Today, New York governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order allowing couples to obtain licenses and marry “utilizing audio-video technology.” This effectively makes Zoom weddings legal for the State of New York.
New York has been hit hardest by Covid-19 and life for millions has been disrupted, including potentially thousands of couples planning to get married. But today, one part of life can resume – weddings.
At a conference today Melissa DeRosa, the secretary to the governor announced this executive order. As Cuomo said, “Now there’s an excuse when the question comes up for marriage. No excuse. You can do it by Zoom.”
The digital wedding ceremony does have to follow the rules as laid out in executive order, which is in effect immediately through May 18 of 2020. For example, the executive order directs out that “the conference must allow for direct interaction between the couple and the town or city clerk”. In other words, as in real life wedding ceremonies, the clerk’s role is to be there to witness the physical presence of the couple getting married. So, for example, no prerecorded video would be allowed for a Zoom wedding.
How exactly to apply for NY marriage license online
As the executive order was issued on a Saturday (April 18 2020), as of Monday April 2020 12pm PST, there is no clear directive on how the online license applications will be carried out. It is very probably that the city clerk officials are figuring out how to implement the executive order ASAP. We’ll keep this site updated.
The online marriage license form is likely the same going to remain the same – it is available to complete online, however previously you had to then print it out and hand it in in person at the city clerk office. The Cuomo executive order states that “Any issuance of a marriage license application… is authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology” so the city clerk office probably has to set this up, perhaps with online Zoom/Skype appointments – watch this space.
Are Zoom Weddings Legal?
When it comes to the question of whether is a Zoom Wedding is legal or not, there are a few things to consider. It is important to first remember that many couples throughout the US and throughout the world are choosing to celebrate their wedding ceremony through Zoom purely as a symbolic gesture. Many are postponing the actual wedding and reception to a later date or indefinitely, but are using their preplanned wedding date to bring together friends and family.
This is because, in the majority of counties across the US there two things which make for a legal wedding:
One: Marriage License in Hand
ONE: A couple must obtain a marriage license in person at their town/city/county clerk or equivalent government office. Even for Las Vegas quickie weddings, the law states that, “both parties must appear in person before a Clerk at a Clark County Marriage Bureau location”.
Some couples were lucky enough to procure their marriage license before the shutdown of the majority of government offices. But for couples without the license in hand, Zoom weddings were strictly ceremonial. Almost no counties allow for an online or mail application to obtain a marriage license. However some counties, such as Ottawa County in Michigan are now allowing for license application by mail. Note that the license is usually only applicable for the jurisdiction in which the wedding ceremony is physically conducted – so you cannot for example obtain a license in one county and get married in another.
Two: Officiant Physically Present
TWO: The officiant must be physically present with a couple at the wedding ceremony, and he or she signs the marriage license alongside the couple before sending it back to the appropriate government office.
This second requirement is an easier hurdle to cross, as almost anybody can become a registered officiant, even online. To comply with the social distancing measures, some couples holding Zoom Weddings had a close friend or family member register to be an officiant and conducted the ceremony in person with the couple.
New York Online Marriage License Application and Virtual Ceremony
However the new executive order in New York makes the application of a marriage license and the officiation of the ceremony completely possible using virtual technology. Thus, making Zoom weddings legal in New York state. This is a huge game changer especially because New York continues to be the hardest hit by Covid 19 and also, New York City being the most populous city, there are likely to be the majority of couples affected by the pandemic social distancing and shut down measure.
Are you ready to plan your Zoom Wedding?
Start here with our 101 guide: