So you’re thinking of eloping?
First of all, congratulations! To find someone you want to spend the rest of your days with, well there’s nothing more magic than that.
So in order to give any advice I think it’s best to start with our story/experiences.
The basics –
To get married in New York you need three things, a license, $35 and one witness ( This can be anyone – ours was going to be our photographer)
In order to get a license you need to start an application. It can all be done at the City Clerks office in New York 24 hours before intended date of marriage or you can apply for the larger part of it online here. (The application runs out after 60 days so you must apply within 60 days of your intended date of marriage – it is quite extensive and if you can, I’d recommend doing it online before you go so as not to waste time)
Extended license – Some countries require you to get an extended part of the license in order for it to be valid in your home country – English speaking countries accept the standard license which is all we have and it has been accepted everywhere here in the UK. (including getting kids passports) – Getting the extended license can only be done after the ceremony and you need to go to a few different buildings to acquire it. (We got married on a Friday, our flight home was the Sunday and everything shuts over the weekend so we couldn’t get the extended anyway – If you have a wedding co-ordinator/photographer able to do it then they could apply for you at a later date if needed)
Once you get to New York you need to complete the application at the City Clerks office – 141 Worth Street, New York – You must wait a full 24 hours before your Marriage Ceremony can be performed unless you obtain a Judicial Waiver (We nearly had to do this and it seemed fairly straightforward) – Also remember the City Clerks Office closes for legal holidays and its opening hours are 8:30am to 3:45pm Mon-Fri so make sure you plan around all of this.
I’ve been told Fridays are the busiest but I’ve seen lots of videos/posts of people queuing right around the block so I’d go first thing on whatever day you chose to make sure you get your ideal slot.
Once you have the license you just have to wait for your ticket to be called for the ceremony to take place or if you’re wanting to get married outside of the City Clerks Office then you need to find a Marriage Officient who is eligible to perform Marriage Ceremonies under New York State Law.
Our timeline –
- 2nd November – Marriage License Application online
- 21st November – Land in New York, leave bags at hotel and head to City Clerks Office to complete application
- 22nd November – City Clerks Office closed for Thanksgiving
- 23rd November – 8:30am – Got to City Clerks Office, went through security, signed everything off including our witnesses – waited for our number to be called, GOT MARRIED!
- Put it this way, we’d got married, taken photos outside, got changed, got the subway and were in Taco Bel within 3 hours of getting to the Clerks Office.
- Photographer – This was the most important thing to me. I’d stalked Aneisa on Instagram way before I knew about New York. She is stunning inside and out, her work is incredible and she instantly felt like we’d been friends for years when we met. She arrived first thing and she left at the end of the day, there was no time limit and I never felt rushed or forced. Everything was so natural and the photos are more than I could have hoped for. She travels anywhere in the world and I would recommend her for any and every occasion. (N.B. Most NYC elopement photographers had set time limits for their sessions – usually about 2/3 hours – baring in mind that was how long the initial part of the day was before getting any photos around the city. Also a lot of the photographers I spoke with seemed to be charging way above the average UK wedding when there would only be 2 people in the shots. Make sure you shop around as I think a lot of them were charging the world because their clients ‘don’t know any better‘.
- Flowers – Initially I’d been in correspondence with Starbright Floral Design, they were really helpful, professional and personable. However in the end after having a bit of a reality check I realised the flowers would only be needed for a 20 minute window if that and actually I’m really glad we used silk flowers in the end (My mum made them) it was -16° on the day so, actually, other than the ceremony photos and a few outside the building they were in my bag the rest of the day as it was too cold to have my hands out!
- Dress – My dress was from BHLDN. I fell in love with her the second I saw her. The company itself really aren’t great and they actually lost my dress for three weeks (actually this has happened to more than a handful of people that have got in touch with me – I think it is something to do with the tracking as it changes couriers at customs. Rather than explaining this they just say they’ll refund once another dress is ordered – also the custom charge is an absolute bitch but even with that included I’d still never find a dress this perfect for me for that little money. I was a little annoyed at how incredible the dress was as I really wanted to hate the company but I couldn’t fault the dress. Also the stylists are shit so don’t bother speaking to them but with this dress I measured myself against the dress measurements. I made sure the hips would fit as everything else could be tailored if needed. I ordered a UK size 10 (I’m a UK6-8) / US size 6 and it could have done with a few inches taken in but on the day I wore two vests underneath so it was perfect for me.
