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Getting Married in NYC - A Brief Guide For Overseas Visitors

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Getting Married in NYC - A Brief Guide For Overseas Visitors

My wife and I are from the UK and recently got married in New York City, so we thought we'd put together a little guide that other couples might find useful.

Why get married in NYC?

We got asked this question a lot! Simple answer: we'd just bought our first house and we couldn't afford a big traditional wedding. Getting married in NYC is a lot cheaper, and on reflection it was absolutely perfect - our wedding day was relaxed, exciting and fabulous from start to finish. Even with hindsight, we wouldn't do it any other way - NYC was the perfect destination for us.


There are a few options for getting married in NYC, as you can hire an officiant and get married at pretty much any location. As it was just the two of us, we opted to keep it simple and get married at the City Clerk's Office (141 Worth Street).

Whichever way you choose to do it, you need to apply for a Marriage License (more info here: http://www.cityclerk.nyc.gov/html/marriage/license.shtml). The Marriage License costs $35 and you can pay the fee by credit card or money order, but not cash, so bear that in mind. Once you have your marriage license, you have to wait 24 hours before you can tie the knot. If you get your license at 9:00am on a Thursday, it will actually say that you're eligible to get married from 9:01am on Friday, the following day.

To help speed up the application, remember to apply online before you get to the City Clerks Office using this link: https:/…cityclerkformsonline

The online application only needs a few details (full names, place of birth, parent's names etc) and took us less than five minutes. When you've completed the application, you'll be given a confirmation number to print out and take with you. From what we could tell, anyone who hadn't already filled in the online application was asked to fill it in using the available computers in the City Clerks Office reception. Also note that applications submitted online expire after 21 days, so don't do it too early!

Here's how our timing worked out:

December 15 - submitted our online application

December 27 - arrived at City Clerks Office to complete application and get license

December 28 - returned to City Clerks Office to be married

What happens on the day.

We got our marriage license on a Thursday, and the City Clerks Office was reasonably quiet - there were quite a few couples, but we were in and out of the building in about 30 minutes. We expected the same when we returned on the Friday, but boy were we wrong, it was really busy! We had to queue to see the guy on reception, when we got to him he checked through our documents (jokingly asking if we were sure we wanted to get married!) and then gave us a ticket for us to wait for our number to be called.

It can be a bit of a wait on a busy day (almost an hour in our experience, though that was the last Friday of the year) so it's worth having a bottle of water or something to drink with you, and note that there are restrooms in the lobby.

When our number was called, we went to a desk where the lady re-checked all our documentation and details (you need ID we you, we had our passports) and produced our marriage certificate. At this point you also pay the $25 fee for the marriage ceremony. Double-check all your details are right at this point, as it's the last stage before you get married - you can fix mixtakes afterwards, but doing so will cost extra!

We were given another ticket and had to wait another 20 minutes or so to be called to the chappel. There are two, east and west, with a small seating area in side. We were called into the west chappel and the ceremony was done in two minutes flat. You do need a witness, our photographer was ours, but it seems as though it would be very easy to find a witness while you're there. Just remember that your witness will also need valid identification.

And that's it, you're given your signed and sealed marriage certificate and you're good to go!

'Short' or 'Extended' Marriage Certificate

There are two types of Marriage Certificate you can get, the Short is the basic, and the Extended includes a bit of extra information that is often required by foreign jurisdictions. We were told that as UK residents we'd need the Extended certificate in order for it to be valid in the UK.

You can apply for the Extended certificate on the same day you get married, but it does require a few steps and trips to different buildings. We wanted to enjoy our wedding day after the ceremony so decided to come back and get the Extended certificate a few days later - you can do it anytime after you're married.

To get the Extended certficate:

1. Go back to the City Clerks Office with your Short certificate and identification, fill out a yellow Extended certificate request form and take it to the Records Room. Here you pay another $35 and an Extended certificate is given to you.

2. You then need to go over the road to the County Clerk Office (located in the Supreme Court Building, 60 Centre Street) to have the certificate signed at the Notary Public Desk at a charge of $3. This building has a security check and metal detectors, so it's best not to go with cameras and so on.

3. Once the Extended certificate is signed, you need to take it to the New York State Department of State (123 Williams Street, between Fulton and John) to get an Apostille that authenticates the document. This costs $10, but note that the New York State Department of State no longer accepts cash or credit card - it has to be money order! If you don't have one with you, you can go over the road to the Duane Reade pharmacy and buy a $10 money order at a cost of $11.

Once all that's done, your certificate is ready to be accepted in the UK. It doesn't take long to get it all done, but going between locations is a bit of a chore and you probably won't want to do it on the day.

What to Wear

In case you're wondering (like we were) what to wear, it's worth knowing that there's loads of variety at the City Clerks Office. Some couples were in casual clothes (jeans etc), some were smart, others were eccentric and quite a few were formal. We opted for the latter, with the bride in a traditional white dress and the groom in a grey tail suit. We felt very comfortable and enjoyed the attention. If you intend to go to other sites, take a comfortable pair of shoes - my bride took her sneakers in a bag and got changed halfway through the day.

