UPDATE 2020! Mary has relocated to Toronto, Canada. You can find information about Canadian weddings at ElopeToronto.com I'm keeping this blog because I've been told it's very helpful for couples in New York! If you need a wedding officiant in New York or Toronto, email me at MaryBeaty (at) gmail (dot) com, and I'll try to help. Best wishes! Stay safe!


How to Elope in New York, step-by-step

Central Park wedding

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...


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.
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.
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.
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!