How To Get Married In Fort Tryon Park

Bride and groom holding hands in Fort Tryon Park

Fort Tryon Park is one of the loveliest spots in New York City in which to get married. It also has one of the easiest permit applications in the city. I recently had the pleasure of photographing Blaire and Kris tie the knot here with an epic view over the Hudson River. In today’s blog post, I share with you all the photos from that fantastic day as well as details of how to get married in Fort Tryon Park so that you too can say ‘I do’ in this beautiful location.

Meet Blaire and Kris

Couple hugging in Heather Garden for an article on how to get married in Fort Tryon Park

First, let’s meet Blaire and Kris. Like most couples in 2020, they originally had a much grander wedding planned with a full reception at Housing Works Bookstore Café in SoHo. Sadly, the pandemic put an end to those plans. They still wanted to get married, and so decided on Fort Tryon Park as the location for their ceremony. While they now reside elsewhere, the couple used to live in Washington Heights and this park holds a special place in their hearts. So Blaire and Kris came back to the place where their romance began, and perhaps it was all meant to be.

 

The Proposal

Couple kissing against stone wall for an article on how to get married in Fort Tryon Park

Before we talk about the ceremony details, let’s first discuss how Blaire and Kris met. The couple met online, and quickly found a common interest in Game of Thrones. When they met in person they instantly hit it off, leading to a six-year relationship.

The marriage proposal was an epic NYC moment. Kris tells the story best: ‘We were at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and had just entered the Temple of Dendur. Blaire had visited NYC as a child and fondly remembered the temple. The romance of this remnant of the ancient world here for public enjoyment was what inspired her to move to NYC. I asked her to take a seat on one of the benches lining the reflection pools, and there in the dim nighttime light I asked her to marry me.’

 

How To Get Married In Fort Tryon Park –
Wedding Permits

Couple walking under Billings Arcade for an article on how to get married in Fort Tryon Park

Wipe the romantic tears from your eyes, and let’s discuss the details of how to get married in Fort Tryon Park. As opposed to Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is run by a non-profit corporation, Fort Tryon Park belongs to the city, so the whole permit process is much easier (and cheaper). While the park is jointly run by private, non-profit conservancy organization, The Fort Tryon Park Trust, the city handles all permit applications. So all you have to do is fill out a general NYC Parks Permit at a whopping cost of $25.

For any specific questions regarding your event, you may contact the Northern Manhattan Parks Special Programs Coordinator at 212.795.1388.

Fort Tryon Park is a popular place to get married, so you should reserve your place on the calendar at least 30 days in advance.

 

How To Get Married In Fort Tryon Park –
Rules and Regulations

Woman's hands holding brown leaf with wedding rings

Fort Tryon Park is a public space, so of course there are a series of rules and regulations you must abide by in order to get married here and share the park with other visitors. Here are the rules:

  • No tents are permitted for wedding ceremonies.
  • Chairs are permitted on the Linden Terrace only and must be hand-carried because private vehicles are prohibited from driving on park paths.
  • Chairs are not permitted in the Heather Garden.
  • When in the Heather Garden, you must stay on pedestrian paths at all times.
  • Wedding photography is prohibited in the Heather Garden.

 

Photo Regulations

Couple hugging in front of Heather Garden for an article on how to get married in Fort Tryon Park

That last rule is a doozy, especially since the Heather Garden is the single most beautiful part of the park. I am sure the park is trying to prevent photographers and guests from stepping into the planted areas and destroying the foliage. So, I am going to leave you with my usual mantra: ask forgiveness, not permission. If you have a wedding with a large bridal party, I would save your family and bridal party portraits for a separate area. But for a few snaps of the bride and groom in and amongst the lovely flowers, I think it is worth the risk. (And for the record, I have never seen any guards or security staff in Fort Tryon Park; only gardeners.)

 

How To Get Married In Fort Tryon Park –
Ceremony Locations

Couple kissing with Hudson River view for an article on how to get married in Fort Tryon Park

The Fort Tryon Park website lists Linden Terrace, Billings Lawn, or Abby’s Lawn as the ‘usual’ locations for wedding ceremonies. It does not, however, say that you are restricted to these locations. In the case of Blaire and Kris, the couple chose a private alcove in the wall overlooking the Hudson River by Abby’s Lawn. The space was more than adequate for their wedding party of three with proper social distancing.

Linden Terrace, Billings Lawn, and Abby’s Lawn are all open spaces that can accommodate guests of 20 or more. But that said, the park has more intimate spots, including scenic overlooks along the forest pathways, which could definitely work for tiny weddings. Fort Tryon Park is one of my favorite spots in New York City, and I feel that (along with Riverside Park) it is definitely underrated next to its behemoth brother, Central Park. In Fort Tryon Park you feel like you have been transported to a secret garden far away from the maddening metropolis. As such, I invite anyone looking to get married at Fort Tryon Park to discover your own secret spot in the park and swap your vows where you choose.

 

Cloisters Museum Wedding

Red robin resting on tree branch in Fort Tryon Park

Note that if you want to get married at the Cloisters Museum, this is a completely separate venue. Per the Cloisters website, rentals for the museum begin at $4,000 for a Monday wedding on a non-premium month. (I’m going to assume they mean December through March as ‘non-premium’ – a.k.a., non-popular – months.) For a Saturday wedding during a popular month, the price jumps to $7,000, and you can expect an increase on top of that for any holidays.

