How To Get Married At
NYC City Hall

New York City's iconic Marriage Bureaus (aka, City Hall) are popular destinations for locals and couples from all over the United States and abroad. The most popular bureaus are located in Manhattan and in Brooklyn. 

Due to the pandemic, NYC Marriage Bureaus now require an appointment for licenses (virtual or online) and limited in person ceremonies restricted to the couple and one witness. The Manhattan Marriage Bureau has been covered in scaffolding since the Spring making exterior photographs not ideal. However, there are other locations nearby with a similar feel.









Updated: October 10, 2022

• a license issued by the State of New York (can be NYC or another clerk's office) no more than 60 days prior
• an appointment for a ceremony (released about 3 weeks prior through the Project Cupid Portal)
• at least one witness (at the moment, due to COVID, you are only allowed one witness and no guests)
• IDs or passport

Marriage License Info

While you need a license to marry in NYC, you don't have to marry at the Marriage Bureau.   You can be married by: (1) clergy members or ministers of any religion,  (2) Federal, State and local judges or justices; (3) current members of the State Senate and Assembly; and (4) other officials (see this website for more information). New York State Law requires any person who performs a Marriage Ceremony within the City of New York to register with the City Clerk.

I am happy to refer you to registered officiants I frequently work with.  I am also registered as an officiant and can perform ceremonies and sign your license. 

The options for ceremony locations are endless, including popular spots like Central Park, DUMBO, a private garden in the West Village, even on the steps of the marriage bureau. Here is a list of my intimate wedding location suggestions. 

In order to marry in New York State, you need a marriage license. The marriage license fee in NYC is $35 payable by credit card or money order. It is valid for 60 days (or 180 for active duty military).

For 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 EST. 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. See my handy release date chart below.




In person license appointments are released on Mondays 9am EST 3 weeks in advance at either the Manhattan, Queens or Bronx locations. Remember, you must get your license at least 24 hours before you can marry and no more than 60 days in advance. These don't go as fast as the ceremony appointments, but I'd try and book it as close to 9am as possible as they are usually all gone by the end of release day. 

If you can't get a license in NYC, it may be easier to get one in another area of NY state. This can also be used to marry you. 

Contact the clerk's office for emergencies.

Alternative Marriage Ceremony Locations in NYC

In person ceremonies are released on Monday mornings for the week 3 weeks in advance. (See my chart for appointment release dates) I offer a back-up officiating option for my clients who want to attempt to get an appointment. You will need you marriage license # or confirmation number to book a ceremony appointment. This makes it more challenging if you are coming to NYC from out of town and need to book both appointments in the same week. 

What you need to marry at an nyc marriage bureau:

Can International Couples Get Married in NYC?

Yes.  Consult with your specific country to see what is required to honor a New York marriage certificate.

Coming from the UK? You may need an extended certificate. Learn more here.

Manhattan Office - City Clerk's Office (BY APPOINTMENT ONLY)
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 

Brooklyn Office - Brooklyn Municipal Building
 (BY APPOINTMENT ONLY)
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 




Marriage Bureau Locations & Holidays

Holiday Closures 2022
Election Day - Tuesday, November 8th, 2022
Veterans Day - Friday, November 11th, 2022
Thanksgiving Day - Thursday, November 24th, 2022
Christmas Day - Monday, December 26th, 2022 (observed)

Holiday Closures 2023
New Year's Day - Monday, January 2nd, 2023
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday - Monday, January 16th, 2023
Washington's Birthday (President's Day) - Monday, February 20th, 2023
Memorial Day - Monday, May 29th, 2023
Juneteenth National Independence Day - Monday June 19th, 2023
Independence Day - Tuesday, July 4th, 2023
Labor Day - Monday, September 4th, 2023
Columbus Day - Monday, October 9th, 2023
Election Day - Tuesday, November 7th, 2023
Veterans Day - Friday, November 10th, 2023
Thanksgiving Day - Thursday, November 23rd, 2023
Christmas Day - Monday, December 25th, 2023

The Ceremony Process in 2022

If you are considering getting married at a New York City Marriage Bureau in 2022 or 2023, you might be wondering what the process is like.  Since reopening after the pandemic closure, the bureau operates on an appointment only basis for getting a license and for ceremonies. Both can be obtained a maximum of about 3 weeks before the date you are looking for. (I made a chart so you can see when they will be released.)  The site to obtain the appointment(s) is here.

Availability has gotten better as the year has progressed however the overall capacity of the bureau is still reduced. If you are looking for a specific date, a Friday or during a popular time you may not get the day/time you are looking for. I suggest setting an alarm and when the appointments are released at 9AM EST on the correct Monday (or Thursday or online license appointments) to have the best shot at your coveted time. When you get your license, you will be given a # or when you make the appointment, a confirmation #. You must use that number for booking your ceremony appointment. 

On the day of your ceremony, you and your one witness (name must be given at the license appointment) need to arrive 30 mins before your scheduled ceremony time. Masks are still required inside the building. (You may remove for the ceremony at least!) After a security screening and checking in with IDs, you will be given a number. Because of the appointments, this part moves much faster than in the past. After you both and your witness sign the license and pay the fee, you will be asked to wait again. You will then be called by name into one of the two ceremony rooms. The ceremony (just like this, no vows allowed) lasts less than 2 mins and is preformed by a clerk behind plexiglass. You will be given your certificate at the conclusion, as opposed to waiting 4-6 weeks if having an officiant perform the ceremony. You are officially married!  The entire process has been taking about 30 mins. 




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.

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.



Where to Celebrate

What to Wear when Eloping

How To Get Married at NYC City Hall (Pre Pandemic)

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!



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!



If you are wondering what to wear for your nuptials at an NYC marriage bureau, almost anything goes. I've seen couples in t-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.





Wedding Portrait Locations in NYC