Here is our most popular post. This information is for New York City. Note that "A Marriage License issued in New York City can be used anywhere within New York State but may not be used outside New York State." So, you can get your license in Rochester or Long Island and use it in NYC. Also - you cannot use a marriage license from ANOTHER STATE in New York. Seems obvious, but some people still ask...
For other counties, states, and Ontario, Canada see:
Other US State Marriage Regulations
Getting Married in Ontario, Canada
HOW TO ELOPE IN NEW YORK CITY:
1. Find partner. Propose. Rinse and repeat.
2. Decide on Date and time, start thinking about location and rain location, if outdoors.
3. Find all your IDs (passport, drivers license, birth certificate, divorce papers if relevant, etc.)
4. Decide if either of you will change your name. See Surname options
5. Buy a $35 Money Order at a drugstore - cheaper than a bank. You can now pay for your license by credit card, and you may even APPLY ONLINE for your license, up to 20 days ahead. This is a good idea, as it minimizes typos on the license (unless YOU make them).
6. Go to one of the New York Marriage Bureau offices and apply for your marriage license. It is good for 60 days, and there is a waiting period of 24 hours before you can be legally married. If you have applied online, you must still go together and confirm your identities and certify the application. See cityclerknyc.com.
If you are not a US citizen, make sure your home country accepts the regular New York City license, or whether you will also need to apply for an apostille (special certified stamp on your license). Just phone your consulate and ask if you need an apostille, or extended license. A majority of countries, including the UK and Commonwealth countries, simply accept a New York marriage license, so do Canadians, and many Europeans.
If you do need the apostille stamp, it is possible to return early the next business day to the Manhattan City Clerk's office after your marriage ceremony, get the license, and get the special stamp for a small charge. It's fairly painless, you can ask about the process when you apply for the license. This is ONLY possible if you have PICKED UP your license at the MANHATTAN OFFICE at 141 Worth Street, however.
7. If you have been divorced or widowed, have documents and information regarding the previous marriage and spouse. You MUST disclose all previous marriages, including those in other countries.
8. If you wish to be married at any City Hall, enquire when you apply for your license. They do not take appointments, but exactly 24 hours after they timestamp your license, you may line up at any bureau office (including the new facilities at 141 Worth street) with your witnesses and be married by the civil judge. The ceremony is simple, and they advise you the length is 2 minutes, so it's quick, except for the unpredictable wait and lining up :-)
To be married outside City Hall, or after 3:45 M-F, you must FIND A MARRIAGE OFFICIANT who is LEGALLY REGISTERED WITH CITY HALL TO CONDUCT MARRIAGES in NEW YORK CITY. The rules are a bit stricter to become a licensed officiant for NYC than in smaller cities in the state - so don't assume your officiant is registered here Once you find one, you may ask for their registration number. If you wish, you can call City Hall with the officiant's license number to make sure they are registered: 212-669-2778.
(Free free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to discuss planning a wedding outside of City Hall. We'll check our schedule and send you sample weddings and information. More info at weddingsofnewyork.com ) .
9. Choose your legal witness(es), 2 persons over age 18, or ask your Marriage Officiant to secure a witness. You need a witness for City Hall, too.
10. Buy a ring or two (not actually required by law)
11. Buy some flowers (or not - your choice, but nice :-)
12. Discuss your ceremony wishes with the officiant (if being married outside of City Hall). You can usually ask for sample ceremonies, and discuss writing your own vows, or other personal touches.
13. 24 hours+ after #6, meet your officiant, exchange your vows, exchange your rings, pledge your lives into the others keeping. Kiss.
14. Sign the license. Witnesse(s) sign the license. Officiant signs license with official date and time.
15. The officiant will congratulate you, and take back the signed license and THEY WILL FILE IT FOR YOU. It will be mailed back to you in about 4 weeks. (Though we have had to wait longer than this when they get behind).
[Note: if you need the license immediately, you can return to the Manhattan Marriage Bureau at 141 Worth the next working day with the signed license, and they will check it and issue you a marriage certificate, for a fee. This is only possible if you apply for your license in Manhattan, and it is not an advertised service. They prefer to send the license by mail.]
16. Pop the champagne, and celebrate your new union!
Click HERE for our most popular post: a step-by-step guide on How to Elope in New York : how to get a marriage license, find a New York marriage officiant, organize your ceremony, and have your marriage legally registered. See a little more advice HERE,