Man, I thought I had seen it all and then a virus came along, and I realized I had seen nothing at all. Life has been shaken in more ways than one, and as a wedding photographer my whole year has been turned upside down. 2020 dates became 2021 dates, spring weddings became winter weddings. And some folks have decided to hold off altogether until the horizon gets a little clearer.
But having to postpone your wedding doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate. Although social distancing is fundamental right now and I am not advising anyone to have any sort of elopement unless it really is just the two of you (like those badass ladies somewhere in the city), planning a small and last minute wedding can be a great way to celebrate the end of these crazy times – soon, I hope! – and shout your love from the rooftops. You can always have your bigger wedding later this year.
Don’t feel overwhelmed, it is much easier than you think. Small elopements are very simple to organize. I had a 48 hour engagement before I eloped six years ago and we had 4 people in attendance, so I know how easy -and fast!- it can be to get married, so here are my tips on how to organize a last minute elopement in New-York.
1. KEEP THE GUEST LIST AS TINY AS POSSIBLE
Whether you’re having 200 or 80 guests, the guest list is always a headache. How to decide who to keep off your list? Should you invite people who invited you to their wedding, even if theirs was much larger than yours? Should you invite all your cousins even if you are close to a couple of them only? How do you break the news to the people you cannot invite?
Having a very small and last minute elopement gives you a very good excuse to not invite everyone. Include your parents and siblings, and a handful of your dearest friends. This should keep the guest list under 20. If your family is far away and you don’t want them flying twice this year to come see your get married, have a friends-only elopement. These can be a ton of fun, and have a whole different dynamic than a family wedding.
2. CHOSE YOUR BACKDROP
The point of having an elopement is to simplify the planning process. By choosing a spot with a gorgeous backdrop, you will need nothing else than yourselves and your guests to make it beautiful. Central Park allows parties of 20 guests or less to have a wedding on their ground without a permit. Although the gazebos such as the Cop Cot or the Ladies Pavilion are usually quite busy, it isn’t hard to find a great spot to have a ceremony in the park. How about one of the beautiful bridges or Hernshead, which boasts beautiful views over Midtown?
Dumbo, in Brooklyn, also has a lot of great spots for an impromptu ceremony, such as the beach, St Ann’s Warehouse, or even the promenade in front of Jane’s Carousel.
There are many small parks all around the city that would be a great fit for a small elopement. Some of them are technically private, but they are so secret that you can easily find a good time to go and have a quick ceremony. These spots are better for very small elopements with 10 people or less though, so keep that in mind if you decide to go the “guerilla”wedding” route! Some of those spots include: Amster Yard and Greenache Park in Midtown East, Alice’s Garden in Midtown West, or the McDougal-Sullivan park downtown.
You can also pick a quiet street in the West Village and have your ceremony out there for the world to see. A street like Gay Street could be ideal for this, since it is stunning and very quiet. You can also check if any of your friends has a rooftop you can use to have your celebration. Most of us have one, and the views are usually quite awesome!
And of course, you can also get married in your own home. This will ensure that your venue will hold no matter what virus is trying to kill the planet on your wedding date (let’s hope none, but we never know), plus it will allow you to wrap yourselves in those memories anytime you step into the room.
3. PICK MUST-HAVE VENDORS
An officiant is all you need to make your wedding official, and New-Yorkers are lucky enough to be allowed to get married anywhere by anyone who has been ordained. But if you want to make your day even more special, you can hire more people to beautify your day. A florist can make you a bouquet or a boutonniere, a cake maker can make a small cake for you and your guests, and a photographer can capture your celebration. Most vendors have special prices for elopements, so make sure to check with them when you inquire about your elopement. With those must-have vendors, your wedding will be as stunning as any other, and you won’t break the bank.
There. With those tips, you have a solid base to build on top of. Now let’s show this virus who’s the boss (hint: not him) and let’s get married already!