You need to ascertain that this marriage will be legal in the country for which you both hold passports and/are resident. If you intend to return to the country of residence, you will need to register your marriage. Marriage in the USA will not entitle you to a green card. If either of you is not a UK citizen, you may need a visa to visit the USA. You need one if you are a British citizen but if you are a national of another country, obtaining the visa may well be more complicated and more time-consuming. Any documents required that are in a foreign language will need to be officially translated and notarised.
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It's very easy and very popular. Here's a link to the official Marriage Bureau page that explains it all. You can download your application here too.
Basically, you must get your license 24 hours before your wedding. Be sure to check holiday closings. Once you have the license, you can get married any place in New York State. Either show up at any borough's Marriage Bureau (most people choose Manhattan, Brooklyn or Staten Island), or hire your own officiant for a location wedding. Central Park is very popular. Here's the park's web page on weddings:
You only need to book a reservation and pay the fee if you're using the Conservatory Garden or if there are more than 20 people in your wedding party. If not, all you need to do is show up. One of the most popular locations is the Ladies Pavillion, but there are lots of other, amazingly romantic and secluded spots I would recommend. If I can be of any help, let me know.
Thanks for your replies, very helpful.
We have no intention of outstaying our welcome (mind you we would given half a chance, sigh). We're re-visiting NYC for a short break in September and thought if it was possible why not marry while we were there.
Kind of a dream come true
Any more tips are MORE than welcome.
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This UK gov website has important info about getting married abroad:
1) Make certain you can get married under New York law.
If you have been married before, you MUST give the EXACT date and EXACT city where your marriage was dissolved. You also MIGHT be asked to show the divorce decree, so you should probably bring along a copy.
Both of you must be age 18 or over; if not, you will have to get parental consent.
2) Same sex marriage (you refer to your "partner") is legal in the state of New York, but is not recognized in over forty other U.S. states; nor in the U.K. (as you are most likely aware, if this is your intention).
3) As a U.K. citizen (indeed, a citizen in just about any E.U. country), you are permitted to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days with very minimal hassles. The only major requirement is that you have a machine-readable passport that will not expire for six months after the 90 days of your maximum stay. In other words, your passport must be good for about nine months past your arrival. If you've been able to use the VWP before, I would expect no trouble.
4) You are NOT required to state that you intend to marry while in the U.S., and doing so would only lead to a suspicion that you intend to stay. Simply say that you are here for "tourism" and leave it at that.
5) You can begin the necessary paperwork online. Make absolutely certain that ALL of your information is correct -- for example, don't write down that you live at 100 Oak Street if you actually live at 100 Oak Avenue.
6) You must go together to the NY City Clerk's Office to get your marriage LICENSE. If you've done the paperwork ahead of time, this should go quickly. The fee for this license is35 -- credit cards are accepted, but cash is NOT. You both must present ID to get the license; your passport will be fine.
7) Be 100% certain that EVERYTHING on the license is correct. Any discrepancies could make it impossible for you to have a ceremony.
8) You MUST wait 24 hours between the issuance of the LICENSE and the performance of the ceremony; in addition, the ceremony must be performed within 60 days of the issuing of the license.
9) You can get married the next day at the NY City Clerks Office for a fee of25 (again, credit card accepted but NOT cash). Or you can choose any LEGAL officiant in the state of New York. When you go through the ceremony, be certain to bring the EXACT same IDs you used to obtain the license.
10) If you choose the former, you MUST have a witness present, of age 18 or older. It CAN be someone else standing in line to get married, but there are no guarantees. Note that, in this case, you will get your marriage CERTIFICATE immediately. Also, if there are any mistakes on this document, you can usually get them corrected right then.
11) If you choose the latter (marriage ceremony outside the city clerk's office), your marriage certificate will be mailed to you about twenty days after the ceremony.