CITY HALL ELOPEMENT GUIDE
How to elope in the City Clerks Office in New York:
Useful information & Tips
The idea of elopements has become very popular in the recent years – many couples choose intimate celebrations in their favorite place (read: New York) over big traditional weddings. I personally love photographing elopements in the city, and always am so excited to portrait the couples' story by visiting their favorite places and spots. There is a certain charm and creative freedom to make the day unique, improvise and fully enjoy it.
With the pandemic travel ban lifting, the elopements are slowly coming back to New York City again. However, the process of obtaining necessary paperwork has changed. Below is a little guide that hopefully can help your planning process and photography decisions.
Photography Session after the City Hall ceremony
(in-person or online)
Depending on your date and the time of your appointment, discuss with your photographer potential scenarios for your after-ceremony session around the city (more on this below). Have fun, enjoy and celebrate!
Once you have your Marriage License, book an appointment online. You must wait for 24 hours after you got your license before you can have a ceremony. The license expires in 60 days.
For more information, visit Cityclerk.nyc.gov
Before anything, obtain a Marriage License either online or in-person by appointment only. Most likely the process will take some time since it's not easy to book an appointment and online verification may not be immediate.
For more information and step-by-step process, visit Cityclerk.nyc.gov
Arrive at the City Hall
Obtain your number
Go through the security, show your marriage license and IDs (yours and the witness), and get a number to be called.
When your number is called, go to the counter – you and your witness will have to sign the marriage license. The payment of $25 is required by credit card.
When your number is called for the second time, head to counter 5, hand your signed marriage license to the clerk and go to the oval room to wait until called again.
You are officially married!
You will be called by name to one of the ceremony rooms. The ceremony itself is very quick – the officiant will say the usual, you can exchange rings (or not if you prefer) and even some short vows. They generally don't give much time for the sentiments (longer vows etc). Once you say your “I do”, they give you a quick moment for a kiss and a few photos. They will hand you the official marriage certificate, and that would be all for the official part.
Your job at the City Hall is officially done, you can head to the exit (back door) and continue your celebration with a photo shoot, city stroll and evening dinner.
Some couples do a confetti exit, which is a fun idea and turns out great on photos. If you don't have any guests waiting outside, you can even blow a confetti on your own. A kiss on the steps is an iconic way to finish your ceremony part too!
If you live in New York and/or already have memorable places of your own, I strongly suggest including them in your photo itinerary to make your memories of the day more personal and unique. If you are out of town, you can see the popular spots below to get some inspiration and ideas. In any case, we will work together on the logistics and timing to make it work for you.
Brooklyn Bridge speaks for itself. The most iconic sight of the city located in a walking distance to the Manhattan City Hall. Few things to keep in mind when planning your photo session there:
– we'll have to walk at least past the first arch to get better photos of the Manhattan skyline and we would normally assign about 40min-1h to walk back and force (or to cross the bridge to continue at Dumbo)
– ladies, it's easy to get your heels stuck in between the woods on the bridge, so you may want to bring a pair of nice flats or embrace the challenge
In the past few years (and thanks to Instagram) Dumbo has become a real popular spot. Located in between the Two Bridges (Brooklyn and Manhattan) right on East River, it has both an industrial vibe and greenery and provides a good variety of backdrops for your photo gallery. On a good day it always has the best light and views to watch the sunset over downtown Manhattan. The only con of the neighborhood: it's always crowded.
Some of our favorite spots: Pebble beach, Manhattan Bridge lookout, Dumbo Vista Point, Timeout Rooftop, Jane Carousel, St Ann's Warehouse.
Central park is an iconic, classic and true oasis of New York City. It has so many beautiful spots that are easily recognized even for those not familiar with New York. Literally coming from a movie scene straight to your photographs.
Some of our favorite spots: The Mall, Bethesda Fountain, Bow Bridge, The Lake, Ladies Pavilion, Gapstow Bridge, The Pond, Conservatory Garden, Wagner Cove, Glen Span Arch.
Located in Midtown Manhattan, Top of the Rock is one of the most famous observatories in the world. You can literally see all Manhattan from there and picture yourselves overlooking the Empire State Building. Along with the upstairs views, we would normally take photos on 5th avenue next to the St Patrick's Cathedral and on 6th avenue next to the Radio City Hall.
Note: purchase tickets online in advance (connect with us to discuss the best time depending on the weather, season, etc).
Top of the rock
From pizza & ice-cream stops to hanging on the pretty stoops, West Village is a must for those who enjoy the tree-lined blocks in the middle of the city. It has a quiet and neigborhood-y, yet full of live vibe that is difficult not to notice. We especially love it for Magnolia blooms in spring or Pumpkin-covered stoops in October.
Some of out favorite spots: Gay Street, West 4th street, West 11th street, Christopher Street Pier, the Friend's building, Bedford Street, Cherry Theater, Jane st.
SoHo is famous for shopping, cool dining spots and bars and lively young spirit. It has a mix of old beautiful architecture and a modern New York vibe (stylish, sexy, ambitious). It usually gives a very authentic and unique look to the gallery and help to create a classy, yet crazy and wild love story.
Some of our favorite spots: Freemans, Nomo hotel, La Esquina, Mercer St, La Mercerie
SOHO & nolita