Best NYC Elopement Guide for 2024

Elopement Guides

Step into the enchanting world of New York City. Allow yourself to be swept away by the magic of an NYC elopement. The Big Apple, is not only a popular destination for tourists, but also a dream location for couples seeking an intimate and unforgettable wedding experience.

Say goodbye to traditional wedding conventions and hello to a unique celebration tailored to your desires. Whether it’s exchanging vows in Central Park, on the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, or atop a skyscraper, like Top of the Rock, with the city skyline as your backdrop, the possibilities for your NYC elopement are endless.

Embrace the city’s vibrant energy as you embark on this romantic adventure. From exploring the trendy neighborhoods of Manhattan like the the West Village or the Lower East Side to indulging in world-class cuisine, you and your partner will create memories that will last a lifetime.

Capture the essence of your love in one of the world’s most iconic cities. Join the countless couples who have experienced the magic of an NYC elopement and discover why it truly is the perfect destination for the start of your forever after.

What is an NYC elopement

An NYC elopement is a non-traditional wedding ceremony that takes place in the heart of New York City. It’s an intimate and personal celebration that allows couples to exchange vows in a location of their choosing or at a Marriage Bureau, without the stress and expense of a traditional wedding. Unlike a typical elopement, which is often seen as a spontaneous and secretive act, an NYC elopement is a planned event that focuses on creating a unique and memorable experience for the couple.

Benefits of having an NYC elopement

There are several benefits to having an NYC elopement. First and foremost, it offers couples the opportunity to have a wedding experience that is truly their own. By forgoing the traditional wedding conventions, couples can create a celebration that reflects their personality and style. Whether it’s a small ceremony in Central Park or an intimate rooftop exchange of vows, an NYC elopement allows couples to tailor their wedding day to their specific desires.

Another benefit of having an NYC elopement is the cost savings. Traditional weddings can be expensive, with costs quickly adding up for venues, catering, and other services. With an elopement, couples can choose to spend their budget on what matters most to them. Whether it’s splurging on a luxurious hotel (hello The Plaza, Aman) stay or hiring a renowned photographer (hint, hint) to capture their special day, couples have the freedom to allocate their resources as they see fit.

Additionally, an NYC elopement offers couples the chance to explore and experience one of the most iconic cities in the world. From the vibrant streets of the West Village to the serene beauty of Central Park, NYC provides a stunning backdrop. Couples can take advantage of the city’s countless photo opportunities and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Wedding

Legal requirements for an NYC elopement

Before you say “I do” in the Big Apple, it’s important to be aware of the legal requirements for an NYC elopement. Here are the key steps to ensure your marriage is legally recognized:

Obtain a NY marriage license

To get married in New York City, you must obtain a marriage license from the City Clerk’s Office Project Cupid. Both you and your partner must appear in person or virtually (must be in NY State) to apply for the license. Make sure to bring valid identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, as well as the required fee of $35. Full information is on the marriage bureau website.

Wait the required waiting period

After obtaining your marriage license, there is a 24-hour waiting period before you can have your ceremony. This waiting period begins on the day the license is issued. Keep this in mind when planning your elopement date. The Marriage Bureau is very strict on this and will not let you in unless 24 hours have passed.

Choose an officiant or book a ceremony at the Marriage Bureau

You have the option to choose a registered officiant to perform your ceremony or to have a friend or family member become ordained online. Make sure that your chosen officiant is legally authorized to perform marriages in New York City. Kristy May is also a registered NYC officiant and she can also recommend an officiant to you. You can also book a ceremony at the marriage bureau for only $25 and a clerk will perform the ceremony. Learn more on getting married at city hall, aka the marriage bureau, here.

Have at least one witness for an NYC elopement

You are required to have at least one witness present during your elopement ceremony. This witness must be at least 18 years old and have an ID with them.

File the marriage license

After your ceremony, your officiant is responsible for completing the marriage license and returning it to the City Clerk’s Office within 5 days. Once the marriage license is recorded, you will be sent copy of your marriage certificate. Alternatively, you can bring the certificate to the Marriage Bureau for processing if you need an extended version right away. However, if you are married at an NYC Marriage Bureau, you will depart with a short form certificate. If you need an apostille, you will need to make a records appointment to get an extended certificate. Follow this guide for getting an apostille for International marriage recognition.

Popular locations for an NYC elopement

New York City offers a variety of stunning locations for an elopement ceremony and portraits. Here are some of the most popular choices. Also see my extensive list of the best places to elope in NYC.

