Real Weddings: Sarah and Ian’s Intimate Central Park Wedding

Dreaming of a New York City wedding? Sarah and Ian’s wedding in the Big Apple might be a catalyst for you to plan your own NYC wedding!

By having a small wedding,  Sarah and Ian were able to treat their guests (and themselves) to an incredible New York City wedding that was highly personalized and unforgettable for everyone involved.

“We wanted a wedding where we really had the opportunity to spend time with our friends and family (many whom we do not get to see often), and we wanted to treat them to dinner at a place where we had our most memorable and delicious dinner, Per Se. We thought if we had a small wedding, we could do this and it would be a very special day for all of our guests (and for us, of course!),” says Sarah.

The wedding brought out the couple’s creative side; the two of them folded 1000 paper cranes, created a wedding banner (seen below) and made place cards.

“We really worked as a team and that made planning a lot of fun,” says Sarah.

Photography by the talented Alice Gao for Daniel Krieger Photography.
bride and groom with paper wedding banner

Sarah, 34 & Ian, 32

New York, NY

Wedding Date: June 2, 2012

Number of guests: 23

Wedding cost: $28,000

Wedding Ceremony Location: Shakespeare’s Garden Sundial, Central Park, New York, NY

Wedding Reception Location: Per Se

bride with pink peony bouquet

bride in Vera Wang gown

bride and groom in New York

groom in Hugo Boss suit

bride and groom on New York street

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

When we started organizing our wedding, we set a budget first by assessing the amount we could contribute combined with the amounts our families kindly and generously contributed. We then began to brainstorm what we could do and started to put together a fairly lengthy guest list for a wedding in southern Ohio (where Sarah grew up). After exploring this possibility for a bit, we decided it was just not exactly what we wanted to do. We wanted a wedding where we really had the opportunity to spend time with our friends and family (many whom we do not get to see often), and we wanted to treat them to dinner at a place where we had our most memorable and delicious dinner, Per Se. We thought if we had a small wedding, we could do this and it would be a very special day for all of our guests (and for us, of course!).

Hello Lucky! New York themed wedding invitation suite

groom tying tie

bridesmaids tying bow on bride's dress

pink peony bouquet

Vera Wang wedding dress with black sash

What are some of the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

Planning an intimate wedding was a fairly stress-free experience and we did most of the organizing ourselves (we called on parents and friends for help with a few things here and there). It was kind of surprising to both of us how crafty we were with our do-it-yourself projects (folding 1000 cranes, making a banner, putting together place cards) as neither one of us does a lot of crafts. We really worked as a team and that made planning a lot of fun. The biggest challenges were with making the guest list (and deciding not to invite children – we did not want to offend anyone with that decision) and ensuring that we had designed an event where everyone felt included.

multi-colored paper cranes

periodic table wedding banner

wedding ribbon wands

basket of guest favors

wedding rings on box of macarons

bride and groom crossing new york street

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

It was tricky as we did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings by not inviting them. We are both only children and have very small families, so we only invited our parents, but it became slightly more difficult as we began to select friends. We both chose people we are close with from each stage of our lives (childhood/high school, college, graduate school, postdoctoral work and the current time) and then it became quite clear who we wanted to invite. I suppose only children tend to adopt family members along the way, so these friends are essentially family to us. We both have a few people that we would have added if possible (and people we invited that were unable to attend due to the fact they were having babies!), but we were incredibly happy and lucky with the amazing crew that was there.

bride and groom first look in New York

bride and groom first look

bride and groom first look

Central Park wedding ceremony

wedding guests with mini celebration flags

Did you have any “issues” with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

We fortunately did not have any issues from family and friends about the small guest list. Once everyone found out what we were planning, they completely understood the situation. We were actually overwhelmed by the kindness and joy we received from people we were unable to invite. We are incredibly lucky to have such wonderful friends and lovely families!

Central Park wedding ceremony

guests at Central Park wedding ceremony

What were the highlights of the ceremony?

