NYC Weddings & Elopements

Central Park Wedding Guide

There are so many amazing places to get married in Central Park! From the arches of Bethesda Terrace to the wilds of the North Woods, I'd love to take you on a Central Park wedding photo tour!

How to get married in Central Park

As an elopement photographer, most of my clients are coming from out of town. Many couples are very interested in weddings in Central Park, it's one of the most popular spots in the city for wedding photography. You can’t stroll through the park on a weekend without seeing at least one wedding party. And no wonder, having traveled the world over I have to say, Central Park is hands down the best big city park I’ve been to. As an Upper East Side resident, I’m in the park nearly every day whether for shooting or recreation and I can say with confidence I'm an expert on weddings in Central Park.

If it's a hidden cove, the best views, or a quiet path to stroll you're after, I'm happy to share all my Central Park secrets. So without further ado here is my official Central Park Wedding Guide!

What are the best places for a wedding ceremony in Central Park?

It really depends on what your needs are for your wedding or elopement. Privacy? Views? Places for guests to sit? I’ve compiled a list below of some of the more popular spots based on what you might be looking for. I'm always happy to make recommendations that are more off the beaten path as well. Chambers Landing, the waterfall in the Ramble, the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, or the Native Meadow are all great spots that rarely see a wedding party.

The best places in Central Park for privacy at your wedding ceremony

Wagner Cove Wedding

Wagner Cove

If you’re looking for privacy for your Central Park Elopement, this is about as close as you’re going to get in a public park. Wagner Cove is a tiny pavilion hidden down a little staircase by the Cherry Hill Fountain. It’s right on a cove of the lake and is very secluded. People can see from across the cove, but you won’t be in amongst a crowd so it has a much more private feeling. It should be noted that it is very small and this space is rather compact so it’s not appropriate for elopement with more than a guest or two.

Dene Shelter AKA Treehouse For Dreaming

This is my other favorite spot in the park. It’s on the East Side and is usually fairly quiet. It’s a small shelter, but slightly bigger than Wagner, and has benches around the edges so if you have guests that need to be seated, the could do so. I’d say more then 8-10 guests would be crowded. Should you want a view, I think the rocks just behind the Dene Shelter would be a great spot for a ceremony, and they have an excellent view of the Central Park south skyline.

The Ramble

There are a few spots in the Ramble that are quite secluded. While you will have the possibility of people strolling by, this area of the park is usually very quiet, especially for weekday elopements. There are also many areas that have beautiful views. The most popular spot for a ceremony in the Ramble is a little opening just a hundred yards or so past the Bow Bridge. It offers a lovely view of San Remo Towers and it usually very quiet. Other options include waterfalls, quiet meadows, Bank Rock Boat Landing (AKA Chamber's Landing), along with a couple other outcroppings that have great views of Bethesda Terrace. If you have an interest in these spots, let me know and I'll be happy to share more info!

The North Woods

I love shooting around the north woods, but very rarely get the opportunity. It's usually very quiet as not many people ever make their way to this part of the park unless you're a local looking for birds. There are a couple waterfalls, a tiny stream, hidden meadows, the beautiful Glen Span Arch by the Pool, and many wonderful pathways and a few tiny bridges very much under utilized for photos. If you want to avoid the tourists, head this way.

Other off the beaten path spots that would be great for a private ceremony

There are a few other locations that I think would work wonderfully for a quiet private ceremony that I haven't gotten a chance to utilize yet. First up, The Hallet Nature Sanctuary. This is a beautiful wooded area in the south end of the park. It's a winding area of wooden trails, and there are a couple spots that open up that would be great for a little ceremony. Keep in mind the sanctuary doesn't open until 10am. Second, the Native Meadow, located just south of the mall has a big boulder that could make a neat ceremony location and is usually a very quiet area. Other spots include Cedar Hill, extra beautiful in springtime with loads of cherry blossoms.

The best places in Central Park with a view

Are you looking for a skyline view? Would you like to capture the greenery of a park space but also peep the spectacular skyline along Central Park South? You're in luck! There are several places for a Central Park wedding that also have a view of the city.

Cat Rock

If it’s a skyline view you’re looking for, Cat Rock is usually my recommendation. This spot can get crowded, especially around sunset and in the evenings in summertime. If you're looking for a quieter spot, come in the early morning especially during the week. It's located right above Wollman Rink just south of the Mall.

Turtle Pond/Belvedere Castle

If you’d like a view of Belvedere Castle, you can get married on the pond with the castle in the background. If you’d like the east side skyline behind you, you can get married on the castle terrace. (Take note: the Castle is often quite busy, so best to chose early morning times for a ceremony here)

The Lake or The Ramble

There are lots of gorgeous views all around the Lake and at various outcroppings in the paths of the Ramble.

Gapstow Bridge

There are lots of options around the Gapstow Bridge. There's a little area in front of the bridge, essentially just underneath that has great views of both the bridge and the skyline. You could also do a ceremony behind Gapstow Bridge, there's a rock just behind, or even a bit further behind the pond there's a grassy area that could make a good ceremony location. The Pond area in front of Gapstow Bridge can also be used as a ceremony location. If not at sunrise, this spot is quite busy and you will have a crowd, but if you're after the view, it's a great little spot! Lastly, you can also hike to the rocks above (there is a dirt path, so need to rock climb too much) to the east of Gapstow Bridge for a view of the skyline and Gapstow Bridge below.

