The Loeb Boathouse may be closed for weddings — but the Love Chapel is open for business.
A new micro-wedding space on Manhattan’s Upper West Side is offering quickie, Vegas-style ceremonies as an alternative to large venues that have been forced to shutter during the pandemic.
The 500-square-foot Love Chapel on West 75th Street opened last month as a no-frills, COVID-safe option for couples to say “I do” in an intimate, in-person setting just steps from Central Park.
“It’s a wonderful alternative for people who want to have an inexpensive wedding, but also a beautiful experience,” said co-owner Veronica Moya. “It’s only a block from Central Park, so after the ceremony is over you can go there and take the most gorgeous photos.”
Guests, 14 max, are separated from brides and grooms by glass doors so they can say their vows sans masks. White draping and twinkle lights line the walls and a chandelier hangs above the altar, giving the room a classic wedding vibe.
On Saturday, Bronx couple Bernadette Manicdao and Isaic Pitre became the eighth couple to be married at the Love Chapel before a mask-clad crowd of 10. Manicdao, wearing a knee-length white peplum sheath dress and carrying a bouquet of roses, walked down the petal-covered aisle on the arm of her father.
“We wanted a church wedding, we wanted that ambiance. It has the same feeling to me. They have the runner, the aisle, the chairs on the sides,” said Manicdao, who is 30 and works as a nurse.
Moya, 47, and her husband Bradley Lau, 55, longtime licensed officiants, decided to open the space following a year of record-high business driven by the closure of City Hall and other big venues, such as the iconic Loeb Boathouse in Central Park.
“Business has been booming, especially since City Hall is closed,” Moya said. “I’ve done an incredible amount of weddings in the past year.”
Central Park served as Moya and Lau’s COVID-19-safe venue of choice, until winter weather began driving couples indoors — and to their webcams, an option Moya discourages.
“With Zoom, it’s just not the same. It’s such an emotional time in your life, and the energy is at play,” Moya said. “The person who’s pronouncing them husband and wife wants to be there with a couple. If they’re not present physically in the room, something gets lost.”
The Love Chapel charges $200 for a two-minute ceremony with four guests or $400 for a 10-minute ceremony with 14 attendees.
The space is located on the ground floor of the exclusive Wellston apartments between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues.
But getting married in Manhattan isn’t quite as spontaneous as Vegas.
Unlike in Sin City, legally bound walk-in weddings aren’t possible in New York, because couples must obtain their marriage licenses at least 24 hours in advance. So for now, Moya’s business is by-appointment-only.
There is at least one other quickie mini-chapel in NYC — “Instant Elopements” in Forest Hills, which bills itself “New York City’s first and only after-hours, walk-in wedding chapel.”