At the ceremony site, everything was so green and lovely and the weather was absolutely perfect. It was amazing walking with my parents up the “aisle” (Central Park path) with all of our friends and family gathered around and the beautiful sound of our cello player’s music. When I saw Ian’s face light up as I approached him, it was incredible. It was also great having a friend do the ceremony as it was so comfortable, and it was touching how emotional our friends got during the readings and vows. One of our favorite parts happened before the ceremony when Ian and I saw each other for the first time. We decided to do some pictures before and it was fantastic to have that alone time together. I think it really helped us relax and enjoy our big day!

black and white bride and groom portrait

Central Park wedding ceremony

Intimate wedding ceremony in Central Park

Central Park wedding ceremony

bride and groom first kiss in Central Park central park wedding ceremony

bride and groom walking through central park

bride and groom kissing in central park

What were the highlights of the reception?

Our dinner at Per Se was unbelievable and since we had a small wedding, we actually got to eat! We were able to talk to each and every guest for longer than five minutes, and we gave a presentation of short, personal anecdotes about everyone in attendance (kind of a verbal version of the traditional slide show). Additionally, we enjoyed walking with some friends through Midtown Manhattan at night to get back to our hotel after the reception.

bride and groom walking through central park

white ruffled wedding cake with pink roses

wedding appetizers

bread basket at wedding

Per Se wedding reception

bride and groom speeches

wedding dinner at Per Se restaurant

Per Se wedding reception

Per Se wedding desserts


What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

Getting to spend quality time with each guest was the real highlight and it was incredibly emotional as we are so close to everyone who attended. Also, since we kept things small, we really were able to afford the wedding of our dreams!

New York bride and groom kissing

New York City wedding

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

Go for it! Your friends and family will embrace the idea, and everyone will enjoy the day as they will get to spend time with you and actively participate in the celebration.  We could not be more pleased with our wedding!

bride and groom in New York


Dress:  Vera Wang

Jewelry:  Homa Bridal and Siman Tu 

Photography: Alice Gao for Daniel Krieger Photography

Central Park permit: NYC Parks Department

Food and cake: Per Se

Flowers: Luis Collazo at Lotus

Hair and Makeup: Marie Robinson Salon

Wedding/Engagement bands: Tiffany and Co.

Groom’s attire: Hugo Boss

Cello Player: Jennifer Girone

Sarah’s shoes: Dolce and Gabbana

Invites and other stationary:  Hello Lucky!


Pin It
3 Comments  |  Filed Under: Real Weddings, Restaurant Weddings

Leave a Comment


Comment Policy:

We love your comments, but we like to keep conversations constructive. Anything that we deem as mean-spirited, rude or downright nasty will not be tolerated.

If you are a business owner or wedding blogger, please use your real name not your business name or blog title. Comments are not the right place to advertise your business. If you would like to advertise, please click here for our advertising options.


  1. Posted by Belle on October 1st, 2012 at 11:00am

    Such a lovely wedding amidst all that greenery! Then, a stylish reception where the couple "actually got to eat" that!
  2. Posted by Leon on October 11th, 2012 at 6:59am

    I really like her wedding dress. The B&W photos really made it stand out to me. Vera Wang is one of the best. The scenery of Central Park is really cool too. Lot's of green of course.
  3. Posted by Meagan M. on September 12th, 2013 at 12:22pm

    The bride's bow is one of those perfect little details that really made a wedding. It makes her gown stand out and matches her so well with the groom. Wonderful job!
  Older Post
DIY Favor Tags: Antiqued Clay Tags
Newer Post  
Bridesmaids Dresses from For Her And For Him
Want to tap into more than 500,000 unique visitors per month? Advertise with us!
  • Search
  • Categories
  • Archives
  • Intimate Weddings at Hyatt Regency Indian Wells CA
  • DIY Flowers

  • Dessy Group Bridesmaid
Find Intimate Weddings on Pinterest