There's a reason why romantic movies are often set in New York City: the unparalleled skyline, the bright lights, the hustle and bustle, the idea that—in a chance encounter, even—you can find your soul mate in such an expansive place. (OK, so there's more than one reason.) Countless people meet and fall in love in New York City, and even more lovebirds flock here to share in the experience of falling in love with the City itself—so it's only natural that numerous couples want to affirm their commitment to each other in NYC as well.
With an abundance of event spaces to choose from, there's a venue for every pair: nature lovers, baseball fans, culture connoisseurs, water babies and more. And those who want to keep it simple and elegant have the option of saying “I do” at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau, a 24,000-square-foot space that got a massive renovation in 2009. Either way, no matter where in NYC you decide to get married, the City is the place to have an affair to remember.
A Groom (and Bride) with a View
To some couples, the most important feature of a New York City wedding venue is its perspective of the skyline. If that's a top priority for you, set your sights on The River Café. The DUMBO restaurant, right on the waterfront at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, is famous for its food; its postcard-perfect vista of Lower Manhattan, the East River and, of course, the bridge; and, consequently, the number of times “Will you marry me?” has been said within its walls. Weddings take place in the Terrace Room; the ceremony and cocktails are best enjoyed in the outdoor area of the space; and the reception follows indoors. Other places with pretty panoramas include the Upper West Side's Mandarin Oriental New York hotel (the numerous windows in its Mandarin Ballroom showcase a skyline with Central Park in the foreground) and Midtown West's Ink48 hotel (Press Lounge, on the 16th floor, boasts dramatic views of the cityscape as well as the Hudson River).
Love Is in the Air
If you prefer to see the skyline and be part of it, you'll want to exchange vows from a skyscraper. The Weather Room, an event space at Top of the Rock in Midtown West, features a stunning bird's-eye view of the City from the 67th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. Take in breathtaking sights, including an unmatched vista of the Empire State Building, by way of vertical windows in the polished interior space and two glass-walled, open-air terraces. If the Weather Room is a little too high in the sky for you, then 620 Loft & Garden may be a better fit for your wedding. The lush green oasis—seven stories above Rockefeller Center, on the roof of the British Empire Building—looks out on St. Patrick's Cathedral, Fifth Avenue, Radio City Music Hall and the plaza's Prometheus statue. In winter, you'll also be able to see the ice-skaters on Rockefeller Center's beloved rink as well as another form of greenery: the famous Christmas tree. The observatory at the Empire State Building, like Top of the Rock, is a popular place to pop the question—but a proposal is just about the only wedding-related activity you can do here. The Midtown West landmark hosts ceremonies but once a year, on Valentine's Day, for a number of lucky couples—past years have varied from three to 14—selected in an annual contest. Check esbnyc.com or the landmark's Facebook page for updates on the yearly competition.
When you hear “Chelsea Piers,” you probably think of the waterfront complex's driving range, ice-skating rink, bowling alley, health club, spa…we could go on and on. But did you know that the sports-and-entertainment haven is also home to an event space that has one of the City's best views of the Hudson River? With its prime location off the western edge of Manhattan, The Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers is a popular place for a sunset ceremony—and the scene is just as picturesque for a daytime wedding. Ample windows and an all-season terrace, on which you can savor cocktails and meals, are sure to make waves with your family and friends. If you'd rather get married along the East River, be sure to see two wonderful waterside venues: Giando on the Water, in Williamsburg, and The Water Club, in Kips Bay.
Become One with Nature
A garden is the perfect place to plant the seeds for a love that will grow and bloom for years to come. And one of the best parts about getting married at Prospect Park's Brooklyn Botanic Garden is that Mother Nature has already taken care of much of the decor. Surround yourself with the foliage of the season by having your ceremony in the Cherry Esplanade, Osborne Garden or Magnolia Plaza; at the Cranford Rose Garden and the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, you can also have morning ceremonies that don't involve catering. Cocktails are consumed by the Lily Pools, on the lamppost-lined pavilion just outside of the Palm House. The Victorian glasshouse, framed with rows of lights, makes for a gorgeous reception site. On the lush grounds of the Bronx's Wave Hill, you can unite as one under a graceful pergola, with views of the Hudson River, the Palisades and the George Washington Bridge in the background. Indoor receptions are typically held in the Wave Hill House, a mansion where Mark Twain lived and Theodore Roosevelt enjoyed two summers. Tented receptions are on Wave Hill's Lower Lawn.
