Blog ~ NYC elopement photographer

Three Great Restaurant Reception Venues in NYC

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:

  1. What’s the guest count?
  2. What neighborhood do you need to be in?
  3. 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:

  1. What’s the budget?
  2. Do you want a private or a semi-private space?
  3. 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.

The private carriage house at Frankies 457 in Brooklyn

Frankies 457 has clean Italian styling and delectable foods

Wedding couple celebrating with guests at Frankies 457 in Carroll Gardens

Website: Frankies 457 Spuntino

Best nearby hotel: 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Best nearby ceremony location: Brooklyn Bridge Park

Haven’s Kitchen

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.

Haven's Kitchen is a great elopement reception restaurant venue near Union SquareIntimate lunch elopement reception at Haven's Kitchen near Union SquareFarm-to-table dishes shine at Haven's Kitchen

Website: Haven’s Kitchen

Best nearby hotel: The High Line Hotel

Best nearby ceremony location: The High Line

Charlie Bird

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.

Best elopement restaurants NYC include Charlie Bird in the West VillageWedding couple and guests toast in the private dining room at Charlie Bird in NYC

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!

Are you planning an NYC elopement? Click here to see more information on elopement photography and let’s chat!

Elopement Getting Ready Photos: 5 Reasons Why They Matter

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.

Bride admiring her wedding dress and her friend helping her get ready

Bride getting ready at Hotel Hugo

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.

Bride and groom elopement getting ready photos at The Whitby hotel

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.

Bride's wedding dress and bridal shoes at the Intercontinental Barclay

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.

Swedish floral bridal shoesSwedish NYC love pillow and bridal dress

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.

Bride opening letter from her groom on her wedding day at Hotel Hugo

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.

Bride and sisters singing along to Spice Girls while getting ready at the JW Essex House on Central Park South

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.

Bride and groom at The Beekman Hotel in NYC for their elopement

Groom and sister while getting ready at the Paper Factory Hotel in LIC Queens

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.

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