New York State Capitol Building

New York Wedding Laws

Written and updated for precision by the New York marriage law research team at GetOrdained™ on

Offering stunning natural landscapes as well as the nation's largest city, the state of New York is understandably a popular wedding destination. Whether you are considering a romantic wedding with a scenic backdrop or a sophisticated ceremony in the Big Apple, New York has everything you need to create a truly memorable day. To ensure that your road to the altar is smooth and free of surprises, the Universal Life Church has compiled everything you need to know about getting married in New York. This guide details the legal requirements and outlines each step of the process.

Getting Married in New York

Marriage By Proxy Allowed:
Minister Required to be Present:
Number of Witnesses Required:
Min. Age of Witnesses:
Couple's Consent Required:
Pronouncement Required:

Both members of the couple, the officiating minister, and at least one witness must be present at the wedding ceremony. All four individuals will be asked to sign and complete the marriage license, as well as note the date and time of the ceremony.

The state of New York is very flexible regarding the style, content, length, and spirit of the ceremony. Couples can customize the service as they see fit as long as each individual verbally accepts the other as his or her spouse.

New York Marriage Requirements

Min. Age of Couple:
Age 18 or Age 17 with Guardian and Judicial Approval
Not Required
Min. Distance of Kin Allowed:
First Cousins
Marriage Equality:

New York recognizes marriage equality and therefore warmly welcomes same-sex couples. Similarly, people from any state or country in the world are invited to wed there as the state's wedding code does not include a residency requirement.

However, there are restrictions regarding age, mental capacity, and kinship. First, the legal age to marry in the state of New York is 18 years of age. The only exception to this rule is for minors who are 17 years old and have secured the approval of their parents or legal guardians, as well as a judge or justice of the court. Minors under the age of 17 are never allowed to marry in New York. In fact, the state will assess a $100 misdemeanor fine on clerks who knowingly violate this rule and issue a license despite the applicant's age.

New York also has restrictions on close relatives. Specifically, a marriage cannot take place between ancestors, descendants, siblings (full or half), uncles with nieces or nephews, or aunts with nieces or nephews. If the state discovers a wedding took place in violation of this restriction, both the marrying individuals and the minister can be assessed a fine and sent to jail for up to six months.

Finally, the state of New York only allows the marriage of individuals who consent to be married and have been deemed mentally able to do so. This rule is meant to protect individuals who are not mentally fit to make such decisions, who have been diagnosed as incurably mentally ill for over five years, or who are being forced into marriage under duress.

How to Become a Wedding Officiant in New York

Min. Age of Minister:
Age 18
Not Required
Document(s) Required:
Varies by Town/City
Online Ordination Recognized:
Not Always
Relevant Office of Registration:
Town or City Clerk
Latest Document(s) Submission Date Allowed:
Before the Ceremony
Minister I.D. # Issued:

New York allows wedding ceremonies to be performed by both religious and civil actors, including government officials, judges, justices, clerks, town-appointed marriage officers, and ministers authorized by spiritual groups or ordained by churches (including the Universal Life Church). In all cases, the officiant must be at least 18 years of age but is not restricted with regard to gender, faith, or place of residence.

In order to legally perform a wedding, officiants must register with the appropriate town or city clerk. In addition to asking for basic information such as the minister's name and address, some offices will request proof of ordination.

It is worth noting that New York City has several unique requirements, so if the wedding is taking place in the city, ministers should be prepared to provide additional documentation during the registration process. ULC recommends the New York City Wedding Package to ensure you are fully prepared.

Applying For a Marriage License in New York

ULC-Officiated Ceremony Type:
Mandatory Waiting Period:
24 Hours
License Valid For:
60 Days
License Must Be Submitted:
Within 5 Days of Ceremony

Once the marriage license has been issued, the couple must wait at least 24 hours but no longer than 60 days to be wed. If there are circumstances that prevent this, the officiant must seek court approval for a waiting period waiver or an extension.

The marriage license will include the date and time of issuance. Following the ceremony, the minister should complete, endorse, and return the marriage license and certificate to the issuing office no later than five days after the ceremony. Penalties for noncompliance can include a $50 fine and a 90-day suspension of the right to officiate wedding ceremonies.

How to Get a New York Marriage License

Who Picks Up License:
The Couple
Where License is Valid:
Any County in New York
Marriage License Pick-Up:
In Person Only
Cost of License:
Varies by County
Accepted I.D. Types:
Photo ID and Birth Certificate
Proof of Divorce Required (If Applicable):
Blood Test Required:

Couples wishing to marry in New York can visit any town or city clerk in the state to apply for their marriage license. While appearing in person is required by law, please note that due to COVID-19, many counties of New York have temporarily instituted a virtual process for marriage license applicants, allowing couples to apply via videoconferencing platforms. All other application requirements remain the same.

The marriage license application requires detailed information from each member of the couple, including name, Social Security number, home address, and date and place of birth. Applicants must also provide the name and place of birth for each parent.

To establish age and identity, applicants must provide official proof. Acceptable documents showing age include a birth certificate, census or baptismal record, or naturalization papers. To prove identity, applicants should present a passport, driver's license or state ID, employment ID, or immigration record.

If either party has been previously married, the applicant must present proof of eligibility to marry. In the case of divorce, certified divorce papers work, and in the case of death, a certified death certificate suffices.

Finally, couples should remember to clearly state on the marriage certificate whether they want to keep their current surname, take their spouse's current or former surname, or choose to use a combination of the two. By doing so, you have created an official record of the name change.

Finalizing the Union

Officiant's Title on Marriage License:
Church/Ordaining Body:
Universal Life Church Ministries
Address of Church:
Minister's Home Address

Once the wedding ceremony has concluded, a few final steps are needed to ensure a legally recognized marriage. On the day of the wedding, the minister must complete the officiant section of the license and oversee the signing of the marriage license by both members of the couple and the witness. The officiant section will request the minister's name, title ("minister"), ordaining body ("Universal Life Church Ministries"), and personal address.

The completed license must then be returned by the minister to the issuing clerk within five days of the ceremony. Failure by the minister to complete, endorse, or return the license can result in a misdemeanor charge carrying a fine of $200.

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