Public Displays of Affection
Brimming with towering trees, verdant grounds, winding walking paths, idyllic bodies of water and natural and man-made surprises around every corner, Central Park practically oozes romance. And tucked away in an area off East 74th Street is the Loeb Boathouse, a dining destination along The Lake that is one of the park's most sought-after places to get married. Weddings are held in the aptly named Lake Room, whose French doors and windows fill the space with natural light during the day and provide a means of seeing the watercolor sky at dusk. When the weather is nice, events spill out to a deck that overlooks the water. From there, guests can watch you and your partner be whisked away on a Venetian gondola, to enjoy some private time together and savor your first moments as newlyweds (gondolas are available from April to November). Other beautiful settings for a Central Park wedding are the Conservatory Garden and The Pond. (Just be sure to consult with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation for permit information and a list of rules and regulations regarding ceremonies and receptions in the park.) And if you want to wed and support a good cause at the same time, consider the Central Park Zoo for your venue; proceeds from events here aid Wildlife Conservation Society programs.
Walk Down the Aisle in Style
Since its opening in 1907, The Plaza has been the epitome of luxury and opulence—the lavish hotel offers an abundance of only-in-New York sophistication and glamour. Famous for such high-profile affairs as Truman Capote's 1966 Black and White Ball, dubbed the “Party of the Century,” it is perhaps the majestic entertainment spaces here that most benefited from the Midtown West hotel's stunning $450 million restoration, completed in 2007. For example, it is not uncommon to find patrons indulging in afternoon tea at the Palm Court, but come nighttime, it's a sumptuous spot in which to sip cocktails. The room's focal point, undoubtedly, is its stained-glass laylight, painstakingly recreated from a sketch and black-and-white photos of the original, as well as shards of glass found during the cleanup. If you're looking to soak up an entirely different atmosphere, however, consider the Terrace Room, a space just beyond the mirrored doors of the Palm Court where you can exchange vows. With its grand arches, stone fountain and Renaissance-style paintings on the ceiling, you'll feel as if you've been transported to a château in Europe. (In fact, the chandeliers are copies of those at the Palace of Versailles.) The Plaza's vast Grand Ballroom serves as the site of both ceremony and reception. Adorned in shades of cream, green and gold, it has a timeless elegance befitting of parties of the next century and beyond.
For more on The Plaza's transformation, see our “Luxe Life” slideshow.
For the Love of the Game
New Yorkers are passionate about their baseball. It's something that's instilled at an early age, as many locals grow up rooting for their family's favorite team (Mets or Yankees, you can choose only one.) So if you and your future husband or wife share a mutual love for either club, we propose you follow up the diamond ring with a baseball diamond. At Queens' Citi Field, the Mets' new digs, you can literally step up to the plate—home plate, that is, where your ceremony will take place; frills include custom ticket invitations, gift bags and announcements over the public address system. Guests in the stands will cheer as “game day staff” launches Mets or custom T-shirts into the crowd. If you have a favorite former Mets player (and if there's enough room in your budget), you can see if he's game to attend. Have a ball as you take photos in various parts of the stadium (and with Mr. or Mrs. Met, of course), and then slide on into the Delta Sky360 Club, located behind home plate; the Acela Club, which looks out to the field, the NYC skyline and the World's Fair Marina; or the Caesars Club, with views of Flushing Meadows–Corona Park and the Unisphere. No matter which of Citi Field's various sites hosts your celebration, you'll have an Amazin' time.
The wedding options at Yankee Stadium, in the Bronx, are a hit with those who champion its eponymous squad. The digital board can display a custom graphic, show a lineup of welcome messages for individual guests or broadcast your ceremony, and the “Wedding March” can be played over stadium speakers. Be sure to sport a pin-striped suit as you marry your biggest fan on the warning track behind home plate, accompanied by a team of up to 10 bridesmaids and groomsmen, or change it up and say your vows in front of the Yankees' dugout. Depending on how much you'd like to spend, you can have Yankees alumni in attendance. Your RBI (requests, budget and invitees) also determines which of the stadium's many spaces is the sweetest spot for your reception.