Central Park

With its lush greenery, picturesque bridges, and serene lakes, Central Park is a favorite location for couples looking for a romantic outdoor setting. Whether it’s the iconic Bethesda Terrace, the charming Bow Bridge, or the intimate Shakespeare Garden, Central Park offers a multitude of options for an unforgettable ceremony.

A couple takes wedding photos at the Bethesda Fountain

Brooklyn Bridge Park/DUMBO

The Brooklyn Bridge is not only an engineering marvel but also a symbol of love and connection. Couples can exchange vows on the pedestrian walkway or from Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO. The bridge’s iconic architecture and breathtaking views make it a popular choice for couples seeking a unique and memorable elopement location.

A wedding kiss on the Brooklyn Bridge

Top of the Rock

For couples who want to exchange vows with a view, the Top of the Rock observation deck at Rockefeller Center provides a stunning setting. With panoramic views of the cityscape, including the Empire State Building and Central Park, this location offers a truly breathtaking backdrop for a romantic ceremony. Additionally, the Empire State building and Aspire at One World Observatory offer wedding options.

Wedding portraits at the Top of the Rock

High Line

The High Line, a converted elevated railway turned public park, offers a unique and urban setting for an elopement ceremony. With its beautiful gardens, art installations, and city views, the High Line provides a one-of-a-kind backdrop for couples looking for a modern and artistic wedding experience.

City Hall

For couples who prefer a simple and intimate ceremony, New York City Hall is a classic choice. Located in Lower Manhattan, City Hall offers a historic and elegant setting for exchanging vows. Couples can choose to have a quick civil ceremony in addition to portraits nearby.

Exit Manhattan Marriage Bureau

Venues or Restaurants

New York City has many, many unique and special places to celebrate your intimate wedding or elopement. Whether it is a table for two at a fine dining establishment, a hotel terrace or a private dining room for you and your guests, there is something for everyone. 

Wedding celebration on NY rooftop

Private Gardens

Despite being know for concrete and hustle and bustle, there are some lush and serene green spaces in NYC. Some will allow wedding ceremonies and even receptions for a fee.

Wedding ceremony in Jefferson Market

Planning your NYC elopement

Planning an NYC elopement requires careful attention to detail to ensure that everything goes smoothly on your special day. Here are some essential steps to consider when planning your elopement:

  1. Choose a date: Select a date for your elopement that works best for you and your partner. Keep in mind any seasonal considerations, such as weather conditions or peak tourist times, that may affect your chosen location.
  2. Secure necessary permits: Depending on the location you choose for your elopement, you may need to obtain permits or permissions. For example, if you plan to have your ceremony in Central Park, you will need to contact the appropriate authorities to secure the necessary permit if you have more than 20 guests. Otherwise, permits are optional but are worth the $25 investment to reserve a specific ceremony location. Not all locations can be permitted.
  3. Find the perfect vendors: Research and choose vendors that align with your vision for your elopement. This may include a photographer, videographer, officiant, florist, and any other services you may require. Look for vendors who have experience with elopements and can capture the essence of your special day. See my recommendations here.
  4. Plan the logistics: Consider transportation, accommodations, and any additional activities or experiences you want to include in your elopement. If you have guests attending, make sure to provide them with all the necessary information and assistance they may need.
  5. Create a timeline: Develop a detailed timeline for your elopement day, including the ceremony, photography, and any other activities or celebrations. This will help ensure that everything runs smoothly and that you can fully enjoy your special day. In addition, hire Kristy May and we will help you with the timeline!

Remember, while planning is essential, don’t forget to leave room for spontaneity and flexibility.

NYC Vintage taxi elopement

Choosing the right vendors for your NYC elopement

When it comes to choosing vendors for your NYC elopement, it’s important to find professionals who understand your vision and can bring it to life. Here are some tips for selecting the right vendors for your special day:

  1. Research and compare: Take the time to research different vendors in the New York City area. Look at their portfolios, read reviews from previous clients, and compare prices and services. This will give you a better understanding of their style and whether they align with your vision.
  2. Schedule consultations: Once you have a shortlist of potential vendors, schedule consultations with them. This will allow you to discuss your ideas, ask questions, and get a sense of their personality and professionalism. It’s important to choose vendors who you feel comfortable working with and who understand your unique needs.
  3. Consider experience and expertise: Look for vendors who have experience with elopements and weddings in New York City. Above all, they will be familiar with the logistics and challenges that come with planning an elopement in a bustling metropolis. Experienced vendors can offer valuable advice and guidance to ensure that your day runs smoothly.
  4. Trust your instincts: Ultimately, trust your instincts when choosing vendors. If something doesn’t feel right or if you have any doubts, it’s better to explore other options. Your vendors play a crucial role in bringing your vision to life, so it’s important to choose professionals who genuinely care about making your day special.

