Getting Married in NYC: Our NY City Hall “Wedding”

NYC City Hall Wedding

When my (now husband) Matt & I decided to have a destination wedding in Mexico, we realized that getting *legally* married South of the Border would be really fucking complicated. The process apparently involves mucho paperwork, and—for reasons that still remain unclear—you also have to get a series of BLOOD TESTS to make the thing official.

Like…come again? Weddings are logistically complicated enough as it is—especially when yours is in ANOTHER COUNTRY—so clearly I was not having any of it. The easy solution for us was to get married at City Hall in NYC a month before our destination wedding in Mexico. (Fun fact: City Hall is not technically called City Hall, but rather the City Clerk—very sterile-sounding if you ask me.)

I was totally into the City Hall/Clerk idea anyway; something about it felt very “New York,” you know?

city hall wedding nyc

Let’s just say I was less than thrilled about Matt wearing this backpack the entire time.

PRO TIP: You can’t schedule an appointment for your ceremony in advance in Manhattan (not sure if that’s the case for other cities too) so we picked a random Tuesday about a month before the wedding and that was that.

I had a really cute floral mini-dress picked out for the “big day,” but when I woke up that morning, I decided that wearing a girly dress was soooo painfully basic and I just couldn’t bring myself to put it on.

city hall wedding nyc

Thus, I ended up in the “ensemble” seen above: a white linen DVF blouse (bought it a hundred years ago so I don’t think it exists anywhere online); white cropped J Brand skinny jeans (the BEST); Stan Smith sneakers (my dad claims he had the same ones in the 70s?); this FRAME denim jacket (a limited edition that I got while covering a Fashion Week party for The Wall Street Journal.)

Now a bit of background on these photos.

couple getting married at nyc city hall

I was really nervous about having a million pictures taken of me on the wedding day, because I tend to feel super awkward in front of a camera (I fake it well on Instagram, don’t I?) so I thought it might ease my nerves if we got to know our photographer Aaron Morris beforehand.

But I couldn’t get down with engagement photos—they always seem so staged, uncomfortable, and cheesy—and honestly, what do you even do with them afterward?

Instead, we just invited Aaron to third-wheel-it and join us at the Clerk. The pics are cool, Aaron was the shit, and we felt instantly comfortable with him.

couple getting married at nyc city hall

If you hate to wait on lines like me, the idea of sitting around at the clerk’s office for hours sounds like torture. Wanna bypass that? Go first thing in the morning (Manhattan opened at 8:30am) and early in the week (rather than, say, on a Friday.) I know this, because when we initially went to get the marriage certificate—that part happens before the legal ceremony, v. confusing right?—I asked the guy at the counter how to beat the system.

So, this (below) is arguably the most entertaining part of the whole experience – at least for me it was. The actual facade of the Marriage Bureau building is kind of drab and prison-esque, but inside there’s this set-up—like a green screen—for people to pose for photos. It’s so ridiculous, you can’t NOT do it. But what’s even more enjoyable is watching everyone else. 
wedding at city hall in new york city

People rolled up with aunts, uncles, cousins once-removed, babies in strollers, props…we saw full-blown family reunion photoshoots, I kid you not. It was completely absurd and completely amazing at the same time.

Have you ever been to Katz’s Deli, or like… ordered a half-pound of Boar’s Head at Whole Foods? Getting married at City Hall = same thing.

couple holding a marriage ticket at city hall in nyc

The people-watching that goes down here ranks among the best I’ve ever encountered. I’m talking NEXT. LEVEL. SHIT. Exhibit A: the woman far left. She was Brazilian; her husband was from Italy. They both wore superhero costumes. 

civil ceremony city hall nyc

In case you haven’t yet had your fill, here are more pics from our day at City Hall or Clerk or whatever:

couple waiting at city clerk marriage bureau in New York City

Rules are made to be broken. Amiright?

city hall wedding New York City marriage bureau

I was really. really. nervous.

lindsay silberman matthew stevens

My brother came with us and served as our witness. 

lindsay silberman

Got our deli ticket.

young couple nyc city hall wedding

Anxiously waiting for our number to be called.

couple city hall wedding nyc

Still waiting.

lindsay silberman

Pretty sure my brother said something funny?

At the counter, paying to get married.

Laughing about how weird it is that you basically just whip out an Amex, pay, and then you’re married…romance!

wedding nyc city hall

We saved the receipt. Just in case.

Thrilled my manicure was on fleek because my hair DEFINITELY wasn’t. Roots for days.

city hall wedding nyc

One of my favorite photos from the entire experience. If this isn’t a slice of New York for you, I don’t know what is.

A motley crew!

This is where we got “married.” It looked like a pre-school classroom. Odd. 

We went through with it anyway.

city hall wedding nyc


couple nyc lindsay silberman

We took some shots with Aaron around Chinatown after the “ceremony.”

Lol @ this guy’s face on the left.


  • Kath
    October 13, 2018 at 2:47 am

    This story, just like you and Matt, is incredible!

  • Raphaela Zaruha
    November 7, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    I LOVE this story so much!!!! I think you’ve just inspired me to get married at City Hall/Clerk. Wow.

  • Andrea
    November 8, 2018 at 6:21 am

    Loved this! Love from london xx

  • Anne
    October 12, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    This story is amazing! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Robin Piliere
    January 14, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    Congratulations 🍾 your wedding memories are so beautiful! My son & his fiancée are planning their big day, which my inquisitive nature led me to your story. As mother of the groom, I’ve been invited to witness their official blending of 2 hearts for family. In your sweet opinion what may I do to make an impression of welcoming her into our family. Her dad will be witnessing as well, so simply 4 of us. Is there anything you may think of that may have made a difference, as sometimes hindsight is like a trusted friend. Thank you & May you live happily ever after♥️


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