If the idea of a huge traditional wedding doesn’t resonate with you as a couple, then why not consider an elopement to City Hall? There’s nothing more New York than a City Hall wedding, and it’s something more and more couples are opting for.
Whether you want to say I do with just the two of you or with a few close loved ones and friends, City Hall is the perfect choice. Here’s my guide to City Hall elopements in NYC to help you plan your day.
Why elope with an NYC City Hall wedding?
There are so many advantages to an elopement at City Hall. It’s affordable, simple to plan, and easy – all you need to do is show up! Because elopements are smaller, they also give you more precious time to focus on each other and your guests.
There’s something so modern and romantic about having a City Hall wedding too. It’s straightforward, easy, and official, ideal for couples who don’t want to mess around with all of the pomp and circumstance of a huge wedding.
Of course, if celebrating with your friends and extended family is important to you, you can always throw a big party at a later date.
How to get married at City Hall in NYC
Wondering “How do I plan my City Hall wedding?” Here’s an outline of the process so that you know what to expect.
1. Plan a date and time
City Hall offers weddings during Monday–Friday business hours, so decide when might be best for you. You don’t need to reserve ahead of time, but unless you’re super spontaneous, you’ll want to pick a date in advance so you can plan.
Keep in mind that Fridays tend to be the busiest days, as many couples go for a Friday ceremony before heading off to enjoy a weekend honeymoon. Midweek dates can be your best bet if you want to avoid long waiting times.
Weddings are performed at the NYC Marriage Bureau, 141 Worth Street, New York, NY 10013.
2. Apply for your marriage license
Before you can arrive at City Hall, you’ll need to apply for your NYC City Hall marriage license. You can do this at the Office of the County Clerk or online. After you’ve done the paperwork, you’ll receive a confirmation number to bring with you on the day.
There’s a fee attached to the application, along with a 24-hour waiting period, so if you’re planning a destination wedding to NYC, remember you need to leave at least 24 hours between when you apply for your license and when you visit City Hall.
So, what do I need to get married in NYC City Hall? In addition to your marriage license, you’ll need identification, such as your driver’s license, or your passport if you’re coming from overseas. If you’ve been married previously, you’ll also need proof of your divorce or annulment.
3. Invite your loved ones
After you’ve decided on a date, spread the word to anyone you want to invite! Space is limited at City Hall, so you’ll want to keep it under around 20 guests.
If your wedding dream is just the two of you, that’s fine too! Just know that you’ll need at least one witness (as your photographer, I’d be honored to step into that role for you).
You can also Zoom or livestream the ceremony for anyone who’s unable to be there.
4. Turn up!
Once everything is in order, all you need to do is show up! City Hall weddings, for better or for worse, operate similar to your local DMV – meaning you’ll arrive, take a number, and wait for your turn.
Once your number is called, you’ll go through security, pay your application fee, and then wait again. When it’s your turn to be called into the ceremony room, the officiant will begin the process, which is usually very quick. Exchange vows, exchange rings, and sign the paperwork – congratulations, you’re now officially married by the state of New York!
How long does it take to get married at City Hall NYC? It all depends on the crowds, but plan for around 1–2 hours in total. Just think of the waiting period as part of the experience (and anticipation!).
5. Plan an epic celebration after
After you’re officially wed, it’s time to celebrate! Whether you’re imagining a small, low-key champagne brunch or a formal dinner with all of your loved ones, NYC has so many incredible options for both large and small wedding and elopement parties.
After the ceremony, we can also take some wedding photos in the city, as we’ll have plenty of time to plan a thorough and detailed wedding shoot before you relax and toast with all of your friends and family.
How can I make my elopement special?
Your elopement is all about your love, so think about what’s meaningful to you as a couple. You can personalize your day in all sorts of ways, such as including little family traditions in your ceremony, asking friends and family to write you letters to read on the day, or celebrating with a reception in a venue with special meaning to you, such as a restaurant where you had your first date.
A City Hall elopement definitely doesn’t need to be a boring, administrative affair, as you’re free to add special touches to make it your own. I’d love to help you plan your City Hall wedding or elopement, so please feel free to reach out! I’m so passionate about our vibrant NYC and can recommend plenty of amazing photo locations nearby where we can take your wedding portraits after the ceremony.