…A guide to break down each region
If you’re trying to decide where to get married in New York state you luckily have several vastly different regions to choose from, all with their own unique draw. I may be biased, but New York is one of the best places to get married! The state boasts farms, forests, rivers, mountains, and lakes that create beautiful backdrops for any ceremony or reception. In this guide, we will break down the different regions of New York and what each has to offer you in the planning of your perfect unique wedding.
Starting off our list is the very most western area in New York state which contains Buffalo, the second largest city in NY. Buffalo is quite unique as it is bordered by Canada and The Great Lake Erie which feeds Niagara Falls. Considered the 8th ‘wonder of the world’, Niagara Falls offers a spectacular backdrop for wedding ceremonies and photos. With a nearby state park, casinos, the Rainbow International bridge, and historical tourist points to view all 3 waterfalls, the beauty is unmatched from any angle. The close proximity of Canada also gives you and your guests the option of crossing the border to enjoy the gorgeous sights and fun attractions of Canada’s famous Clifton Hill!
Moving a bit south, downtown Buffalo is a beautiful city well known for its food and sports! Buffalo is packed with traditional wedding venues, hotels, fine restaurants, breweries, stadiums, and other attractions that will give you endless possibilities in the planning of your wedding and reception. The city boasts beautiful architecture and high rise views that offer amazing photo opportunities. With the close proximity of both natural and urban backdrops you can navigate your day in an intentional way that blends both aspects. Additionally, WNY offers the convenience of having drivable and walkable areas, a large airport, and plenty of lodging options for all of your guests.
Finger Lakes Region
When deciding where to get married in New York, you must consider the Finger Lakes! The eleven ‘finger lakes’ spread across the western to central part of the state are marked by their pristine beauty in land and clean water. Major destinations in the FLX include Ithaca, Skaneateles, Canandaigua, and Geneva. The area is also renowned as one of the top wine regions in the U.S.. With over 400 wineries and breweries surrounding the lakes, you ultimately have your pick of venue.
If you haven’t quite decided on a theme or scenery for your wedding, Finger Lakes wedding venues will have you covered! You have the choice of everything from rolling hills, lake views, open meadows, vineyards, and even castles. The FLX area easily accommodates weddings of all sizes and provides a myriad of activities to occupy you and your guests before and after your wedding day, making it ideal for a weekend getaway.
Next on the list is Central, NY, which includes the areas surrounding the city of Syracuse. CNY is comprised of many lakes and rivers, farms, meadows, and forests that make exquisite backdrops for any event. In recent years it has become a hot bed for unique wedding venues to meet all of your needs. You will easily find airy barns tucked into open fields with rolling hill views. Likewise, CNY also boasts some of the best golf courses (and their attached venues) in the state. Not to fret, the area also has its fair share of elegant hotel spaces and modern venues.
Do you want a more urban feel to the day? You can head into Syracuse, Cortland, or Oswego for a more city-like vibe. Downtown Syracuse alone has several high-end spaces suitable for weddings of any size. If you are interested in my favorites, here is a list of some top Syracuse wedding venues!
I will forever love shooting weddings in the Adirondacks! Mountains. Lakes. Forest. Woodlands. Cliffs. Cabins. Any outdoorsy couple who is looking for a rustic themed wedding would feel right at home here. Surprisingly, Adirondack Park is the largest park in the lower 48 states (3x the size of Yellowstone!). Also, the area covers 6 million acres so you won’t be at a loss finding the perfect space for your nuptials.
One of the best parts about a wedding in ADK is the year round appeal. Every season has its place and its own exciting activities. Winter means ski-resorts, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling. Afterwards, spring rolls in with rapid snow melt to create rushing waterfalls, and peak white water rafting conditions. Next comes summer with swimming, water sports, hiking, and camping. However, one of the best times in the ADK is in autumn. With one of the longest foliage seasons on the East coast, your autumn wedding would be complete with colorful photos of lush leaves over water or mountaintop.
While the Adirondacks have plenty of open space venues for large wedding weekends, don’t pass on this as a top elopement spot. If you are looking for an intimate wedding, here is my guide on how to elope in the Adirondacks. Choosing elopement can give you the ease of navigating different areas and scenery without a large group to worry about. Additionally, you will have the freedom to partake in activities not suitable for large groups, such as boating, or hiking. The Adirondacks are versatile enough either way to support any type of wedding you choose!
