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HOW TO GET MARRIED AT NYC CITY HALL


Updated: August 25, 2021

Can You Get Married or get a Marriage License at NYC City Hall During the Pandemic?

Yes and No. The Manhattan Marriage Bureau is open for licenses (virtual and in person) and ceremonies by appointment only. All other bureaus remain closed.

Virtual license appointments (you must be in NY state at the time of the appointment but not booking) are released on Thursday mornings at 9am. They are for the 3rd week after the release as such, via @nycclerk Twitter. You need to make an account on Project Cupid before you can schedule.

Tomorrow, August 12, 2021, at 9am, we will release virtual license appointments for August 30, 2021 – September 3, 2021. Appointments are fluid and there are many cancellations throughout the week, so we encourage couples to keep checking Project Cupid.

In person ceremonies are released on Monday mornings. (They go fast, trying to confirm how far in advance, but likely 3 weeks.)

In person license appointments are released for about 4 weeks in advance. At the moment (Aug.16th) there are plenty of appointments available for Sept 9th/10th. Remember, you must get your license at least 24 hours before you can marry and no more than 60 days in advance.

With a bit of planning and patience, you can get a license or schedule a ceremony. While you need a license to marry in NYC, you can use any registered officiant to marry you.


Can International couples come to NYC and Get Married?


It depends. See this map for current entry requirements based on the country you are traveling from and immigration/passport status. If you have been in one of these areas in the past 14 days, you are not currently allowed to travel into the US unless you are a citizen, lawful permanent resident, student etc. That means BOTH of you. More into at link above.

  • China
  • Iran
  • European Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City)
  • United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Brazil
  • South Africa
  • India

Also the clerk's website is blocking access to make an appointment outside the US. (I've had couple's relatives make them appointments for a license and that worked.)

If you can travel to the US and get an appointment for a license, you can then marry in NYC.


How Far in Advance Should I Apply for a License?


You should aim to get an appointment (virtual or in person) no more than 60 days in advance. Keep checking back for newly added appointments. Follow the NYC Clerk on Twitter for advance notice on appointment releases and more. Register now for when they add appointments.


What If We Can't Get an Appointment in Time or Have an Emergency?


Keep checking for appointments or get a license outside of the city. Any license issued in NY State can be used in NYC. I'm recommending locations where couples have been successful in getting licenses: Greenburgh, Kingston, Oyster Bay, Albany, Yonkers, Babylon but check with other towns and verify requirements.

I have heard they are leaving appointments for emergency situations. Contact the clerk's office about your situation.


What is the Process to Get Married in New York City?


Once you obtain a license from a clerk in NY State, you can use a private officiant or schedule an in person appointment at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau.

The officiant will then submit the signed license via mail or email so the couple can upload it to their Cupid account.


What If You Already Have a License?

The licenses are normally valid for 60 days however on April 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order waiver that remains in effect until August 23, 2021. Once that order is no longer in effect so you need to make an appointment no more than 60 days before you intend to wed. Licenses issued more the 60 days prior are no longer valid.


When Will all the NYC Marriage Bureaus Reopen?

The NYC Clerk's website states the remaining bureaus will reopen soon. However, if you are planning a wedding in 2021, I suggest hiring an officiant. (Or hire me, I can be your back-up officiant too) Follow the NYC City Clerk on Twitter and join my mailing list to get up to date info.






HOW TO GET MARRIED AT NYC CITY HALL (PRE PANDEMIC)



To get married anywhere in New York City, you first need to get a license at least 24 hours before you plan to marry. (or you'll need judicial waiver) There is a marriage bureau in each borough in NYC or any license issued in New York State may be used. The two most popular bureaus are the Manhattan and Brooklyn locations. It may save you time and be more convenient to get a license at another bureau.

The marriage license fee is $35 payable by credit card or money order. It is valid for 60 days (or 180 for active duty military). You can start the process online to save time! You will need an ID and possibly additional documentation if you are divorced or your spouse is deceased.

See below for holiday closings and plan travel accordingly to make sure you have time to get the license. For full details, please see the City Clerk's website here.


Manhattan Office - City Clerk's Office

141 Worth Street, New York, NY 10013

Closest subway stations are: 4/5/6 Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall, N/Q/R/W Canal St, and A/C at Chambers St.

Marriage Bureau Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., Monday through Friday
Lobbying Bureau Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday Through Friday
(Walk-in hours until 3:45 p.m.)


Brooklyn Office - Brooklyn Municipal Building

210 Joralemon St # 205, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Closest subway stations are: 2/3 Borough Hall, R Court Street and A/C/F at Jay Street/MetroTech

Marriage Bureau Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., Monday through Friday
Lobbying Bureau Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday Through Friday
(Walk-in hours until 3:45 p.m.)



NYC Marriage Bureau Holidays 2021


Labor Day - Monday, September 6th, 2021
Columbus Day - Monday, October 11th, 2021
Election Day - Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021
Veterans Day - Thursday, November 11th, 2021
Thanksgiving Day - Thursday, November 25th, 2021
Christmas Day - Friday, December 24th, 2021



WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE 24 HOURS?



There is a judicial waiver option for same-day weddings. It is only offered at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and you need to have a good reason, such as that you are leaving town the next day, in order to get one.

I've done this with a few clients in Manhattan, so I know how it works. I am happy to offer tips in planning if this is needed, but I recommend arriving at least the day before with enough time to get the license to avoid this extra step.




CEREMONY AT NYC CITY HALL



Perhaps the easiest and least expensive option for getting married in NYC is having a ceremony at City Hall. (The Marriage Bureaus except for the Manhattan office are temporarily closed. Please see above for info on marrying during the pandemic) There are no appointments, just first come, first served. I've photographed weddings in the Manhattan and Brooklyn Marriage bureaus and the process is the same. Yes, there can be a wait of typically an hour (maybe less in Brooklyn), but it is very affordable and can also be quite entertaining.

For your ceremony needs in Manhattan, there is a gift shop with NYC marriage merchandise, certificate folders and silk flower rentals. However, for last minute floral needs, I'd recommend purchasing flowers from George with City Hall Flowers outside the bureau. His bouquets are affordable and he also sells boutonnieres and rings!

If you are getting married in Brooklyn or would like a more custom bouquet, you will want to pre-order your flowers.

What you need: your license, IDs, payment for $25 fee and at least one witness. Up to two witnesses can sign but they must have valid ID. I am happy to be your witness should you need one!


Here's the typical process:

1. Get marriage license. Wait at least 24 hours. (or get a judicial waiver, see above)

2. Arrive at Marriage Bureau, pass through security. (Leave weapons at home, unless you're a police officer, of course.)

3. Present yourselves and your witness(es) with identification and your license to the clerk. If I am your witness, I will show mine. A ticket will be issued with a number. You only need one witness to be married.

4. The number will be called to fill out the final paperwork. The witness signs, you both sign, and you pay the $25 fee with a credit card or a money order payable to the City Clerk.

5. While waiting we can take photos by the cheesy old City Hall backdrop (Manhattan) or just around the waiting area. Lots of options in the Manhattan location actually!

6. Eventually we are called to present the license to the clerk. Then we wait in the vestibule until the couple's names are called. There are two rooms for the ceremonies which can hold about 20 people with some seating. (only one in Brooklyn)

7. The less than 2 minute ceremony is performed. You may exchange rings. You can't say vows or do any ceremony rituals. If you desire that, hire an officiant and marry in the park or another location.

8. Congrats! You are now married and walk out with your marriage certificate! If you need an extended license ( my UK clients usually do), we can do that then if we have time, or you can return later or do it by mail.


Tips:


  • The earlier you arrive at City Hall, the less people usually. (However I don't think lining up at 8 am is a good use of time unless it is a holiday)
  • Fridays and Mondays are generally busiest, but you never know. Expect at least an hour wait, up to two on Fridays.
  • Avoid popular dates like Valentine's Day, Fridays before holiday weekends, or numerically interesting dates if you don't like crowds.
  • There is no food or drinks for sale in the Marriage Bureau, but you can bring in your own non-alcoholic drinks.
  • There is a bathroom and lots of seating.
  • The buildings are handicapped accessible but the entrance in Manhattan is around the corner on Hogan Place.
  • You can't get a ticket until EXACTLY 24 Hours have passed. No exceptions.



WEDDING PORTRAITS



Most of my couples want to include wedding portraits either before or after their ceremony. Often we will take group photos on the steps outside of the marriage bureau if family and friends are present. We can also do a grand exit with bubbles or flowers if you wish!

We often take photos in the area near City Hall, which can include a vintage subway station, City Hall Park fountain, Brooklyn Bridge and the Police Plaza area. Or we can take photos in DUMBO on the Brooklyn side, where there are fantastic views of Lower Manhattan. Of course, we can really go wherever you want and I can make a plan!


Top Photo Locations in NYC


Top Alternative Photo Locations in NYC

(Locals Love too!)



WHERE TO CELEBRATE



Celebrate with a lunch or dinner of your choice at a top NYC restaurant like Eleven Madison Park, Per Se, The River Cafe or even something more casual like Shake Shack. I've even had couples plan a picnic or tea for their guests. It is your day, make it your own!



WHAT TO WEAR


If you are wondering what to wear for your nuptials at an NYC marriage bureau, almost anything goes. I've seen couples in tee shirts adorned with, Spouse A Spouse B and Witness. There are long gown with tiaras and veils and tennis shoes and jeans. Cultural attire, costumes and kilts. Families all in the same color to give the group a "wedding party" feel. The point is, you should wear what makes you and your future spouse happy and comfortable.

However, I do recommend NOT wearing a very long gown as it is difficult on busy days to get around. (Not to mention NYC streets are dirty!) It will be better for your photos to not be carrying your train or risk people stepping on it. Wearing comfortable shoes or bringing a pair to change into is an excellent idea. Guys, make sure your shoes are broken in!

I am happy to offer styling assistance on request.



NYC ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHY




If you are thinking about eloping or having a micro wedding in New York City, then let's do it! I've been an NYC elopement photographer for 8+ years now. I've got all the goods on the best locations and plans for an amazing, fun and very New York intimate wedding.

Whether you are looking to tie the knot at Manhattan's Marriage Bureau (FYI- City Hall isn't the actual location!) or would prefer to hire your own officiant and marry in Central Park or anywhere else in the city, there is no shortage of great photo locations. I'd be happy to assist you in planning the perfect elopement or small wedding to suit your style and budget.


Inquire for availability and pricing here.





Email: kristy@kristymay.com | Phone: 917.754.1544 | All images and text © Kristy May 2021 | Privacy Policy