How to Get Legally Married in New York State and Plan Your NY Wedding

Your marriage in the Empire State is not complete without a marriage license.
Melanie Haid
by Melanie Haid
Updated Aug 31, 2021

With one of the most high-profile cities in the world, New York State offers everything you could imagine for all types of weddings. Long Island's coast has beautiful beaches, whereas upstate you'll find incredible mountain scenery and scenic historical sites. Of course, the Big Apple has an appeal of its own, but there is no limit to the kind of weddings available in this versatile state.

Choosing a venue is only half the battle—you'll also need to make sure that your marriage is legalized in the state by applying for a marriage license. The process is pretty straightforward, and licenses last two months after being issued. While the marriage license process varies from the boroughs of New York City to the Hamptons, Upstate New York, and beyond, the basis of all of the requirements remains the same.

If you're looking to change your surname after exchanging vows, the process is pretty straightforward as well. Here are the most important things that you'll need to be aware of when applying for a marriage license in New York State.

How to Get Married in New York State

Is there a waiting period to get married in New York State?

The marriage license itself has no waiting period, and can be issued to the couple immediately in New York State. However, you must wait to have the marriage ceremony itself until exactly 24 hours or more after the license was issued. This can be waived by the judge, of the county's family court judge if need be.

What are the legal requirements to get married in New York State?

In order to legally get married in New York State, you'll need to show proof of age through some sort of official documentation or photo ID. You must be 18 years or older to get married; if either of the applicants is under 17 years of age, written consent from both the parents and a judge of the family court in that county. Blood tests are not required.

Both parties must be present with all documents and both need to sign in person; no representative is permitted to sign for someone else.
If you have been previously married, you must provide proof of marriage records, annulment, divorce decree or death certificate to certify that your previous marriage has ended.

Ceremonies must be performed by a certified officiant.

What's considered a common law marriage in New York State?

Common law marriages are not recognized in New York State, regardless of how long you and your partner have been together. Common law marriage stopped being recognized in New York State in 1933.

New York State Marriage License 101

What do you need to get a marriage license in New York State?

There are a few things that you'll need to get a marriage license. You will need to prove your date of birth: This can be in the form of a birth certificate, baptismal record, census record or naturalization record. You will also need to prove your identity with photo identification; this can be your driver's license, passport, immigration record or a photo ID from your employer.

How much does a New York State marriage license cost?

In New York State, a marriage license costs $40. This fee also includes the price of a copy of your marriage certificate.

How long does it take to get a marriage license in New York State?

In New York state, you can get your marriage license instantly at any from any county clerk. There is a 24-hour waiting period to be able to use the marriage license after the exact time you had received it the day prior. After the license is issued, there is a 60-day expiration period, so make sure you plan your marriage ceremony around your marriage license application or vice versa.

Can you apply for a marriage license online in New York State?

Yes, you can apply online to fill out some or all marriage license paperwork. This varies also depending on the county, but New York City for example allows full marriage license applications online.

How do you get a copy of your New York State marriage license?

A copy of your marriage license is actually included within the license fee, so you will receive the certificate 15 days after the license was issued. This varies only if you were married by the City Clerk of NYC, in which case you would need to request one online. You can also order a certified copy from the New York State Department of Health's Vital Records, but this does not include any marriage certificates from the 5 boroughs.

How to Plan a New York State Wedding

The Different Cities and Areas to Consider for a New York State Wedding

New York State boasts a variety of venues. If you're looking to get married in the city of New York, the options are pretty much endless; from Brooklyn to the Bronx to Manhattan to Queens to Staten Island, you're sure to find something that's perfect for you. Whether it's a ballroom-style historical venue or a skyline rooftop reception, the city boasts so many options that it'll almost be hard to choose!

If you want a little more peace and quiet and New York City isn't quite what you're looking for, Long Island has beautiful beaches around every corner, beautiful vineyards and romantic farmland for every kind of wedding ceremony. The rest of New York State is just as diverse: places like Albany sport beautiful woodlands to rolling hills, so there is something for everyone in the Empire State.

What to Look For in a New York State Wedding Venue

New York State offers 4 distinct seasons, as well as both city and country wedding venues. NYC is one of the biggest cities in the world, and just outside of the city you'll find beautiful outdoor venues, farms, historic grounds and so much more. To see everything that the state has to offer, check out New York venues at The Knot.

How to Find a New York State Wedding Vendor

Whether you're looking for specialized vendors or more generic ones, you can find just about everything you could think of in New York State. The beauty of the diversity of the state also lies in the vast variety of its vendors—so you can easily find whatever you're looking for, while also staying within your price range. There are just as many niche, expensive options as there are affordable, so let your imagination turn into reality. It can be a bit overwhelming with so much to choose from, but The Knot can help you narrow down and find exactly what you're looking for.

The Best Times of Year to Have a New York State Wedding for Good Weather

Like most Northeastern states, New York State has its fair share of cold, snow-covered weather in the winter and hot days in the summer. The best times for the year to plan a wedding would likely be in the spring or fall - but since the state is so large, the specific months vary. Since weather can be a bit unpredictable, the in-between seasons are your best bet; it wouldn't hurt to have an indoor option either way just in case. Generally though, the weather in New York State is pretty standard, and what you would expect from each season, so it mostly depends on what you're looking for for your wedding day.

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