So you are thinking about getting married at city hall
I am writing this to you, my dear couples, who have started your journey toward marriage. You want something simple and laid back and think city hall is the answer. I get it. I would dash right down to city hall, too—if I did not already have twelve years of experience in, around, and upside down in city hall!
I love city hall. Yes, I do . . .
but as a concept, NOT your wedding location.
Now, I am a person who absolutely loves unique experiences, so I was excited when I connected with my first city hall couple twelve years ago. Meet you at city hall and professionally photograph your bare-bones wedding? YES!
Pre-Covid, city hall was actually a kinda fun place. But a lot has changed since then. For starters, the NYC Marriage Bureau is (surprise) one hell of a bureaucratic “venue” with 1984-esque hurdles and restrictions, that you must conquer in order to tie the knot.
In the interest of possibly saving you from experiencing an excruciatingly buzz-killed wedding day, I want to give you a little peek into the reality of what to expect.
City hall was actually my inspiration for starting a full service elopement company that gives couples the freedom and ease of getting married WAY more simply than taking a number and waiting in line—and with flavor, flexibility, hutzpah, and magic to boot!
Think grumpy City of NY employees.
But, you say, isn’t there something sort of rebelliously romantic about rushing down to city hall to get hitched?
Well, yes, there can be. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons:
- It has a mystique.
- The punk feel of “I got married at city hall.”
- It actually is traditional in a nontraditional way.
- In reality, it is 1,000% bureaucratic.
- It’s a time suck – lines, take a numbers, waiting, poor ventilation, etc.
- The hours are horrible: 9am to 3pm!!!
- Washed-out fluorescent lighting that needs a LOT of post-production magic to make your memorable day look good.
You may dash off to city hall to get married on a high, but soon find that the reality of doing so is much more mundane and sobering.
The story of how Eloping is Fun started
I realized that people deserved an alternative. They deserved a wedding day that was as simple as city hall but still personalized and heartfelt.
I jumped on it! It was such a breath of fresh air to work with these couples, creating beautiful photos and memories for them without the pressure of a traditional wedding.
But the sheen of city hall quickly faded when I saw what a vibe killer it could be. I hated to see the joy and excitement of the most important day in these couples’ lives get squashed by a twenty-second ceremony, performed (and I say that loosely) by a bored-looking city hall employee. Some couples were able to look past this, but many left city hall with a feeling of dissatisfaction and sadness. And there was a laundry list of bureaucratic hoops they had to jump through before even getting to the ceremony part. I realized that people deserved an alternative. They deserved a wedding day that was as simple as city hall but still personalized and heartfelt.
When I started shooting weddings in 2008, my brand (Stylish Hip Weddings) was ahead of its time in how we approached wedding photography. Back then, it was all very cookie cutter and lame. Stiff, staged, artificial-looking wedding portraits of the wedding party, the families, and maybe a few shots from the wedding and reception. That was it. My background was in editorial photography and photojournalism, and I saw an opportunity to shake things up and give people something better—fun, alive, candid, real photos . . . which at the time it was REALLY cutting edge.
So, I started forging a new path into the wedding photography world, and within a few years I was receiving inquiries from couples who wanted to elope at city hall.
By now the wheels were turning. You know, sometimes you just have to say,
“Why can’t we . . .”
I knew it was pretty easy to get a license to be a wedding officiant in NY State. So . . . I reached out to my eclectic community of friends, artists, performers, sex therapists, and accordion players and hatched a plan to SAVE couples from city hall by creating elopement packages with a photographer AND an officiant. I set out to bypass this monolith of an institution and give couples freedom, creativity, and control over their wedding day.
And that, my friends, is how EIF came to be!
I knew that we had to be a one-stop shop, so our couples would not have to worry about piecing together a wedding day bit by bit. You are eloping because you want it to be fun and easy—so we made it our mission to build packages and experiences that covered all the bases. It was a new path, and it took some time to work out all the logistics with regard to permits, vendors, etc., but it eventually all came together.
Now, twelve amazing and exciting years later, EIF is helping couples elope in more imaginative ways than EVER.
And in all the years we’ve been doing this, we really have had so much fun! Every couple is a unique story, and we love nothing more than throwing ourselves in heart and soul to help you create and capture every memory on the most important day of your lives. We have whisked couples to every nook and cranny of our fair NYC and know all the hottest and most secret spots where you can have the wedding of your dreams (and the pictures to prove it).
The benefits of an elopement package are endless, but here are just a few:
- You can get married ANYTIME you damn well please (vs. city hall hours of 9am–3pm).
- You can get married ANYWHERE.
- You can have GUESTS.
- You do not have to sit around and wait for hours.
- Your wedding photographer (one of your biggest investments of your special day) will use your time wisely, doing cool shit, not snapping a pathetic handful of pics during a 20-second ceremony.
- You can plan your elopement around GOOOOOD light—beautiful, natural outdoor light, or the golden hour and sunset, or in a beautifully lit indoor space (think the Met, Grand Central)!
- You can have a real heartfelt wedding ceremony with all the FEELS, and it will last for more than 20 seconds!
- You can exchange your OWN vows (if you want), instead of being fed the standard ones by someone who sounds like they have better things to do.
- You can have an officiant who is invested in YOU and will bring your love story to life!
Your wedding should not feel like a visit to the DMV.
City hall is a place to get your wedding license (let THAT be your city hall experience), but not to have your wedding. G’head, get your wedding license in person at city hall and you will surely be cured of any romantic notion of getting married there. We’ve had many a couple email us after getting their wedding license to THANK us for giving them the opportunity to have an awesome wedding experience outside of city hall.
Don’t cheat yourselves; you deserve better.
There is NO right or wrong way to get married. I’m here to guide you through this big life move.
If you want to get married at city hall, go for it. At the end of the day, I truly, 10,000% support any decision a couple makes and city hall has its quirks. But in my many years of being the fairy godmother of wedding elopements, I have seen too many puzzled and disappointed faces. There IS a way to have a simple and carefree wedding, and EIF is ready and waiting to help you do just that! click on the button below to GET IN TOUCH!