Getting Married in New York this 2020: What To Do Before & After Saying I Do

Since pandemic struck, a lot of plans have been changed or moved, a lot of offices shut down in New York – including the City Clerk’s office – which have made it extra hard for us to obtain get married. Find out the steps that we did before and after the wedding ceremony, to officially being married – with certificate.

Have you seen the finale episode of Gossip Girl? It was about Chuck and Blair’s wedding. I have always wanted a wedding so spontaneous and intimate – not that I want a shotgun wedding or a drunken ceremony in Las Vegas – but I wanted a hassle-free and have just the family by our side. 

That is exactly what we did when we got married in Central Park — the very spot where Chuck and Blair got married — last April, and we only had Denisse, Gerald’s cousin as our witness. I thought having a wedding this small will be stress-free but mounting it during this pandemic was actually very challenging. 

I would write about my fairytale come true in another post, but I would like to focus on what you all newly-engaged couples need to know if you want to have your wedding during this pandemic. 

Obtaining a Marriage License

The first and very important step to getting married is obtaining a Marriage License. When we got our Marriage License, New York was not on lockdown yet. It was at the end of February. We got it through the City Clerk’s office in Brooklyn. Before going to the City Clerk’s office, you have to fill-out the Application Forms first and submit them online. 

When you get to the office, they will find the forms in their system. You have to double check every error before they issue it to you. It will cost $35. It was really easy and it only took us 15 minutes inside the office. 

However, since the lockdown, New York has launched Project Cupid – it is where you can schedule an appointment to obtain your marriage license. Just go to the site and follow the easy steps. You can pay through there as well, it will cost $35 too.

Remember that the validity of your Marriage License starts 24 hours after it was issued to you and will last up to 60 days – but I am not sure if they extended it during these times.

Getting an Officiant

Our original plan was to get married at the City Clerk’s office. We were told that we can go anytime and wait for the officiant. The fee would be another $25. We were like, okay, that’s really easy. Let’s chill for now.

So come the lockdown. The City Clerk’s office closed down and there was no way we were getting an officiant, not with the Coronavirus cases rising everyday. So we were like, okay, we don’t know what to do anymore. 

Gerald was asking his friends who got married in 2019. One of his friends suggested that we just contact someone who is ordained to be an officiant – and luckily, he knows somebody. His name is Max. 

Max was a total lifesaver as our Marriage License was approaching the expiration date. He agreed to marry us two days before our license expires.

Getting Married

You know, brides and weddings! I really wanted to have a ceremony and to wear my wedding gown and to see Gerald in a suit (lol!) So we decided to get married by the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. It was either that or a ceremony at home. 

There are 3 important things that you need during a wedding ceremony – and no it’s not your something new, something old and something borrowed – it’s your marriage license, your witness and your officiant (of course!).

Sending out your Marriage License

The guide paper that comes with the Marriage License states that your Wedding Officiant should be the one to send your signed Marriage License to the City Clerk for them to be able to start processing your Marriage Certificate. 

We literally experienced the famous excuse “It got lost in the mail” — except it’s not an invitation. We sent the Marriage License through mail right after the ceremony. It was sort of a mistake because we did not keep a photocopy first or not even a photo. 

Obtaining your Marriage Certificate

The Marriage Certificate should come automatically in 10 days after your send out your Marriage License. But since ours took a lot of detours and eventually got lost, we had to figure out what happened to it. 

We waited around for three months, called City Clerk a hundred times, got passed around from hotline to hotline, filed a complaint, until we finally registered for Project Cupid — and yes, paid another $35 — just so we could talk to someone who can give us an answer. 

As it turns out, nothing was filed because they could not find us in their system. The person we talked to told us to contact her supervisor. What they did was they gave us another copy of our Marriage License to have everyone sign again, send the signed copy through email and then they will send us our Marriage Certificate within 7-10 days.

We got our Marriage Certificate three months and ten days after our wedding day. It was crazy that it took this long. But then again, these past few months had been crazy for all of us. What’s important to me is that we are officially and legally married. I just wanted to share our experience because maybe someone out there is experiencing the same hassle. I do hope everyone is using Project Cupid now, as it is much easier.

Have a happy wedding day to the future brides and grooms!

How we got married during the pandemic

Today, I married the man of my dreams. It was everything I could ever hope for.

Unlike other Brides, I am that type who wants the small wedding ceremony as small as our immediate family members and two friends – best man and maid-of-honor, maybe. I know this is what’s going to happen if we ever planned to get married here in New York, since my family is in Manila. Gerald and I are both shy people – we don’t like to be surrounded and be the center of attention. So this is perfect.

Since Pandemic started, I cannot really go home because it would be too hard, and the process of quarantine in Manila would be more dangerous if I go home. So, the only way for me to stay here legally is to get married. We filed for our Marriage License just in case. We can always just keep it if I get to go home. But then, unfortunately (or fortunately), things just got worse.

Everything closed, including the courthouses. We said that we would wait because maybe the lockdown will be lifted within two weeks. Two weeks later, it’s already April, and still nothing is happening. I was feeling anxious since I would have to go back to Manila soon. I was doing calls and researching day and night. I was feeling a little pissed, too, to be honest because Gerald was super chill about it. So I kind of felt that he wasn’t really putting enough effort. My sister sent her wedding dress to me, just in case. Everything is “just-in-case” at this point.

Two days before the wedding date, also 2 days before our Marriage license expired, he told me, “Babe, I found us a minister.” I was surprised because I didn’t really expect that, “He could marry us on Saturday. Because tomorrow it’s going to rain.” I was overjoyed and semi-panicking because I still haven’t decided what to wear. Gerald is always the calm one. Whenever I am panicking, he would just tell me to chill and he will silently fix all our problems. He always comes through for me, for us.

He said we could get married wherever I want. My friends and I have always been a fan of Gossip Girl and since we are in New York, hello Upper East Side – I showed him a photo of Chuck & Blair’s wedding, and he said alright, if I want it there. This is the wedding where the Bride is not really in charge. Gerald arranged everything.

When we got there, we had to pick a place. I wanted it to be under the stairs, but I don’t know why we did the ceremony in the middle of the fountain. So it was kind of embarrassing since everyone was looking at us (Thanks for attending our wedding, New York!).

Denisse, Gerald’s cousin is our only witness. Also, our minister brought some champagne! He’s the best!

To my Groom and now Husband, I love you. Thank you for always coming through for me, in the ways I never really expect. You are such a blessing to me. I will forever be grateful and lucky to have you. Love and yours forever, Mara