Elopement in New York City. How to do it?
Hey, my friend, you decided to elope in New York! This is so thrilling and even a tiny bit overwhelming, but I am here to share my insights and tips! You are about to learn the basics about the process of getting married in the City Hall, which technically is Manhattan City Clerk's office. Also, in this blog post, I share my tips on a route and time of the day for your magical elopement, so you get the most out of it. Let's get started!
First off, Manhattan City Clerk's office is the most efficient one out of all in New York clerk's offices, so my first tip is to plan your official part to be happening there.
The office is located at 141 Worth St, New York, and is open Mon-Fri from 8:30 am till 3:45 pm.
Now I need all your attention! Avoid Thursdays and Fridays!! These days are jam-packed from the opening till the moment they close the door. Mondays are Russian roulette really; sometimes it's quiet in there, some Mondays are super busy. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the best in terms of the time you are going to spend waiting in lines. In the early morning after opening or after 3:00 pm there are very few couples waiting to be married, so it's the golden time for you to come there. The best thing about the afternoon time is that even though they're closing the door at 3:45 pm, they still will perform the ceremony for you if you passed the security check and got a ticket with your number even if it's well past 4:00 pm. All you have to do is to get a ticket with your number before 3:45 pm!
Also, it may not be so obvious, so I should mention this. Do not come in there during lunch hours! People who work there take their lunch break, and oddly more couples come to the office during these hours. It's usually between noon and 2:00 pm.
So we've covered when to come to the office. Now let's get to the process.
Firstly, you need to apply for a marriage license, which costs $35 and you can pay with a credit card or money order - no cash (you can fill out the paperwork ahead of time online - here is the link). After solid twenty-four hours after you've obtained your license, you can return to the marriage bureau (City Clerk's office) to have the ceremony performed, which costs $25 and takes place in either the East or West Chapel within the building. You cannot reserve your time; walk-in, take a number and wait until you're called. Again, no cash at the Clerk's office.
Witnesses. Only one witness is required, but you can have up to two. If you don't have any friends or family with you, I would love to be your witness! Also, you can grab another bride or groom to act as your witness. Your witness(es) must be over eighteen and have valid photo identification.
How to make the most of your experience in City Hall? Enjoy yourselves, have fun, watch other couples going through the same process, and soak in the moment with your soon-to-be spouse. Also, bring a bottle of water and some snacks with you and stay hydrated!
Now let's talk about a timeline and a route for your photo story in the city.
Manhattan is enormous, and the lower part of it where the City Clerk's office is located isn't its the most epic part. Most couples choose to have their pre- or post-ceremony session either in SoHo, Central Park, or Dumbo (Brooklyn). I'm here to help you plan and coordinate the best route and time for your photo session. By the way, if you need make-up or hair artists recommendations, just let me know. Being fully prepared and confident in your appearance during your sesh is one of the most crucial aspects of one of the most fabulous days in your life.
The best time for a photo session is right after sunrise. That time variable, but keep in mind that in summers it's very early - close to 5:00 am. The sacrifice of your undisturbed sleep will give you the most beautiful light and the pleasure of being alone in the most iconic places like the Brooklyn Bridge and Washington Street. That's the time when you really can forget about everyone and everything and enjoy the most surreal time in the city. Also, summers are humid and hot in NYC, but mornings are cool and refreshing, so you won't sweat in your beautiful dress or your wool suit, which is a huge advantage!
If for some reasons you can't make it happen in the morning, then your next choice is late afternoon, better if it's an hour before sunset. This time is called the golden hour for its soft golden lighting, and I love photographing at sunsets. However, be ready to encounter many tourists and other couples with their photographers in the most popular places. Again, if you're ok with people around you wishing you all the best every 5 min, and you don't mind seeing people in your photos, then we are good, and I will do my best (as always) to create the most beautiful and meaningful gallery for you.
I hope I've covered the most important questions, but if you have another one, feel free to comment below or send me an email. Let me know whether this blog post was helpful at all in the comment section! I appreciate your honest feedback. Are you thinking about eloping in NYC? Let's talk! Inquire via the CONTACT page.