Blog ~ Elopements
Wondering where to eat after saying “I do”? As an NYC elopement photographer, I’ve joined hundreds of couples for their intimate receptions around the city. I’m constantly on the lookout to expand my list of the best elopement restaurants NYC has to offer!
How to select a great post-elopement restaurant in NYC
New York City has no shortage of amazing places to eat, and the limitless options are both a blessing and a curse. I think there are three key questions you need to ask before digging into your choices:
- What’s the guest count?
- What neighborhood do you need to be in?
- What kind of food do you want served?
Once you have it narrowed down to that level, you’ll want to start asking more specific questions that will guide you on where to reach out to:
- What’s the budget?
- Do you want a private or a semi-private space?
- How much do you want to style the space?
Best Elopement Restaurants NYC
While I can’t list every fantastic restaurant option out there, I can name some of the best elopement restaurants NYC has to offer. Here are three really solid choices that might be just what you’re looking for.
Frankies 457 Spuntino
This Carroll Gardens Italian restaurant serves family-style meals in a private carriage house out back that seats around 60 people. The addition of a seasonal tented opening extends the capacity to around 100. The rest of the space behind the restaurant is a patio garden that some couples will use for their ceremony, for cocktail hour mingling, or for an extended setup for dessert and dancing. While the space comes with a lot of charm built in, most couples opt to style it out with floral arrangements, place settings, and other personal touches.
Website: Frankies 457 Spuntino
Best nearby hotel: 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge
Best nearby ceremony location: Brooklyn Bridge Park
I must love old carriage houses, because Haven’s Kitchen is another great restaurant located in one. Near Union Square in Manhattan, this spot is mostly known for its first floor sustainable farm-to-table cooking school and its third floor loft event space. The private dining room on the second floor for up to 40 people is the true hidden gem for anyone eloping, though! A huge bonus to this space is the bar/fireplace area that takes up the rest of the second floor, which makes for a fantastic spot for an intimate ceremony or a laid back mingling over some farm-fresh cocktails.
Website: Haven’s Kitchen
Best nearby hotel: The High Line Hotel
Best nearby ceremony location: The High Line
I recently stumbled into this West Village Italian restaurant on a recent elopement and the private dining room in the back really blew me away. This hip space is definitely for a smaller crowd, maybe up to 14 total, but it has some really great styling and could stand pretty well on its own.
Website: Charlie Bird
Best nearby hotel: The Dominick
Best nearby ceremony location: Manhattan Marriage Bureau (City Hall)
But what about all the other amazing restaurants in NYC? Can they host elopement receptions?
While there are a number of NYC restaurants that are well-known for having an amazing dedicated space for private dining, you don’t need to limit your search to these exclusive setups. Almost any restaurant will entertain the idea of booking out the entire space, even if they’ve never hosted a private event before. So let your taste buds guide you, and don’t be afraid to approach your favorite neighborhood spot!
I’m so happy to finally share the City Hall wedding of Dannii & Reece with y’all! They had such an amazing NYC wedding that started with a City Hall ceremony and continued with portraits all across town. They even opted to ride in style by hiring a classic Checker cab!
City Hall Wedding Photos
Getting married at City Hall may not seem like a luxurious concept at first, but if you put aside a few presumptions you’d be surprised to know that getting classy is not just for big weddings. Dannii & Reece’s NYC elopement is a great example of how a wedding with just the couple can be a fabulous affair.
The excitement is always visible when couples are waiting for their number to be called. Dannii & Reece were sharing lots of laughs and smiles as they talked about what was going to happen in the next few minutes. City Hall wedding photos are always so much fun to capture because of all of these emotions that show while you’re waiting.
Sneaking a photo of the couple signing the marriage license is always a moment of dancing around to get the best angle, and I love this photo that lined up of Reece signing. At first glance the lighting at the Clerk’s Office might seem a little unflattering but it actually makes for these great pockets of light for the couples to be in while signing the marriage license paperwork.
I tend to love a lot of the little moments that happen right before the wedding couple is called in to get married. As Dannii & Reece were waiting, they’d alternate between telling stories and laughing to seriously listening for their names to be called next, making sure they didn’t miss it haha!
The ceremony might be brief at City Hall, but it sure is lovely. It’s a flash of emotions within the two or three minutes that you’re in there, and the next thing you know you’re walking out the doors married!
Dannii & Reece hired Peter with Film Cars to drive us around NYC in a classic Checker cab. I LOVE it when couples include this fun detail in their wedding day. Functional and fashionable! If you want to run around town for portraits on your wedding day, I definitely recommend arranging private transportation, like a Checker cab, ahead of time.
DUMBO Wedding Photos
The Brooklyn waterfront neighborhood of DUMBO is a great place to take wedding photos. In fact, I wrote an article about just that the other week. It was the first stop on a skyline tour of NYC for Dannii & Reece, and we got some great portraits showing off the Brooklyn Bridge Park views.
