How to elope in nyc, tips, inspiration, vendor recommendations & more!
2024 New York City
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- Kristy May
If you are considering or already planning a micro wedding or elopement in New York City you are in the right place! I’ll bet you have a ton of questions and may not yet know how to elope in NYC. Read on!
This guide is a great resource to start planning and get inspired. It will also cover the basics on how to marry legally in NYC, the best photo and ceremony locations, where to celebrate and more!
While some couples DIY their NYC elopement, you don't need to! The guide provides links to vendors who can help plan and perfect your day. This includes planners who can take everything off your plate, officiants to marry you, and travel agents who can book a memorable trip and honeymoon.
A NOTE ABOUT THIS GUIDE
I love helping couples have the elopement experience they deserve, please let me knwo if you have any questions!
check date release chart
To get married anywhere in New York City, you first need to get a license at least 24 hours before you plan to hold the ceremony. You can make an appointment to do this in person at an NYC Marriage Bureau, or online (must be in NY state) via Project Cupid.
Appointments are released about 3 weeks before on Mondays at 9 am EST. 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). For specific details, visit the clerk's website.
1-2 Witnesses over 18, w/ID
NY State/NYC Marriage License
$25 fee, CC or money order payable to NYC Clerk
The ceremony (just like this, no vows allowed but you can exchange rings) lasts less than 2 mins and is preformed by a clerk. You will be given your certificate in short form at the conclusion, as opposed to waiting 4-6 weeks if having an officiant perform the ceremony. The entire process has been taking about 30 mins-1 hour.
That's how to elope in NYC! See my TikTok video showing the process.
If you need an extended certificate for an apostille, you can make a records appointment or order it through the mail.
All services are by appointment only. See Project Cupid to book and read the clerk's website for more info. Marriage Bureau Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., Monday through Friday
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.
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
New York City's iconic Marriage Bureaus (aka, City Hall) are popular for wedding ceremonies for locals and couples from all over the United States and abroad. To book a ceremony, first book or complete a license appointment. You will need that confirmation number to book your ceremony. Appointments are released about 3 weeks before on Mondays at 9 am EST via Project Cupid and cost $25. In 2024, ceremony slots are easy to obtain IF booking near release time. Friday afternoons are usually the first to go.
On the day of your ceremony, you and up to four (4) guests over 12, including one or two witness(s) (18+) with ID, (and a limited number of children under 12) can enter. You need to arrive 15-30 mins before your scheduled ceremony time, more on Friday afternoons. After a security screening and check in with IDs, you will be given a number. After you both and your witness(s) 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.
New York City's iconic Central Park is a wonderful place to get married anytime of the year. Typically, elopements don't require a permit but you will need an officiant. If you have more than 20 guests or want to reserve a specific location, you will need a permit. Permits are $25 and can be bought via the park's website with 30 days notice. You can have acoustic, but no amplified music, with that permit.
The Conservatory Garden is another option for a Central Park wedding. Ceremonies there cost $500, including the photography fee. It is a nice option for the Spring when the flowers are in bloom. However, due to renovation work, it isn't available for ceremonies or photography until the Spring of 2025.
If you love street art or the off beat, grungier side of NYC, this area is for you. Always different, but always offering lots of eye candy.
The classic New York architecture of these nearby spots make it very clear where you got married. Also great for cold, rainy or windy days!
Between Washington Square Park and the Hudson River lies this storied neighborhood best know for brownstones and historic charm. The High Line is also close.
With iconic bridges, arches, The Mall and the Bethesda Fountain, Central Park never disappoints. Rock climbing optional!
You can't beat Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO's skyline of lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge. Add murals, historic architecture and Jane's Carousel and you see why it tops my list.
If cobblestones and 19th and 20th converted manufacturing buildings is your jam, this area offers a unique landscape. And you won't be the only photo shoot.
Near the Manhattan Marriage Bureau lies City Hall Park & the gorgeous David N. Dinkins Manhattan Municipal Building. Not to mention the Brooklyn Bridge and vintage City Hall subway stop!
HAIR & MAKEUP
Eleven Madison Park
The River Cafe
Tavern on the Green
Blue Hill & Marea
Over the years, we've learned the important role quality vendors play in creating a stress-free wedding day. We've worked with many of the vendors below and we can't recommend them enough! This is not a paid list - we chose these vendors for both the quality of their work as well as their professionalism on the actual wedding day and know they can show you how to elope in NYC.
WHO WILL MAKE YOUR DAY INCREDIBLE
While we can predict temperature trends and ranges, the weather remains, well, difficult to predict! Best to have a back-up plan (umbrellas, indoor locations in mind) and don’t stress until a day or two before. I watch the forecast frequently, and often storm systems speed up or slow down, and conditions can change rapidly. Unless truly unsafe conditions, it is usually best to plan to proceed with adjustments as needed.
