How To Elope in New York City

YOURE ENGAGED! We’re so excited!! You’ve told your friends and families, you’re so elated…and then you start the planning. It’s WAY more than you thought and for some reason everyone else knew to reserve their wedding venue about 20 years in advance? You don’t care about huge venues and elaborate tablescapes. Maybe this isn’t your first marriage or you want to spend your money on a honeymoon or your home. You want an elegant and fun wedding day with no stress and with the people you love the most…is that too much to ask?! Let me ask you a question…have you thought to elope?

This doesn’t mean you have to run down to City Hall in the clothes you’re wearing, not telling a soul, and get a few blurry pictures on your phone. An elopement can be a simple ceremony with the people you care about the most in the city you love. It means you can pick and choose the parts of the wedding you actually want instead of just going along with it all. These days, couples are opting for smaller weddings, especially in big cities like New York City, spending more on the elements they care about, rather than over the top floral arrangements or the five extra tables of people they barely know (but hey, to each their own!). I am going to give you 6 secret steps on how to plan the elopement of your dreams while not missing out on anything that is important to you. Yes, that means your list will only have 6 items to check off for your special day! Let’s get started!

1. Choose your favorite city location!

Where do you want your ceremony? We have a few FREE timeless suggestions! We love New York City for its architecture! Manhattan holds a few timeless gems that are perfect for an elopement backdrop. We first suggest The New York Public Library, the second largest library in the United States and third largest in the world. With plenty of room for a quick ceremony on the grand stairs, you can sneak inside for a few portraits amongst the books and of course, the lions out front! Head down 5th Ave for a few just married city portraits!

For the couple looking for a little more art and culture in their lives, we suggest The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s front steps.  The grandiose steps are perfect for a small ceremony with your loved ones and a stunning backdrop. You can also walk around the Upper East Side for some classic New York City shots as well as stroll through Central Park for some nature.

My lovely Baltimore clients, Renee and Fran, had the perfect backdrop of the historical George Peabody Library in the cozy neighborhood of Mount Vernon in Baltimore, Maryland. Consistently ranked amongst the most beautiful libraries in the world, this was the perfect location for an intimate elopement.

2. Plan a second location for portraits

You love your city because of its architecture, people, and the memories it holds! Is there a neighborhood or park you two like to spend time in? What do you love about your city? Capture those feelings on your day (and try to make it as close as possible to your first location).

Mount Vernon in Baltimore is known for its architecture and cobble stone streets. We grabbed a few fun portraits in the center of Mount Vernon and then walked through the park just as the sun was setting for a stunning golden hour. We created gorgeous, keepsake images in less than 30 minutes! 

3. Hire your favorite wedding photographer!

Maybe this should have been first for how important this is for your wedding day! Now, this is the part where you might say “You’re just saying this because you’re a photographer.” Honestly, I think the most devastating thing that could happen after a wedding, small or large, is looking at your wedding pictures and being unhappy with how they came out. Maybe you thought you could save some extra money hiring your friend who dabbles in photography or you went with the photographer you didn’t love as much just because they were cheaper. DON’T BE THAT PERSON! I believe you are investing in your memories and heirlooms by hiring your perfect photographer. You’re saving on venue, catering, and travel…go all out with your photographer. PLUS, your favorite photographer probably has cheaper elopement deals. So say it with me. 

“I deserve my favorite wedding photographer for my wedding day.” Phew, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

4. Ladies, go with a jumpsuit!

Now hear me out. You’ll be wandering around the city all day, walking up and down steps, and darting across the street. If you can do all of that in a full gown, more power to ya, but you want to enjoy your day, not worry if your train just landed in a puddle. Brides these days are opting for more non-traditional wedding dresses and jumpsuits. I absolutely adore them because of their versatility and customization. Wide leg, skinny leg, short sleeve, long sleeve, lace, simple, classic. Whatever bride you are, you can find in a jumpsuit.

The final reason I will hype up jumpsuits all day long is they’re usually cheaper! You can find a gorgeous white jumpsuit from a non wedding brand for a decent price. This means you can splurge on the Louis Vuton heels you’ll wear forever and pass on as an heirloom, or stunning handmade jewelry from local artists. This bride wore handmade Herkimer Diamond Earrings from local artist, Eaarthbones Jewelry. This goes for men too! Wear a classic suit and pair it with the Rayban sunglasses, cuff links, Ferragamo shoes you’ll  always wear. 

