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  • Writer's pictureTamara Merri

How to Elope at Boston City Hall

Updated: Dec 5, 2023


If you are considering an elopement instead of a big wedding, Boston City Hall is a wonderful option for an urban, intentional ceremony. As a photographer who has been a part of countless wedding and elopement celebrations, I am here to guide you through the entire process of what your elopement day can look like in the heart of this historic city!


First, let's start with a fun fact. Did you know that Boston City Hall was recently ranked the second ugliest building in the country? Whoop, there it is. While it's no San Francisco City Hall, I actually quite enjoy the geometric architecture.




How to Elope at Boston City Hall


 

elopement on second floor of Boston City Hall
Registry Division Office on the 2nd floor

Getting Married In Massachusetts


1. Make an appointment to file your marriage intention - Before you say "I do" at Boston City Hall, you'll need to schedule an appointment with the City Clerk's office to file your marriage intention. Think of this like an application for your marriage license. You can do this online through their website or by calling them directly (617-635-4175). Once you make an appointment you will be emailed a pre-intention form to complete.


Important note - you can apply for a marriage license in any city or town in Massachusetts. It does not have to be from Boston, even if you plan to get married there, but it is also an option. BUT you do have to get married within the state of Massachusetts.


Fun fact - you don't have to be a US citizen to get married at Boston City Hall! In fact, they've done ceremonies for couples from every continent except Australia! So you Aussies, step right up and you'll make some history hehe.


2. Apply for your marriage license - On the day of your marriage license appointment, both you and your partner will need to be present. Since Boston City Hall is located in the Government Center, there are several parking garages nearby or easily accessible by the T. Don’t forget to bring your social security numbers, your IDs, and a cash payment for the $50 application fee. The appointment will take approximately 5 minutes and is located at The Registry Division - 1 City Hall Square, Room 213 Boston, MA 02201-2006.


After your paperwork is finalized, you need to pick up your marriage license after the state-mandated three-day waiting period. Every city/town clerk's office may handle this differently, so be sure to ask about picking up your marriage license during your appointment.


Your marriage license is valid for 60 days. You must be married within the 60-day period to avoid applying again. Read the FAQs about applying for your marriage license.


3. Planning Your Ceremony - After securing your marriage license, you can schedule your elopement ceremony at Boston City Hall using their online booking system. You have the flexibility to choose a date and time that works for you within the 60-day window.


Colorful letters spelling out Boston in huge art piece outside of boston city hall

Planning Your Wedding Ceremony at Boston City Hall


When & Where: When eloping at Boston City Hall you have two room options for your ceremony - The City Clerk's Office (Room 601) or The Boston Registry Department (Room 213). City Hall is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST but ceremonies take place between 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday). Ceremonies will last approximately 15 minutes and can include exchanging rings and personal vows. You'll get married on the 6th floor if you're eloping just the two of you or only have one or two guests with you. You'll get married on the 2nd floor if you have a larger group and require more space.



Officiant: The City Clerk and Assistant City Clerk are Justices of the Peace and will perform ceremonies. The Assistant City Clerk's office is on the sixth floor where your ceremony will be performed by the lovely Dassie Bheecham. The Registry Division is on the second floor where you may be married by the fantastic Paul Chong.



Cost: When you arrive and check-in, make sure you have cash for the $75 fee. If you forget, there is an ATM on the 2nd floor where the check-in windows are.


What to bring: Both partners will need a valid picture ID (like a driver's license or passport).


Guests: As previously mentioned, your guest list can determine which room you get married in. If you want the big room, bring more guests! If you want the small room, limit it to two. While the larger room as chairs for seven people, I'm uncertain how many guests they allow. I recommend calling or asking when you apply for your marriage license.


couple sitting on couch for Elopement at Boston City Hall assistant city clerk's office
Assistant City Clerk's Office on the 6th floor
couple waiting to be married at Boston City Hall in the city clerk waiting area
City Clerk Waiting Area on 6th floor

Whichever floor you get married on, make sure to head to the sixth floor to get a photo with the iconic "Married in Boston" wall!


Couple in a dip and kiss pose in front of the "married in Boston" wall at Boston City Hall

Make a Day Of It!


Sometimes people can feel like their elopement day is "just" a small wedding and doesn't deserve the same attention and glam of a big wedding day. That can't be farther from the truth!! Your wedding day (whether it's just you and your partner or 250 of your "closest friends") is a humungo, momentous, joyous occasion!! Now now, although it's still a day to scream from the rooftops, you should have this day be as simple or over the top as you wish. It's a day to be filled with doing all of your favorite things. And, hey, if you want to document you and your partner doing all of your favorite things... why not hire Tamara Merri Photography hehe. Do you want photos capturing the morning of your day and all the anticipation while you get ready for the ceremony? We'll def get photos of the ceremony. Then how about photos of your friends or fam afterwards? We could stay around City Hall or venture to other parts of Boston (or hell, other parts of the coast if you wanted) to capture all the fun and joy! Then perhaps you have a nice dinner or picnic planned that you'd want photographed. Maybe hop a private jet to Paris and want to bring me along (kidding..... but not really). Aside from photography, TMPhoto is here to help with the timeline planning, vendor referrals, and all the questions that make you say "I don't know... I've never planned a wedding before". Because guess what, we have! And we got you.


The best part about eloping is that you don't have to abide by any of the traditions that people generally feel obligated to do with larger weddings since you won't have a bunch of guests with expectations. Personalize the day to YOU and your relationship.

 

couple kissing on steps at christopher columbus park after boston city hall elopement

Before and After Your Ceremony

Here are some recommendations for what you can do before and after your Boston City Hall Elopement. Whether you choose to just enjoy each other's company or explore the city further, the possibilities are really endless. So make it a day that is meaningful and special to you!


Before the ceremony:

  • Pamper yourself! Get a massage, nails done, and then glam up with professional hair and makeup artistry.

  • Stay in a nearby hotel to get ready together with your partner and have it photographed! Nothing like being able to see and look back on the "mundane" parts of life like you and your partner sipping coffee relaxing on the couch scrolling through your socials.

  • Have a nice breakfast or brunch at a nearby cafe or at a place meaningful to you like Meaghan and Michael

  • Take a walk together through Boston Common or the Public Garden.

After the ceremony:

  • Take photos around Government Center and Faneuil Hall.

  • Adventure a little bit away from City Hall to the North End, Public Garden, or the iconic Beacon Hill to take portraits.

  • Head to a nice restaurant for a romantic meal! There are never-ending possibilities but my favorites for a high-end meal are Contessa (make a reservation far in advance), Rose Town Kitchen & Bar (right near Goverment Center), and Moo...Beacon Hill!

  • Whether you are a local or a tourist it's always fun to go to a Red Sox game, take a ride on the Duck Boats, walk the Freedom trail, or any other Bostonian activity!

couple crossing the street in boston heading to boston city hall


I hope this guide helps you navigate the process of eloping at Boston City Hall. As a photographer, I'm excited to capture your special day and create beautiful photography that you'll cherish for a lifetime. If you have any questions or need recommendations, feel free to reach out at hello@tamaramerriphotography.com. I can't wait to be a part of your love story!

 

Ready to book Tamara Merri Photography as your Boston City Hall Elopement Photographer? Use the link below or click here to learn more about my elopement packages!




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