I am back to doing my wedding posts!
I am hoping to get all of these out this week so you have a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. I have previously done two posts so far: finding my wedding dress and advice on getting married abroad.
This one is a more how to guide on getting married in New York City. I would say America because the process is the same throughout America, but I wouldn’t want to say it is 100% the same.
When we were looking to get married in NYC, I did as much research as I could. Partly to be 100% sure that the marriage would be legal throughout the world (it is) and also what we actually had to do to get married.
Turns out not much. As we booked our wedding through Virgin Weddings, a lot of the major things were taken care of before we had even got to the US. Once we had chosen our wedding ceremony location, they took care of the permit to guarantee it for us. They sorted out our money order to give to the city clerk office in order to get our marriage licence. We got our minister and and I got my transport sorted from the hotel to the ceremony. Could not recommend them enough.
If however you are wanting to organise everything yourself, it really simple. From my own research, you can literally get married ANYWHERE in the city. Central park? Done. The Highline? Sorted. Whilst we were there, Lee and I were visiting The Empire State Building and a couple were getting married on the 66th deck. Oh course, having permits at some of the bigger locations helps to ensure that no one else is having their wedding along side you. I would maybe say that if you want to get married at a hotel or restaurant, it would be best to book it with them. But if you want to do an Olivia Palermo and get married in a small park, then I think you will be fine. The requirements you need to have a valid wedding is a officiant, one witness and a marriage licence.
Oh and fair warning, if you are wanting to get married in a public area, be prepared for Americans to stop, watch and give you their congratulations. They LOVE weddings and it’s a really lovely feeling (especially when I overheard a little girl ask her dad if I was a princess!)
So now you have an idea of where you want to get married, now it’s time to get the paperwork ready. Outside the actual requirements to enter the US, there is one thing you need to fill our ideally before arriving.
Your marriage license. The one thing you need to be right before you say I do. You can fill it out at the City Clerk Office, but the lines are so long and it can take hours that it is worth filling out online first. In fact, our officiant advised on really busy days, they won’t even look at your application if you haven’t filled it out online first.
You can fill out the license here on the City Clerk’s website. The online application is valid for 21 days so don’t do it too far in advance. The information has to be correct (don’t worry, they will ask you to check it before printing so if there is the odd mistake, it can be fixed). If you are changing your name, this is where you will put what your new name will be. Once completed, print it off and you are done. Take that document with you.
Once you are ready to get your marriage licence, take your $35.00 money order (I believe the Post Office provides this service) and you application to the City Clerk Office. Take your passports with you (yes, both of you have to go together). Once you got your marriage licence, that’s it you can get married!!
Full warning. You have to allow a minimum of 24 hours from getting your licence to actually getting married. That means if you get it at 9:00am on Tuesday, you cannot get married until 9:01am on Wednesday (yes, it is that accurate). Your licence will be valid for up to 60 days but, if like us your planning to get your licence the day before your wedding, it’s worth getting to the City Clerk Office as early as possible. We got there at 9:30am and had a 45 minute wait. Lucky, we didn’t get married until 1:00pm the next day, but it is really not worth risking it. Get it and then go have fun exploring the city.
As you have two options to get married in New York City; anywhere in the city or the City Hall/ City Clerk Office (which is like our UK registry office). Be warned, it is not like the place that Carrie Bradshaw got married at (that was actually filmed in the Police Head Quarters across the road), but the building is still beautiful. If you decide you want to get married in City Hall, you need a $25.00 money order, you witness and some patience. You will have to queue (again) but if there is one thing us Brits do best it’s people watching. Once your number is called (save it as a wedding memory token- I saved mine!) they check your documents, take you to one of two rooms and marry you. You cannot have a personalised service, but if you are just wanting to get hitched and go- this is the route to take. If you want to get your marriage certificate straight away you can do so (I mean you are there already) otherwise, you have seven days to get it from getting married.
If you are planning to get married somewhere else on the island, you will need to arrange your own officiant to perform the ceremony. You can find and hire one through a simple google search. Same for photographer. I was lucky enough that a dear friend did our gorgeous photos. If you love them as much as I do, then do check out Adam’s website here, he capture the day perfectly!
The one thing I did not do which I would urge anyone getting married abroad is get copies of their certificate and I am kicking myself that I forgot to ask about this. It’s actually simple for when you get married in New York, while at the City Clerk Office, you need to visit the records room and ask for copies. They cost $7.00 per copy and that is it. I didn’t and when I realised that though my marriage is valid, it is not on the any UK wedding records therefore they cannot provide me a copy of my certificate. In the end, I had to go to a solicitors office to get them to do certify copies; but in all honestly the hassle of working it out was not worth it. Get copies while you are out there!
The main thing about any wedding is to have fun. Get swept up in the hustle and bustle of it all and the fast pace of New York Life. One of my favourite memories was running around the city the day before looking for a good enough florist to get a bouquet and boutonniere. You will have such fun memories to tell everyone when you get back home.
I am sorry this was such a long post, but I wanted to make sure I got you as much information as possible. I actually found it quite difficult to get the right information, either because those who had got married themselves had gone such a complicated way about it or because the information comes from wedding organisers who do not want to give you all the information because they want you to book them to organise your big day. If you do have any questions on getting married, please leave your comments, I will always answer them and if there is something I have missed off I can always keep this post updated.
I do hope this helped you. I would love to hear about your own experience getting married abroad, who doesn’t love a good wedding story?!