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How to get married in NYC in less than 48 hours

I can’t believe it’s been just 2 years since I had gotten engaged and 1.5 since we were married! I thought I would share a little bit more about wedding planning…

My husband and I got married at the NYC courthouse about a month prior to the date we considered our wedding date (which was a religious wedding). To be honest, it was a super last minute decision (super crazy for the planner in me!) and there were many reasons why we decided to go. Ultimately, I loved having something private and just for the two of us. For those of you who are interested in eloping in NYC in 48 hours or less, here’s a quick overview. As always, check the official government website for the most up to date information.

Before going to the court house

Court house weddings can only be done on weekdays. Even though in this blog post I casually mention the word “courthouse”, what you’re really looking for is the Office of the City Clerk at 141 Worth Street. Plan on arriving in NYC no later than a Wednesday evening. If you’re in a bind for a hotel, you can always use the app HotelTonight (use code schen256 to get $25 off your next booking). Make sure you pack all your proper IDs. You can submit an application online up to 21 days in advance of your first appearance at the court house. It was super easy to complete.

Some people think that just because it’s a courthouse wedding means you can’t dress up. Not true! I saw many ladies in fabulous different dresses that day, from country chic to city glam. Every decision that happens in a wedding is personal, so I leave this up to you – wear what makes you happy. As for me, I’d always wanted to get married in a pink dress – I got to wear this super cute dress from Modcloth.

Day 1: The Marriage License

Go to the office early in the morning, ideally around 8:00AM if you want to be one of the first in line. The line does get filled up quickly, especially towards the end of the week. Do not be alarmed though, the NYC office is one of the most efficient ones I’ve seen.

You will be taking numbers as you walk in, your ticket will start with an “A” for application. On your first day, they will use your online application to print out the marriage license and have you pay the fee ($35 in recent years). Check the document for any errors, and you should be done. The first day usually takes less than half an hour to complete. If one of you decides to make a name change (typically the woman), this is the time to do it.

Day 2: The Judicial Ceremony

On this day, again, don’t forget your IDs and the marriage license! (guess whose husband forgot said marriage license and had to double back to get it…)

The fastest and easiest way to get married is to go back to the office and have the ceremony performed by a justice of peace. You will need to hire ask a friend to come with you as your public witness, and they too need to bring proper ID. Per law, you must wait 24 hours between the issuance of your marriage license and the ceremony. However, since ceremonies take longer, I still recommend arriving early around 8:00AM to line up. When taking the number (this time starting with a “C”), if anyone gives you any trouble, point out the fact that by the time your number will be called, the 24 hour period will have transpired. Nevertheless, I’ve heard that sometimes waits can be over an hour, so bring something with which to occupy yourself.

If you’d like to buy some flowers, the gift shop inside the lobby has ready made bouquets on sale

Once your number is called, you’ll fill out some more paperwork with your witness, and then you will move to the waiting area for the ceremonies.

On our day, there were two justices of peace, one in each room, and they will call your name once they’ve finished with previous couples. As expected, the ceremony is short, but I thought that our JOP did a great job of making it feel very special and personal. After that, you’re handed your marriage license and you’re officially married!

Afterwards – photos!

Inside the office, there is a wall with a picture of the official courthouse in front of which you can take a photo whenever you’d like. In fact, I helped take some photos for a couple of people with their cameras :)

The area right around the office has some wonderful architecture for photographs. Here’s one of my favorites from our day. If you have to run off to work (like my husband did), I recommend booking a separate photoshoot with a professional photographer when you’re more free.

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Based in NYC | photographer of celebrations of love and life

May 12, 2015 - 10:12 am

Lifang Hi Shang,

I am planning to do an engagement shoot in NYC in the third week of August. Are you available and what are your charges?



May 12, 2015 - 10:16 am

Lifang Hi Shang,

I am planning to do an engagement shoot in the third week of August. Are you available and what are your charges?



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