- Shoes – Shoes were just standard converse but a wonderful lady on Instagram @xox_kisseshugskisses customised them (a friend just had hers done for her wedding at the weekend and they were perfect too! I also stitched some blue charms with the kids initials on as my ‘something blues’.
- Hair & makeup – Being a makeup artist I did my own (Can do a post on the makeup if anyone is interested) and attempted to do my own hair (although 4am on the day I went to turn my curlers on and they weren’t compatible with the US voltage.) Panic struck and I thought I’d just run out and get a new one … forgetting it was Black Friday and I’d probably lose a limb trying to fight the crowds! I ended up using my trusty £6 straighteners from Tesco. I curled everything within an inch of its life, sprayed it and hoped it would last the day!
There were only 3 places I really wanted to get photos and we added the Subway because we spent a lot of there day down there so it would have been rude not to!
- Subway (obviously! When in Rome!)
- Bethesda Terrace and fountain – The Angel’s tunnel (If you’re a Gossip Girl fan its where Chuck and Blair get married) There was a group of people singing in the tunnel and they our song. It was so stunning and couldn’t have been better timing.
- Dumbo – Washington Street is where that shot is of the bridge/Empire State Building
- Brooklyn Bridge (Obviously)
As I said before though it was absolutely freezing and if the weather had permitted I’m sure we would have got more shots in but considering the weather I think we did really well to get what we did!
- We had our wedding breakfast at 6:30 at The River Cafe. It was out of this world. I’ve yet to find a photo that does it justice and if you get the opportunity to go, then you must!
- We also had drinks before our meal at Seamore’s in Dumbo, we were freezing and thought we could all use a drink after the 25,000 steps we’d walked during the day. We had all of the moscow mules and all of the tequila. It was the perfect way to end the day with our photographer. The best things always happen when they aren’t planned!
Do you need a witness to get married in NYC?– You just need one who was going to be our photographer but my mum flew our two best friends out as a surprise.
Did your children go with you? No it was just us, realistically it wasn’t really suitable for them to be there, the temperature, the travelling around, the waiting around. Our day would have been focused around them and we wanted to be selfish, maybe that’s wrong, but the logistics of the day just wouldn’t have been appropriate for them. It would have been a different story if it was a generic wedding in the UK but we just didn’t feel it was the right place for them. But Beaux does keep asking when we can get married again so Nanny can come and stay so…
How long did you have to wait at the City Clerks Office? -When we went to complete the application it was around midday, it was busy inside as there were lots of people waiting to get married but no actual queues to get in the building. We just arrived, took our number and waited like the fish counter at Waitrose. The waiting time to be called up was about 15/20mins and then on our wedding day it was maybe a 5minute wait inside the building to get through security as it was first thing (8:30am) and then waited maybe 5 minutes to get called to complete the admin/witnesses signitures and then another 20/30mins before the actual ceremony took place.
Was it super expensive to get married over there? The wedding itself costs less than a Pizza Express ($35) but in total I think absolutely everything including hotel/flights/attractions/transport literally everything holiday/wedding related was just under £4k.
Best advice? – People kept saying to make sure we spent time with each other during the day. I don’t know how people cope with big weddings, even at our wedding send off we spent it socialising and making sure everyone else was ok. I just wanted to spend my day with Dan and thats exactly what I did. While we were actually getting married though I wouldn’t have known if there was 1 or 100 people in the room. I could only see Dan. What i will say thought is just do it your way. people will be offended either way so you may as well just do what you both actually want. Also tequila!
So now I just need to convince Dan that our first anniversary isn’t too soon to go back out there!
(Any questions please message me, happy to help!)