Blog ~ Elopements

The Riverside Church and Dinosaur BBQ Wedding of Sara & Deanna

I’m so excited to share these Riverside Church wedding photos from Sara & Deanna’s elopement. This laid back intimate wedding day had a lot of great components, from a stunning church ceremony to a bbq brunch to a Lord of the Rings themed dance party! I love it when couples really take their day and make it their own. Sara & Deanna are huge fans of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, so they had a lot of fun details included in their day. But on top of that, they really focused on creating an amazingly fun atmosphere for themselves and their guests to have an all day party. When that’s your priority, it’s hard to go wrong!

Riverside Church Wedding Photos

This church on the Upper West Side is one of the city’s most grand neo-gothic cathedrals, and is an absolutely stunning place to have a wedding ceremony. Sara & Deanna were actually married in the church’s secondary chapel, which is amazing in its own right and was a perfect size for their more intimate crowd. In addition to exchanging rings and vows, Sara & Deanna also performed an Irish hand-fasting.

Riverside Church wedding photosWedding ceremony at Riverside Church

Friends of the brides giving readings, and an Irish hand-fastingBrides exchanging rings during their Riverside Church wedding ceremonyBrides are pronounced married

As guests made their way to brunch, I stayed back with the wedding couple for some portraits using the gorgeous exterior of Riverside Church. The scale of the church is just amazing, and of course the details are stunning too.

Wedding portraits outside Riverside ChurchRiverside Church wedding photographerIndividual portraits of the brides outside Riverside ChurchBrides sneak a kiss while walking to their brunch reception

Dinosaur BBQ Wedding Reception

After their ceremony at Riverside Church, it was just a short walk over to Dinosaur BBQ’s Harlem location for a laid back brunch with guests. Did someone say ribs, chicken, mac & cheese, and corn bread?! I may be biased since I’m from Texas, but hot damn that is a great choice! As soon as we walked in the smell of smoked meats and good times hit us in the face.

Details from the Dinosaur BBQ brunch reception

Using a few Fuji Instax Mini cameras and some photo corners is a great way to make a fun guest book. I’m a huge fan of the Instax stuff for personal photos, so this always tickles me when I see it at weddings. Who doesn’t love an instant photo?!

Fuji Instax guest bookWedding brunch reception at Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem

I love capturing both sides of the speeches, the actions and reactions. You know a speech is really great when you see both sides of the equation!

Wedding speeches at Dinosaur BBQ

The old wood details inside Dinosaur BBQ were just perfect to place their rings on for a quick detail photo.

Wedding ring detail photo

Lord of the Rings Wedding Dance Party at Tir Na Nog

The celebration continued later with a wedding dance party at Tir Na Nog near Times Square, a solid Irish pub that lended a heavy hand into the theme of the evening – Lord of the Rings! How amazing is that LotR wedding cake? Not to mention the rainbow cupcakes that rounded out the dessert options! The dance moves were strong with Sara & Deanna’s crowd of guests, and the party kept going well into the night.

Lord of the Rings wedding cakeWedding dance party at Tir Na Nog Times SquareDance party wedding reception at Times Square Tir Na Nog Irish pub

Sara and Deanna, thank you so much for having me along to document your crazy fun wedding story! Are you planning a Riverside Church wedding? I’d love to learn more about what you’re planning and how I can help preserve your wedding story in beautiful photos.

New York City’s best wedding vendors

Manhattan wedding chapel – Riverside Church

Brunch reception venue – Dinosaur BBQ Harlem

Wedding dance party venue – Tir Na Nog Times Square

NYC elopement photographer – JC Lemon Photography

NYC Wedding Photos Location Guide: DUMBO

When talking to couples that are planning an NYC wedding, one of the main topics of conversation is where to go for portraits. With DUMBO being the most popular neighborhood for the past few years, most couples are specifically asking, “What are the best wedding photo locations DUMBO has?” Even though that might be the hotspot right now, the more broad question is always at play — where should we go for wedding photos in the city?

In that spirit I’m going to start highlighting some neighborhoods throughout New York City that are great options for exploring on your wedding day. Because I am a location-based wedding photographer, the city is our studio and we can literally go anywhere and create amazing wedding photos. Each neighborhood lends its own character into the look and feel of the photos, so choosing the right location for the type of wedding photos you want is definitely something to consider.

What are the best wedding photo locations DUMBO offers

Why you should go to DUMBO for wedding photos.

The skyline views alone are worth the trip over, but step away from the waterfront and you’ll find a striking neighborhood with cobblestone streets and converted industrial warehouse buildings. I love any neighborhood that offers a lot of options because it means that we can create lots of variety within a short walking distance. With a little bit of everything, DUMBO has a long list of photo spots worth checking out.

This waterfront Brooklyn neighborhood is nestled between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges (hence the name, Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). It includes the north end of Brooklyn Bridge Park, along with Jane’s Carousel, the most photographed block on Instagram, and a former industrial neighborhood peppered with boutique shops and converted lofts.

Explore the city for portraits when you elope

What are the best wedding photo locations DUMBO offers?

There are lots of great nooks and crannies to explore in DUMBO, but there are three key areas that I try to visit with every wedding couple.

Fulton Ferry Landing

While technically not part of DUMBO (but it’s *right* there!), this ferry landing holds the iconic skyline view of the area. It looks straight across to downtown Manhattan, while the span of the Brooklyn Bridge soars past you to the north. Ferries come and go along with tourists who snap photos, but it’s never too hard to capture some photos where it’s just the wedding couple with no one else around. A must visit!

