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Tips for Choosing a Wedding Venue in NYC, According to an Expert

By Nina Ruggiero Oct 25 2023
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There’s something special about getting married in New York: It’s the chance to watch even a fraction of this frenetic city slow down just to celebrate your love — and knowing, as 8.4 million lives are in motion on the streets below, you’re the two people having the biggest moment of all.

When planning a wedding in NYC, the venue you choose is hugely important, and the options are seemingly endless and vastly diverse. “I love that we can find a venue in old churches, under bridges, in museums, and in parks,” Meena Lee, luxury wedding planner and owner of 5th Avenue Weddings & Events told The Center Magazine. “There is a great variety in New York.”

But the best wedding venues in NYC have the ability to make every guest feel like they’re witnessing magic in one of the greatest cities in the world — and for that Big Apple “wow” factor, Lee often turns to Rockefeller Center. “I have loved every single one of my weddings there,” she gushed.

Starting as a banquet waitress over 30 years ago and planning weddings for 14 of those, Lee estimates she has been a part of 1,000 nuptials. Her favorite venue of them all is 620 Loft & Garden, a romantic oasis in the sky beside the spires of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. “The intimate garden and view of St. Patrick’s Cathedral can’t be beat,” she said.

Across the street, Radio City Music Hall’s best-kept secret is its lush rooftop Radio Park event venue; inside 30 Rock, the iconic Rainbow Room offers a turning dance floor for 360-degree views and four different venue options in one. With so many possibilities, where does one even begin? Lee offers her expert tips for finding the best NYC wedding venue, below.

Leave yourself ample time to plan.

First things first: Decide on your guest count and budget before even looking at venues. Then, aim to book your NYC wedding venue at least one year ahead, Lee said. If you have a specific date in mind, try to book even earlier.

Use your imagination.

When choosing a venue, sometimes less really is more. “My clients tend to like a blank canvas that they can transform,” Lee said, adding that a little bit of personalization can go a long way. “Sometimes one doesn’t always have the budget to completely change a venue, but small changes like draping, dance floors, and candles can make a huge impact.”

Stop to take in the view.

Whether it’s the sparkling skyline, historic architecture, or rivers and parks, a New York wedding is best with a view. As you’re venue hunting, be sure to stop and look around at the cityscape that would become the backdrop to your special day — it could define the overall ambiance and affect the feel of your photos.

Space is key.

One thing NYC isn’t always big on is space. Walk around your prospective venue and think through the day’s events. Is there enough space for a ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing? If a change of scenery is important to you, make sure there are unique spots for each stage.

Pay attention to plan B.

New York isn’t known for its reliable weather. If you’re considering an outdoor space, Lee says, make sure you see the options it offers in case of rain. Is the indoor plan B one you would be happy with? Would it comfortably fit all of your guests?

Consider your venue location — but add extra time to your schedule regardless.

Think about the places and happenings surrounding your venue, and plan accordingly. “One thing you must always be prepared for in NYC is traffic,” Lee said. “Whether it’s from the UN General Assembly, a street fair, or a pop-up demonstration, you must always allow enough time for both vendors and couples to arrive on time.”

Get to know the staff.

“The staff is always so helpful and professional,” Lee said of working with wedding venues at Rockefeller Center. This is a key component to consider — a helpful staff will make the planning process easier and the celebratory vibe that much better on the day.

Ask the right questions.

Find out if a venue will require you to use their in-house vendors, which Lee says can add a significant amount to your overall budget. “Any venue that charges you for not using their preferred vendor list, I tend to stay away from,” she said. “My clients shouldn’t have to be forced to use their photographer or videographer, as each couple has their own style and taste.”

If you’re interested in using candles to set the scene, she also warns to ask about fire codes, which can be strict in the city. “If real candlelight is important to you, this needs to be asked before signing a contract,” she said.

Call in the experts for help.

A wedding planner can help the indecisive couple find the right venue and is also there to ensure every step of planning goes smoothly along the way. “We have years of experience on what to look for and lots of options before we even do research for you,” Lee said. “We already know the new venues that have come up, how many people the venues fit, and we can make all the calls, ask all the questions, and give you solid options, saving you so much time and stress.”

Interested in having your wedding in one of Rockefeller Center’s private event spaces? Explore all options here.

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