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New York releases virtual wedding rules, wedding officiants can now perform video wedding ceremonies (UPDATED)

Published Monday, Apr. 20th, 2020

Over the weekend, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released an executive order that allowed city clerks and other wedding officiants to officiate wedding ceremonies over the internet by video. The announcement marked the first such official authorization of virtual weddings, and a marked shift away from rules that normally require the officiant and the couple to be physically present for the ceremony. 


But with COVID-19 social distancing rules preventing couples from getting married, New York’s decision could signal a change in what’s allowed in the future. 


This order grants officiants -- that meets the state’s requirements -- the authority to solemnize marriage via video! 


This is huge news for wedding officiants in New York, since it lets them meet their professional obligations without risking exposure to the Coronavirus. Prior to Governor Cuomo’s announcement, it was not clear whether virtual weddings were allowed, or whether weddings officiated in this way were legally valid. That’s now been clarified in New York State -- they are! 


Below, we have included the original copy of the order, since we think it is important that officiants read and understand the rules as they are published. 



For the duration of the order, any issuance of a marriage license application, marriage license, or witnessing or solemnizing of the marriage ceremony, that is required under New York State law is authorized to be performed utilizing audio-video technology provided that the following conditions are met: 


  • The couple seeking the marriage services, must present valid photo ID to verify identity whenever required by law the during the  video conference, not merely transmit it prior to or after; 
  • the video conference must allow for direct interaction between the couple and the town or city clerk, the witness or the person to solemnize the marriage (e.g. no pre-recorded videos of the person signing or engaged in the marriage ceremony); 
  • the couple must affirmatively represent that he or she is physically situated in the jurisdiction where the marriage is legally allowed to occur, within the State of New York;
  • the couple must transmit by fax or electronic means a legible copy of the signed document directly to the town or city clerk, the witnesses, the person to solemnize the marriage on the same date it was signed; 
  • the town or city clerk, witness or person who solemnizes the marriage may sign the transmitted copy of the document and transmit the same back to the person responsible for the document by law; 
  • to the extent practicable, all parties will use their best efforts to ensure the document is transmitted in the most confidential manner and information will not be released to any third party not associated with the marriage license and marriage ceremony;
  • and the electronic signed copy of the marriage license application or marriage license will become the official document for purposes of Domestic Relations Law. Local town and city clerks may provide guidance related to how marriage licensure applications and issuance will be implemented in their jurisdictions.


The D.C. Superior Court said late last week that it will “immediately” resume issuing marriage licenses online. The court stopped processing marriage license applications in late March when it halted all nonemergency court proceedings.


The court’s Marriage Bureau will process the licenses remotely via the website Once an application is completed, an employee from the bureau will contact the applicant to complete the process.


UPDATE: New York State has been joined by Washington, D.C. and Colorado (which also allows self-solemnization), as well as specific precincts such as Cuyahoga County, Ohio in either allowing virtual wedding ceremonies, or allowing couples to apply for marriage licenses entirely online. We will continue to keep you posted on the situation here at American Weddings!



Be sure to check back in with us here at American Weddings to stay up to date with wedding ceremonies in the time of Coronavirus.

Lewis King
Lewis King

Staff Writer

Lewis loves exploring the space between power, discourse, and material reality where institutions like marriage are defined. He also wears other hats at AMM, like taking out the recycling and restocking the sparkling water.

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