You know I love exploring back into the neighborhood, so the three of us walked a few blocks in from the waterfront to find some cool backdrops for more wedding photos.
Before we left I had to get them under the span of the Manhattan Bridge, as the scale of it is just nuts. Then it was back in the cab and up to midtown for some more fun.
Top of the Rock Portraits
Top of the Rock is probably my forever favorite place to take portraits in NYC. I’m a sucker for a skyline, I love the drama in the scale of the views, and it’s always a fun time taking photos there. Plus it has some indoor space so if the weather is dicey we can still get great photos. All we need are tickets to the top!
Central Park Elopement Photos
The last stop on our skyline tour was Central Park, where a classic view of The Plaza hotel from the Gapstow Bridge was on a list of must-visits. While the crowds can sometimes be an issue here, it’s always worth a try if we’ll be in the area. This is a classic view at any time of year!
You can still explore the city for portraits if you get married at City Hall!
Are you getting married at City Hall, and want great portraits? City Hall wedding photos are best followed up with exploring NYC for portraits in amazing locations. I’ll bring your story to life, all you need to bring is your love!
The Best NYC Elopement Vendors
Wedding dress – Toni Maticevski
Checker cab rental – Film Cars
Elopement photographer – JC Lemon Photography
Does it still make sense to do elopement getting ready photos if you’re having an intimate or laid back wedding day? I think the simple answer is yes, because no matter what type of wedding day you’re planning, there are great moments that happen at the start of it.
Why Elopement Getting Ready Photos Matter
From intimate candid moments to the opportunity to create amazing detail photos, the “getting ready” portion of your wedding day deserves to be included in your wedding story. Here are 5 reasons why you should have your wedding photography start earlier in the day.
Start your wedding story from the beginning
The hours leading up to walking out the door to get married on your wedding day are filled with some of the most emotionally charged moments. For this reason alone, I think it’s worth having me around to photograph these important moments. And even more importantly, the more intimate moments that unfold during this “getting ready” portion of the day blend beautifully with the rest of your coverage to show the full spectrum and journey of your wedding story.
Also, if you’ll be staying somewhere special for your wedding day, then why not utilize it for cool photos as well? With some of the best hotels in the world, NYC has some really funky and cool spots to use for portraits while you’re all dressed up.
Break tradition and get ready together
I love it when couples get ready in the same space when eloping because it really stresses the intimacy of the day. While this almost never happens on big wedding days, the ability for the couple to be spending time together that usually has them sequestered from one another is really special.
There’s even a way to preserve a little mystery and still do a first look! You can get ready together up until you need to get dressed, and then one partner will get dressed first and then duck outside, and then the other partner will get dressed. Once everyone is ready to go we can then go to do the first look. That’s exactly what I did with Natalie & Peter at The Whitby.
Capture your details in finer detail
If you really want great detail photos of your dress, tux, bouquets, invitations, and other significant items, then it’s important to have me there during the start of your wedding day. Selecting these items was not a light choice on your end, so capturing them with a bit of care makes for great keepsakes to look back on, even if you choose to sell the dress.
Styling and capturing your details in a more interesting way is a breeze in a controlled environment like a hotel room, your own apartment, or an AirBnB rental. It also allows me to incorporate other details, like the row of family photos behind Johana’s floral bridal shoes.
The rings are the only item that I’m used to capturing out and about in NYC, because this is the one detail photo I have to capture even if I wasn’t there for getting ready photos. Rings, however, are small objects that are easy to pop on and off, and it’s usually easy to find some interesting texture or surface to place them on to photograph. Whereas asking a bride to take off her shoes to photograph them is kind of…an odd request.
A great time to exchange gifts
I love capturing wedding couples opening gifts from their partner on their wedding day, and I especially love photographing the reaction shots as they read the notes that are included. The sometimes humorous, but always heartfelt, notes always get great reactions that are great to look back on.
Some of the best moments can happen at the start of the day
When else would a spontaneous Spice Girls dance-off happen between the bride and her sisters? That happened this past weekend as Alisha was about to put her wedding dress on. One of her sisters played “Wannabe” and they just started going crazy singing and dancing along.
Sure, awesome moments happen at the reception and the ceremony too, but the ones that unfold while you’re getting ready with an intimate crowd are definitely of a different variety.
Elopement getting ready photos enrich your wedding day story
There were 5 great reasons why you should start your wedding photography from the beginning of the day. I think capturing elopement getting ready photos is very important because it allows me to tell your wedding story from the start! So whether it’s just the two of you or you and a small group of special guests, include this part of your day in your elopement photography. You won’t regret it.
Wondering where to stay for all of these great elopement getting ready photos? Check out my guide to three great elopement hotels in NYC.