There is Central Park, the Empire State Building, restaurants, museums, and more. This city offers never ending entertainment for your guests. As long as they can navigate a smartphone, Uber, or Lyft, they’re set for the weekend!
Are there any possible downsides to a wedding in NYC?
On the wedding day you NEED to supply very clear cut instructions on where to be and when. You should supply transportation to get your guests where they need to be. Couples may feel it’s too costly to provide this service. Many think “oh it’s New York, there are busses, trains, and cabs, guests will be fine, we can save in that area.” It’s not true and is upsetting when couples realize they need to spend 5k+ on transportation. I’ve seen weddings with and without transportation provided and I HIGHLY recommend it.
What are your favorite areas around NYC for weddings and why?
I love to travel, even within the US. I have fallen in love with large open land where I can build the event from the ground up. Weddings in nearby Vermont, Pennsylvania, the Hamptons, and Montauk have been some favorites.
What are some of your favorite venues or types of venues you would recommend?
I love open loft spaces that are like a blank canvas. Any space where there is an outdoor area for cocktails throughout the entire evening. I love to be out in big open fields or the woods figuring out how to build a wedding and make it perfect. I love to be on the water. I also love cozy and intimate spaces with a ton of character where decor isn’t the focal point, the space is. I also enjoy historic mansions around Manhattan. They remind me of a different time; those are the best.
What ways can couples incorporate New York into the event?
Keep it simple, you don’t need yellow taxis everywhere. You can incorporate small details into your invitations and favors. The invitation sets the tone and gets your guests excited. Put something fun in it, like a map to places you love or a button that says “I love NY.” It makes a difference without being too over the top or cheesy.
What is your opinion on current wedding trends?
To be honest, my clients don’t usually follow trends. We work together and create a perfect day based on what is representative of them. I always tell my couples “don’t do something because you saw it on Pinterest or Instagram. Close your eyes and picture what your day would have looked like 10 years ago and today.” Timeless is my key word, don’t follow trends.
Are there any logistical hurdles for visitors getting married in NYC?
How do you help the couple through these? It’s the moving parts and most of it is behind the scenes. When it comes to logistics effecting the couple and guests, it’s all about the movement of people. I ensure that the flow of the day is smooth and you’re not jumping all over the place. I’ll guide them by being transparent and honest, especially about how the day will unfold. I provide examples so we can talk through what works best for them and what they envision.
Why do you think it’s important for couples to hire a wedding planner in NYC?
It’s important to hire a planner no matter where you are! 😉 There is no such thing as a “simple wedding” anymore. Especially with social media. Couples have such outlandish ideas now and want to be different from the last 10 weddings they saw. It’s important to have someone help you hone your vision and ideas. You need someone with experience to guide you through the wedding planning process. That way you can avoid dead ends and surprises. We’ll provide lots of New York wedding tips and tricks for you to take advantage of.
How does the cost of NYC weddings compare to other areas?
Manhattan comes with a large price tag because it is Manhattan. I have done weddings in other parts of the country that had similar price tags. You can spend as much, if not more, in any location depending on details and design.
What seasons are best for a New York City wedding?
This summer especially, I would say the heat is a huge downside. The summers we get here are brutal sometimes and the air feels so thick you could cut it with a knife. Spring can be a tough one too. A lot of people expect warmer temps and flowers blooming. You can sometimes get snow, and we definitely get a lot of April showers. Winter weddings here are gorgeous, especially with a little snowfall. Fall weddings are absolute perfection! Thats why I am booked September and October every single year!
How long do you suggest the couple stay in NYC?
With any destination wedding, couples should arrive to their location a week prior. Settle in, enjoy some time alone before the wedding festivities begin. You may get overwhelmed with guests later. Again, don’t cram too many events into one week or weekend. You want time to enjoy each other as well – after all you’re here for your wedding!
Do you think it is necessary for a destination couple to have been to NYC or their wedding location before hand?
You need to have at least visited New York City once before considering a wedding here. That goes for planning a wedding anywhere. It seems most visitors love the chaos of the city and embrace it more then a New Yorker getting married here. So depending on who you are, you may be able to get away with never visiting. It’s risky though!
Any tips for how best to get around the city?
It all depends if you and your guests have ever been here. If you and your guests have never been to New York I recommend Uber or Lyft. A lot of people get weary about hailing down a yellow cab and feel there is a skill to it, there isn’t ha-ha. I can see the intimidation when you’re not used to doing it on a daily basis. Uber and Lyft are also much more convenient. I’ve been in Queens for 10 years and use Uber and Lyft all the time! On days when guests are having fun site seeing they can grab a map and explore the subways. I WOULD NOT suggest they get around that way to your wedding though!
How do you incorporate a couple’s personality and style into their wedding?
I always get personal and ask my couples about themselves. Things like what activities they like to do together, how they met, and where they live. Then I work with them to incorporate those little details into their day so it is personal to them. For example, I had a couple who had met back in high school, a very similar story to me. We did an amazing save the date that displayed their history. We used an old style library book card that you would find in a High Schooler’s possession.
What role do you see the photographer playing in a NYC wedding?
The photographer plays a very important role. They must capture the day in it’s entirety without missing a thing. It is important that an outside photographer familiarize themselves with the wedding location. I would suggest taking a trip out before the wedding day or arriving a few days early. They can walk through the venue and around the area to map out the best plan of action for photos on the wedding day. This is true for ANY wedding location though.
What are some of the benefits of having a photographer that connects with the couple?
It helps to make the couple feel more comfortable and relaxed on their wedding day. The photos will come out more natural and candid!
There are few places I love as much as New York City. Exploring it’s endless nooks and crannies with stylish couples is one of my favorite things in the world to do! If you are thinking about having engagements or getting married in New York City, I would be thrilled to connect and tell your story. Please learn more about me, why I’m different than other photographers, and reach out.
"Jeff was extremely accommodating & had TONS of amazing recommendations & solutions for all of my worries. He didn't just deliver photos, he honestly gave me a complete peace of mind on my day."
"Jeff is a calming force on the wedding day, & he genuinely got to know us as a couple, so he could help capture our story. He's humble, friendly, and my family & friends loved having him, as did we."
"Jeff was so calm and understanding in the mist of a chaotic wedding day. He went above and beyond his job. My husband & I hate having our photos taken, we’re very awkward, but you wouldn’t know that looking at the amazing photos he took."
"Jeff is truly an amazing photographer. His eye for unique and unconventional ideas gave us amazing pictures that we will treasure forever."
"Jeff is easy to work with & provides a different perspective than your traditional photographer. If you love natural lighting, artistic photos that will still look great 20 years from now than he is the way to go."
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