The rental fee includes use of the Cloisters Castle for 10 hours, to include the following:

  • An one-hour long rehearsal;
  • 3 hours for set up;
  • 5 hours for the ceremony (if any) and reception; and
  • One hour for the caterer to clean up and for the renter, caterer, and any other vendors to remove their property, equipment, decorations, etc., and to depart.
  • The length of the reception can be extended for an additional cost.

The Cloisters only schedules one event per day, so that is a great advantage. In addition, chairs and tables are available free of charge. Events are limited to 150 guests.

Photos in the Cloisters Museum are only permitted for people renting the spot for an event, so you will only have access to the outside of the building if you are not paying the rental fee.

 

Rain Backup Locations

Couple hugging in front of Heather Garden for an article on how to get married in Fort Tryon Park

The weather in New York City is always tempestuous. Case in point: we perhaps had a tornado blow through the middle of Manhattan Sunday night. Bad weather can happen without warning, and the problem with getting married at Fort Tryon Park – or for in any park in New York City – is that there are not a lot of options in case of rain. The only option is the aptly named Shelter Overlook, located east of Corbin Drive at the northeast corner of Sir William’s Dog Run. This octagon-shaped gazebo can hold a crowd, but the location is far from scenic. Still, it’s nice to be able to swap vows with a roof over your head if the sun isn’t shining.

 

Reception Locations

Couple dancing under lamp post in Billings Arcade in Fort Tryon Park

You can’t technically hold your reception inside of Fort Tryon Park, but there is (or was) a fantastic restaurant on site: The New Leaf Restaurant and Bar. On my last adventure to Fort Tryon Park for a wedding ceremony at Linden Terrace, the couple had a glass of bubbly at The New Leaf following the ceremony. The building is precious inside with original wood details and a nice patio. Sadly, the restaurant closed down as of January 2020 and the Fort Tryon Park Trust is looking for a new vendor to take over the space. Stay tuned to see if anyone takes the park up on their offer.

In the meantime, the good news is that Washington Heights has some great restaurants nearby. My recommendation is that you check out the restaurants on Dyckman Street for some Latin flavor. You can also head to one of my favorite streets uptown – West 181st Street – for cute, quaint ambiance.

 

Covid-19 Issues

Wedding guests wearing masks and taking photos with cell phone at Fort Tryon Park wedding

One problem I found while photographing Blaire and Kris’s wedding is that the public restrooms are currently closed. I’m not sure if this a pandemic issue or not (I suspect it is), but the restrooms in the playground and the New Leaf are locked.

Also, note that the 190th Street subway entrance to the park is currently closed. You can take the A train to 190th Street, but the closest entrance to the park is closed for renovations until September 2021. Instead, you now have to exit the subway station on (I think) Broadway, and walk 20 minutes around a mountain to the park entrance at Fort Washington Avenue and Cabrini Boulevard. I found out about the construction when I arrived at the park and had to make the long trek to the park with all of my equipment. It was not a fun walk.

 

Photo Location Recommendations in Fort Tryon Park

Portrait of bride in front of green bush in Fort Tryon Park

Fort Tryon Park has a bountiful supply of views, structures, and foliage for any photo shoot. I recommend you start your photo adventure at the Heather Garden entrance (Fort Washington Avenue and Cabrini Boulevard) and proceed north through the park to the Cloisters. Start with some great shots along the tree-covered pathway, to the right of the garden and then check out what’s in bloom. You will always be greeted by colorful flowers in the Heather Garden, no matter the season in Fort Tryon Park.

From the Heather Garden, walk down to Billings Lawn and check out one of the best views of the Hudson River waterfront. The stone terrace is probably the best spot in the park if you want an unobstructed view of the George Washington Bridge downstream.

One of the (not so) hidden gems of Fort Tryon Park is the covered arcade underneath Billings Lawn. To find the entrance, look to the left of the stone terrace as you look out on the Hudson River. Take the steep staircase down, down, down and you will find a magnificent structure that begs to be an epic photo backdrop. You can walk back up the stairs or simply continue through the archway to get to the other side of the Heather Garden.

Next up on your photo tour of Fort Tryon Park is Abby’s Lawn. This is a popular spot for sunbathers. Before you reach the lawn, however, is an outcrop in the wall that makes it seem like you have the entire park all to yourself. Take advantage of this overlook plus the tunnel leading to the east side of the park.

Ahead of you should be the Cloisters. Unless you have private permission, you are not allowed to take photos inside the museum. You can, however, take some snaps at the side gate by the museum.

The north end of Fort Tryon Park is covered in luscious greenery and you can completely escape the city here. At the end of your Fort Tryon Park photo shoot, check out the Washington Heights neighborhood. This is an energetic and lively part of the city with lots of great restaurants and bars. Every photo shoot should end with the models enjoying a glass of something special.

Couple exchanging vows in Fort Tryon Park with squirrel watching
A furry wedding crasher: this inquisitive squirrel marched right up to Blaire and Kris to check out the ceremony

We all need a place to get away from the chaos of Covid-19, and my vote is that you make a trip uptown to Fort Tryon Park. It’s the perfect place in which to get married or just sit awhile and appreciate the view.

Enjoy the photos, and I’ll have more adventures for you next week!


Are you interested in taking the plunge and saying ‘I do’ in Fort Tryon Park?  Drop me a line and let’s chat about your wedding photography needs.

If you would like to see more images from my wedding photojournalism portfolio, then please visit my website – KellyWillliamsPhotographer.com

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