How Much Does a New York Public Library Wedding Cost?

Written by: Staff

The New York Public Library has been providing free books and services to the citizens of New York for over 100 years and has grown to be the nation’s largest public library system with a unique combination of 88 neighborhood branches throughout the surrounding areas.

In addition to the traditional services that a library offers, the New York Library also allows couples to host a wedding in the building or on the grounds.  The library houses four spacious venues couples can choose from.

The New York Public Library by hannibal1107, on Flickr
The New York Public Library” (CC BY 2.0) by  hannibal1107

How much does a New York Public Library wedding cost?

On average, the rental fee at the New York Library can range anywhere from $20,000 to as much as $50,000.  When food and alcohol is factored in, a wedding for 200 guests could cost upwards of $65,000 to $100,000+, according to sources online.  All rental fees go directly to support the library’s programs.

According to this article, the costs for a New York Library wedding can far surpass $50,000, especially during the popular wedding season. stated that the Sex and the City wedding probably cost around $50,000 to secure the venue.

New York Public Library wedding overview

Although the fee is determined only by the authorized library representatives, it is known that the fee will include five hours of exclusive use.  All of the ceremonies must be done inside the premise and must end before midnight, no exceptions.

The fees will also include the basic security and maintenance and support from the Office of Special Events.  For the film shoots, the fees are determined on a case-to-case basis so there is no specific overall cost that one needs to prepare without asking for a quote.

Venue options

The Celest Bartos Forum, equipped with a large class ceiling, measures more than 6,000 square feet and can cater up to 500 guests.

The Astor Hall can be used for any occasion, according to the library but is only available after hours.  This room can accommodate up to 750 guests, while a seated affair can cater up to 250.

The Edna Barnes Salomon Room, measuring over 4,000 square feet, offers natural lighting from its skylights, with a range of paintings surrounding the room.  Standing receptions can accommodate 325 guests while seating setups can fit 300 guests.

The McGraw Rotunda accommodates between 150 seated guests and 300 standing guests.  This venue, like the Astor Hall, can only be reserved after the library closes.

The Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Trustees Room, known for its grand fireplace and traditional theme, holds 125 standing guests and up to 100 seated guest.

What are the extra costs?

The caterer will not be part of the rental fee.  While you can choose your own, the library encourages you to use their list. The New York Public Library has a list of suggested vendors to use, which includes caterers, florists, wedding coordinators, photographers and videographers.

If the party goes over the allotted time, an additional cost per hour will apply.  This is determined only by the in-house sales manager or the wedding coordinator.

While tables and chairs will be provided, you will need to budget for decorations.  This can include centerpieces, backdrops, flowers, and others.

The cost does not include liquor.  However, all liquor should be supplied by the library, including the liquor insurance and contract for an additional cost.

Any additional security requested by the host or the library will be determined by the security department.

Tips to know

According to their official website, the New York Public Library only allows civil wedding ceremonies, meaning no ceremonies, political events or coming-of-age parties are allowed.  “Civil ceremonies are allowed on Library premises.  A civil ceremony is defined as a nonreligious marriage ceremony performed by a government official rather than by a clergyman.  Any civil ceremony taking place on Library premises must be without any religious affiliation and meet the legal requirements of the State and City of New York.”  A written synopsis of the ceremony and verification that the ceremony will be performed by an approved officiate must be provided.

The company is strict with the ceremony officiates.  The acceptable ones are the following: the mayor of the city, former mayor, deputy clerk or city clerks who have a legal authority, a county executive, police justice or a court judge.  No one with any religious affiliation is allowed to perform the ceremony.

A required deposit will apply only if somebody already has secured the date.  In case the first party releases it, you will be prioritized with the deposit.  Any deposit is non-refundable.

Because this is a public library, filming and photography is prohibited.  However, for wedding events rental, the clients may request so and a request letter should be written two to three weeks prior to the wedding.

The management cannot promise to have an exclusive event inside, but they can assure that there will be no distractions.

How can I save money?

Make sure that your wedding event starts and ends on time so that you can avoid additional charges when you go over the specified five hours.

With any wedding venue, make sure that you receive some quotes from comparable venues in the area.

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