A guide for overseas visitors getting married in New York
Why get married in New York City?
New York is one of the most iconic cities in the world. Featured in countless films, music videos and TV programs, the sights, sounds and smells of this incredible city make it one of the most memorable places you will ever visit.
Romance is in abundance. Not only has the city played backdrop to memorable movies such as ‘When Harry Met Sally’, the historical buildings and scenery come awash with romantic stories and dreams. There’s an abundance of picture perfect locations - Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Grand Central Station where you can wed, plus beautiful buildings such as Empire State and Chrysler Building to include in you pictures.
You may be surprised to learn that you can get married at any of these locations. You’re only requirement is to find a Wedding Officiant licensed to marry couples in the city. Once married, they issue you the necessary paperwork and by following a few steps (explained later) you’ll have a full wedding certificate that is recognized around the world.
So the location is perfect and the process of getting married is relatively simple. But there’s another important reason the means many couples consider New York for their wedding: cost. The costs for a modest domestic wedding are escalating all the time. If you’re prepared to go it alone, or invite a select few friends and family, getting married in New York enables you to tie the knot fraction of the cost.
The cost of getting married in New York in comparison to a lavish event at home is very surprising. Depending on your requirements, it’s entirely possible to come to New York for your dream day and effectively get your honeymoon paid for using the savings!
When you consider the attractive costs, and the ‘wow factor’ of getting married in New York, it’s not surprising that many couples are choosing the city as their preferred wedding location.
To understand how easy and exciting it is to get married in New York, we will now explain who we are, and how we can help you have a day like no other.
Who is Wedding in New York?
We are civil wedding officiants are based in New York City. This means we are licensed to perform your personalized wedding ceremony, issue you with the correct document and explain exactly how to collect you full wedding certificate.
We perform many ceremonies all year round, for people traveling from all over the world. This is our job and we know how easy the process is, but we do understand that it can seem a little daunting if you have never done anything like this before! The need for a friendly face/voice contact during your wedding planning stage is key and we pride ourselves in making sure we are here for you whenever you need us to be.
As well as being wedding officiants, we help plan the extra elements of your big day. We partner with friendly and professional local businesses who will be as dedicated as we are to ensuring your whole day runs smoothly from start to finish.
Does it need to be complicated?
Planning a wedding can be stressful and very time consuming. You need to make sure you get every element right. The amount of choice you face is also as daunting: where should we get married, which officiant should you book, what photographer should you use etc., is a fun but possibly daunting task. With us as your wedding officiant we remove much of the complexity and let you enjoy the build up to the big day.
Overseas visitors - what’s required
There are steps and paperwork which must be completed to validate your wedding. We often get asked lots of questions surrounding this. We know how easy it is, but we thought the best way to highlight this was for one of our UK brides, Kelly, to share her experience.
How to get married in New York - a UK bride shares her experiences:
Firstly we needed to decide whether we wanted to hire a wedding officiant to marry us or whether we would go to the City Clerks Office and be married there. We had our hearts set on being married under the Brooklyn Bridge in Brooklyn Bridge park by Jane’s Carousel so we needed to find a wedding officiant that would carry this out for us.
I spent a number of evenings researching the options and reached out to many wedding officiants, asking the same questions - could they help us carry out our dream? To date I am still waiting to hear back from all the people I contacted! Apart from one that is: Steven from Wedding in New York. He came back to me almost immediately even though the time difference meant it was ‘out of hours’ for him. We had a good chat over email and he made me feel very comfortable.
The whole process was easy - I can say that now because it’s all over and it all worked perfectly! But in seriousness, any questions I had, Steven always answered - and quickly.
Understandably, Kelly’s biggest concern was the marriage license and the marriage certificate, and more importantly, how to get hold of them. I spent hours researching this subject because there wasn’t a single source of information that answered all her questions. Therefore, I was happy to share my experiences working with Steven so that brides-to-be would have the guide I wished I could find!
So here’s what you need to do, in the order you need to do it:
Apply for your marriage license
You will need to apply for you marriage license from the Office of the New York City Clerk in advance. This is because you need to hold the license for at least 24 hours before you can legally get married. The fee for this is $35 but you can only pay for this by credit or debit card - no cash is accepted.
You can choose to go to the Office of the New York City Clerk in person or you can apply for this online. By applying online you will speed up the process. You are required to do is enter some basic details (full names, dates of births, parents details, etc). Once you have completed this online you will be given a reference number to take to the Office of the New York City clerk, where you will then complete the application, make payment and walk away with your license!
The online application can only be made within 21 days as it will expire after this. We applied the week before and I can assure you, the process is very easy. If you choose not to complete this online before you go, you will be asked to use the computer in the City Clerk’s office to complete it.
And now you just have to wait 24 hours to be married!!
If you are getting married at the City Clerk’s office, you need to return after the 24 hour period. On the day you need to take all of the required documents (license and proof of identity) to the desk where they will be checked and you will receive a number. You are then asked to wait until your number is called so that you can go and be married.
We were getting married in Brooklyn Bridge Park so this last step did not apply to us. You still have to wait 24 hours to be married if you choose to go to a different location in New York for your ceremony.
Short or extended marriage certificate
There are two types of marriage certificate - the short is the basic license and the extended includes more information which is often required by foreign jurisdictions. As a UK citizen you need the extended certificate in order for the marriage to be valid in the UK.
Once you are married and the ceremony is over, you will be issued with the short marriage certificate. Steven offered to take care of getting this converted to an extended license as it can all be completed by post. I couldn't wait that long for it to arrive so we decided to go and get the certificate ourselves.
The extended certificate can be applied for on the same day that you get married but it does require a bit of trip around the city to different buildings. We chose to enjoy our day and set out the following day to get the certificate. You can do it anytime after you are married, just bear in mind it does take a little time so don't leave it until the last minute.
Here’s what you need to do to get the extended certificate:
- Go back to the City Clerks office with your short certificate and identification. Here you will need to fill out a yellow extended certificate request form which you will then take to the records room, which is located within the same building. You will need to pay an extra $35 and at this point will be given the extended certificate.
- Take this certificate over the road (literally across the road), to the County Clerk Office which is located in the Supreme Court Building. Here the certificate needs to be signed at the Notary Public desk for a charge of $3.
- The next step is to head over to the New York State Department of State to get an Apostille (an authentication of a public document). The cost for this is $10, but unfortunately you can only pay with a money order. This sounds a pain but is easier than you think. We popped into the Duane Reade pharmacy over the road to buy the money order before we entered the building. It costs $11 with the fee included.
- That’s it! You finally have your certificate which is accepted in the UK.
I realise that this will sound like a bit of a headache, but I urge you to be brave and go through this process if you have time. One of our fondest memories of our trip was this day and how we got to view buildings (and people) that we would never have encountered if we had agreed to get the certificate posted to us.
We left our hotel in time to get to the first step (City Clerk’s Office) when it opened and within four hours we had completed the whole process and had a lot of fun along the way. Most importantly we had our extended marriage certificate in our hands!
Steven provided us with the most perfect ceremony we could have asked for. We truly counted our lucky stars that we came across him as the day went so smoothly.