Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Marriage license

Now that I have some time, I can add in my bits of random info that I thought worth sharing.... I took the week off before the wedding to take care of last minute stuff, such as getting the marriage license. In New York, there is some rule about not getting the license more than 60 days before you get married but it also has to be at least 24 hours before (to prevent hasty marriages, I guess). We tried to get there as early as possible so that we wouldn't be stuck waiting on line when we had zillions of other things to do (such as printing programs). I think we got there around 9 on Tuesday morning, and there were already people on line. Who knew so many people wanted to get married in NYC?!

For such a big event in one's life, it was such a cold, bureaucratic process that I barely remember in my crazed state. First, we passed through metal detectors and the bag inspection area (of course Dear was stopped for one of his many gadgets), then we were rushed out of the lobby area because they didn't want loitering. Upstairs, people were waiting on all manner of lines it looked like a dingy doctor's office in disarray. We then waited on a line just to get the correct form to fill out, then got back on line to hand it in before we would be called up to verify everything.

When filling out the form, it was quite interesting to see the different people getting married -- an older couple from out-of-state, people who live in NYC but getting married in Westchester, young couples, various ethnicities -- but no celebrities nor people wearing full bridal gear (or even carrying some flowers, as I've seen in passing through City Hall before). I also found it interesting that the form had an area for choosing surnames (both people can change their name, or either the husband-to-be or wife-to-be could individually change theirs to match the other one) but Dear did not like my idea of creating a new surname for us both (I always found it unfair that only one person has to do all that extra work!). :( Good thing I put his down because I'm told you don't have to use it but if you ever do decide to change your name, it's much easier if it's on your marriage license/certificate.

After we filled out our form, we were herded to the next room and told to line up on the side. While there, we saw this window, much like all the other windows there, with thick bullet-proof glass up to the ceiling (is it that dangerous to get married?!). But unlike the others, this one was labelled "Chapel" -- can it get any sadder than that? I thought you'd at least be in a private room or something if you wanted to get married there.

Anyway, it was finally our turn and we sat down in these cruddy chairs while a woman on the other of the glass typed in the info we wrote on our form. The woman did not seem thrilled that she would play an integral part in this life-changing event for us. I was afraid she'd snap at us at any minute. Only when Dear showered her with politeness did her cold, disinterested attitude begin to melt away. I think she, like most City workers needed to hear "thank you" more often. If you ask me, it'd be much more efficient if we were allowed to type in the information ourselves and could skip this barely-above-minimum-wage-so-I-can-be-mean-to-you-because-
you-need-something-from-me step.

When she was done with each part, she would turn the screen so that we could check to make sure she entered it in correctly. I was surprisingly nervous because I felt like I really wouldn't be able to pick out any errors if there were any because I just wasn't myself. At that point, we also handed over our IDs and the $35 money order I picked up that morning (gotta love the Post Office's hours -- so much better than the bank!). Then, when everything checked out, she printed something out for us and we walked over to another window where we were given the certificate and an envelope to mail it out in. And that was that -- no fanfare, no huge production, no big time commitment.

For more info on getting the license in NYC, see the Marriage Bureau online. The resident worrywart, overly-talkative secretary at the church we got married in also advised that we deal with the office in Manhattan since the last time a couple went to the Queens office things were blundered and they didn't get their certificate or something until a long while later. I'm sure that's just anecdotal, but you never know.

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