Before adoption panel last year we hastily booked a week in NYC, we debated for a while as to whether it was a good idea to book anything whilst not knowing what our future held. But thought fuck it, we can’t put our lives on hold for a child we don’t have yet. Plus, the package was crazy cheap! This trip to NYC then evolved to honeymoon status as we decided to get married!
Several Pinterest boards, invitations purchased and a first draft of the guest list later, we booked the most amazing venue, The Outbarn – Seriously check the link out the venue is beaut! Unfortunately for us, the weekend before our trip to NYC was a busy one as when we tried to book caterers and venue decorators they all came back with ‘no sorry, we are fully booked’.
So we cancelled our shotgun wedding! Informed our friends and family that we had already invited and put it on hold, thinking we would do it in the future. Our NYC trip could have then been downgraded to holiday, but Mark and I were feeling mischievous, we thought… Why spend a shit tonne of money on a wedding and stress over having to put on a show of love and soppiness when both of us cringe over the thought of vows and a first dance. So we decided to give our NYC trip another status change, this one being NYC ELOPEMENT! (Wooooooo)
That’s right – while on holiday in NYC, my now husband and I decided to elope whilst in the big apple! (do they still call it the big apple? Didn’t see this reference once whilst there!) While eloping is not for everyone, it really was for us. We both have wonderful supporting families – We are especially close to our mums and grandparents, so it’s not to say there wasn’t a little disappointment (mainly at missing out), but for us, eloping was very much an escape from formality and the uber cringe, so they totally understood why we went for this option.
For anyone thinking about eloping in New York, I’ve compiled a step by step on how to elope in NYC and added snippets of our journey along the way!
Eloping in New York City is surprisingly simple – which explains why so many people from so many different countries do it. My experience is relevant only to Brits getting married in New York. Do your own research as processes and laws are forever changing. A basic marriage certificate is ample enough to make it legal in the UK, however not all countries are the same, so make sure you check if it’s legal in yours.
Welcome to New York
The first step is to obtain a Marriage License. This is in effect, the piece of paper that approves you to be married. You can start the process online back home, by filling out the form to apply for a marriage license. This is the form where you or your spouse decides if they are taking on a new name. This was the most important thing for us, we head to court soon to formally adopt our son; and we all want to have the same surname. Once you have filled out the form, you then have 20 days to head to the City Clerks Marriage Bureau to finish, pay for and sign the paperwork.
By filling the form in online it meant that when we arrived at the City Clerk building a couple of days into our stay (after a grim flight and long arse hotel check-in wait) we were only required to line up at the City Clerk’s office to finish off the application by showing our proof of identity (our passports), ID number (you get this sent to you by email) and sign the forms. This is after an airport-style security body and bag scan, so be mindful not to take lots of belongings to the City Clerk building.
We arrived on the thursday morning to get our marriage license forms and the building was pretty quiet, we were seen within an hour, paid our fees; something like £25 and we were off to explore NYC and buy tickets for Kinky Boots! (Such a brilliant show!)
24 Hours later!
Once you have applied, submitted and are successful in obtaining your marriage license, you are able to get married anywhere in New York City for the next 60 days. HOWEVER, you have to wait exactly 24 hours before you can do this. Did I say EXACTLY? Make sure you check your license as it will have a time from when you are legal to get married.
We totally overlooked this and it wasn’t until the Friday morning that I noticed that we weren’t allowed to get married until 1300! This wasn’t an issue as we headed over to Ellen’s Stardust Diner, and OMG what a treat that was. An old-school diner, where Broadway wannabees serve you food and sing show tunes as you eat! It really was brilliant! We then had the task of finding a florist that would make us boutonnieres.
I was never for dressing up real formal for our elopement, I would have been more than happy to get wed in a hoodie and skinnies. Mark on the other hand was all for tradition, he managed to convince me to buy a blazer and talked me into the requirement of boutonnieres purchased in NYC. That’s that what he got!
