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The Legalities behind Virtual Marriages in NYC during COVID-19

Updated: May 22


Photo by JC Lemon Photography


It took a pandemic to shift the traditional practice of getting married, in person, to getting married online! My, how the times are changin'! If you're here, you may have heard Governor Cuomo and Mayor De Blasio reference 'Zoom Weddings' and 'Project Cupid' but what does it all mean and how does it all work? We're here to tell you!


Virtual Marriages have become available due to the COVID-19 health crisis we're facing as NYC continues to be the epicenter in the United States and we're following the social distancing guidelines. Many couples are exploring this virtual marriage option instead of waiting for the NYC Marriage Bureau to reopen for varying reasons: from visa and immigration to healthcare and insurance reasons, and yes, even sentimental reasons.


If you're trying to figure out how to get virtually married in NYC, you're in the right place. This blog is a historical breakdown of the Executive Orders behind Project Cupid, so if you'd like to know hot to get married virtually, check out this blog post.

The Law Is Temporarily Modified

On April 18, 2020, Governor Cuomo released Executive Order No. 202.20 that allows virtual marriages to take place in the city of New York. Here's what you need to know:


• This Executive Order is valid through May 18, 2020, but we hope and expect that this will be extended since the virtual process was only officially released on May 7th.


• This order is about receiving your marriage license from the Marriage Bureau virtually and solemnizing your marriage with a virtual ceremony by "utilizing audio-video technology provided that the following conditions are met":

  1. There can be NO pre-recordings of any kind throughout the entirety of this process from the license retrieval to the license signing, every virtual interaction must be "live" via an audio-video platform, like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet.

  2. The couple must present valid photo ID when asked to verify their identities (driver's license, state ID, and a passports are accepted)

  3. The couple must confirm that they are actually in the state of New York through this entire process

  4. The couple must electronically send a legible copy of the signed license to the witness, the officiant, and the city clerk on the same day it was signed in a secure, confidential manner.

The Executive Order Was Modified to Include All NYC Registered Officiants

While Executive Order No. 202.20 got the virtual marriage ball rolling, it is Executive Order No. 202.21 that allows officiants outside of the City Clerk's Office to perform virtual ceremonies, including friend officiants who are registered with the City of New York.


"The directive regarding solemnization of a marriage ceremony contained in Executive Order 202.20 shall be modified to expressly include any officiant, public or private, as able to perform or solemnize such marriage ceremony utilizing audio-video technology, as delineated in such directive"


This means WE at Once Upon A Vow can legally perform your marriage ceremony and we're psyched about it!!!

But, wait! How does it all work? Where do you apply? What are the actual steps to getting virtually married?


We've been waiting to learn more and share! On April 29th, Mayor De Blasio released what the Marriage Bureau and their technology team have been working on: Project Cupid! This will be a secure online portal, available in 11 languages, that allows couples to receive their marriage license. It is expected to be implemented the week of May 3rd, but let's not hold our breath, okay?

Will this portal also be a place to conduct virtual ceremonies? As of May 2020, no. The Marriage Bureaus are relying on registered officiants, like us, to process the legalalities, for now.


For more information on how we're working with couples and their Project Cupid marriage licenses, CLICK HERE.

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