Cherry blossoms typically begin early to mid-April and last into early May. Wisteria can be found in Central Park in early to mid-May for about a week. Flowers are blooming and leaves are green until mid-October when fall starts. If you are a tree pollen allergy sufferer, avoid park weddings in May-June, as it tends to be bad.
July and August are hottest, but there are always some 90-degree days in May through early October! Avoid the middle of the day this time of year, as it is hottest and the light is also the harshest. Mornings and evenings are best.
Peak fall is end of October to early November, but the leaves can start changing in early October. Fall can be rainy like spring, but the temperatures are typically well above freezing. Slight chance of snow in November and December.
Holiday lights and attractions begin just after Thanksgiving, and most run though New Year’s Eve or into early January. Best chance for snow is late January to mid-March, but it can come in December and sometimes in November! Often, hiring a car for the day makes sense in the winter to limit time outdoors and give us a place to get warm in between shots.
If you are wondering how to decide what to wear when you elope in NYC, let your plans and your heart be your guide.
I've seen couples in T-shirts adorned with “Spouse A,” “Spouse B” and “Witness,” which are for sale in the Manhattan Marriage Bureau gift shop. I’ve seen ball gowns with tiaras and veils, cultural attire, costumes and kilts. Families sometimes all dress in the same color to give the group a "wedding party" feel.
However, I do recommend NOT wearing a very long gown or veil, as it is difficult on busy days to get around. (Not to mention NYC streets are dirty!) That said, if you want that, then just do it.
If you will be walking a lot (and we usually are, especially in Central Park), wearing comfortable shoes or bringing a pair to change into is a MUST. Guys, make sure your shoes are broken in!
If you need help, see the stylists I recommend here.
what to wear
2. Where and how do you see yourselves getting ready? At home, in a hotel, together or separate?
3.What kind of ceremony and who is present? A quick civil ceremony or something more personal? At City Hall or in a park or private location? See options here.
4. What kinds of photos do you want to remember the day by, and where do you want them taken? Something convenient or a more elaborate photoshoot? Are family and friends in photos?
5. How do you celebrate? Do you see cocktails at the Plaza and fine dining after? Partying on a rooftop or restaurant with a group of guests? Or ordering take-out or room service and getting cozy for the evening?
One of the best things about eloping is that you can plan the day pretty much exactly how you want! Want to sleep late? Fly in a helicopter over Lower Manhattan? Or dine at Shake Shack or Per Se? You can.
Of course, so many options can be overwhelming. But that is where I come in. In my 10 years of photographing elopements in NYC, I've learned a lot and I love sharing. And if things get too complicated, a planner can help. First off, ask yourself these 5 questions.
1. What kind of experience do you want? A day mostly to yourselves or with friends and family present? What is the most important element? (Specific date, restaurant reservation, etc. Use that as your cornerstone in planning.)
building the perfect
Depending on the size of your party, you may be able to use a private dining room or may need to buyout the restaurant. Hotels and small venues also offer options. Some of these spaces can double as a ceremony site. Also consider rooftop bars, tea salons (Russian Tea Room, Baccarat, or The Plaza) a picnic in the park or a visit to your favorite food truck!
Even if you are eloping or having a small number of guests for a meal, you will want to get a reservation. Many higher-end places won't take reservations more than 30 or 45 days in advance. Research your top choices and learn their policies. Select off peak days for harder to get reservations.
Popular elopement restaurants: Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, The River Cafe, Daniel, Jean-Georges, Tavern on the Green, Blue Hill Farm, Charlie Bird, The Modern, Marea, Cathedral, Carbone
Restaurants & Hotels: Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, The River Cafe, Daniel, Jean-Georges, Tavern on the Green, Blue Hill Farm, Charlie Bird, The Modern, Marea, Cathedral, Carbone, Library Hotel, Mandarian Oriental, Ritz-Carltons, 1Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, The Beekman Hotel, Soho Grand, The James New York, Hotel Giraffe, Wythe Hotel
Venues for Smaller Weddings or Receptions: City Winery, Milk and Roses, Little Owl Venue, Locanda Verde, Frankies 457 Spuntino, Tarallucci e Vino Union Square, il Buco, Maman, One if by Land, Two if by Sea, Ivy Terrace, 620 Loft and Gardens
We can't wait to start helping you with your elopement and getting to know you! If you haven't scheduled a chat yet, let's get that in the books.
Feel free to contact us here.
We hope this guide helps make the process of planning your elopement details easier and less stressful. Thank you for taking the time to read through our guide!