How to Officiate Weddings in Buffalo
A guide for wedding ministers and couples in Buffalo NY
Buffalo is often overlooked by New York’s more glamorous metropolis, New York City, but this town’s low-key vibe is it’s greatest asset. The state’s westernmost city is known for its blue-collar vibes and a lively nightlife. If you’re planning a wedding in Buffalo, you’ll find yourself falling in love with its unpretentious charm and surrounding natural beauty that you just can’t find in the big city.
Take advantage of the city’s positioning at the confluence of Lake Erie, the Niagara River and the Erie Canal with a romantic ceremony on a Grand Lady Cruise, or admire the water from one of the reception halls and yacht clubs on the gorgeous waterfront.
Whatever your style, Buffalo has you covered. But before you fall too deep into your winter wonderland wedding fantasy, let us help you get your officiant’s registration completed and your marriage application process under wraps.
STEP 1: Get ordained with American Marriage Ministries
According to New York State’s domestic relations laws, Article 3 Solemnization, Proof and Effect of Marriage Section 11, the following persons may perform wedding ceremonies:
- Clergy members or ministers of any religion
- Leaders of the Society of Ethical Culture
- The mayor or any former mayor of the state of New York
- Federal, state, or local judges or justices, elected or appointed in the State of New York, who are currently serving or retired
- The Clerk of the Appellate Division of the First or Second Department
- The County Clerk of any of the five counties in the City of New York.
We’re guessing that you don’t fall into any of these four categories, but don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. The first thing you need to do is get ordained with AMM. The process is free and takes just a few minutes.
Once you’ve finished the certification process for ordainment and are ready to officiate your first couple’s wedding, you may be asked to present documentation to City Hall, which AMM provides for a fee.
STEP 2: Prepare for the Ceremony in Orange County
AMM can also help you with your preparations for the wedding ceremony itself. If you’re a first-time officiant, be sure to dive into our wedding training pages, which are a centralized resource of everything you’ll need to know to perform your first wedding ceremony.
Here you can find everything from sample wedding ceremony scripts, to brainstorming prompts, tips for preparation, and more.
STEP 3: Officiate the Wedding and Complete the Marriage License
According to the New York Department of Health’s website, it is the couple’s responsibility to present their marriage license to the officiant and the witnesses, but it is the officiant's responsibility to verify that the officiant and witness sections of the marriage license are completed correctly.
Once the couple has completed the marriage license form, the officiant is required to return the original license Buffalo city clerk’s office in City Hall, either in person or by mail, within five days of the ceremony.
If you want to go the extra mile and be an extra-thorough officiant, consult our guide on how to complete a marriage license.
Once you have returned the completed marriage license to the clerk’s office, you have successfully performed all of your functions as the wedding officiant.
File for the Marriage License from the Orange County Clerk's Office
Now let’s get into the couple’s responsibilities. Both members must appear together at one of the state’s city clerk’s offices. Regardless of where you’re getting married in New York, the same license applies. If you’re in town, you can go to Buffalo’s City Hall, located at 65 Niagara Square Room 1308.
When you go, remember to bring:
- A valid driver's license with photo or a state issued photo ID such as a non-driver's license or passport
- A Certified Birth Certificate listing parents' names
- Social Security Number
You’ll be able to complete the process the same day. Once your application is turned in, you’ll have to wait at least 24 hours before the ceremony.
Below is the pertinent information pertaining to marriage licenses issued in Erie County. For clarification on what this information means you can check out our Marriage License Laws Explained page.
Issuance Office: City Hall 65 Niagara Square, Room 1308
Waiting Period: 24 hours
Expiration: 60 Days
Return: Within five days by the Officiant
The Basics -- You’ll find that Buffalo’s easy-going vibe and slower pace make it an ideal place to plan a wedding, so have fun with the process. As you’re piecing your plans together, check out the sight-seeing both in town and in surrounding areas. If you’re not from the area, consider taking advantage of one of the many classic East Coast bed and breakfasts when planning your guest’s accommodations. You could even factor in a day trip to Niagara Falls, which is less than a half-hour drive from town.
Transportation -- The Buffalo Metro Rail makes getting around town easy. However, some of the venues sitting outside of the city require access by car. Uber (but not Lyft) is available in town, however, there may not be as many drivers available at every hour of the day, so you may find that it’s worth it to rent a car if you’re from out of town.
Weather -- One of the first things you’ll want to consider is the region’s climate. If you’re planning an outdoor reception, you’ll want to schedule a date in the late spring or summer when the weather averages in the mid-70s -- perfect outdoor wedding weather. In the fall and winter, it is known to snow, but it does not usually impair the city’s operations.