What Is Needed to Be Able to Marry Someone in New York?

by Zora Hughes

Don't let all those wedding preparations distract you from the most important thing you need before you can get married -- the marriage license. Each state has specific requirements for couples wishing to marry, and the state of New York is no exception. Ensure that your wedding day goes off without a hitch by following the proper legal procedures New York requires for your marriage to be recognized.

Obtaining a Marriage License

Anyone 18 or older, including both heterosexual and same-sex couples, can get married in the state of New York, as of publication, with a valid, current marriage license. You must apply in person for a marriage license at any town or city clerk office in New York, though you can fill out the application online if you are applying at one of the New York City Clerk offices. You and your partner must appear together and sign the application in the presence of the town or city clerk. The fee for the marriage license is $35, as of publication, and is payable by money order or credit card. Your marriage license will be processed while you wait in the office. When you receive it, you must wait 24 hours before you can have a marriage ceremony. The marriage license is valid for 60 days, except for active military personnel, who have 180 days to use it.

Important Marriage License Rules

If one or both of you are under 18 years of age, you must have parental consent to get married. Both custodial parents or the legal guardians of the person under 18 must be present for the marriage license application and must provide written consent. If one spouse is deceased, you must provide their death certificate. If you plan on changing your surname when you get married, you will write down the new surname you are taking on the marriage license application. You will have several surname options to choose from, including combining your last name with your partner's in any way you wish. Your new surname will go into effect immediately once the marriage ceremony is completed. You are under no legal obligation to change your name, however.

City Clerk Marriage Ceremony

You can get married after the 24 hour waiting period in the city clerk's office where you obtained your marriage license for $25, as of publication. Ceremonies are held during regular business hours and you cannot make a reservation or appointment; it is first come, first serve. Provide the identification you brought when you applied for your marriage license and bring one witness who has identification and is at least 18 years old. The city clerk will marry you and, at the conclusion of the ceremony, you and your spouse will sign the marriage license. The clerk will then provide you with a Certificate of Marriage Registration, which is the marriage certificate for New York. Go over it carefully to make sure there are no errors.

Private Marriage Ceremonies

If you decide to have a private civil or religious wedding ceremony outside of the clerk's office, you may do so anywhere in the state of New York with your marriage license. The person performing your ceremony must be legally eligible to perform marriage ceremony in New York. If you are getting married in New York City, your officiant must be registered with the Office of the City Clerk as well. At the end of the ceremony, the marriage officiant, along with you, your spouse and at least one witness, is to sign the marriage license. The officiant must return the marriage license to the town or city clerk's office where it was obtained within five business days. You will receive your Certificate of Marriage Registration in the mail within 20 days.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.

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