So, you are thinking about getting married in New York City? First of all, brilliant idea! There is no better place in the world than to elope in the Big Apple. NYC is full of love, life, skyscrapers, yellow cabs, bagels, squirrels, parks, bridges, art, lox, architecture and honking. Lots of honking. It’s a buzz you’ll never forget on the biggest day of your lives.
But how do you actually get married in New York? Once you have made the decision that New York is the place to get hitched, the next question on most couple’s lips is how, especially when you’re not native New Yorkers.? Lucky for you, I have photographed hundreds of elopements and weddings in New York City, so I’m a dab hand at the logistics and know just what questions you need answering.
Here you’ll find the answers, pulling together all the gems and best-kept secrets for an authentic and stress-free celebration when you elope in New York City.
Just a heads-up: if you are German speaking, please read this page instead on how to get married in New York: Heiraten in New York? Von der Lizenz zur Apostille
Actually, you don’t get married at City Hall! It’s a common misconception that wedding ceremonies in Manhattan happen at City Hall. The truth is that both obtaining your wedding license andhaving the ceremony take place at the “Office of the City Clerk : Marriage Bureau”. The City Clerk’s Office is located at 141 Worth Street in Manhattan. Opening hours are Monday through Friday from 8.30am to 3.45pm, except on major holidays. Be sure to check before you go.
First things first, all couples who intend to get married in New York must obtain a ‘Marriage License’. The fee for the license is $35, which can be paid by credit card or money order, payable to the City Clerk. This license is valid for 60 days and can be used anywhere within the state of New York.
Sometimes the wait time at the City Clerk’s office can be long. So, if you’d like to speed up the process you can begin filling out the application for the license online. You then have to complete the application in person at the City Clerk’s office.
Make sure to bring proper identification when applying. Even though you might have to wait a bit for your license at the clerk’s office, the ‘people watching’ definitely makes up for it. Relax and enjoy the hustle and bustle of this unique place. It’s all part of the experience when you elope to New York City.
Here’s a bonus for you. If you were married before, you will be asked to list all prior marriages. You are required to include your previous spouse’s full name and the date the divorce decree was granted. You also have to provide the city, state, and country where the divorce was issued.
And here’s another one. Make sure to check out – and subscribe to – our YouTube Channel, where I walk you through the license application process from start to finish. You also will find all kinds of inspirational videos all about getting married in New York City.
Well, it’s time to get hitched then! Important: You must wait a minimum of 24 hours after obtaining your marriage license before you can have your wedding. (Unless you obtain a 'Judicial Waiver'. I would suggest, though, to wait the 24 hours because isn’t anticipation the best after all?). Once the 24 hours have passed, you can either have your ceremony at the Office of the City Clerk or you can have your wedding conducted by a registered marriage officiant. The best officiant and celebrant in NYC is 'Jackie Reinking - New York Elopement Officiant'. Hands down! Did I mention she’s also my wife?!
Great! After your 24 hours wait, bring your marriage license, proper identification, at least one witness (I’m happy to be your witness. Just let me know ahead of time so I can bring my ID) and a little bit of time. The fee for the ceremony in the City Clerk’s Office is $25 and can be paid by credit card or money order, payable to the City Clerk. Ceremonies are held during regular business hours between 8.30am and 3.45pm. Unfortunately, no reservations or appointments can be made for the ceremony and it is nearly impossible to predict the waiting times. From my experience, you will wait between 45 minutes to 2 hours for the entire process. If you can, come early in the morning when the chances are better of a “speedy” process.
I highly recommend skipping ceremonies during the lunch hour, Valentine’s Day and all dates that are easy to remember (2.2.22 for example). The City Clerk’s Office is an amazing place to just sit and watch all the different couples go by so just enjoy the show. When it is your turn, your number will be called and you will be married by one of the officiants in either the East or West Chapel of the Clerk’s Office. Don’t be surprised when the ceremony itself will take no more than 90 seconds. Don’t blink or you might miss it! After the ceremony, you will receive your ‘Certificate of Marriage’ from the wedding officiant. And then it’s time to party!
Even better! To tie the knot on location, find a registered marriage officiant and schedule a date, time and place where you would like to get married. With an officiant, you’re not bound to any business hours. You can get hitched 24/7, 365 days a year anywhere in the city.
You would like to say YES, in Central Park? No problem. You want to get hitched on the 'Top of the Rock'? Do it! How about 'The High Line Park'? It’s your wedding! It can be anywhere you dream it to be, so pick a location and have fun. Once you have figured out all the details, make sure to bring your marriage license, proper identification, at least one witness (again, I’m happy to be your witness. Just let me know ahead of time so I can bring my ID) and that’s it.
After the ceremony, the officiant will have you and your witness sign the marriage license and then return the paperwork to the City Clerk’s office for you. You will receive your ‘Certificate of Marriage’ in the mail within about 30 days from the wedding date.
There are a couple of different ways to find your officiant. One way would be Google. Another way would be some research on WeddingWire or The Knot. The best option by far, however, would be to contact my beautiful and talented wife, Jackie Reinking. Jackie and I work hand in hand and she conducts beautiful ceremonies. Rumor has it that my clients receive a bit of a discount if they book her. Or even better, book us as a TEAM! In any case, you can verify whether the officiant you selected is registered with the Office of the City Clerk by calling 311.
Relax and enjoy the process. You are in New York City! What could be better, right? Laid-back and loads of fun are the defining features of the elopements I shoot, and yet each one is entirely different, because it’s personal to you.
I hope this guide helps you when planning your New York City elopement. If you have any other questions, or if you would like more information about my photography services, please feel free to reach out. I am happy to help and can’t wait to meet you. Eloping in New York City, it’s the best thing ever. How can I be so sure? I did it myself! Let me bring that magic to you, too.
Jasmin & Christian
"You need a photographer you can trust, who makes you feel at ease, and someone who has the skills to capture those perfect moments. Sascha met all all of the expectations and so much more!"
This is such an exciting time for you guys, and I cannot wait to hear what this moment means to you. Let's plan your dream day here in New York City together. The fun starts here!