Claire is a wedding planner with a very niche specialization. She helps couples plan their weddings in Central Park. She has been doing it since 2012 and in that time has planned approximately two hundred and fifty weddings.
How did you get started?
I was living in upper east side Manhattan with my boyfriend at the time, and we decided to get married . We lived close to Central Park, we walked our dog there, went running there and liked to chill out there.
The cliché about it being New Yorker's backyard is true. So, we got married in our back yard.I am British, and I had to do some research before I got married. I had to find out about the paperwork necessary, and also to find great people I wanted to be involved in my wedding, the Officiant and also a Photographer and Videographer
I was looking for a career change at the time, and it occurred to me that I could set up a business helping other Brits do the same ( and Americans, and Australians and many other nationalities as it turned out)
Where do your weddings take place ?
I specialize in weddings in Central Park.
The ceremonies can take place anywhere in the park; some ceremony locations are more popular than others, while some are suited to certain group sizes.
Some couples come to me with a very clear idea of which location they want the ceremony in, and some need my guidance. I can talk through what a couple needs depending on how many guests they will have, whether they want a beautiful view or privacy, seating with a roof, or other things that matter to them. I've also planned weddings in other public parks in New York City.
Do you customize the ceremonies and help couples with their vows ?
Yes, I have a series of questions that I ask each couple that allows me to write ceremony wording for them. I ask about their relationship, their past, and what they expect for the future. I ask if there are any guests in attendance
they would like to thank and if there are any loved ones not there who they wish to have remembered. We also discuss whether they want a reading in the ceremony and whether they want to incorporate any
personal or religious rituals. Sometimes couples just want to say " I Do " and very little else , while others want to write lengthy personal vows. It's my job to help the couple get the ceremony that suits them.
How long does the wedding ceremony usually last?
It all depends on the couple and how much they want the officiant to say, and how much they want to say themselves.
It is usually around fifteen minutes long with the signing of the paperwork; that's why people don't mind standing up at a wedding in Central Park.
What services can you book on behalf of the couple.. And what do they need to do themselves?
I book all the vendors needed for the wedding itself. So, I can organize an officiant, photographer, videographer, musician and floral arrangements for your ceremony. Or , I can do some of that and you could do some of it yourself, whichever you prefer. I offer a Customizable wedding package so we can customize our agreement.
I often get asked, but I generally don't get involved with receptions. This is partly because it allows me to focus on specializing on one thing - weddings in Central Park. It is also because of the huge amount of choice available of restaurants in New York. There are so many options in terms of taste, budget, location, availability of private rooms, open bars/table reservations, etc.
Everyone has different needs and I cant predict how long it would take me to find what each client would want, so I can't price it into my fees.
The other thing I can't do is make decisions for the couple. I can help them see their options and guide them through the process. They must decide what they want, and I can make it happen.
Do you attend weddings ?
I usually do not attend weddings , but I have been to several I have planned.
I am the mum of two young children and that is my full time job. This is my part time job and I work at it around my children's schedule. So, any time out of my routine would be costly. I am efficient and protective of my time, and I don't waste time on things that I don't think my couples really need.
This is one of the ways I keep my prices as low as I can. If a wedding planner attends your wedding, they will of course be charging for their time.
The people I work with are great communicators and are very reliable, they know where to be and when, and they can be trusted to preform exactly as planned on the day.
So, when I do attend my weddings, all I do is stand at the back and have a good cry along with the guests.
What is the wedding planning process like ?
I have planned approximately two hundred and fifty weddings to date, so I have a robust process now. I generally start with the big stuff and work my way down to the smaller stuff. So , we'll decide when and where it will be, who will be involved, what will be said, where photos will be taken and so on.
I find that as we work through the big stuff we logically get down to the details, such as who needs to be where and at what time.
What do you love most about being a wedding planner
I love being part of the first day of a couples marriage. I love that I can make their wedding day as stress free as possible, so they go into their marriage as relaxed as can be . I love giving couples the wedding day that suits them best.