Getting Married In New York State

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One of the things that destination wedding couples have to consider is how to get legally married in the area they are planning to have their wedding.  In the United States marriage is a state law so couples who choose New York as their destination wedding location need to abide by New York State law in order for their ceremony to be considered valid and their marriage to be considered legal.  Here are the things all couples should know about getting married in Upstate New York.

Who Is Allowed To Get Married

New York State allows non related adults who are of-age to marry within the state.  The minimum age is 18 without parent consent.  You do not need to be a resident of New York to get married here.  And with the passing of the Marriage Equality Act same sex unions are totally legal.

Marriage License

A New York State marriage license is required to get married and it's issued by city and town clerks across the state.  You do not need to go to the clerk in the city you are getting married in - any town or city clerk in the state can issue you a NYS marriage license (NYC residents need to go to the Office of the New York City Clerk).  Both parties need to be present and the proper identification needs to be presented at the time of application.  There are restrictions on legal marrying age and familial relationship but no blood test or physical exam is required.  As of when this post was written there is a fee of $40 to receive a marriage license in Upstate (rates for licenses issued in NYC may vary).  The license is issued to the couple to take with them, and is valid for up to 60 days from the date it was issued.  New York State does have a 24 hour waiting period on marriage licenses, meaning the ceremony cannot take place for 24 hours after the license was issued, so couples need to be sure to apply for it more than one full day before their wedding.  This is of particular importance to couples who will be traveling here right before their elopement or wedding because they will need to be sure to build in time to get here, get their license, and get through the 24-hour waiting period.

Before the wedding the couple then gives the marriage license to their officiant to show proof that they are legally allowed to be married.  Following the ceremony the officiant will complete their portion of them form, witnesses sign it, and the completed license gets mailed back to the clerk in the town it was issued.  The clerk will then process the license and show on record where and when the marriage took place.  They will issue and mail a marriage certificate to the couple, usually within a week or two.  That marriage certificate is then the legal proof of the marriage and can be used if either party wishes to change their last name or make any other legal changes to insurance policies, etc.  

Ceremony Details

Ceremonies can take place anywhere within the borders of New York State.  Indoors, outdoors, on a mountain top, on the water, or in a religious building.  There is no specific requirement for the verbiage used in a ceremony, as long as both parties state that they take each other as their spouse.  So truly the only requirements for a legal ceremony in New York State are a valid marriage license, a valid officiant, the couple's proclamation that they wish to be wed, and at least one witness to hear it.

Other Legal Guidelines

As with all laws, marriage law is subject to change.  Up to date guidelines and requirements can be found online on the New York State website HERE.  For anyone living in or planning to get married in NYC your info can be found HERE.  

Photo above by Heather Bohm-Tallman