editorial Wedding Photography

The Wednesday Blog

How to Elope in NYC

The bride's shoes with a paper that read "We Eloped". Eloping in NYC image by Jenny Fu Studio

Eloping in NYC a.k.a “the city that never sleeps,” is romantic and glamorous at the same time. The good news is that anybody can literally marry in this city. Regardless of whether you’re a local, from a different state, or even from another country, you’re welcome to marry in New York City. And even if it’s your first time or you want to re-marry, same-sex or opposite-sex, they really don’t mind! All you need is a valid ID and one witness, and you’re good to go. So without further ado, here’s a guide on how to elope in NYC:

Editorial photo of the bride in her wedding dress. Eloping in NYC image by Jenny Fu Studio
Editorial photo of the groom. Eloping in NYC image by Jenny Fu Studio
The bride is smiling during the wedding ceremony. Eloping in NYC image by Jenny Fu Studio
The groom is saying his vows during the wedding ceremony. Eloping in NYC image by Jenny Fu Studio

Apply for a Marriage License

Please note that The Office of the City Clerk – NYC Marriage Bureau doesn’t permit walk-in visits. They are open for in-person appointments only. Here are the steps to apply for a marriage license in NYC:

  1. Start the application process for a Marriage License via City Clerk Online
  2. After filling up the online application form, you will receive a confirmation number, which they will also send you via email. 
  3. Once you receive a confirmation email, you may schedule an in-person appointment via Project Cupid
  4. Bring your confirmation number with you to the City Clerk’s office.
  5. You can also schedule a virtual appointment.
  6. The fee for a Marriage License is $35, payable with a money order or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express). They don’t accept cash and personal checks.

Show up in Person at the City Clerk’s Office

Once you have successfully scheduled an in-person appointment, you have to appear at the City Clerk’s office with your future spouse. This also holds true for virtual appointments. They don’t allow proxy marriage in New York, so no other party may apply for you or your future spouse. Proceed to the information desk, where someone will guide you through the next steps. They will process your Marriage License while you wait. Make sure to double-check your Marriage License for corrections before you step out of the office. 

The newly-weds are happily raising their clasped hands after the wedding ceremony. Editorial elopement image by Jenny Fu Studio
Family portrait of the newly-weds. Elopement image by Jenny Fu Studio
The newly-wed couple is kissing in the streets of NYC with a yellow cab in the background. Editorial elopement image by Jenny Fu Studio

Proper Identification

Eloping in NYC is relatively easy as you only need one valid, government-issued I.D. to apply for a Marriage License. It’s also good to bring proof of previously terminated marriage(s), civil union(s), and domestic partnership(s), if applicable. The following are the acceptable types of identification:

  • Driver’s license, non-driver identification card, or learner’s permit, with photographs, from any state or United States territory;
  • Active United States Military Identification Card;
  • Valid passport;
  • United States Certificate of Naturalization (less than ten years old);
  • United States Alien Registration Card; or United States Employment Authorization Card.

Schedule a Marriage Ceremony

Finally, for your marriage to be legal, you must have a civil or religious marriage ceremony. The City Clerk’s office can perform a civil marriage ceremony for you, with a $25 fee (again, payable with money order or credit card only). Or you can choose to elope at a different place (there are many scenic places in NYC that are great for photos!), bringing an officiant with you. If you choose to have your civil ceremony in The City Clerk’s Office, they require you to have one witness who can provide valid identification. (Tip: If you want professional photos taken inside the office, a professional wedding photographer can and will be happy to be your witness!) Last but not least, remember that you can only perform your marriage ceremony 24 hours after getting your Marriage License unless you obtain a Judicial Waiver or just re-marrying.

In general, eloping in NYC is not really that complicated and is easy on the pocket. If you’ve always dreamed of getting married in this city, then why don’t you give it a shot?

The newly-wed couple is posing in front of a graffiti in NYC. Elopement image by Jenny Fu Studio
Black and white photo of the bride and groom with NYC skyscrapers in the background. Elopement image by Jenny Fu Studio