To me, it’s not about buying something you’ll wear once and forget about in the back of your closet. It’s about the timeless, quality pieces that whenever you put them on, you’ll remember how happy you were on your wedding day.

5. Hire a hair and makeup artist

This is important for your gorgeous pictures you are investing in as well as a stress free day! A tip for this, hire your photographer first. Your photographer has their favorite hair and makeup artists that they can suggest for you! This means they’ve probably worked together before and love the HMU artist already, so you’re in good hands! You’ve probably already been talking about what you want to your photographer, so your photographer can communicate with the hair and makeup artist and take it off of your hands. They can also usually come to your home so it’s one less thing you have to worry about on your day!

6. Create your own bouquet, tie with hand dyed silk

New York City is filled with flower bodegas on every corner. Most other cities have something local of the sort, and usually seasonal. This is a much cheaper option and is unique because you picked it! To boost the look, wrap the stems In hand dyed fabric. We tied the brides simple bouquet with silk from Silk & Willow which completely elevated the look! You can also use the silk to thread in keepsakes like charms and jewelry into your bouquet. 

7. Meet up with your friends and family in Little Italy for a celebration!

Grab a few more shots as newlyweds in gorgeous Little Italy (both New York City and Baltimore have great pasta!), then gather with your friends and family to celebrate the night away with bruschetta, pasta, wine, and laughs! You can also order a custom cake from a local baker to be delivered to your restaurant so you won’t miss out on cutting the cake if that’s important to you! Want to dance the pasta and cake off? There are plenty of bars and clubs around Little Italy if that’s your speed!

Have I sold you on an elopement, because honestly after writing this, I’m ready to do this for myself and I’m not even engaged! As I mentioned earlier, most photographers offer elopement packages, as do we! Our Elopement Packages start at $2,000 and is customizable! For more information, head over to our website and send us a message! We’re so excited to hear from you!


All Images Copyright Rachel V King Photography 

Gorgeous Hudson Valley Wedding

Welcome back! I’m so excited you joined us today, because this is where things get good! Are you thinking about a Hudson Valley, New York wedding? First of all, YES!! Second of all, let me go back a bit and tell you how I ended up on a wedding, shadowing photographer and person extraordinaire, D’Arcy Benincosa!

So fast forward a few months after I’ve decided to start my new wedding photography business, a friend told me about this amazing destination film wedding photographer. She said, “You need to follow her! Not only are her images gorgeous, you’d love how she speaks as well! Her captions are so good!” I immediately picked up my phone to follow her on Instagram and was an instant fan. Her name was D’Arcy Benincosa

If you’re already a wedding photographer, you’re probably thinking, “Wow, Rachel, how did you not know D’Arcy? Everyone knows D’Arcy.” Well again, I had just started my wedding business and I came from a documentary background with names like Sally Mann and Robert Frank, not so much modern wedding photographers in the business today (hence, all of that research I was doing). Anyway, I followed her and one day she offered one lucky up and coming photographer a chance to be mentored and shadow her upcoming wedding in Hudson Valley, New York (basically where New Yorkers go when they want to be near trees and feel a smidge rustic). I messaged her right away with interest, and since I was the first one to send her a DM, we had a phone interview and I said ‘yes’ right on the spot! I thought this Is the Universe telling me it’s can either do this all on your own with very slow growth, or push yourself to learn from someone who is already doing what you want to do, and learn right from her! It was all perfectly timed and I was ready. 

Now, if you’re thinking of doing a Hudson Valley, New York wedding…first of all, YES!! Second of all, let me just a paint a picture for you. You’re leaving New York City, crossing over bridges and getting the skyline views, you know, the beginning or end credits of any New York City movie. Once you get on the highway, you’re just going north for about 2 hours or so and then you start seeing trees, green, know you’re getting closer. Once you arrive into the small upstate town, you have mountains in the background, antique stores on every corner, and adorable eateries right after the other. It’s a gorgeous yet adorable, an escape yet so familiar…and don’t even get me started on the adorable AirBnB’s. Just the perfect town for a perfect New York City couple wedding.

