• Once Upon A Vow

How To Legally Get Married during COVID-19

Updated: May 22, 2020

Photos by Judson Rappaport Photography

Above view of two hands with paper rings on both plus an engagement ring on the bride's hand, couple got married before the coronavirus pause in the state of New York by elopement officiant from Once Upon A Vow

It's no surprise by now that we are living through a global pandemic. Literally! Chances are, this has affected your life and the lives of loved ones drastically.

While we're all trying to figure out what this means for our livelihood and our communities, many are wondering how to STILL legally get married even if their wedding is officially postponed.

With a valid marriage license . . .

We are here for you to accurately complete your marriage license and officiate a "City Hall"-style mini-ceremony complete with "I Do's" and a ring exchange ($250). While we specialize in personalized ceremonies, we can not in good conscious conduct those since it's important for us to comply with the social distancing guidelines and regulations.

We will only perform this ceremony with the mutual trust and agreement that we have each other's health and safety as our shared #1 priority. That means:

1) None of us have or are exhibiting symptoms. If you're experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms whether it is confirmed or unconfirmed coronavirus, please follow the CDC guidelines and stay home. We, of course, will do the same for our collective safety.

2) All parties must wear masks and gloves. We know that many can carry the virus while being asymptomatic so we are behaving as though we are 'positive' in order to reduce any potential community spread.

3) The couple, witness, and officiant must bring their own black-ink pens to sign the license in order to reduce the need to touch shared surfaces. The only shared surface we will all touch (with our gloved hands) should be the marriage license. Please bring hand sanitizer; we will have some on hand, as well.

4) We all must stand about six to ten feet apart at all times. If you find us progressively moving further and further away from you, please understand that this is the new normal. We value your lives and ours, and want to respect our shared need to feel safe.

5) We perform the mini-ceremony and license signing in an outdoor location like a local park or parking lot so as to limit the potential spread in confined spaces.

Okay, your marriage license is accurately completed. Now what?

Now it's time to get your marriage certificate. Yup, you're not done yet!

But wait, what's the difference between a marriage license and a marriage certificate?

Your marriage license is the document that says you want to get married. Think of it as the engagement ring; it's the promise to lock this baby down. The completed marriage license by a registered wedding officiant includes all the appropriate signatures and basically states that you got married on this date, time, and location by this officiant with this witness. (Remember: you only need one witness in NYC even though there's space for two)

Now, the marriage certificate is the wedding ring! It's the official and legal confirmation that the Marriage Bureau has registered your marriage. Ya officially locked this baby down and can do all the legal things! Like changing your name, adding your spouse to your health insurance, adopting a baby, etc.

Post-wedding ceremony during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic with newlywedded couple and wedding officiant putting on hand sanitizer after the marriage license signing.

So how do you get your marriage certificate during the COVID-19 era?

The NYC Marriage Bureau recommends that couples HOLD ONTO their completed marriage license until the Marriage Bureau reopens. UPDATE: As of, April 25th, we've learned that the Marriage Bureau now recommends MAILING your marriage license. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

You may notice in fine print on your marriage license that there is a requirement to return it within 5 business days of its completion. During this time, that requirement has been waived. Please continue to listen to the daily briefings of Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo to learn more about the potential re-openings of the New York City Marriage Bureaus.

HOT TIP: Only one of you needs to go in person to trade in the marriage license for the marriage certificate.

Reach out to us if you have any questions whatsoever. We're here to help, even if it's from afar. Stay safe and take care of each other, amores!