A Civil Ceremony at the Clerk’s Office

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She's So Bright - A Civil Ceremony
After the ceremony on July 7, 2016

A year ago today, Jon and I were legally married at the County Clerk’s office in downtown New York City. While we technically have two anniversaries – the legal marriage and the ceremony in France – I count the latter as my real wedding day. But I didn’t want to let today pass without taking a moment to share a bit about our legal ceremony, and to celebrate all the ways that people choose to get married.

A civil ceremony strips away a lot of the frippery that goes hand-in-hand with modern weddings. You sign some paperwork, show an ID, come back a few days later, and POOF, you’re married! In fact, it’s much like a visit to the DMV – you’re even given a number that tells you when it’s your turn in line. Regardless of the less indulgent celebration, I enjoyed our little ceremony because it was intimate, casual, and about me and my partner – a wedding in its purist form!

We had our civil ceremony sometime before noon on the morning of July 7, 2016. Earlier, I picked up a small white bouquet I had ordered from a local florist, hopped in the car, and parked in NYC’s Chinatown area. As we approached the Clerk’s office, a small bazaar of vendors welcomed us at the copper doors. Gold bands were sold alongside roses and mini Statue of Libertys, while photographers flocked around asking if we needed some professional shots. A boutique wedding industry had taken off right outside the building!

My favorite part (aside from that whole marriage thing) was sitting in the lobby, waiting for the assistant to call our number, and watching all the other couples – gleeful, young, and happy. Many looked like Jon and I, nicely dressed but mostly casual, with no more than a few family members nearby. Others had full wedding dresses or tuxedos on and hair to the sky, with twenty relatives buzzing around snapping pictures. It was like a wedding convention! Despite the slightly-better-than-industrial decor, it was overall an upbeat, joyful place.

Once our number was called, we milled around a little couched area until the Clerk, herself, took us into a private room. Her short, purple hair, matched the room’s soft pastel paint and as she said, “Husband and Wife,” I burst into tears. It was short, sweet and meaningful. My mother was our witness, standing aside my father and one of my four sisters.

So technically we got married today ?

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After, we walked to Bubby’s Tribeca, a cool downtown brunch spot, and ordered hot biscuits with honey and flavored lemonades. It was delightful and a quiet way to celebrate ahead of the big wedding day!

I’ll always keep July 7th in my mind (and on my paperwork) as a day to remember. And whatever you decide for your wedding, be it large or small, as long as love is the focus, it will be beautiful!

To see how couples celebrate outside of the NYC Clerk’s Office, check out this great photo essay from the NYTimes. Did you opt for a civil ceremony, traditional nuptials, or both? Share with me in the comments below!

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