Your New York Wedding Witness

Witness Requirement

For a Legal Marriage there must be a Witness to the Ceremony who will then sign the Marriage License affirming that this Wedding did take place.

Some of the laws pertaining to this provision are that only one witness is required, and that person must be of age — eighteen or over.

Family Members

So, if you have several friends or family members present, the only real consideration is to whom you will give this special honor. A sweet custom is to invite one Member of each Family to sign, if this is possible. This can even constitute a first act of loving and tactful conciliatory Family relations for the newly married Couple!

Your Photographer Can Be a Help

Another consideration is with a Couple who are "going it alone," sometimes as an Elopement, where friends and Family don't even know yet, that you are taking this important step. Photographers are great for doing double duty, making beautiful photos of your wedding to take home, and also signing your license at no extra charge.

Minor Children

Other considerations have to do with the honor of being a signatory, but unfortunately, being under age, as with a very special Family member who is a Wedding participant. This is especially important when new Families are being formed by this special Wedding. It's okay for one minor to sign, just as long as the other required one signature is by an adult. Happily, there is another remedy for this situation if there are several Children; the non-legal Certificate from the Humanist Society.

Non-Legal Ceremony

Also, in the case of a non-legal Ceremony, such as a Wedding Renewal, or a Pre-Wedding or Post-Wedding Ceremony, that's performed to accommodate the availability of Family and Friends, where no license is involved, there is a lovely Honorary Ceremony Certificate document that can serve as a focal point for signing, even allowing the whole Party to sign as participants to the Event, even penning their good wishes for the Couple's happiness.

Proof of Marriage

The extra benefit with this "Certificate from the Humanist Society" is that for most legal Weddings, the Officiant, unfortunately, leaves the Wedding with the Marriage License in hand, for the purpose of getting the Marriage registered with the Bureau. This would otherwise leave the newly Married Couple without any proof of their marriage until their printed Marriage Certificate comes in the mail, many weeks later.

Obtaining Your Printed Marriage Certificate

If scheduling allows, the Couple may return together to the Marriage License Bureau, after the Wedding, with their completed License in hand, to ask for their Marriage Certificate on-the-spot. A charge of $15.00 is well worth this convenience. This also prevents mishaps, such as the mysterious "Lost in the Mail," pronouncement that generates much grief. (see Your License for additional information)

Temporary Certificate Helpful

If you are unable to return to the Marriage License Bureau, this Certificate from the Humanist Society of Friends might help to temporarily solve the many problems that can arise without your proof of Marriage readily available. Foreign travel, for instance. Changing of marriage status may be important as in insurance coverage, or work-related documents, or even driver's license, if one changes the family name. Your legal proof will follow.

Back to The Need For A Witness

There have been on many occasions in which a couple, completely alone in the City, without even a photographer, needs to call upon a "Happenstance Witness." This can even be great fun, because New Yorkers and Visitors to New York are amazingly congenial and adventuresome, not to mention romantic!

Honor a Spontaneous Witness!

In any public place where a Wedding is being performed, passersby will be delighted; they will stop respectfully and become onlookers and then, even participants when the Couple kiss and the Officiant announces to the world…"I present to you these newly minted Partners Forever!" There is always enthusiastic applause! Folks are always eager to sign as witnesses, when asked. If you are in a hotel or a restaurant, there is always a Concierge or a maître d’ to assist with the signing.

As far as the Witness requirement goes, as a true New Yorker will say, "No prahblem."