For those who don’t know, Terrace on the Park is the former heliport of the 1964 New York World’s Fair. And while I have lived in New York City for 16 years, I have never had the pleasure of stepping inside, much less photographing, a Terrace on the Park wedding. That is, not until Kathryn and Barry gave me the fantastic opportunity to peek inside this historical venue in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. In today’s blog, I reveal the mysteries of a Terrace on the Park wedding.
Terrace on the Park Wedding: How Kathryn Met Barry
Kathryn and Barry’s big day was a simple, yet beautiful, wedding uniting two families. These love birds met through my favorite online dating app, OK Cupid, and Barry proposed to Kathryn at the Storm King Art Center last July. Since Kathryn is a teacher, they decided to get married in August when she had the summer free. And though August was a great month for the couple in terms of timing, the heat and humidity were fierce on their wedding day. Never fear, the air conditioning was working inside Terrace on the Park, and the day went off without a hitch.
Terrace on the Park Wedding: Timing and Budget
The couple’s wedding was planned as a Sunday lunchtime affair. In terms of costs, the difference between a Saturday evening and Sunday lunchtime wedding can be thousands of dollars. So learn from Kathryn and Barry: if you want to shave a considerable amount from your wedding budget, then the smart money says schedule your big day at a time other than a Saturday evening. Moreover, I have heard from several clients that Terrace on the Park is one of the more affordable venues in New York City. Most people don’t think to come this far out in Queens, but the commute is definitely worth it in terms of the bang for your buck. Other Queens options that more people should choose consider include Douglaston Manor, where I photographed a wedding a few years ago. Make the trip – Queens is worth it!
Terrace on the Park Wedding: Portraits in the Park
We started the Kathryn and Barry’s day with an impromptu ‘first look’ session in the lobby of Terrace on the Park. While I had originally scheduled to jump straight in to portraits, Barry had not seen Kathryn in her dress yet and so I suggested that we put the stunning lobby to work. It was a little difficult for Barry not to give in to peeking at Kathryn with all of the mirrors around, but he was nevertheless surprised when the big reveal happened. Next up on our agenda were portraits of the bride and groom inside Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The couple’s top priority for photos were to have images of them with the Unisphere, the emblem of the 1964 World’s Fair. The couple lives in Jackson Heights, and Queens is near and dear to their heart.
The Unisphere is located in the center of the park, and in order to get there, Kathryn and Barry had hired a driver to drive us to the edge of the park. Note, however, that the air-conditioned SUV could only get us so far. You cannot drive directly to the Unisphere, so there is a fair bit of walking that you will need to do. On the upside, we are nearing the time of the US Open, and during this time the city spruces up the park by planting beautiful flowers everywhere. But also blooming, sadly, are police barriers set up for safety. This means that the best side of the park (i.e., the most barrier-free side of the park) is located farthest away from the tennis center – and farthest away from where our SUV could enter the park. You’ll have to walk farther, but the payoff is worth it. The far side of the Unisphere has the best light in the morning because you can duck under the trees for shade.
Kathryn and Barry were looking to get out of the heat quickly, so we did not spend much time taking portraits. Other areas of the park I would concentrate on for photos include the grassy area to the immediate left of the Queens Museum, in between the museum and the observation towers (or ‘mushrooms,’ as I usually refer to them). This patch of the park gets a great view of the towers, and also has some nice flowers blooming. In addition, I would make further use of the tree-covered area behind the Unisphere. This space has wonderful shade, and is not overpopulated on the weekends.
By the way, in case you are interested in incorporating other World’s Fair structures in your portraits, the old pavilion building is not really worth your time. The building is largely barricaded off from the public. You can take some wide shots shooting up on the ceiling, but you have to get right in front of the building. If science is your thing, the New York Hall of Science next-door has got several old rockets on the front lawn that are great for photos. Finally, the Queens Zoo and Fantasy Forest Amusement Park next door are also great photo location options (though you will have to buy a separate ticket to each attraction).
