Updated in January 2021
COVID UPDATE. Please visit our COVID-19 info page for details on the new process of obtaining your marriage license.
141 Worth Street is where the magic happens. A true New York City experience of multiculturalism and good vibes. That is perhaps the reason why so many couples decide to get married at the City Clerk’s office in Manhattan despite the bureaucracy implicit in the process, waiting lines, crowded spaces…, all that is part of the experience and it can really be exciting. But nonetheless we’d love to share our experiences and give you some practical information and a few tips to help you enjoy the fun part and keep stress at bay.
A DETAILED JOURNEY
• Once you enter the building (there are two entrances, one on Worth St. and the other one at Centre St.) you will find a security checkpoint similar to the one at the airports. We think that unfortunately this is a necessary measure these days but just keep that in mind to bring a bag or purse where you can insert your belongings before entering the scanner and you’ll get inside in a blink of an eye. NOTE: For security reasons no photography at or pointing to the security checkpoint is allowed and they will be mad if you take photos (And rightly so).
• Once you go through security you will have to check in at the reception desk to verify your ids, marriage license and witness id. A waiting number will be assigned. If it’s just the two of you and you don’t have a witness we’d be happy to act as witnesses!
• Keep that number with you, you will need it in the following steps. They will call your number at a station 1 to 13 and you and your witness will need to sign the license and pay the ceremony fee
• Then you will have to wait some more until you are called by the same number at Station 5 which is the access to the wedding chapels. This is a great moment to take some shots at the location.
• Once they call you at Station 5 the officiant will take your marriage license and have you wait a little bit in the waiting room.
• Finally they will call you by your names and you will enter one of the two chapels for the ceremony (East or West). The ceremony is quite short and they normally don’t allow reading your own vows but most likely you will be able to say something short and sweet
TIPS & TRICKS
• Don’t bring a heavy bag or bulky items. Especially if it’s just the two of you, you probably won’t like to be in the photos carrying anything besides possibly a lovely bouquet or a fun sign.
• Keep the party as small as you can. The long space is much easier to navigate and to move guests from one station to the other.
• Go with the flow. Sometimes the waiting numbers can run pretty quickly and other times it can be slow. I guess it depends on how many clerks are on duty at a particular time.
• Most people think it’s good to arrive first thing in the morning but actually – since everybody has the same idea – it’s actually pretty busy then and you may have to do a long line outside the building which can be chilly, especially in a NYC winter day!
• PRO TIP. The marriage bureau closes doors at 3:45 pm and won’t let anyone enter the building after that time but if you arrive at let’s say 3:30 pm you will be fine and normally you can get in and out with your license pretty quick since the clerks expedite the process towards the end so that everybody can get home as soon as possible (we get it and totally sympathize with this).
• Fridays are always the busiest days so if you can – we know it may be tough – try to choose another weekday to get married.
• Lastly. Relax and enjoy, you will be taken care of by the excellent staff at the Bureau and your photographer will help guide you through all the way! ;-)
PAPERWORK AND “OFFICIAL STUFF”
What do you need to prepare
• Your photo id’s or passports if you’re international
• You must wait for 24 hours after you obtain your Marriage License before you can have your wedding, unless you obtain a Judicial Waiver. The Marriage License expires in 60 days after the time of purchase, except for active military personnel. A Marriage License obtained at any of our five offices may be used anywhere within the State of New York.
Cost: The fee for a Marriage License is $35 by credit card or money order payable to the City Clerk.
Marriage Ceremony in the City Clerk’s Office
• You may have a civil Marriage Ceremony in the City Clerk’s Office. No reservations or appointments for a Marriage Ceremony are accepted. You and your prospective spouse must arrive together with the same identification you brought when you obtained your Marriage License.You and your prospective spouse must have at least one witness, who must be 18 years of age or over. The witness or witnesses must bring proper identification.
Cost: $25 ceremony fee payable by credit card or money order
Same sex marriages
• On June 24, 2011, the New York State Legislature passed the Marriage Equality Act which was signed into law by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo the same day. This new law took effect on July 24, 2011. Since that date the New York City Clerk has been issuing marriage licenses and providing civil marriage ceremonies to same-sex couples.
• Same-sex marriage is now legal in all the states and territories of the United States including the District of Columbia as per the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges.
Marriage Ceremony Outside of the City Clerk’s Office
• You may arrange a civil or religious Marriage Ceremony outside of our offices in any location you wish within the State of New York.
• Your private Ceremony must be conducted by a Marriage Officiant who is eligible to perform Marriage Ceremonies under New York State Law.
• David is a NYC registered officiant and can perform ceremonies anywhere in the State of NY and beyond! Learn more about our SWEET ELOPEMENT PACKAGE.
Extended License Process
• Some countries require additional paperwork to make your wedding certificate valid. If you travel from abroad we recommend you to check the requisites in your embassy. In case you need extra paperwork you will need to apply for an Extended Certificate. 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 so it’s probably a good idea to leave that for another day if you can.
• To get the Extended certificate:
1. Go back to the City Clerk’s 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 your country!
Hope this was helpful. You can always send us an email with your plans and questions and you may click on the image below to see our most recent City Hall Weddings and elopements.