Mark always said that when we got married he would be wearing Tom Ford so that sacrifice of his deserved me in a blazer; I paired it with black skinnies, a black roll neck jumper (Who the F wears these, this was my first and last attempt) and vans trainers to make sure my style was still present on the big day! He ended up wearing a green suit purchased from H&M, trainers and a tee. So we deffo went for comfortable elopement attire.
So back to the boutonnieres, christ we spent all morning walking around NYC looking for a florist to make them, 4 florists later and we found a tiny florist which was actually hidden around the back of our hotel, typical. After a small fortune later we were set to get ready for the big event.
As I mentioned earlier we noticed on our license that it was valid from 1300, so we spent the morning leisurely strolling around NYC and eating. The only issue was that we didn’t realise the City Clerk closed at 3:35 that day and we were told to expect waits of up to 6 hours when reading up NYC elopement online. Fuck.
Chaos followed this, Two frantically showered and dressed boys with unshaved faces and unfleeky hairstyles (that’s us) speedily made their way to the subway station at Grand Central. We got the 5 train down to Brooklyn Bridge and ran to City Hall. This was our only opportunity to get eloped as the City Clerk office was closed all weekend so we were stressed out to the max! We even got a bit of cheeky back sweat from our run!
We arrived at the building at around 1400 to be greeted by locals offering their photography and witness services at the doors, we ignored them and hastily made our way into the revolving door to join the security queue. Oh shit, the place was packed.
We were only there the previous day, but the Friday painted an extremely different picture, the building was literally filled to the brim; we looked at each other and I thought… We ain’t getting wed today! After passing through security we made our way to the reception desk with our license, passports and anxious faces; after a few questions from the desk lady we thought we were set to go in, but we were missing something. A viable witness.
I asked if we could just find another couple getting eloped to fill the role; but apparently, this wasn’t allowed. Just as more panic was about to set in, across the desk there was another couple, a couple without a witness! So instead of us all being turned away, we buddied up with them!
It was fate! They were due to have a destination wedding but needed a marriage certificate before leaving the US so we saved each other! Both were NYPD workers and were absolutely lovely; we exchanged names at the desk and were then interrupted by another couple asking for a witness.
After receiving a queue ticket number we were all eventually ferried into a holding area (of sorts) until the chapel became free. Whilst waiting for your turn your ticket number is called (similar to Argos) for you to get your details confirmed and signatures from yourselves and your witness for your marriage certificate, and then you just wait.
In the holding area there was an array of couples, straight, gay, black, white, large, small. Some had large wedding parties and some were just like us, just a couple. The chapels fit 10-15 people comfortably, but any bigger than this, I would consider a different location (perhaps Central Park) to get eloped. Remember, your license allows you to get married anywhere in New York. As we hadn’t really planned well for this, getting married at the City Clerk Bureau was absolutely fine for us!
The Grand Finale
Two hours later and our ticket number is called! All three of us couples witnessing each other headed into the chapel, We were about to have a 3-way marriage! You can read your own vows or simply follow their lead – they’ll have a brief chat with you prior and ask things like if you’ve got wedding rings to exchange (we didn’t bother with wedding rings) and so on. Our new NYPD friends went first, it was brilliant sharing the experience with them as we really bonded with them during the holding pen wait.
They said their I do’s and then it was our turn! We loved our little ceremony. Just the 2 of you there in a complete bubble committing to each other for the rest of our lives, no bullshit, no vows and no cringe – it was incredible, once we were done, we were handed our wedding certificate and we were all done!
We returned to our hotel to have a gin and get changed out of our wedding attire. We had our first dance to Rihanna (Yes we did) and our wedding reception was at Applebees, where we both had chicken parmigiana and cocktails and entertainment was provided on Broadway at The School Of Rock, another amazing show fit for a perfect day!
Drop us a comment below if you have any questions!