A photographer's top 10 tips for the perfect NYC City Hall elopement

Categories   Wedding Advice, Wedding Venue

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

Have you ever wondered what an NYC city hall elopement is *really* like? Well, today’s your lucky day because New York City photographer Sylvie Rosokoff is showing us how it’s done. Spoiler alert: it’s ridiculously adorable, and makes for some pretty great photos. Find her NYC city hall elopement tips as you peruse this laidback, colorful, ceremony at Manhattan’s Marriage Bureau.

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

Take time to think about why you’re eloping and what’s most important to you. Do you want to keep it tiny and explore the city with your partner once you’re married, or have a small ceremony and then celebrate later with friends and family? There’s no one way to do it!

cute pink wedding cake

Cakes for elopements? Yes please. Cake Hero designed this beauty.

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

Gorgeous hot pink blooms by East Olivia.

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

1. Hire a photographer who has experience shooting at city hall! It helps to have someone shooting your elopement who’s familiar with the preparation, the process, the waiting (and can explain the process to your guests while we all wait) and the best photo spots to match what you want the day to be.

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

colorful wedding shoes

Cutest shoes ever! They’re by Samantha Pleet.

modern wedding stationery

Goods Gang has the coolest semi-custom wedding stationery.

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

2. Other vendors aren’t just for large weddings. Consider hiring an NYC florist to make you an elevated city hall bouquet (some will even deliver them to you at the marriage bureau!); a baker to make you a mini wedding cake perfectly suited to your tastes and style; hair and makeup artists to pamper you the morning of; a designer for personalized love notes and place cards for a post-city hall luncheon. Or come up with something new together, like “elopement cards” that give you a spot to record to-do items and hold keepsakes.

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

bright pink bridal bouquet

3. Consider staying in a hotel the night before to make the experience feel more special (even if you’re local and/or plan to take the subway to your wedding). Bonus: you can get an early wake-up call to guarantee you’ll make it there first thing in the morning, when the crowds tend to be lighter.

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

bright pink bridal bouquet

4. Scope it out. You’ll need to get your marriage license at least 24 hours (but no more than 60 days) before getting married at city hall. Take advantage of being there to people-watch and browse the extremely NYC-themed gift shop while you wait.

5. Pack light. There isn’t really anywhere to store stuff at the marriage bureau, and you’ll be on the move taking photos afterwards, so either ask a few guests in advance if they can hold coats, paperwork, etc., or try to fit everything into one tote or other bag you or your photographer can keep track of easily.

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

6. Bring your favorite people! But I recommend keeping the guest count to 20 or fewer; the waiting areas and chapels have limited space and there’s a lot of moving around as a group. If you do have a large group of guests and a professional photographer, consider asking your guests to make it an “unplugged” wedding and keep their phones out of the way, and out of your photographer’s shots.

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

NYC City Hall Styled Shoot

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

7. Embrace the chaos. There’s no way to guarantee wait time, which of the two chapels (decorated differently) you’ll get, how many other couples will be there (and will end up in your photos) or if it’ll rain. The not knowing is a lot of the fun of getting married at city hall, so once you’ve planned out the day, try to just let it all wash over you. (And bring a clear umbrella if it rains, for photos!)

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

8. Leave the vows at home. The ceremony will last around one minute if you exchange rings—even shorter if you don’t—and you won’t have the opportunity to say personal vows. Think about writing love notes to each other instead and reading them in the morning, or when you get home afterwards. This is also a great photo opportunity!

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

9. Work with your photographer to put together an itinerary for photos after city hall. Think about spots that are meaningful to you—maybe that’s where you met for your first date, your favorite pizza place, the corner where you had your first kiss—or locations that represent what you love about New York and why you’ve chosen to get married there. Don’t be afraid of seemingly un-photogenic places, like the subway, or busy streets, or hot dog carts. Your photographer will know what looks great, so brainstorm together!

bright pink bridal bouquet

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

NYC City Hall Styled Shoot

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

10. Throw your own after party! If it’s just the two of you, stop at a cozy restaurant to decompress over lunch or dinner afterwards, or enjoy cake and champagne in bed. If you want to celebrate with friends and family, consider renting out a bar or private dining room for the perfect mini reception.

A photographer's top 10 tips for an NYC City Hall elopement

Thanks to Sylvie Rosokoff for telling us how to elope at city hall (and for all the rad photos!)

Photography: Sylvie Rosokoff / Hotel: Gramercy Park Hotel NYC / Dress & Earrings: Happy Isles Salon / Makeup: Jane Meng / Hair Stylist (Bride): Bianca Bruno / Flowers: East Olivia / Paper Goods: Goods Gang / Cake: Cake Hero / Manicure: Christina Quercia / Shoes: Samantha Pleet

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Social Love

Currently Pinning

100 Layer Cake DIY Projects

See All

100 Layer Cake Trending Wedding Colors

You Might Also Like