How to Officiate Weddings in Jersey City
A guide for officiating weddings and planning ceremonies in Jersey City
So, you’re getting married in Jersey City! Or perhaps you were asked to officiate a wedding ceremony for some of your buds. Either way, congratulations are in order, and you’ve got a big day ahead to prepare for.
Jersey City is so close to Manhattan that some Garden State couples choose to cross over the GW for their wedding festivities -- but JC has its own unique flavor to offer, and let’s be honest, less of the Bennies. (There’s a reason we call it Chilltown!)
Our guide gives you the need-to-knows of getting married in Hudson County for both the officiant and the couple -- from the legal mumbo-jumbo to our favorite spots to get hitched in the Jersey City limits. So sit back, relax, and let’s get started.
Let’s start with getting the officiant registered. According to New Jersey state law, “every member of the clergy of every religion is authorized to continue to solemnize marriages.”
If you’re not a priest or pastor, no sweat. You can get ordained with AMM, which is a certified IRS 501C3 non-profit church, to qualify. The process is free and takes just a few minutes.
When it comes time to perform your duties as the officiant, Hudson County may ask you to present documentation, which AMM provides for a fee. (You can call the county clerk’s office before you perform the ceremony to ask if they will require you to bring the certificate in person.)
Now that the easy part is out of the way, it’s time to prepare for the ceremony itself. Being asked to perform a wedding ceremony is a true honor, but we realize it can also be a bit stressful if it’s your first time. Be sure and check out our wedding training pages, which will help you brainstorm how to write your ceremony script and ensure that everything goes smoothly.
Here you can find an abundance of sample wedding ceremony scripts and other tips for preparation to help you get started.
When it’s time to sign the marriage license, it’s the couple’s responsibility to obtain and complete the marriage license, but just be sure to double check that they have a valid marriage license before the ceremony.
Once the license is issued, it is good for 30 days from the date of issuance. The officiant must file the license and certificate with the Registrar of the city in which the ceremony was performed. “Since failure to record the certificate may cause considerable inconvenience at a later date when proof of certificate is needed, you should make sure that this has been done,” says the New Jersey Department of Health.
Once you have returned the complete marriage license, you have successfully performed all of your functions as the wedding officiant. Your part is done!
Now let’s move on to the couple’s responsibilities, You can obtain a marriage license application at any county clerk’s office in New Jersey, or you can find a PDF to print out here. Note that if neither one of the applicants are residents of New Jersey, the license must be obtained from the registrar of the city where the ceremony will be performed and is only good for use in that municipality.
To complete your marriage license, you both members of the couple will have to visit the Hudson County clerk’s office at 257 Cornelison Ave on the fourth floor.
When you go, just remember to bring:
- Proof of identity (driver’s license, passport or state/federal ID)
- Proof of your residency
- Your social security card or social security number
- A witness, 18 years of age or older
- $28 application fee
There is a three-day waiting period in Jersey City, so just make sure you schedule your visit to the county clerk’s office at least four days before your actual wedding. After the ceremony, your officiant will return the completed marriage license to the county clerk’s office, which is mentioned in the previous section.
Issuance Office: 257 Cornelison Ave 4th floor
Waiting Period: 72 hours
Expiration: 6 months
Return: by Officiant
The Basics -- When choosing your wedding date and place, just be sure to double check Jersey City’s calendar to make sure there are no major events scheduled near your venue on the same day. You don’t want to end up competing for parking while the street fair rages nearby. As far as venue ideas, we have a few suggestions to help kick off your search.
There are a good handful of venues in town outside of the major hotels, which are good options for large weddings, but kind of drab, to be honest. The Rooftop at Exchange Place is a restaurant and bar that also hosts weddings, and is devastatingly chic and elegant. We’ll link you straight to the photo gallery; the Instagram photo ops are a major draw. Or you might like Batello, the Italian seafood spot in Newport, which is another one of our favorites. The interior is ideal for a glamorous celebration, with its high ceilings, live entertainment space and huge windows that look out over the bay. The restaurant’s management is plenty familiar with hosting weddings -- it even has a bridal suite -- and obviously, your catering will be in good hands. Done and done!
But if you want to check out some more unique options, we have a couple of ideas. How about saying your “I do’s” aboard a private yacht against the stunning views of the New York skyline? Then, take shelter in the cabin for an elegant dinner celebration after sunset. What could be more elegant? There are a few yacht services located in Jersey City. We linked you to one search engine, but you’ll want to do some calling around to find the best price.
We also love the idea of a wedding in Liberty State Park, an economical option for a couple that wants to incorporate their love of the outdoors into their wedding day. The bayfront park is clean, spacious and has stunning views of Manhattan, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Visit the city’s webpage for info on getting a permit to get married in the park. But remember, if you go with an outdoor option, you want to pick a day when the weather is most likely to be the perfect temperature (not in the height of summer or too early in the chilly spring), but the tourist crowds are not in full force. June or early September are ideal.
Transportation -- If you’re a local, you already know that public transportation in Jersey City is a mixed bag. The bus system has a good network of routes, but the dense traffic and frequent construction mean delays are common, and during poor weather days, buses can be so crowded that you can end up waiting at the stop while full buses pass you by. The Path train system and Light Rail are much more reliable. If you don’t want to tangle with NJ public transit, Lyft and Uber’s ride-sharing services are a better bet for getting around, and less stressful than renting a car (if you’re coming in from out of town.)
Weather -- Fall in New Jersey is lovely. It stays pretty dry and doesn’t start to get cold until mid to late October. But winters can be brutal -- snow, sleet, windchill -- the whole nine yards. Spring varies from year to year. It’s usually cold and rainy, but there are some surprisingly sunny, warm days. So, if you’re planning an early spring wedding and crossing your fingers for a nice day, choosing a venue with both outdoor and indoor spaces is your best bet. New Jersey summers are lovely, but can get quite hot and humid during the peak in August. There are some cloudy and rainy days, but showers usually only last half an hour and temperatures average in the 90s.
Choose a date in early summer or late fall for your best chance at ideal weather, but if you’re not too concerned about that aspect, picking a date in off-season -- during fall, winter or early spring -- you’ll get the best deals on venues and catering.