How to Get Married in New York

how to elope in New York. couple stands at lookout point an takes in the view of the mid-hudson bridge

Crystal Torres

April 18, 2022

Hey! For those who don’t know me, I’m Crystal. I photograph weddings and portrait sessions and I love helping couples plan out their special day! I have gotten many questions about the process of getting married or eloping in New York State. Lots of couples approach me with questions about how to get a marriage license. I wanted to post a little step by step guide for those of you looking for resources on how to get married in New York State.

Getting more familiar with the concept of eloping has helped me appreciate all of the different wedding styles out there. This word no longer has the negative connotation that it had in the past. Nowadays, especially with the way things have changed since the pandemic, eloping has become a new normal. Basically you have a very small, intimate ceremony, usually with no guests, or a very small number of guests. The beauty of a tiny, intimate wedding is that there is no pressure of adhering to a guest count, or worrying about any family feuds, or having to invite certain guests just to appease family members (not that you should EVER have to worry about shit like that. I mean, it’s YOUR fucking wedding! But, I digress. Maybe I’ll post a blog about not giving a fuck what anyone else besides you and your partner think about your wedding, haha). Whatever your style is, choose what works for you! Keep reading more info on how to get married in New York.

intimate wedding FDR historic site champaign toast

Whats your style?

  • My personal favorite, Intimate Weddings, are kind of all the rage now (but with things kind of returning to normal, big weddings are starting to happen again, too). The Hudson Valley has SO MANY amazing places where you can do this! A peaceful hike and the most breathtaking views make for the perfect backdrop while you exchange vows. Think Catskills, Adirondacks, or any of the many state parks in the area. If you do plan on doing a romantic mountaintop wedding, be sure to gather all the permits needed to make your big day possible.
  • Courthouse Wedding, AKA a City Hall Wedding is the quickest, most cost efficient way to get married. My husband and I actually went this route over 12 years ago. We eloped before it was cool! (ha) It was fun, cheap and we got to spend the day with our closest friends and family. A huge plus? We got to go on a kick ass honeymoon with all the money we saved! We got married in the New York City courthouse, but each city has it’s own requirements, so be sure to check with your local city clerk for any requirements.
  • Intimate wedding ceremonies, AKA Micro Weddings are small, intimate ceremonies with a much smaller guest list. Think somewhere between 10-25 of your closest family members and friends.
  • Backyard weddings are becoming a thing now, too! If you don’t have a backyard, you can always borrow one via Air BnB!

Once you are set on the type of elopement fits your style and budget, zero in on the best date and time for your special day. The sooner you start planning, the better!

The Marriage License

This is usually the thing I get asked about the most. A few important things to consider:

  • You have to apply in person, but, due to COVID-19, most city clerk offices are providing a way to do so online. If you’re planning on eloping in New York City, you can apply for your marriage license online, here. UPDATE: You Can now apply in person if you’re looking to tie the knot in NYC.
  • The application fee is generally a flat fee of $40.
  • You have to wait 24 hours from when it’s issued before you can perform your ceremony.
  • The certificate is only valid for 60 days in New York State, so plan your wedding date accordingly.
  • Be sure to gather all of the necessary documentation for your marriage certificate. Each city clerk has it’s own set of required documents, so double check with them. They generally they include things like proof of ID (passport, driver’s license), birth certificate, naturalization record, immigration record, etc.
  • Make sure you have an officiant, witness(es) and a photographer!
  • Confirm with your city clerk office how many witness signatures are needed for the certificate.
  • Click here for the actual New York State website which has the whole layout on how to get your marriage license. This will help you better understand how to elope in New York.

Plan Your Day and Get Married

Once you’ve done your research and are all set with what you need to obtain your marriage license, you can start the fun part; planning your actual day! In most cases, planning even a small scale wedding can get pretty stressful. I’m here to remind you to have fun and don’t sweat the small stuff! Remember that you are celebrating your love. Whatever that looks like, whatever your style is, just remember that at the end of the day, it is all about you and your person.

Oh, and one last important detail: once your vows have been said, and are sealed with a kiss, make sure you fill out and sign your marriage license thoroughly and completely. In most cases, your officiant or celebrant will do this for you but just double check and make arrangements with them to get it done. It is extremely important to mail out your certificate so that New York State can legally recognize your marriage.

In conclusion..

As you can see, eloping in New York State is not that difficult of a process! I hope this post was helpful, but definitely confirm everything via the state website, or by contacting your city clerk directly.

Contact me about your big day! I get that planning any style of wedding can be stressful, so feel free to reach out. I will do my best to help you out in any way possible. I will answer your questions as best as I can and can even connect you to other amazing vendors for your big day. I love taking photos, but I love when my people are at ease and confident on their special day, even more! I hope this post has given you a better understanding about how to get married in New York.