New York Virtual Wedding Officiant Regulations

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Can You Officiate a Wedding Over Skype in New York?

Zoom Wedding

Last updated: 4 January 2021
The information on this page is current as of the above date, but these regulations will change. We urge you to check with your Local Registrar for the most up-to-date information.

Online Wedding Ceremonies

To reduce in-person contact during the pandemic, online weddings are temporarily allowed in New York. This means that the couple, minister, and witnesses can connect using an application like Zoom, Skype, or Facetime, and the entire ceremony can take place online. These policy changes are new and temporary, so research is essential before participating in an online wedding.

Online weddings are authorized by New York Executive Order 202.20, which requires that everyone participating in the wedding must be physically present in New York and connected with both audio and video, and the couple must have a marriage license. Contact your Local Registrar's Office for the latest information.

COVID Restrictions for Couples & Ministers

From the ceremony to the paperwork, Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on weddings - getting married is just different right now. Large gatherings are prohibited, for obvious public health reasons.

Marriage Licenses & the Local Registrar

At the moment, many Local Registrars in New York are closed or operating with modified schedules - please plan accordingly. New York Executive Order 202.20 has authorized Local Registrars to accept online marriage license applications over videoconference, using applications like Zoom, Skype, or Facetime.

Couples can temporarily apply for a marriage license online or in-person in New York. However, licensing requirements have not changed, and online applicants must show physical copies of ID over videoconference, for visual verification. Couples should contact their Local Registrar's Office to schedule an appointment, whether they plan to apply online or in-person.

Minister Registration in NYC

In New York City, ministers are required to register with the City Clerk's Marriage Bureau before performing marriage. With their offices closed to the public, all officiants are permitted to register using the mail-in application process for non-residents. Normally, NYC residents must register in person.

Additional Information

These policy changes are temporary and tied to the Covid-19 pandemic, and at the moment we can not predict how long they will remain in effect. New York Executive Order 202.20 established the policy changes discussed on this page for the duration of the public health emergency, and the emergency order has been extended every 30 days.

For more information, contact your Local Registrar. You can review New York's policy order here:

New York Executive Order 202.20:

NYC Marriage Bureau FAQ (July 2020):

Yes. 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.

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

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.

Zoom Wedding

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 conditions listed below are met. Since this is an evolving situation, the information below is posted only for reference, and we urge you to check with your local clerk for the most up-to-date information.

COVID-19, social distancing, travel bans, lockdowns… Many couples are being forced to downsize their wedding plans and for many guests, the only way to attend is with their computers and mobile phones.

If your guest list is shrinking to just the couple and officiant, or maybe just the couple, New York marriage laws regulate who must be in attendance, and how the ceremony is conducted. Here are some options to help adapt your wedding plans in New York to celebrate a COVID safe wedding.

Virtual Weddings vs. Livestream Ceremonies in New York

Zoom Wedding

For the sake of clarity, we differentiate virtual wedding ceremonies (or Zoom/Skype ceremonies) from livestream ceremonies by who is in attendance. If the officiant is officiating the vows from another place via video, then we call that a virtual or Zoom ceremony, since the people involved in the ceremony are interacting over whatever video platform is chosen.

However, if the couple and the officiant are present, but guests are watching remotely, we call that a livestream wedding since the ceremony itself is happening in one physical place. You can read more about what distinguishes each option here.

How can we celebrate a legally valid live streamed ceremony in New York

Directing a Zoom Wedding

You can livestream any activity or event, and it doesn't matter where you are in New York, what you're doing or how many people are physically present with you. Some of the most popular platforms include Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Facebook Live, and Instagram Live

As long as you have a tripod and a phone with a good camera on it, your guests will be able to participate remotely. Many of these platforms even allow guests to comment, chat, and interact in other ways.

We realize that this is not always ideal, but ultimately, if couples choose to move forward with scaled down weddings and smaller guests lists, these communications platforms let friends and family around the world know that they are still being thought of.

For folks planning on livestreaming their nuptials, Here's How to Livestream Your Wedding.


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