Bride and groom at Fulton Ferry Landing section of DUMBO with skyline viewsWedding photos in DUMBO BrooklynBest wedding photo locations in DUMBO includes Fulton Ferry LandingWedding couple with the skyline views from Fulton Ferry Landing in DUMBO Brooklyn

Jane’s Carousel and converted warehouses

If you love the waterfront but don’t want all of your photos to have skyline views, these are two great areas to explore for some variety. Jane’s Carousel is a restored, fully functional carousel. You don’t even have to ride it to take advantage of it for photos, but why wouldn’t you ride a carousel? The two converted warehouses on the waterfront are actually old tobacco storehouses. They finally received some love and care and have been recently reopened, including an elevated public space and a ground-level garden.

Same sex wedding photos at Jane's Carousel in DUMBOBride and groom by Jane's Carousel, a perfect spot for Brooklyn elopement photosConverted waterfront warehouses are perfect for unique wedding photosArchitecture of old tobacco warehouses in DUMBO, used for wedding photosUnique views within one of the waterfront warehouses in DUMBO Brooklyn

BQE Wall, Rust Wall, and other spots off the beaten path

The first one might be well known, but this one is actually all about the nooks and crannies! DUMBO is a great neighborhood for exploring random blocks, so let your feet you lead you somewhere exciting. The BQE Wall is a colorful piece of graffiti along the wall supporting the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (from the 2013 DUMBO Walls project). The “Rust Wall” is just the side of a random building I found a few years ago while exploring back in the neighborhood.

BQE wall of graffiti in DUMBO Brooklyn makes for colorful wedding photosThe Rust Wall, found exploring the DUMBO neighborhood with bride and groom on their elopementCobblestone streets and interesting walls are all over DUMBO BrooklynExploring DUMBO Brooklyn for wedding photos is great when eloping

A few DUMBO weddings to dive into

The City Hall elopement of Mary & Joreal was such a great intimate wedding! After their City Hall ceremony, we hopped across the Brooklyn Bridge and explored DUMBO for their wedding portraits. The loop we made covered most of the best wedding photo locations DUMBO has!

This Frankies 457 wedding day started at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, at the south end of DUMBO. After a first look, I explored DUMBO with Katherine & Quin for some fun wedding photos.

What neighborhood should I feature next?

New York is such a wonderful city to explore, especially on your wedding day. Do you have a favorite neighborhood you’d like featured next? Let me know!

The City Hall Wedding of Callie & Dan

The City Hall wedding of Callie & Dan was so simple and elegant. The fanciest thing about it might have been Callie’s floral crown! I love that New York can host such simple yet fulfilling wedding days for couples from around the world. In fact, if I had known about having an NYC City Hall wedding when I got married, that’s probably what we would have done.

This City Hall wedding kept it simple and elegant

This elopement couple’s intimate wedding day followed the tried-and-true recipe for success — keep it simple and include those that matter most to you. The best way to keep your NYC elopement ceremony simple? Go to City Hall. (If you haven’t yet, check out our recently updated 2018 guide to getting married at City Hall.)

bride and groom starting their City Hall wedding dayWedding couple filling out marriage license at City Hall

Other paperwork might be boring to fill out, but the small moments that happen while you and your witness fill out the marriage license paperwork are always worth documenting. I love the laughs and smiles that overtook Callie, Dan, and her sister as they completed everything!

Bride and groom waiting with family during City Hall weddingBride and groom waiting to go into their City Hall wedding ceremonyBride and groom start their City Hall wedding ceremonyCity Hall wedding ceremonyCity Hall wedding ceremonies are so much fun to witnessGetting hugs right after being pronounced married at City Hall

While it is a brief ceremony, the emotions fly during those two minutes. With a group of guests along for the ride, there are always hugs that immediately follow the ceremony and I love it when I can capture all of these happening around me. It’s always such a mad dash to get these because they’re trying to (nicely) get you to leave the room so that they can do the next ceremony, haha!

Family group photos on their City Hall wedding dayBride with mom, grandmother, and sisters

Hopping just across the street from City Hall provides the perfect spot for some group photos. I loved these last few with Callie, her mom, grandmother, and sisters. Don’t they all look so amazing?! Then it was time to hop in a cab and get some portraits by the waterfront with views overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. With just a quick detour as the guests made their way to the reception, we were able to capture all of the amazing portraits Callie & Dan wanted. Then we got them back to the restaurant to join up with their guests for lunch!

Bride and groom entering a taxiWedding couple walking near the South Street SeaportNYC elopement couple with Brooklyn in the backgroundCreating striking and simple wedding portraits in NYCIndividual portraits of the bride and groom

Charlie Bird Elopement Reception

This bi-level West Village restaurant has a hidden gem — a private room in which to host an elopement reception! Callie & Dan’s intimate party of twelve fit perfectly, and with a few simple floral details and customized menus the room popped to life. If you’re looking for a great space to host a small elopement reception, I definitely recommend checking them out!

Charlie Bird has a private room that's perfect for elopement receptionsDetails from the elopement reception at Charlie Bird in the West VillageWedding couple toasts at their elopement reception at Charlie Bird

Callie & Dan, thank you so much for including me in your City Hall wedding day. It was a pleasure to document your story!

Are you planning to elope in NYC? I’d love to hear more about what you’re planning!

The Best NYC Elopement Vendors

Wedding venue – City Hall

Elopement reception restaurant – Charlie Bird

NYC elopement photographer – JC Lemon Photography