New York Marriage Laws

New York Outline

Congratulations! If you've found yourself at this page it is likely that you are either planning to be married or have been asked to perform a wedding ceremony in New York. Ordained ministers of the Universal Life Church have successfully performed thousands of legal marriages in New York. The information provided below will walk you through the steps one must follow to become a minister and perform a valid wedding ceremony in the state of New York.

Quick Facts
  • ULC Ordination Accepted: Yes
  • Minister Registration Required: Yes*
  • Minister's Residency: Irrelevant
  • Minister's Minimum Age: 18
  •  
  • Marriage License Waiting Period: 1 Day
  • Marriage License Valid For: 60 Days
  • Marriage License Return Within: By Expiration

1 How to Become an Ordained Minister in New York

If you haven't already, you should get ordained online with the Universal Life Church. Ordination is free and can be completed in just a matter of minutes. Thousands of legally valid marriages are performed by ULC ministers around the world every year. Begin the process by clicking the big blue button below!

2 How to Officiate a Marriage in New York

Next, you should contact the office of your local marriage authority (typically your county clerk). Let them know that you are a minister of the Universal Life Church in Seattle, and ask what they will require of you to officiate a legal marriage.

Select your county to quickly generate the contact information for your local marriage authority.



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3 License to Marry in New York

After you've contacted your marriage authority, you should visit our online store to purchase whatever documentation will be required. We typically advise ministers in New York to get an Ordination Package. Please attempt to leave at least 3 weeks between the date of the wedding ceremony and your order, to ensure that you receive all of your materials in advance.

Please note that ministers who plan to perform a wedding in New York City are required to register with the city. If you plan to perform a wedding in New York City, you need to purchase a New York City Wedding Officiant Package. If you are mailing your application, the authorities in New York require a minimum of 30 days to process your minister registration, so purchase and submit this paperwork as soon as possible. Walk in submissions are processed same day.

4 How to Perform a Wedding in New York

Now that you've done all of the above, you are ready to perform the wedding! Be sure that the couple has picked up their New York marriage license from the appropriate office. Note that a marriage license in New York must be signed and returned to the issuing office within 60 days after the completion of the wedding ceremony. At the Universal Life Church we receive several calls from wedding officiants in New York, after they've received their license to marry by getting ordained online, asking for guidance on how to perform a wedding ceremony. Once the legal matters have been taken care of, officiating a wedding (while a sometimes-daunting task) can be a great deal of fun. We would suggest that new New York wedding ministers concerned about the ceremony peruse one of our helpful wedding guides. The minister training section of our website should offer a helpful refresher for more experienced ministers.


New York Flag

New York Marriage Code

Marriage in New York State is governed by Section 11 of the New York State Domestic Relations Law. Below, you will find that we have reproduced the relevant excerpts of this code.
A clergyman or minister of any religion, or by the senior leader, or any of the other leaders, of The Society for Ethical Culture in the city of New York, having its principal office in the borough of Manhattan, or by the leader of The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture, having its principal office in the borough of Brooklyn of the city of New York, or of the Westchester Ethical Society, having its principal office in Westchester county, or of the Ethical Culture Society of Long Island, having its principal office in Nassau county, or of the Riverdale-Yonkers Ethical Society having its principal office in Bronx county, or by the leader of any other Ethical Culture Society affiliated with the American Ethical Union. The term "clergyman" or "minister" when used in this article, shall include those defined in section two of the religious corporations law. The word "magistrate," when so used, includes any person referred to in the second or third subdivision.

View the New York Statutes on the official state site
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Per Article 3, Section 11 of the Domestic Relations code: "The term "clergyman" and the term "minister" include a duly authorized pastor, rector, priest, rabbi, and a person having authority from, or in accordance with, the rules and regulations of the governing ecclesiastical body of the denomination or order, if any, to which the church belongs, or otherwise from the church or synagogue to preside over and direct the spiritual affairs of the church or synagogue."

Officiant Registration: Registration is conducted on Monday thru Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Section 11-b of the Domestic Relations Law requires that all persons authorized by law to perform marriages register with the City Clerk's office before performing wedding ceremonies within New York City. Therefore, if you intend to perform a marriage ceremony within New York City you must register. If your activities are outside of New York City the registration requirement does not apply to you. There is a $15 charge, payable in money order only, for registration.

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