It was wedding day, I was ready in my all black jumpsuit (my wedding photographer uniform), the sun was shining, and it was time to learn from and photograph my first full out D’Arcy Benincosa wedding. Our first stop was the adorable home where the bride and her bridal party were getting ready. We went outback to the garden and photographed the hand written invitations, the heir looms and the keepsakes, and of course… the Louis Vuittons…all on a gorgeous Florecian platter D’Arcy picked up (of course). Every single flower petal, stamp, and piece of jewelry had to be absolutely perfectly curated, and for good reason. I was already learning, shooting a wedding isn’t documentary at all. It is a highly curated photoshoot. The bride and her girls had their hair and makeup done, she opened her gift from her groom, and slipped on her gorgeous Italian lace, hand sewn gown, with the help of her mother and friends. Everything was going smoothly until we were right about to head out the door to the next location, and my camera got stuck. 

Picture: a high energy, four floor walk up filled with a bridal party and family members, 2 photographers, 1 videographer, and me…sitting on the front porch with a Hasselblad that won’t wind. It was completely stuck, not allowing me to take pictures, wind my film, or even take out the film. I had no back up film camera (again, just starting out) and we were leaving at that moment for the first look. D’Arcy and her second photographer, Sawyer, knew I was panicking, so they said let’s figure this out in the car. We were looking up Youtube videos, everyone trying to twist and finagle the contraption, but nothing was happening. Mind you, my Hasselblad 500c is one of the first medium format film cameras in existence, made between 1957-1970. Not many people in the world actually know how to fix a Hasselblad film camera. I also want to mention, this had literally never happened to me in the 5 years I have photographed with this camera. There was no fixing this camera in this moment but luckily the angel that is Sawyer Baird had an extra Contax she graciously allowed for me to use for the rest of the day. And let me tell you, it was definitely one of those blessings in disguise. 

I drove us to the second location for the first look. It was In a stunning field in a park with the most perfect weather you can imagine. The bride was already tucked behind the large red barn while the groom was getting in position in the field. I strapped on the Contax, had a quick tutorial and began to shoot. Now if you’re reading this and have shot with both a Hasselblad and a Contax, you know what I’m about to say…OH MY GOODNESS, it was so easy too shoot with!!  Where was this camera hiding my whole life???? I got angles, I shot quickly (remembering this was still film), and exchanged a new roll of film so much quicker than if I were using the Hasselblad. 

The first look was stunning, the bride and groom holding each other in the field was out of a Jane Eyre novel, and bride and groom parties were having so much fun! Watching D’Arcy pose and work with everyone was so inspiring…I was even able to pose the bride and groom a few times myself. Next up, was the ceremony at Helsinki.

Helsinki in Hudson Valley, New York: what a beautiful venue. Walking In, you had gorgeous dark tones, mood lighting, and carts of champagne. Guests drank and started the party as the dinner tables were getting their finishing touches. From the florals to the tablescapes to the candles lit at dusk, the mood was set for the bride and groom.

When you walked upstairs your senses were flooded with soft lighting and wild flowers lining the aisle. As the ceremony began, guests were greeted by the wedding party floating down the aisle and into their spots. There were laughs and tears, along with a powerful moment of both bride and grooms families encircling them with a prayer, showing their support and love. 

After the beautiful ceremony, we stole the couple for a few more portraits around the corner. You could feel their excited energy at holding each other for the first time as husband and wife. Without keeping them long, we captured stunning images of the newly married couple In a Hudson Valley scene, just in time for them to enjoy cocktail hour with their friends and families. 

As night fell, a new type of magic fell upon the party. Eating and sharing drinks by candle light, with a soundtrack of laughter and moving speeches, the party reached its peak as the side doors opened, revealing a dance club. The party gathered into speak easy styled booths and tables, and applauded the newly married couple as they walked to their first dance, together. After their dances with each other, the brides father and the grooms mother, they danced the night away in a little town called Hudson Valley in New York.

Images Rachel V King Photography, copyright.

Internship with D’Arcy Benincosa

Location: Hudson Valley, New York

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