Virtual weddings, one of the more endearing traditions to emerge during last year’s pandemic-related lockdowns, are no longer legal in New York now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has lifted his April executive order. First reported by the New York Times, the order Cuomo signed was meant for a state of emergency, and he rescinded the EO effective June 25th.
New York state law requires that a couple planning to wed “must state in the presence of an authorized public official or authorized member of the clergy and at least one other witness that each takes the other as his or her spouse.” So in order to keep Zoom and other virtual weddings legal, new legislation would be necessary.
Zoom weddings allowed brides and grooms to keep their wedding plans somewhat intact at the height of the coronavirus pandemic last year, providing a way for family and friends to participate in the special day while adhering to social-distancing requirements. Cuomo’s order even allowed engaged New York couples to handle the paperwork to obtain a marriage license via video under the Project Cupid program. People traveled from other states to marry in New York since it was one of the first to officially allow virtual weddings, the Times reported, and the change in status caught many New Yorkers, including officiants, by surprise.
The governor’s office told the Times that the state wasn’t stopping people “from livestreaming a safe trip to City Hall or your clergy’s office.” The city’s Marriage Bureau in Manhattan, which closed last March amid lockdowns, is still closed to walk-in weddings, the Times noted. However, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday that the Marriage Bureau would be reopening on July 19th, and couples will be able to schedule wedding appointments as soon as July 23rd.
“It’s the summer of New York City,” de Blasio said during the announcement. “A lot of people are going to experience amazing things here, why not get married?”