A wedding isn’t about a massive event full of grandeur; it’s about two people coming together and having decided to share the rest of their lives together – period. So if the big party, the formal attire, and the extensive guest list aren’t your vibe, ditch ‘em! An NYC courthouse wedding is a fantastic alternative for couples who just want to focus on what’s important: getting married to one another.
New York City is an excellent place for a courthouse wedding for a few reasons. Its courthouses are historic and architecturally stunning, creating a memorable backdrop for a sophisticated ceremony. Plus, getting married in the heart of New York City infuses your courthouse wedding with the city’s vibrant energy and cosmopolitan charm. You can celebrate your special day in a place renowned for its culture, diversity, and endless possibilities.
If you’re contemplating an NYC courthouse wedding, I’ve put together some tips, tricks, and things to know along the way. See if an NYC courthouse wedding may be the right option for you and your partner!
Your Ultimate Guide to an NYC Courthouse Wedding
PLANNING FOR YOUR NYC COURTHOUSE WEDDING
While the idea of a courthouse wedding may elicit visions of spontaneity and even frivolity, a bit of planning needs to go into one. First of all, you’ll need an appointment for a marriage ceremony, so the first thing you’ll want to do is discuss a date. Maybe you have a special date in mind, or you’re simply looking for the earliest available appointment. Still, regardless, you’ll need to set up an appointment online.
Before your courthouse ceremony, you’ll need to obtain a marriage license. Typically there is a 24-hour waiting period once you’ve secured your license, so don’t go in expecting a ceremony immediately. In NYC, you can apply for a marriage license virtually or in person, but if you’re planning to visit the city clerk to pick one up, just know you’ll need an appointment for that, too. Be sure to check the NYC City Clerk website to see what forms of identification and documentation you’ll need for your application. Also, it’s important to note that your license will expire after 60 days, so don’t plan too far ahead, or you’ll have to reapply before your ceremony.
Once you schedule your wedding date, you’ll want to get any other details you may want to include in order.
Down to the Details
Think about your attire: just because it’s an intimate courthouse wedding doesn’t mean you can’t go all out with a fabulous getup! It doesn’t need to be fancy, but a courthouse wedding is still a wedding, and you’ll just want to make sure you feel great in whatever you’re wearing.
Make sure you have your wedding rings picked out, too! While your ceremony may be short and sweet, a ring exchange is still a meaningful sentiment many couples choose to honor. If you plan to put a ring on it, you’ll want to have them picked out and ready to bring to the courthouse.
Flowers just make everything feel a little more fresh and romantic. While carrying a beautiful bouquet is an iconic wedding tradition, you can incorporate other florals with a stylish boutonniere, a boho flower crown, or even a trendy floral pocket square. Flowers are an easy way to incorporate your favorite colors or blossoms for an extra touch of finesse and style.
The Final Touches
You’ll also want to think about how you’ll celebrate your nuptials following your ceremony. Whether you have a destination reception planned somewhere else or skip the party altogether, you’ll still want to acknowledge this momentous, life-changing event. It’s a big deal, even if you’re downplaying the afterparty.
Whether it’s an indulgent 5-star-dinner for the two of you, specialty cocktails with friends at your favorite bar, or gathering at a friend’s house for pizzas and karaoke, treat yourself to something fun to recognize that you’re going to spend the rest of your life in the arms of your new spouse (and no one will judge if it’s just a movie night at home curled on the couch with your favorite pint of ice cream, either.)
Last but not least, you’ll also need to ensure you have at least one witness to accompany you to the courthouse. If it’s a family member or friend, be sure they know the date and time so they can meet you at your ceremony. It’s not uncommon to bring a small group of people to the courthouse, but double-check ahead of time to ensure there aren’t limitations on how many guests you can bring.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE COURTHOUSE
Your wedding day is finally here!! Here are a few things to remember for your courthouse wedding in NYC.
If you opt for a courthouse wedding, your officiant will be provided. They may be a judge, justice of the peace, or a notary. While some people assume a courthouse ceremony may feel impersonal, keep in mind that these are people who are very experienced in performing civil ceremonies. They’ll know exactly how to make it romantic and special.
Courthouse weddings are also not religiously affiliated, so if incorporating religious elements like readings from the bible or reciting a prayer are important to you in a ceremony, you may want to consider eloping in a church or other religious institution rather than at a courthouse.
The service likely won’t take long, but make sure you and your partner pause to appreciate the event’s significance throughout the day. You have just married the love of your life, and that’s something you’ll want to soak in all day long, regardless of the length of the ceremony.
HOW MUCH WILL AN NYC COURTHOUSE WEDDING COST?
One of the best parts about a courthouse wedding is the cost – a marriage ceremony performed by the City Clerk’s Office is a mere $25. The wedding license is an additional $35. So, technically, if you wanted to forgo all of the extras and wear something you already have in your closet, you could totally pull off a wedding for $60.
That said, the budget for your big day is totally within your control. It’s best to start by picking a total budget with your partner and working backward from there by figuring out your priorities. Do you dream of a trailing bouquet of orchids? A custom suit from a luxury designer? An epic bottle of Champagne to toast with at your celebratory meal? Whatever you want to spend is totally doable and manageable with a courthouse wedding.
Why You Should Hire an NYC Wedding Photographer
Photos can capture moments in time so that we can look back and envision ourselves back there, even if just in memory. That’s why even if your wedding is as intimate as it can be with just you, your partner, and a single witness, you’ll still want to have pictures to remember it forever.
Here’s where I come in. I’ll ensure that your wedding photos reflect your and your partner’s personality, style, and, most importantly, your love story. Whether we’re styling a shoot on the steps of the courthouse or meandering through Central Park for quintessential New York City aesthetic photos, I’ll make sure you have gorgeous pictures that embody this incredible day in your lives so that you can remember every detail for as long as you both shall live.
NYC Courthouse Wedding
An NYC courthouse wedding is the perfect alternative for an engaged couple looking for a quick and easy way to commit to one another without the stress of planning an elaborate event for an extensive guest list. It’s a ceremony about the two of you, your love for one another, and the life you are creating together as a married couple.
Finding your dream wedding venue in New York can be such a challenge! Primarily because there are so many incredibly beautiful and unique locations across the city. So if the courthouse doesn’t check all your boxes, check out more in the blog links below! But before you go, feel free to reach out! I’d love to chat about venues and what your dream wedding photos look like!