Services and Recommendations

We found loads of advice on the tripadvisor forums and settled on the following service providers, all of whom were excellent:

Photography - Jasmine Photo (http://www.jasminephoto.com/)

Vito was our photographer for the day and he was brilliant from start to finish. Was more than happy to double as our witness, knew what we needed to do on the day, had great ideas for photograph locations and was constantly snapping away. Came back to our hotel a couple of days later to show us all of our photos before

handing them over. Highly recommended!

Hair and Beauty - SB Beauty (http://www.sb-beauty.net/)

Sharon was superb for the bride's hair and make up. She arrived promptly at the hotel, set up all her own equipment (including lighting) and took about two hours perfecting the bride's look. She was great to talk to throughout, and she knows the City well and proved to be a valuable resource on what to do on the day and

beyond. Bride was over the moon with her hair, 10/10.

Florist - Starbright Floral Design (http://www.starflor.com/)

We ordered a bouquet and a buttonhole from Starbright. Our contacts Nic and Brian were great to deal with throughout the whole process and the flowers were beautiful.

Dinner - Eleven Madison Park (http://www.elevenmadisonpark.com/)

There are so many restaurants to choose from, but we opted for EMP for our post-wedding dinner and we weren't disappointed. They are great at handling special occasions and made us feel special from start to finish.

Hotel - Hotel Giraffe (http://www.hotelgiraffe.com/)

Hotel Giraffe is getting a mention because Emily, the hotel's Events Manager, was invaluable in helping to plan our day. She recommended the beautician and the florist, and she helped us get our reservation at Eleven Madison Park. If you're from overseas having a good contact at your hotel can be really useful, and it's hard to imagine anyone better than Emily.

This was supposed to be a brief guide but one thing led to another! Anyhow, we hope it's useful to some and we wish you all the best for your NYC wedding!

621 replies to this topic
New York City, New...
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1. Re: Getting Married in NYC - A Brief Guide For Overseas Visitors

Congratulations and thanks for the wonderful write up! It will be extremely helpful to others. Would you mind giving us an idea of prices for the vendors as people will likely want to know? I'm especially interested in the hair and makeup person as there's a lot of call for that.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: Getting Married in NYC - A Brief Guide For Overseas Visitors

Thank you for coming back and letting us in on the details of how well everything worked out. All the best in your life together, may it be a happy forever!

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3. Re: Getting Married in NYC - A Brief Guide For Overseas Visitors

Congratulations!! Fantastic guide and really helpful for me and my fiancee who are travelling to NYC with some family and friends @ Easter to get married.

Really interesting re the "extended certificate" we are getting married in a church in Manhattan so do you think we will need an extended certificate to take back to Northern Ireland with us?

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4. Re: Getting Married in NYC - A Brief Guide For Overseas Visitors


Bristol, England...
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5. Re: Getting Married in NYC - A Brief Guide For Overseas Visitors

Thank you :) We're heading to NYC to elope in 2 weeks :D We've got the celebrant sorted but would really appreciate an idea of what the vendors cost you?

Tipton, United...
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6. Re: Getting Married in NYC - A Brief Guide For Overseas Visitors

Congratulations.... And thanks for the information, my bf and I are flying out in just over 7 weeks to get married and I didn't realise we would need the extended certificate for it to be valid in the uk, I thought I'd read somewhere that the short version was ok for here x

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7. Re: Getting Married in NYC - A Brief Guide For Overseas Visitors

Congratulations on getting married. My brother in law wants to go in Dec 2014 to get married there and with about 10 of us going (including children) it is going to prove to be a great event.

I would appreciate knowing what the vendors cost you as well if that appropriate.

Look forward to hearing fromyou.



Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: Getting Married in NYC - A Brief Guide For Overseas Visitors


I must say that's a lot of red tape for one certificate, though.

London, United...
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9. Re: Getting Married in NYC - A Brief Guide For Overseas Visitors

collyk06, I'm not 100% sure on who needs an extended certificate and who doesn't. But I was told on a few occasions that it was required for UK residents - I figured it was best to get it as it can't do any harm. :)

For everyone who has asked about vendor costs, here's what we were quoted:

Photography - $550 for two hours (we wanted more on the day so ended up having four hours for $750)

Hair and Beauty - $250 for bride's hair and make up at our hotel

Florist - $215 for bride's bouquet and groom's buttonhole

Some of the services seemed expensive at the time of booking (I struggled to get my head round the idea of spending two hundred bucks on flowers), but it was worth it - the photographs, the bride's hair and the bouquet were all perfect.

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10. Re: Getting Married in NYC - A Brief Guide For Overseas Visitors

Congrats on your wedding. It seems like you put in the effort and spent the extra money to make one totally unforgettable day.

Hey NY DEs--this sounds like a top question to me. ( i won't do it on this forum, not my place)

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