Getting married in New York City? Here’s what you need to know

Aug 16, 2022 | Planning

Getting married in New York City is the dream for many couples. There are countless iconic locations and the city has a buzz like no other. However, if you're not a native New Yorker, it can be tricky to know how to start to planning a wedding in the Big Apple. Can you elope to tie the knot at City Hall? Do you need a license to get married in Central Park? We're here with all the answers!

New York wedding photographer and Fine Art Curation member Tanya Isaeva has captured weddings throughout the city and shares her top tips for getting married in NYC.

1. Get your NYC marriage license

Start the process by obtaining a marriage license from the City Clerk. Couples can now apply for a marriage license in person or online at www.nyc.gov/cupid (online is the quickest option). The fee for the license is $35, payable on the day you pick up your license. It's then valid for 60 days (except for active military personnel, for whom it is valid for 180 days) and can be used anywhere in the state of New York.

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2. Ensure you have the correct paperwork

Ensure you have all relevant ID and take it with you to your appointment. If you have been married before, you will need to bring your official divorce decrees to the city clerk's office before you can get a marriage license.

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3. Weddings at New York City Hall

Wedding ceremonies have now resumed at New York City Hall, however you are only allowed one witness (which can be your photographer). As outlined above, you will need to apply for your marriage license from the City Clerk in advance (online or in-person) and you need to hold the license for at least 24 hours before you can legally get married. In person appointments for the marriage license or a ceremony at the City Clerk are released every Monday at 9 am EST. Set an alarm, because some weeks they are gone fast.

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4. Non-US citizen weddings in New York City

I highly recommend calling your consulate to find the legal way to get married in the US. You don't want to get home and discover your marriage is invalid! NYC wedding officiant Yekaterina Tsvetkova shares some advice: "I recommend that international couples do their research ahead of time and see if their home country requires an apostille (an extension of their marriage certificate).

"If it does not, after the ceremony, the officiant simply returns the signed marriage license to the city clerk's office. The couple then receives the marriage certificate to their home address. However if their home country does require an apostille, the couple has to visit the city clerk's office with the signed marriage license while they are in NY in order to receive the marriage certificate and the apostille."

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5. Choose your wedding officiant

Your wedding officiant can be anyone from a clergy member, judge, lawyer, or celebrant to a close friend or family member who has been ordained. You will need one witness as well. If you go the friend route, make sure they get accredited online and file all of the notarized paperwork well before your wedding date.

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6. Pick your NYC wedding location

There are many excellent outdoor places to get married in NYC, and indeed, people get married every day of the week here. However, some days are busier than others...Valentine's Day, Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve (and it's also pretty cold at that time of the year), and some places will be crowded. People are generally accommodating, though; there's something about seeing a couple dressed up and ready to get married that makes people smile!

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7. Iconic New York City wedding locations

There's no shortage of beautiful gardens, rooftops, hotels and restaurants to get married in NYC, but here's my pick of locations if you want that iconic New York vibe.

  • The Brooklyn Bridge
  • Central Park (there's so many different options depending on what you are looking for)
  • Top of the Empire State Building
  • Bryant Park (behind the New York Public Library)
  • Rockefeller Center
  • Grand Central Terminal 5
  • The High Line
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8. How to get married in Central Park

Couples wishing to get married in the park with more than 20 people will need to apply for a Special Events permit with the Manhattan Borough Office. It takes 30 days to process a permit.

While the park is very spacious and holds lots of people, there are often events that could create undesired traffic or crowds on your especial day. Be aware of any walks, marathons, concerts, festivals, or any other events that are taking place and plan around them. A quick Google search on Central Park events will help a lot while planning. Having 8,000 guests crashing your wedding is not a pretty picture, unless of course you are marrying at the finish line of the race, and you are both runners! If concerned about tourists and crowds, opt for a permit-only area of Central Park, like the Conservatory Garden.

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9. Consider a weekday wedding

Most of the events in Central Park happen on weekends. There are also many engaged couples like you planning their ceremonies on the same day as yours. A good way to ensure increased privacy and fewer crowds is to schedule your ceremony to take place during the week. Your wedding will feel more special if there's not another one taking place close by.

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10. Have a plan B for bad weather

If you're planning for an outdoor ceremony and/or reception, ensure you have a plan B in case of inclement weather. Reach out to your hotel before booking to ask if they can let you use any of their terraces, public spaces, lounges or a rooftop for a quick ceremony or the first look and portraits. There are quite a few hotels that go above and beyond to accommodate their guests. My suggestions include:

Images and copy: Tanya Isaeva

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