I was so thrilled to be part of Brandon’s proposal to his girlfriend, Miranda, yesterday in Central Park. The planning between Brandon and I had been in the works for weeks, and I am pleased to say that it went off without a hitch.
This classic New York moment had all the touches of a romantic comedy: the couple arrives at the corner of 59th and Fifth Avenue at exactly 3:00 p.m. Brandon and I lock eyes on the corner and the secret mission to film his proposal — unbeknownst to Miranda — begins. I casually stroll down Central Park West, posing as a tourist with two cameras strung across my shoulders. The ominous clouds overhead threaten rain all the while, but our hero will not be deterred! As Miranda steps inside the carriage, Brandon drops to one knee and asks her to marry him. She said yes, and the rest is a beautiful moment in NYC history. [For the record, the carriage driver told me that this was proposal number 43 for him after four years of driving in Central Park.]
Still in stealth mode, I gave the couple some time to themselves as they toured Central Park in the carriage. This job certainly keeps me fit: I had to trot alongside the horse to keep up!
After the carriage ride, the couple wanted a few photos around Central Park in an area that showcased the architecture of NYC. The best spot for this, in my opinion, is Azalea Pond, conveniently located at the southern tip of the park. This is the part of the park most frequented by tourists, but we lucked out with the abysmal weather helping to keep the crowds to a minimum.
If you are planning a Central Park carriage ride proposal, I have a few words of advice. First, keep in mind that carriage rides run all day (and virtually all night) up until 11:00 p.m. The best time of the day, in terms of light, is going to be one hour before sunset. The least crowded time of the day would be in the evening (though it is unsafe to stage photos in the park at night). If you are planning to take some engagement photos after your tour, try and schedule your tour so that your photo session will begin an hour or so before sunset. In other words, if sunset is at 6:00 p.m., and the tour lasts :45, then you need to set your proposal in motion beginning at 4:00 p.m.
It is $50 USD for a :20 ride through the park, but in truth the :20 loop isn’t very scenic. In order to get to the more beautiful parts of the park — down by the reservoir and Bethesda Fountain — you need to shell out more money for a full :45 tour. Also, if your driver goes out of the way for you to accommodate your proposal, a tip is always welcome.
You can pick up a horse-drawn carriage just about anywhere from Fifth to Sixth Avenue along Central Park West (a.k.a. 59th Street). If you want to get the payment out of the way and ensure that you have a carriage ready, I would recommend reserving a driver ahead of time. You can find lots of helpful information, including links for making reservations, on the Central Park website here. Also, Central Park is notoriously crawling with tourists. The south park area is a busy part of Manhattan at any time of the year. As such, you may want to try and stage your proposal further inside the park as a stop along the way rather than trying to proposal on Central Park West. Brandon, Miranda, and I lucked out yesterday with the crowds — but especially if you are planning to propose in summer — luck may not be on your side.
From a photographer’s standpoint, a few tips for setting up a secret proposal. First, discussing the details beforehand and making sure that you are on the same page with your photographer is essential. Have a plan in place and a designated spot and time to meet. If you have reserved a carriage with a specific path through the park, by all means let the photographer know. Will the photographer be following you through the park (the horses walk at a slow enough pace that this is possible), or will you be meeting up afterwards for photos? Make sure that you have the photographer’s cell phone number in case of emergency (and that the photographer has your number). Also, if you haven’t met beforehand, make sure that you know what your photographer looks like (and vice versa).
A final word on the weather: if rain is predicted, then the carriages put the top up. This is great if you are taking a tour, but not great for photos as it creates a dark cave that is difficult to photograph. Just keep this in mind if the forecast calls for clouds. If that’s the case, then perhaps try and pop the question outside of the carriage, rather than inside. All of the carriages should have blankets to keep you warm, but you will be out in the elements so dress warmly if need be.
Congrats to Brandon and Miranda! I wish them both the best.
If you would like to see more New York wedding proposal photos, please visit my website here.
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