Central Park Wedding Gapstow Bridge
Central Park Wedding Ceremony Location

Hernshead Rock

This is the rocky outcropping just behind the Ladies Pavilion. If you're willing to hop around the rocks a bit, you can get some great views of the skyline from across the lake in a spot that's a bit more unique then the Ladies Pavilion.

Rocks Behind Dene Shelter

There are a bunch of rocks that are easy to access behind the Dene Shelter. From here you have a view of the Central Park south skyline. It's not quite as full of tourists as Cat Rock.

Places in Central Park for a wedding ceremony with a seat

If you’re looking to find a spot that offers seating, there are a few spots in the park that are set up with benches that make for great ceremony spaces. There are also various boat landings around the lake that often have benches, a nice one can be found right behind Bow Bridge. There are also a few along the path from Ladies Pavilion up to Cherry Hill.

cop cot

This is the largest shelter in the park and has plenty of seating on the benches. It also doubles as a spot that's good for privacy. If you reserve this space, you'll have the entire pavilion, and won't have to worry about anyone walking through your ceremony. If you have a larger group for your wedding, this is the spot I'd most recommend. It's also very easily accessible for people unfamiliar with the park as you enter right from Central Park South and 6th Avenue.

dene shelter

Benches surround the inside, so you've got a decent amount of seating space. This space also offers great views of the Central Park skyline from the rocks just behind it.

Shakespeare Garden Elopement

Shakespeare Garden

If you get married in the front of the garden, there are two benches, one on either side, perfect to seat a grandparent or two. It should be noted however that you must climb stairs to get here.

There is also a terrace just above the garden with a large bench that could seat a few more if needed, again take note there are several stairs. This spot is very quiet and hidden from the main pathway so is usually fairly private. An early morning elopement in Shakespeare's Garden can be magical.

Ladies Pavilion

Ladies Pavilion is one of the most popular spots for a Central Park wedding or elopement. It provides a bit of shelter from the elements and also has benches on either side for people to sit.

It is not a great location if you're having lots of guests, but for a handful of attendees it's a good option. There are many spots around the pavilion that are wonderful photo backdrops as well and it's a about a 10 minute walk from places like bow bridge.

Ladies Pavilion Wedding

"I don’t even know where to start—Nicki is AMAZING, pure and simple. "

"We hired her for our pandemic elopement last year and are still so thrilled, we’ve just hired her for our reception this year. Nicki manages to capture the joy of the day with candid and loosely posed photos that feel so natural and so YOU."


How many guests are allowed for a wedding in Central Park?

You do not need a permit if you have under 20 guests. More than that requires a permit from the parks department. Most spaces couples tend to use for weddings in Central Park are quite small, so keep that in mind and chairs are generally not allowed for weddings in the park. Most of the weddings I photograph in Central Park tend to have 5 or fewer guests.

Do you need a permit to get married in Central Park?

The park is a public space and you may get married without a permit anywhere you like (except Conservatory Garden) if you’re having fewer then 20 guests, with no chairs or amplified music. However, if you would like to formally reserve one of the pavilions or have chairs or more guests a permit is required. You can apply for those online here: Central Park Wedding Permit.


A City Parks wedding permit is $25. While not required, if you are getting married at one of the more popular spots like the Ladies Pavilion or Cop Cot it can be a good idea to have the space reserved for you, especially if you’re getting married in busy season. Keep in mind, even with a permit, the space will not be blocked off, you will need to arrive earlier to make sure no one else is in the space.

What about getting married in the Conservatory Garden? How do you get married there?

The Conservatory Garden is the only formal garden in Central Park. It resembles a European palace garden space and is a beautiful quiet and romantic space for a wedding. However, a special permit is required for weddings and even just photography in the Conservatory Garden. You can apply for that online here: Conservatory Garden Wedding Permit. While I am generally all for asking for forgiveness over permission, the Conservatory Garden is a spot you will almost certainly get asked for a permit, and I wouldn't attempt a ceremony or photographing a couple here without one. There are a few spots to get married in the garden, the two most frequently used are either around the lily pond reflecting pool on the south side or up in the terrace. Both are lovely spots!

How Do I Get To Central Park?

Central Park is very easy to get to. However, it’s HUGE, so knowing where in the park you’re headed is key. A guide to common wedding ceremony destinations for subway and/or what to tell your taxi driver is below.


Cop Cot: This larger pavilion is in the southern area of the park up on a small hill just past the entrance on Central Park South.

  • Subway: The closest subway stop is either the 57th Street F or 5th Ave/59th Street NQR.
  • Taxi: Tell them to bring you to 59th Street and 6th Ave. You’ll be dropped off right at the entrance to thepark. You can walk right up the smaller path to your left and the pavilion will be right in front of you.

