We prepared this blog writing to help our fellows to avoid all the unnecessary stress. Be ready to read a long text.
1: Papers From Finland
If a couple wants to be sure of getting married in New York they should prepare some paper work in advance in Finland. For the marriage license they must have passports. Other documents might be required for the license: multilingual birth certificates and certificate that they can get married under the Finnish law.
If they have been married before, the official might (or might not), require divorce decrees, which have to be translated to English by an official translator. Every single document must have an apostille. Most of the papers are free, but the possible translations and apostilles are not.
2: The Marriage License
The process starts at Marriage Bureau of City Clerk Office.
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The Marriage Bureau is located in 141 Worth Street (@ Centre Street) in Downtown and it's easily accessible by train. The other offices mentioned in this blog, the City Clerk Office and the New York Department of State, are close by.
The Marriage Bureau = building number 1.
The first step in the State of New York is getting the Marriage License. The couple should walk to the service desk, tell the clerk they want to get married and follow the instructions. The forms are submitted with a computer. After filling in the forms, the couple should get a queuing number. The software is buggy and we did not get the number. Luckily the clerks were happy to help.
The computer section was rather empty.
The couple should be prepared to wait for several hours for their turn to see the administrative person. When they get to him/her, they should be ready with their papers. Please note that if you have a US social security number, this has to be with you, as well.
Later on we realized that we are not the only ones, who want to get married.
Unlike in Finland, every step in New York costs money: at the Marriage Bureau a credit card is the most convenient way to to pay while the final two steps require cash.
3: The Marriage Ceremony at the City Clerk Office
After the couple has received the marriage license they must wait at least 24 hours in order to get married. (There is a possibility to ask even this restriction to be waived.)
The process starts, again, at the reception desk where the couple gets a queuing number for some paper work. After that the couple queues with the same number for the actual ceremony, which is kept in one of the two chapels. The ceremony itself is quite short, lasting one or two minutes. One witness is needed for the ceremony.
Below are pictures from our wedding day Thursday, May 24th, 2012. Heidi's friend Heli acted as the witness. Thank you for all your help and support during this important day! Thank you, Heli, also for taking all the pictures of us.
Our lucky number of the day. We would get married with the number C688.
Heli in action: signing the papers as our witness.
Heli shared our excitement at the Marriage Bureau.
Here we go!
We got married in the Eastern chapel. (Why are they called chapels, although this marriage process did not involve a religious aspect?)
The man who married us was hilarious.
We decided to combine the Finnish and American traditions and got an engagement and wedding ring for both.
Everyone has the possibility to take pictures by this wall. Slightly corny but we did it, as well.
4: The Paper Work in New York
After the ceremony, the couple must get an extended version of the certificate of marriage. The papers should be carefully checked so that they can be amended immediately, if necessary.
Going after the first paper work: the extended marriage certificate.
After this, the certificate must then be notarified at the County Clerk Office, which is located at 60 Centre Street (@ Worth Street).
The final step is taking the document to the New York Department of State located at 123 William Street (@ Fulton Street) where the county clerk's signature is authenticated and an apostille is attached to the document.
(We ended up going to the County Clerk Office and the New York Department of State the following day, on Friday, May 25th.)
We are starting our bureaucratic journey the day after our wedding.
Starting our journey with a self-taken kissing picture.
A small wedding garden can be found near the office buildings.
The County Clerk Office = building number 2.
The New York Department of State = building number 3.
It's done we have the papers. Let's celebrate!
5: The Final Paper Work in Finland
In order for the marriage to be legal in Finland, it must be registered at a Local Register Office. Unlike the document states, certificate alone is not enough: the couple must be able to prove that they have actually been in New York. The registration is free but may take two or three weeks to complete.
The couple does not receive a separate certificate of marriage from Finland, but has to call to the office to make sure the marriage has been registered.
We still have to make that phone call.
Read More About Our Wedding