"She made me and my husband so comfortable and we pretty much laughed the whole way through."
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!
The City Clerk's Office in NYC officially re-opened after an extended closure due to COVID 19 for in person weddings and licenses on July 23, 2021!
After the re-opening there have been a few changes to how the process works. I have updated the guide below to reflect the new changes in place at the City Clerk's Office as of June 2023. These include needing appointments and guest limits.
What you can expect at your City Hall Wedding in New York City?
•A quick and easy ceremony•
•A cheesy City Hall backdrop for photo ops•
•Lime green couches for lounging•
•Around a 30 minute wait time on average•
•An iconic NYC experience shared with couples
from around the globe•
This is the big question that everyone has nowadays! As noted above, I have updated the below guide to reflect all the new policies and procedures in place, but figured we should start with all the new updates! As things have been changing, this section is always going to be a bit in flux it seems, but as of June 2023, there are still two major changes to how the City Clerk's Office works now as opposed to pre-covid.
Appointments: You now need an appointment to enter the City Clerk's Office at all times. Whether getting a marriage license or having your ceremony you need to be sure to have your appointment beforehand. Appointments can be made online at the Project Cupid website. Note that appointments tend to book up fairly quickly. Once you know you want to get married at City Hall in New York, be prepared to get an appointment. They release the dates about 3 weeks prior, usually on Monday mornings at 9am. You can follow the City Clerk's Office on twitter for more updates. Once you receive an appointment, they will tell you that you need to arrive 30 minutes before your scheduled time. However, I have found that this is unnecessary, at least for ceremonies. As long as you are prompt for your time, you will be fine. This is especially true if your appointment is at 1pm, as the office is closed from 12-1pm and they don't open the doors early.
UPDATE AS OF 2/14/23!! Witnesses: This is perhaps the second biggest change to ceremonies at City Hall. As of 2/14/23 couples can now bring in THREE guests to their City Hall ceremony. There will be flexibility for children under 12, but outside of little ones, there will be a limit of 3 guests. Your wedding photographer, should you opt to have one, counts towards the 3 person total.
When signing your marriage license you are permitted to have up to two witnesses sign. You only NEED one, but can opt to have a second if you chose.
"She made us feel so comfortable and definitely brought out all of the love and joy in our relationship through her photos. She's very perceptive and was able to find so many beautiful moments (and even calm the bride down when needed!)"
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. People tend to use these terms interchangeably, but they all refer to the same place, 141 Worth Street. If you're talking to a cab driver, you can tell them to drop you on the corner of Worth Street and Center Street.
The City Clerk's office is located at 141 Worth Street in Manhattan.
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, the Q train at Canal Street, 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 the office will be the first doors on your right. Currently, you will have to check in with security before entering the office to confirm your appointment time.
Yes! While most of my clients chose to get married in Manhattan, there are other options for a City Hall style wedding. Each borough has its own marriage office should you decide to do something different. I am a particular fan of Brooklyn City Hall. While the waiting area isn't quite as chic as the Manhattan office, the ceremony space is nice and you are very close to Brooklyn Heights, the Brooklyn Promenade and not a far walk from Brooklyn Bridge Park, all amazing spots for photos.
HILARY T. SMITH
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 in New York you can check out my rates page for more information.
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.
*** Please note, currently couples are strictly limited to three guests***
You can! You can even rent them, however I will say that they tend to be fairly overpriced. I'm always happy to recommend local florists, or you can even stop at a local corner shop (known as a bodega) for flowers or grocery stores often sell small bouquets as well.
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. Looking for sparkly baseball cap that says witness for your guests? Good news, they've got them.
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. While you do have to pass through security to get into the Clerk's Office, it's not airport style, liquids are allowed. There is usually a food vendor outside on the corner who sells waters, hot dogs and pretzels, and there is always a cart right in front of the court buildings just down the street.
It depends. This is an area that has changed dramatically since the re-opening in July of 2021. Currently, you are required to have an appointment before entering the Clerk's Office. As such, the crowds inside the office have been drastically reduced and there is a set number of ceremonies they preform each day. That said, some days the clerks move faster than others. I have found that on average we are in and out in about 30 minutes. The longest I've had to wait is roughly 45 minutes, the shortest I've been through is about 15 minutes, but generally speaking around 30 minutes start to finish is a good bet.
Since appointments are now required, any time you can snag a time is a good time! That said, pending on what you want to do for portraits before or after, we can discuss what time of day may be best for you. Also, do keep in mind they are strict about closing the doors at 3:45pm. Should you get a later afternoon appointment, be sure to arrive on time.
It's quick! The ceremony lasts about 30 seconds to a minute pending on whether or not you exchange rings. There are no personal vows.
Nope, only if you want to. The officiant will ask you before you begin the ceremony if you'd like to exchange them.
No. There are a number of officiants that rotate and you do not get to select who marries you.
Get your marriage license. Just as with an outside elopement in NYC, you will need to receive your marriage license at least 24 hours before your ceremony in person. You are currently required to have an appointment to get your license, whether in person or online. You can get an appointment online at Project Cupid. Note that appointments tend to book up quick! If you have trouble getting an appointment, you are allowed to be married with licenses obtained elsewhere in New York, I have had couples have good luck in Westchester, the Hudson Valley or Long Island.
Return to the City Clerk's Office for your ceremony appointment time.
The City Clerk’s office is open for wedding ceremonies from 8:30am – 3:45 pm Monday-Friday.
While couples are being told to arrive 30 minutes early, I have found that's not really necessary as long as you are prompt for your time. Once you arrive at City Hall you'll have to pass through security, and then 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. It's also fun for a photo and a keepsake.
Once you have the ticket, you can proceed into the office to wait for them to call your number. When your number is called, 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 again by your number to the center area, known as station 5. The clerk will then either tell you to wait on the green couch or to head into either 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.
Then it's time to get married! The ceremony is QUICK! It's about 30 seconds to a minute long. You'll be asked to affirm you want to take your partner as your spouse, make sure no witnesses object, and then if you want to exchange rings you will be asked to do so. At the end there's a kiss and then you're married! HURRAY!
After that it's time to celebrate!
This is a question that's going to depend on your home country and what you will need your marriage license for. I find most couples looking for the extended license are from the UK, but occasionally couples from other countries have also expressed a need for this. Right now, you can apply for your extended certificate right after your ceremony. Stop by station 10 and they will give you a form to fill out and you can pay an additional fee. You will then also have to stop by another office across the street to complete the process, which can be done at a later date if needed. It is my understanding that you can apply for this license via the mail, but always best to double check with the clerk, as things can change.
I have a whole post of ideas! Check out my where to take photos after a city hall wedding post here for more details. Nearby locations include: Tribeca, Soho, Brooklyn Bridge Park or South Street Seaport.
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.