Are weddings taking place in the US recognised in the UK?

I have been planning weddings in New York’s Central Park for over ten years now.  The vast majority of my couples are British, and a very frequently asked question is whether the marriage will be legally binding at home in the UK if they get married in New York.

It is surprisingly easy to get married in New York, compared to getting married in the UK.  Or so I hear!  I got married in New York so actually I have very little idea of what the legalities of getting married in the UK involve, despite being British myself.  The British Government website has a dedicated space for clear guidance on the matter of marriage abroad.

The British Government website has an online tool to find out how to get the documents you’ll need to get married in each country that is not the UK, from a drop-down list.  They do say that you’ll need to contact the local authorities where you want to get married to find out what you need to do for the marriage to be legally binding in that country.  For the USA, it is quite straightforward.  Your marriage will be recognised in the UK if you followed the correct process in the country where you got married and that it would be allowed under UK law.

What that part about correct process in the country means in the case of New York state is that the two of you get your license from the marriage bureau at City Hall.  At least twenty-four hours after getting the license, the couple need to have the ceremony performed by a New York state-registered officiant.  After the ceremony, each of you sign the license with that officiant and either one or two witnesses over the age of eighteen and then send the completed license back to City Hall.  They will then register your marriage and then send you a marriage certificate.  What that part about UK law means is that both parties must be 16 or over, not already married or in a civil partnership, and not closely related.

I have checked the online tool to find out what it says for the US, and I haven’t checked for other countries, but there’s only one question for the US – is your marriage opposite sex or same sex, and I’ve tried clicking both and for both it says that you can get married in the USA, so I’m not sure why they ask! 

For both options, it says contact the local authorities in the state you want to get married to find out about local laws.  They’ll tell you what you need to do and what documents you need.  They then say that you don’t need to register your marriage in the UK.

If all that sounds simple and straightforward enough and you want to do it, get in touch!  Come over to New York and get married in beautiful Central Park.  If you would like me to help you with planning your own Central Park wedding or elopement, whether you live locally or are planning on traveling to New York to get married, from the UK or any other country, visit our website.  Keep updated with our news and see lots of beautiful photos, “like” us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and follow us on Pinterest

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