Blog ~ Elopements
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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!
The old wood details inside Dinosaur BBQ were just perfect to place their rings on for a quick 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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.)
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!
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!
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!
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!
Callie & Dan, thank you so much for including me in your City Hall wedding day. It was a pleasure to document your story!
The Best NYC Elopement Vendors
Wedding venue – City Hall
Elopement reception restaurant – Charlie Bird
NYC elopement photographer – JC Lemon Photography