NYC City Hall Wedding Photographer
So you’ve decided you’re eloping to NYC?
Awesome! I might be biased as an NYC Elopement Photographer, but NYC is one of the best cities in the world to get married!
Now that you’ve made the choice to get married in New York, you need to decide: where exactly are you going to get married??
You want a no frills ceremony?
You don’t want to have to worry about booking an officiant?
You’d like a classic NY experience with some of the best people watching around?
An NYC City Hall Wedding might be just what you’re looking for. I love working as an NYC City Hall Wedding Photographer and have helped hundreds of couples through the process. You can check out my elopement portfolio to see more images.
I’ve compiled the guide below to help you through the process of how to get married at City Hall in NYC!
A Complete Guide to City Hall Weddings in NYC
Here’s what you can expect when you elope to New York and get married at City Hall.
NYC City Hall Location:
First things first: City Hall is not where you actually will be married. (Though there IS a great cheesy backdrop of City Hall that you can take all the fun photos in front of if you like!) Your ceremony will take place at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau aka the City Clerk’s Office.
The City Clerk’s office is located at 141 Worth Street in Manhattan.
I’m from out of town. How do I get there?
The City Clerk’s office is very easy to get to on the subway, or you can always take a taxi or an uber/lyft for your elopement. For the subway, the easiest way is to take the 456 (green colored line) to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall and then walk from there. It’s also a short walk from the R train to City Hall, or slightly farther walk from the A/C or 123 at Chambers Street.
If you’re taking a cab, you can tell them to take you to the City Clerk’s Office at the corner of Worth and Center Street.
Once you arrive, you go up the stairs and head through the first doors on your right.
What if I don’t want to get married in Manhattan? Can I get married in another borough?
Yes! So far most of my clients chose to get married in Manhattan. However, each borough does have its own marriage office should you decide to do something different. *A head’s up warning: I have been told from other friends in the industry that the Bronx office does NOT allow professional photographers.
How much does a City Hall Wedding Cost?
Your marriage license will cost $35. To have your ceremony at the City Clerk’s Office is a $25 fee. All fees are payable by credit card or money order only. No cash is accepted. If you’re wondering about fees for an elopement photographer you can check out my rates page for more information.
What do I need to bring for my City Hall elopement in NYC?
You will need:
•You and your partner
•A witness over 18 with a photo ID (I’m always happy to be a witness, free of charge!)
•Your photo id’s or passports if you’re international
•Your marriage license, obtained at least 24 hours in advance
•$25 ceremony fee payable by credit card or money order
That’s it! Photographers, flowers, fancy outfits are all optional.
What if I want flowers? Can I buy them there?
You can! However, insider tip! There is usually a very nice guy outside making bouquets on a table. He does a great job and is cheaper then the flowers inside. Otherwise, any corner flower shop can help you in a pinch.
What if I want to get something that says “I Got Married in NYC”?
Good news for all my souvenir seekers! The City Clerk does in fact sell everything under the sun to say you got married in our fair city. Magnets, T-Shirts, Rubber-Ducky’s? They’ve got you covered.
Can I buy snacks or water inside?
No. Unfortunately there are no food or beverage vendors or even a water fountain inside the clerk’s office. If you think you’ll get thirsty, be sure to bring along a water bottle.
How long do you have to wait at before you get married?
It depends. Elopements at City Hall can vary tremendously in wait time. I’ve been in and out in 15 minutes and as long as 2.5 hours. Recently, it’s been taking a bit longer. I would allot just over an hour to be safe. If you have applied for a license from elsewhere in New York outside New York City be prepared to add an extra 40-60 minutes to your wait time.
**Note: As of summer 2016 the Manhattan Marriage Bureau has installed a metal detector in the entrance. This has made the wait time to get into City Hall quite a bit longer. In the morning, and especially on Fridays you should allot an extra 20-30 minutes just to get through this part of the line before you check in.
What time of day is best for a City Hall Wedding in NYC?
While it is unpredictable, usually the busiest time of day is the lunch hour and Friday afternoon. The days around holidays also tend to be busier, especially if you’re approaching a holiday weekend. Earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon are usually the fastest.
How long is a City Hall wedding ceremony?
It’s quick! The ceremony lasts about a minute and a half. There are no personal vows.
Do we have to exchange rings?
Nope! Only if you want to. The officiant will ask you before you begin the ceremony if you’d like to exchange them.
Do you get to chose your officiant?
No. There are a number of officiants that rotate. James Mitchell, or the “mustache guy” is perhaps the most well known, however they are all great.
So, how exactly does a City Hall Wedding in NYC work?
Step One for a City Hall Wedding: The Marriage License
Get your marriage license. Just as with an elopement in NYC, you will need to apply for your marriage license 24 hours before your ceremony in person. You can start the process early online, but you will have to go to the City Clerk’s Office in person with your partner to pick up the license.
Be sure to check if there are any holidays around your desired date as they will be closed on those days. **You can bring a license from elsewhere in New York State, but be prepared to a significant amount to your wait time on your ceremony day.
Step Two for a City Hall Wedding: The Ceremony
Return to the City Clerk’s Office for your ceremony. Once you arrive at City Hall you’ll have to check in at the desk in the front.When you check-in the clerk will give you a number on a ticket. Don’t lose this ticket, it’s your key to the ceremony.
The City Clerk’s office is open for ceremonies from 8:30am – 3:45 pm Monday-Friday. The closing time is the latest you can enter the office and get a ticket, they marry all couples that have obtained a ticket by this time. It’s usually good to get checked in by about 3pm just to be safe.Make sure you have your witness or you can’t check-in.
Once you have the ticket, keep on eye on the TV screens, they will let you know when it’s your turn. When they call your number, you can head to a clerk’s desk numbered 1-14. Here, you and your witness will sign your marriage paperwork and pay the ceremony fee.
After everything is signed, you’ll be told to wait a second time. Once they are ready for you, you’ll get called by your number to Station 5 in the center of the office. Once you hand over your paperwork, you’ll have to wait one last time. You’ll then be called by name into one of two chapel rooms, the East Chapel or the West Chapel. The rooms are plain but nice, one has a purple wall with flowers, the other has pink stripes. Both have a cool display case of old marriage records from the 1800’s.
Each chapel room has a couch along the side to leave your things and a lectern in front. They have room for maybe 10-15 guests maximum. After that things will get a bit crowded.
The wedding vows and a kiss (if you so chose) are your last step. The ceremony is short and sweet and now you’re officially married! Congratulations!
Have more questions? Email me via my contact page or at info at denuevaphoto.com. I’m always happy to help and would love to hear all about your NYC City Hall Wedding or Elopement plans!