Remember, your vendors are there to help make your elopement day memorable and stress-free. By choosing the right professionals, you can trust that they will handle the details, allowing you to fully enjoy your celebration.

Capturing the magic: Photography and videography for your NYC elopement

One of the most important aspects of your NYC elopement is capturing the magic and emotion of the day through photography and videography. Here are some tips to ensure that your special moments are beautifully preserved:

  1. Research photographers and videographers: Take the time to research different photographers and videographers who specialize in elopements and weddings in New York City. Look at their portfolios to get a sense of their style and aesthetic. Pay attention to the emotions and candid moments they capture, as these are often the most cherished memories!
  2. Discuss your vision: Communicate your vision and expectations with your photographer and videographer. Share any ideas or inspiration you have, as well as specific shots or moments you want to capture. Furthermore, a good photographer will listen to your desires and work with you to create a personalized and unique collection of images and videos.
  3. Plan your timeline: Work with your photographer and videographer to plan a timeline for your elopement day. This will ensure that there is enough time for all the necessary shots and that you can make the most of the natural lighting and scenery. A well-planned timeline will also help keep the day running smoothly and minimize stress.
  4. Be present in the moment: While it’s important to capture beautiful photos and videos, don’t forget to be present in the moment and enjoy your elopement day. Trust your photographer and videographer to capture the magic, and focus on cherishing the experience with your partner.

Photography and videography are investments in preserving the memories of your special day. By choosing professionals who understand your vision and style, you can trust that they will capture the essence of your love and create a collection of images and videos that you will treasure for a lifetime.

Al fresco dining at Match Brasserie

Celebrating: Unique ideas for post-ceremony activities

After your intimate elopement ceremony, it’s time to celebrate your love and create lasting memories. Here are some unique ideas for post-ceremony activities in New York City:

  1. Helicopter tour: Take to the skies and enjoy a helicopter tour of the city. This thrilling experience will give you a bird’s-eye view of iconic landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and Central Park. It’s a unique way to celebrate your elopement and create unforgettable memories.
  2. Private boat cruise: Charter a private boat and cruise along the Hudson River or East River. Enjoy the stunning views of the Manhattan skyline as you toast to your love and enjoy a romantic dinner on board. This intimate and exclusive experience is perfect for couples looking for a private celebration.
  3. Broadway show: Immerse yourself in the world of theater by catching a Broadway show. From classic musicals to cutting-edge productions, there’s something for every taste. Celebrate your elopement by enjoying a night of entertainment and culture in the heart of the Theater District.
  4. Wine tasting in the Hamptons: Extend your celebration by taking a short trip to the Hamptons region. Known for its picturesque vineyards and award-winning wineries, this area is perfect for wine lovers. Spend a day exploring the wineries, indulging in tastings, and enjoying the natural beauty of the region.
  5. Romantic dinner at a rooftop restaurant: New York City is famous for its rooftop bars and restaurants. Treat yourselves to a romantic dinner with breathtaking views of the city skyline. Enjoy delicious cuisine, fine wines, and each other’s company as you toast to your new chapter together.
NYC Helicopter Tour


New York City, with its vibrant energy and iconic landmarks, provides the perfect backdrop for an intimate and unforgettable elopement. From the lush greenery of Central Park to the breathtaking views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the possibilities for creating your dream ceremony are endless.

By embracing the magic of an NYC elopement, you can say goodbye to traditional wedding conventions and hello to a celebration tailored to your desires. Choose the right vendors, plan your day with care, and capture the essence of your love through photography and videography.

Celebrate your elopement by exploring the city’s diverse neighborhoods, indulging in world-class cuisine, and creating memories that will last a lifetime. New York City offers a plethora of post-ceremony activities to extend your celebration and make your elopement truly unforgettable.

Before embarking on your NYC elopement adventure, make sure to familiarize yourself with the legal requirements to ensure that your marriage is recognized. Obtain a marriage license, choose an officiant, and have at least one witness present during your ceremony.

Join the countless couples who have experienced the magic of an NYC elopement and discover why it truly is the perfect destination for the start of your forever after. Say “I do” in the Big Apple and create a love story that will be etched in your hearts forever.