What To Do When it Rains on Your Wedding Day | NY Local Series

A little about the the NY Local Series… As so many of my couples are eloping from out of town, I often find myself fielding all sorts of questions from how to elope, how to get to City Hall, where is the best place to elope in NYC, to questions about best restaurants or places to stay. So I’m hoping to answer some of these questions for you in this series. As I’m working towards seven years in the city, I’ve got some local New York knowledge I’d love to share!

(I also have updated an FAQ page, for any other questions you might have! In case you missed it, previous posts include: How to Elope in New York and some Unique Places to Get Married in NYC.)

What to Do When it Rains on Your Wedding Day in NYC

So you’ve looked at the forecast every day for the past month. It says rain… boo! Then SUN! Horray! Then inevitably switches back to rain. First things first. While it’s always good to check the weather, I can tell you from experience that you never quite know what you’re going to get in NYC. I’ve had the forecast call for downpours and then had sun and have had the opposite happen as well. Don’t stress too much. Focus on the good stuff: at the end of the day, you’ll be married and that’s the most important part. However, I know that is much easier said then done.

But really you ask, what DO we do if it rains or there’s a blizzard? This is actually one of my most frequently asked questions. Fortunately, you’ve got options and umbrellas can always make a cute prop! Finding public space that’s indoors in New York City is a bit tricky, but it can be done.

*Stealth Factor: For some places it’s going to depend on who happens to be working that day, how wedding-y\”bridal” you happen to look, and how quick your ceremony is. 

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Here are a few spots to consider in New York City if it rains/blizzards/hails/is freezing on the day of your wedding or elopement:

Your Hotel: This will obviously vary from person to person. However, if you’re lucky enough to be staying in a suite or larger room, a hotel with a nice lobby or covered deck or rooftop somewhere, or perhaps an Air BnB with a nice living room space and natural light? We can work with that. Look around your space and you might find it might just work well as a back-up. Other things to be on the look out for: are there buildings nearby with overhangs or large windows? If we can be outside but covered from the rain or have natural light this can work out quite well for photos.

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Grand Central Grand Central is my most used back-up location in case of inclement weather. It’s indoors and heated and can be really beautiful. There are a number of spaces that can work well for ceremonies and it also can be good for portraits afterwards. Keep in mind the closer you get to rush hour, the busier it’s going to be. There are definitely spots that are less busy, but there will always be a bit of an audience.

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New York Public Library:

Outside: This is a good spot if it happens to be just slightly raining. On either side of the main entrance there are beautiful archways that are covered, but open to natural light. They make a great spot to have a small ceremony and are also beautiful for photographs. I’ve done a few ceremonies here and have never had any issues with permits or getting permission. Stealth Factor: None. 

Inside: The inside of the library is stunning. I have heard of quick elopements being done on the upper balcony. However, this is one of those spots that if you happen to look bridal, it’s not going to fly. I’ve gotten in with couples who are just dressed nicely for some quick portraits, but if you have a big white dress or are carrying flowers we will likely be turned away. Stealth Factor: High.

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The library is also very close to the Urban Garden Room, an indoor public space where we could also potentially snap a few more portraits or have a quick ceremony out of the elements. There are a few other public open indoor spaces scattered around mid-town. You can actually search for various options throughout the city and check them out here.  Another decent one is the Black Rock Park Ave Plaza at E 53rd and Park Ave. This space is located around many midtown buildings with large overhangs, allowing outdoor light with covered from the elements abilities. The Lincoln Center Atrium could also be nice for a few portraits.

Ford Foundation Atrium: The green space inside this building is a quiet oasis in midtown. It’s lush and almost tropical and has beautiful natural light. While it’s a public space, it’s not meant for large crowds. If you’re a huge wedding party with loads of guests, no deal. If you’re having a quick small ceremony, are not too decked out with wedding gear and/or taking some photos with a “friend with a nice camera” I think this could potentially work. Stealth Factor: Medium-High. 

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Jane’s Carousel: This is a great spot for photos if you happen to be near the Brooklyn waterfront and want to step inside. It’s heated in the winter and riding the carousel is always fun! Having a very small quick elopement ceremony here I imagine could be possible pending on the attendant, though technically a permit is required. However you can always take photos inside if you’re just looking for a fun warm spot for portraits!

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Covered Spots in Parks: 

Bethesda Terrace: While I don’t normally recommend ceremonies here as it can get very busy, on rainy days the park tends to be much less crowded. You will have to walk outside to get here (pending the time of day a cab may be able to drop you off quite close), though once under the terrace, you’re good to go. There’s also room for a crowd, so if you have a guests, this could work well. Bonus: there are often street musicians playing so you might get a musical accompaniment.

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Ladies Pavilion: Again you have to walk outside to get here, but once you arrive the pavilion is covered. It’s small, but if it’s just you and maybe a witness, you can definitely make this spot work in the rain or snow.

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Highline: There are sections of the Highline closer to the Standard Hotel that are covered. There are also several cool buildings in the adjoining meatpacking district that have large overhangs allowing photos outside but still out of the rain making this a good rain back-up.

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Museums: The Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MoMa, all of these museums are indoors and amazing spaces. While I’ve taken engagement photos at museums, wedding photos and ceremonies can be tricky.  They require couple willing to be flexible if we’re not admitted and definitely not with a huge party or large dresses. Of these, your best bet is the Museum of Natural History. I have photographed a few engagement sessions and even a quick ceremony here and it went off without hitch. Your ceremony will have to be quick, and no clearly big wedding dresses or bouquets are going to be admitted. The Met is a different story. I have taken photographs in here, but to make it work you have to be VERY low key, quick and speedy. They generally frown on portraits with the artwork. I have heard that the Whitney is a possible location that can be more forgiving, however I have personally never photographed there before. Stealth Factor: Medium-High.

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Peer Space: This is a brand new option. I haven’t had the chance to try it out yet, but I’ve heard great things! It’s essentially a service where you can book unique venues around town for whatever you need, even for just a short block of time, and the prices seem very reasonable. I feel like this could be a great option for couples looking for an indoor back-up spot and could lead to some really cool photos! There is another similar service is called Breather, though it tends to lean more toward meeting room type spaces.

Get a bit wet and rock the umbrella! 

Ok, so this isn’t an rainy day back-up and it’s not for everyone. But sometimes if you’re willing to roll with the punches and maybe get a bit wet, the photos will be awesome. I’m always up for an adventure and if you’re game, we can find a way to make it work. I have a stock of huge clear umbrellas that I always bring along so we’ll be set to go no matter the weather.

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