Guide

HOW TO GET MARRIED IN NYC

A GUIDE TO GETTING MARRIED IN NYC FROM AN NYC WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

NYC elopement in Brooklyn Bridge Park

FEELING OVERWHELMED IN THE PINTEREST RABBIT HOLE? HERE'S A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO HELP YOU GET STARTED WHILE STAYING SANE.

MEET JOCELYN

Why should you hear me out? In addition to the fact that I've personally navigated the process (boy, do you learn a lot going through it!), I’ve also been an NYC wedding photographer for nearly a decade, capturing memories for every kind of couple.

For me, wedding photography — whether there’s 200 guests or just two people total — is about capturing a feeling. It’s that wave of crazy-in-love relief washing over the groom’s face the moment he first sees his bride. It’s how post-ceremony newlyweds can’t stop sneaking little grins at each other. It’s how there’s nary a butt in the seats when the band cranks it up to 11. That stuff? Yeah, that’s the good stuff. And I hope that when you look at your wedding photos way off in the future, you’ll remember exactly how you felt at that moment.

Everly Studios: New York wedding photographer, NYC elopement photographer, NYC City Hall photographer

The First Step: How to Get a Marriage License in NYC

Regardless if you’re having a big shebang wedding or a two-person elopement, you’ll need a New York marriage license if you’re getting married in NYC. Note that you can get the marriage license anywhere in New York state (hello, upstate New Yorkers!) and still get married in New York City.

You can apply for the NYC marriage license online or in person at one of the New York Marriage Bureau offices; the Manhattan location is located at 141 Worth St., but every borough has a marriage bureau. After obtaining the license, you will need to physically show up at the marriage bureau to complete the process.

Here’s the full step-by-step instructions on the procedure. It costs $35 (credit card or money order), you both need some form of valid photo ID (like a passport or driver’s license), and you must obtain the license at least 24 hours before getting married. Licenses are valid for 60 days. If you are not a U.S. citizen, I recommend calling your consulate to confirm that NYC marriages are valid in your country.

NOW LET'S TALK ABOUT THE GOOD STUFF: YOUR WEDDING DAY

A Sample Wedding Day Timeline

Most full-day weddings last 8-10 hours, which is typically long enough to capture getting ready, bride and groom details, ceremony, portraits and reception. To come up with an accurate schedule, we’ll work off your fixed events — for instance, your ceremony start time, or what time sunset is for portraits.

A sample 10-hour timeline might look like this:

1-2:30 pm: getting ready and detail shots
2:30-2:45: first look
2:45-3:45: solo portraits
3:45-4:30: bridal party and family portraits
4:30-5: down time before ceremony (photographer takes venue detail shots)
5-5:30: ceremony
5:30-6:30: cocktail hour
6:30-11: reception

An 8 hour timeline would typically shorten the getting ready and reception coverage.

For couples who don’t necessarily need documentation of their full day, I also offer an abbreviated 6-hour package, which would typically omit the reception or getting ready portion entirely.

NYC Wedding Portrait Locations

NYC cocktail bar wedding
ICONIC NYC PHOTO LOCATIONS

We’re fortunate in that wedding photography in NYC has an abundance of iconic structures, interesting architecture as well as beautiful nature, all reachable with a quick taxi ride. Some of the most popular locations, in no particular order, include:

  • Brooklyn Bridge Park
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Central Park (and its dozens of spots within!)
  • Grand Central
  • Top of the Rock
  • New York Public Library exterior

MORE UNIQUE NYC PHOTO LOCATIONS

“But Jocelyn,” you say, “we live in New York. We don’t necessarily want to go to tourist spots.” No problem. Some of my favorite less-trafficked spots:

  • Fancy cocktail bars (or dive bars) and fun eateries
  • Quiet cobblestone streets in the West Village
  • Chelsea art galleries
  • Jersey City waterfront (yes, Jersey!) and Liberty State Park
  • Anything involving an activity: bookstore browsing, dim sum-eating, tarot card-reading, tattoo-getting… Don’t think of portraits as “cheesing in front of a pretty backdrop,” think of it as an opportunity to do something classically you, something that reflects your personality in real life.

And if it’s raining? No worries — here’s some recommended indoor NYC photo locations.