Tie the Knot at 10 Knots
Give new meaning to the term “love boat” with your very own nautical nuptials. Drop anchor in New York Harbor on one of Manhattan by Sail's two magnificent vessels. Shearwater, the more popular and more intimate option, is a vintage 1920s schooner that can hold 43 passengers. Clipper City, meanwhile, a tribute to a 19th-century boat of the same name, was built in 1984 and overhauled 20 years later; it has room for as many as 140. Ceremonies can take place on the go, as you sail by the New York City skyline, or at a standstill, under the Brooklyn Bridge or near the Statue of Liberty. Manhattan by Sail's proprietor can even serve as your officiant. Bateaux New York will also help you embark on your lifelong voyage together. Its curved glass ceiling and glass walls allow you and about 300 guests to take in even more sights from the inside of the ship. And if you're looking for a luxurious liner, consider embarking on one of Elite Private Yachts' vessels. The Manhattan Elite offers elegant stylings and space for up to 149; the classy Atlantica has three decks and accommodates up to 400. You'll feel like you're on your own private yacht, if only for a few hours.
To Loft, Honor and Obey
If you want the vibe of your wedding to feel more like that of a gathering at a chic New York City apartment, you'll want to check out converted industrial spaces. One such venue is Studio 450, a duplex penthouse loft in what was once a chocolate factory in Chelsea. Even with stark white walls and a floor to match, this bright place can pull off a white-on-white wedding—but it is colors, oftentimes the most basic of them, that truly stand out in contrast with the surroundings. Take advantage of the natural light that floods the airy space during the day or the orange glow that permeates at sunset, or choose bold color combinations when selecting lighting for an evening function. There's also a rooftop area here with a glass-enclosed room that's available year-round. If you're looking for a loftlike venue with a raw, 19th-century feel, you'll find it at The Foundry in Long Island City. With brick walls, high ceilings, skylights and a mezzanine level, the interior of this renovated former varnish factory and steel foundry is a special site for a ceremony or reception. For the other half of the wedding and for cocktail hour, clients have the option of renting one or two of The Foundry's three ancillary spaces—an ivy-lined courtyard in the shadow of the Queensboro Bridge, a rooftop terrace with City views and a quaint greenhouse, which is located next door. The venue's Albra Room, which can be rented separately or in conjuction with the main space, accommodates up to 70 for cocktails and 40 for dinner. Each of these spots, including the interior, can be decorated as simply or as elaborately as desired.
Event spaces in New York City are unique in and of themselves, but these venues really take the cake. Vow to be different from everyone else and let your wedding be as extraordinary as you are.
Science Nerds: A wedding at the Upper West Side's American Museum of Natural History is quite the exhibition. The ceremony can be hosted in the museum's Powerhouse, which formerly housed coal generators, while receptions and dinners can be held in any of the institution's 45 exhibit halls; some of the most popular include the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda, the Akeley Hall of African Mammals and the Cullman Hall of the Universe. Event revenue helps further the museum's mission and scientific programs.
Music Lovers: You'll hit all the right notes in The Appel Room, located in Jazz at Lincoln Center's Frederick P. Rose Hall, in Midtown West. An enormous floor-to-ceiling picture window that provides one-of-a-kind views of Columbus Circle, Central Park and the NYC skyline serves as the backdrop—and sets the stage—for events here.
Creative Types: Brides and bridegrooms will find a blank canvas to interpret at Skylight Modern in SoHo. The raw space has an airy gallery feel to it, and its two floors offer areas for ceremony and reception.
Bookworms: Start the next chapter of your life together at SoHo's nonprofit Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, where farm-to-table food is served by the in-house caterer and event proceeds support the fight against homelessness and AIDS. Or make like Carrie Bradshaw and book the big day at the New York Public Library's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, off Bryant Park in Midtown West. Venue rental fees provide essential funds for library programs and services, so everyone lives happily ever after.