One final word of caution for your wedding portrait session: wear comfortable shoes that allow you to run from location to location. I say this time and time again to brides: even if you think your heels are comfy, you need the added ability to move quickly because we don’t have much time for photos. If your dress covers your shoes, then by all means wear tennis shoes. No one will know what you are wearing underneath your dress. Stand on your tippy toes if you want to look taller in the photos, but please, be comfortable and be able to move fast. The longer it takes to move from spot to spot means the less photos we will be able to take during the entire portrait session.
Terrace on the Park Wedding: Ketubah Signing & Ceremony
The next event scheduled for the wedding was the signing of the ketubah. Kathryn and Barry’s wedding was a full celebration of their faith, and they easily found items such as their ketubah, personalized yarmulkes, and beautiful chuppah online. The ceremony following the ketubah signing was conducted by a cantor (whose voice was fantastic!) as wells as a Catholic priest in order to incorporate the couple’s religious backgrounds. The ceremony ended with the traditional breaking of the glass.
One word of advice if you are going to be holding your ceremony in this particular room at Terrace on the Park: the planters that you see at the end of each aisle do not have tops to them. Kathryn and Barry wanted to have their ceremony flowers displayed on the top of – rather than within – each planter, so they had to go to a hardware store and have glass plates made for each planter. I don’t think the cost was exorbitant, but it is one detail that you may not have originally considered for the space. If you do not provide your own plates on top of the planters, the planters will remain open and you can simply display flowers or another type of decoration inside the planters.
Terrace on the Park Wedding: From Family Portraits to the Reception
I set the family photos for Kathryn and Barry’s wedding in the lobby of the second floor, where her reception was located. The heat outside was too intense for outdoor photos, but if the weather had been more cooperative, know that Terrace on the Park has a lovely little gazebo just outside the front of the building, as well as a good mix of bright flowers underneath the entrance. Both locations would work for family photos, and we did make use of both of these spaces for portraits of Kathryn and Barry alone.
The cocktail hour and reception followed a traditional course of events: introductions then first dance and parent dances. A buffet dinner was served, followed by a toast by the best man and cake cutting. There was no tossing of the bouquet or garter. The couple did not do table shots, but as with most of my weddings I shadowed the couple and took photos as they moved from table to table to greet guests. (This is always the best course of action if you want photos with all of your guests; find out why in this blog post.)
The highlight of the evening was the dancing. After the parent dances, the couple had an abbreviated hora. While both the bride and groom were lifted above the crowd, they did not dance above the crowd together. Finally, the best dance of the evening occurred when the DJ played ‘YMCA.’ The song got everyone on the dance floor. This is the mother of the bride’s favorite dance, and she showed her skills on the dance floor.
Terrace on the Park Wedding: The Details
In terms of decorations, the couple kept things very minimal and relied mainly on the ornate architecture of the venue. Indeed, I think the couple was wise to not have anything inside the reception space compete with the room’s stunning views of Queens and the NYC skyline beyond. On each table was a low centerpiece of flowers and an authentic postcard from the 1964 World’s Fair. In addition, each table had a list of trivia questions so that guests could get the conversation going. At the end of the evening, guests were given an ornate little paper box of Hershey’s kisses.
So that was Kathryn and Barry’s Terrace on the Park wedding in a nutshell. Give me a call if you would like to discuss your upcoming wedding in Queens…or in any other location. I love road trips!
Venue, catering, wedding cake: Terrace on the Park
Chuppah: Chuppahs Are Us
Ketubah: Once Upon a Paper, Etsy
Florist: Ultima Florals
Wedding dress: David’s Bridal
Bride’s shoes: Naturalizer
Hair and makeup stylist: Coco Tsang
If you would like to see more images from my wedding photojournalism portfolio, then please visit my website – www.KellyWilliamsPhotographer.com