Next on our list of where to get married in New York is the Mohawk Valley region! Sandwiched between the Adirondack and Catskill mountains, this area includes Utica, Schenectady, Oneonta, Old Forge, and Cooperstown, to name a few. This region is rich in outdoor activities with its many picturesque lakes and serene camps, but also is home to many historic colonial sites along the Mohawk River.
Don’t be fooled by the seemingly rural nature of the sleepy towns in this region! It is actually home to many different style venues of all sizes! Country clubs, farms, rustic barns, and inns dot the rural landscape. Drive closer to the small cities and find other elegant spaces in hotel resorts, the Turning Stone Casino, or other large estates.
We will be combining the Mid-Hudson and Catskills regions for the next area on our list. They carry much of the same appeal as the Adirondacks but this area has a heavier dose of luxury venues! This region is a short drive or train ride away from the hustle and bustle of NYC. The close proximity has given way to a ton of high-end retreats, venues, and resorts. One example of this is the crop-up of “glamping” sites and luxury cabins to give you the perks of staying outdoors without the loss of resources. You can invite your guests on a weekend stay outside of the busy world without sacrificing modern amenities. Basically, it’s a win-win decision!
This area has benefitted from talented NYC transplants that bring their posh, opulent sense of style into some incredibly well planned venues. Here you will find carefully designed spaces that seamlessly blend into the surrounding landscape. Think: appetizing chef-curated menus heavily focused on farm to table cuisine. Lush garden spaces with paths leading to serene ponds. Indoor/outdoor reception areas that put the big white tent to shame. Picturesque scenery of the surrounding mountains, cliffs, and lakes that encompass the region. For specific places I highly recommend checking out my list here of the best Catskill wedding venues. The Hudson Valley and Catskills are perfect for a summer get-away, as well as the alluring fall foliage season. Treat yourselves to the unbeatable scenery and the eye catching photos that are sure to follow.
Saratoga, Schenectady, Troy, and other outlying areas of Albany, NY make up the next region on our list! Albany boasts being the oldest city in New York state, at 400 years. It may be smaller than Buffalo and Syracuse, but it packs a punch in historical buildings and sites. Here you will find elegant indoor event spaces with downtown views, as well as outdoor gardens, barns, and estates overlooking the Hudson River.
Downtown Albany is rich in nightlife, museums, parks, restaurants, and theater venues. You won’t have a hard time filling your wedding weekend with any number of urban outings for your guests. The craft brew scene has taken off in all of New York, but especially in the Capital region. The area takes particular pride in its craft beer, wines, and ciders. The area is also home to quite a few Michelin rated eateries!
Drive just outside of the city to find a number of equally special venues located along the Hudson River. Close by, Lake George, Lake Harris, Crooked Lake, and Saratoga Lake to name a few all have unique wedding venues with incredible waterfront views.
Last, but definitely not least, we have the Big Apple itself. No wedding can go astray with hundreds of iconic sites in NYC as a backdrop. Choosing to have your wedding in New York City may seem daunting, but with a little research and ingenuity, you will find the perfect spot to go off without a hitch. Many of the cities most famous venues may be open to the public by day, but can be rented at night. (I would highly recommend a wedding planner to coordinate all of the complexities involved). Spaces like this include the NY Public Library, Museum of Natural History, The Carlyle Hotel, The Frick, etc.
The best part of choosing a city this large is the number of options on your plate when it comes to planning your ideal wedding and reception (or elopement). Various tucked away event spaces can be transformed to meet all of your needs. You can choose an intimate wedding or elopement in Central Park, Botanical Gardens, the Marquee in Times Square etc. For larger events, you will easily find venues with modern elegance, art-deco architecture, skyline views, hip Brooklyn boho vibes, clean industrial looks, or Gilded age luxury.
Looking to get married in New York?
NY has some of the most exquisite and unique landscape in the U.S., with the added benefit of having all 4 seasons. No matter the time of year or the size of your wedding, New York has the perfect place for your big day! If you have decided on a wedding in New York, reach out! I specialize in intentional story telling through photographs and would love to help bring your vision to life!