Where to Elope in NYC | Should You Get Married at City Hall?

Where to Elope in New York City

So you’re getting married and you’ve decided to elope in NYC. Congratulations! Now your next decision, where to have the ceremony? Many folks automatically think of City Hall when they consider eloping. If that’s the location that makes you happiest, then that’s the best spot for you to have your elopement ceremony! City Hall is an awesome spot for loads of couples every year and I love photographing City Hall Weddings!

However, I also find lots of couples don’t even realize they have other options. My hope is to let you know everything that’s available when you’re considered getting married in New York, then you can make the best choice for you! I’m always happy to offer suggestions and help you pick what’s best as I know it can be tricky to plan from afar as many of my couples do.

Top of the Rock Wedding Ceremony

So, where SHOULD you elope in NYC?

You’ve got two primary options… inside and outside City Hall. City Hall, by the way, is also known as the Manhattan Marriage Bureau or the City Clerk’s Office. (For those unfamiliar with the situation in New York City, you don’t actually get married at the actual City Hall building.) There are also marriage offices in each of the 5 boroughs of NYC. For more on how to get married at City Hall, you can check my guide to City Hall weddings.

Confetti Toss at City Hall Wedding

City Hall Wedding Ceremony

Why Get Married at City Hall in New York

You’ve made your choice and a City Hall wedding is for you! Awesome. Here are a few reasons why eloping at the City Clerk’s Office is a great option.

   •  It’s quick! Are you someone who doesn’t like to be the center of attention for too long? Do you not want to have to stress about writing your vows or picking a reading for a ceremony? City Hall is for you. The wedding ceremony at City Hall is about a minute long, maybe a minute and a half if you exchange rings. There are no personal vows and you’ll be official in no time at all.

Couple Eloping at City Hall with Guests •  It’s very affordable. If you’re on a very tight budget, this is something to consider. Ceremonies at City Hall cost $25.

•  The people watching. I maintain that City Hall in Manhattan is some of the best people watching in town. Folks from all walks of life in all manner of dress converge to get married here. It’s fun to see everyone so excited to be married all in one place.

•  It’s easy.  You show up and get married. While you do now have to make an appointment, that’s the only thing you have to plan. You can even buy or rent flowers inside if that’s what you’d like. If you’re not about the logistics, this might work for you.

•  It’s indoors. If you’re worried about the weather, there’s no need to have a rain back-up.

• The cheesy City Hall backdrop! I mean, you kind of have to take the photo right?!

City Hall Wedding Backdrop

Ceremony at Manhattan Marriage Bureau

Why Get Married Outside City Hall in New York

While City Hall Weddings are great, they’re not for everyone. Here are a few reasons why you might consider getting married somewhere other then City Hall. If these things are important to you then it might be a good option to look elsewhere for a ceremony. Don’t worry! Your wedding can still be simple, affordable and just the way you want it to be. In fact, it’s often way easier to get married outside the Clerk’s Office then people think.

Central Park Wedding Ceremony•  A more personal ceremony. If you’d like to share personal vows, have a ceremony that’s a bit more involved, or include loved ones or children in your ceremony, then getting married outside City Hall is what you should do. It should also be noted you can a have a short and sweet ceremony outside the clerk’s office too! Choosing to get married outside City Hall just means you get to make the call.

•  A more flexible schedule. Want to get married on a Saturday? Or at sunrise or sunset? Then you’ll need to get married outside City Hall. City Hall hours are 8:30-3:45pm, so if you’re in search of that beautiful golden hour light or a quieter moment during sunrise, an outside City Hall Wedding is for you. (Exception: there are some points in the wintertime when there is a late sunrise or early sunset where portrait timing can line up with golden hour and a city hall ceremony.)

• You want to have lots of (or more than 3) guests. Now with the new rules at City Hall, you are limited to just three guests. If you’d like more people to be involved in your ceremony, you’ll need to look at having an officiant outside the marriage office.

Winter Wedding in Central Park •  You don’t want to wait in line. City Hall wait times are notoriously unpredictable. Even now with the appointment system, wait times fluctuate between 15 minutes and an hour. Usually falling somewhere in the 30 minute range.

NYC Rooftop Wedding Ceremony

•  There’s somewhere in the City that’s meaningful to you or you’d like to capture the city in your ceremony photographs. You can get married just about anywhere in New York. Whether it’s Central Park, or in front of the café you had your first date, Coney Island, a community garden or just somewhere with a view of the city, atop Rockefeller Center, the options are endless.

•  It can be surprisingly affordable. While City Hall is perhaps the cheapest… there are many ways to get married outside City Hall that are still very reasonable in cost. Any city park is a free venue, and most public spaces are available for free, just the cost of admission (like top of the rock), perhaps a small donation in the case of a community garden. I’m always happy to refer you to a number of local officiants who are excellent and won’t necessarily break the bank.

•  It can be simpler then you think. Many locations don’t actually require a permit, you can just show up and get married. I’m happy to help you through the process in the case there is paperwork required.

Ladies Pavilion WeddingBrooklyn Bridge Park Wedding Grand Central Wedding

I believe that everyone should get married in the place that makes them the happiest! Whether that’s City Hall or Central Park or somewhere in between, where ever you decide to tie the knot will be awesome and I’d be honored to document it.

Do you have more questions about where or how to get married in New York City? I’m always happy to help! You can find my local advice posts here, covering everything from what to do if rains, how to get around for your elopement, to where to elope with a skyline view! Check out my Guide to New York Elopements for more information.

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De Nueva Photography specializes in NYC elopements and weddings. I'm also available for engagements, proposals, and family portraits.


Not having a local wedding or elopement? No worries. Travel is literally my favorite thing and my passport is always ready. I’m available for travel worldwide.