Ladies Pavilion: This pavilion is right on the lake but you have to walk through a bit of a hidden path through the greenery to get here. There is a sign directing you to the Ladies Pavilion on the main walkway. From Central Park West, the closest entrance is at West 77th Street.

  • Subway: You can enter and walk north from the 72nd Street B/C Stop or walk a few blocks south from the 81st Street B/C Station.
  • Taxi: Tell the driver to bring you to 77th and Central Park West. You’ll see the entrance to the park there. Follow the road down into the park and the entrance to the Ladies Pavilion should be just in front of you.

Dene Shelter: A pavilion on the east side of the park. The closest entrance is at off of 5th Avenue right at 69th Street. You’ll enter there and then follow the paths to your left. Dene Shelter is down a gravel path on a hilltop.

  • Subway: This spot is a bit of a walk from the nearest subway stop off the 6 Train at 68th Street.
  • Taxi: Have the cab drop you at 69th Street and 5th Avenue. You can walk into the park from there.

Wagner Cove: Wagner Cove is closest to the 72nd Street entrance to Central Park on the West Side.

  • Subway: 72nd Street on the B/C Train.
  • Taxi: Have the cab drop you at 72nd Street and Central Park West. Walk down into the park and follow the walking path across the main park drive. You’ll walk see Wagner Cove from the path on your left. Follow the path up the hill to your left, the entrance to the Cove will be at the top of the hill just across from Cherry Hill Fountain.

How Far is Central Park from City Hall?

Lots of clients wish to take photos in the park after getting married at City Hall. Travel time depends on if you’re taking the train or a taxi, however, I would usually recommend allotting at least 30 minutes, potentially more if during rush hour.

Are music and decorations allowed at Central Park weddings?

Amplified music is not allowed unless you have special permission. Acoustic music is permitted.


According to Central Park official rules, decorations are not allowed nor is the throwing of rice/confetti/flowers, etc. (I’ve had it happen before and no one said anything, but this is the official policy of the park.) You can have a chair or two if you have guests who can not stand for long periods of time. If you require more chairs then that, you will need to apply for a permit.

What is the best time of year to get married in Central Park?

This is a total personal preference. If I had to chose? I would say spring with all the cherry blossoms, or fall with the changing leaf colors. These times of year the park is especially beautiful, and lacks the heat or cold extremes of either summer or winter. However, all that said, you can't beat a freshly fallen snow in the park and it's also lovely in the summer when everything is green and lush. If you are aiming for summer, I'd say your best bet is to go for early morning or evening to avoid the heat of the day. Late May/early June is also usually very green but not quite super hot yet.

What time of day should you get married in Central Park?

I am extremely partial to sunrise in Central Park. I know, I know, it's EARLY. But if you have the chance and can brave the alarm clock, nothing beats early morning in the park. The light is dreamy, you have everything to yourselves, and you have the rest of the day to celebrate. Especially if you're someone who really wants photos in super crowded spaces like Bow Bridge or Bethesda Terrace, this is the time to go! All that said, of course you can get married at any time of day. Just note that as the day goes on, the crowds increase. This is especially true in the southern reaches of the park that are most popular with tourists and on weekends. Sunset is also beautiful in Central Park, there are just a few more crowds to deal with then at sunrise.

nyc wedding photographers 261

What if it rains?

This is where it gets tricky and is up to you. Unless it’s a torrential downpour, I can work in the rain, however I know some people aren’t up for getting wet in a wedding dress. Whether you want to get married in the rain is entirely up to you. I’m happy to offer back-up ideas and can switch locations pretty last minute.


Spots that are covered in Central Park (though you have to walk outside to get to them…) include Ladies Pavilion and the Bethesda Terrace. There are also several gazebos around the Lake that are covered as well. Check out my What to Do if it Rains on Your Wedding post for more ideas.

Do you know someone who can marry us for our wedding in Central Park?

Of course! I regularly work with excellent officiants with reasonable rates. Once you book I send over a welcome packet with all my trusted vendor names/contacts.

What about the Central Park Rowboats?

I love them! They can make for fun portraits and offer a little wedding adventure as well. The Central Park rowboats are open for use when the weather is nice, generally spring, summer and fall from 10am to sundown. They cost $15 per hour and are cash only. More information can be found on the Boathouse website.

What are your thoughts on Carriage Horses or Pedicabs?

The carriage horses are a very contentious issue in NYC. As a heads up, I personally do not photograph couples in the carriages as I feel the conditions of Manhattan streets aren’t appropriate for the horses. If you’d like to take a pedicab, we can certainly do that. There are lots of drivers right around the Boathouse Restaurant, along Bethesda Terrace and at the entrance to the park around Columbus Circle and the Plaza Hotel and at the 72nd Street entrance at Central Park West.

Have more questions? I'm always happy to help!


Check out my blog for more Central Park Elopements.


Send me an email via my contact page and I'll respond as soon as possible!


De Nueva Photography specializes in NYC elopements and weddings. I'm also available for engagements, proposals, and family portraits.


Not having a local wedding or elopement? No worries. Travel is literally my favorite thing and my passport is always ready. I’m available for travel worldwide.