- Title: Love is (once again) in the air: New York City's marriage bureau reopens
- Date: 23rd July 2021
- Summary: SIGN READING (English): "MASK OR CLOTH FACE MASK COVERING REQUIRED" / GIANT PHOTOGRAPH OF CITY HALL CEILING / GIANT PHOTOGRAPH OF CITY HALL
- Embargoed: 6th August 2021 19:57
- Keywords: COVID-19 Manhattan Marriage Bureau coronavirus love married pandemic weddings
- Location: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- City: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Human Interest/Brights/Odd News,Society/Social Issues,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA002EN2B13B
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: New Yorkers Sae Feurtado, 32, and Richard Kissi, 34, waited two years to say "I do" as the coronavirus pandemic upended their plans, but on Friday (July 23) morning, they finally walked towards the steps of the Manhattan Marriage Bureau to get married.
The couple's wedding ceremony was among the first ones to be held in-person once again at the bureau in lower Manhattan after a 16-month shutdown imposed by COVID-19.
"It worked out, it was meant to happen today," said a nervous and excited Fuertado, clad in a flowery gown and a bedazzled headpiece, clutching a bouquet of purple flowers.
Thousands of people from all over the world eloped every year in the two chapels housed inside the 1920s art deco building. Prior to the pandemic, about 50,000 ceremonies would take place on average every year throughout the five boroughs, said City Clerk Michael McSweeney.
"Very exciting," McSweeney said of the reopening, which was announced last week by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
A small store lodged in the marble hallway leading to the chapels offered flowers, rings, veils, and bowties. For the first time in 16 months, couples stood against the famed oversize photograph of City Hall -- where marriage ceremonies were held before 2009.
But the lingering pandemic led city officials to introduce new protocols and put restrictions in place before reopening its doors.
Wedding ceremonies are by reservation only, McSweeney said, and couples are allowed to bring one witness to respect the four-people limit in the pastel-colored East and West chapel.
Elopers are required to wear a mask and a plexiglass sheet has been mounted on the podiums from which officiants perform ceremonies.
Pablo Calderon and Fabian Gavilanes said they were able to lower their masks to seal their vows with a kiss on Friday morning.
Calderon, 31, wore a suit and tie to mark the big day while Gavilanes sported a light pink bowtie over a white shirt. They said they were thrilled to finally get married after COVID-19 forced them to postpone their wedding, which was originally scheduled for August of last year.
For now, two ceremonies can take place every 15 minutes, said McSweeney.
While the bureau has been issuing licenses for marriage and other unions throughout the pandemic, virtual weddings only began in May and ended June 30 this year due to technical hurdles, McSweeney said, and only 300 virtual weddings were performed.
Outside the building, George Taxi set up his flower stand on Friday for the first time since March of last year. Bouquets of roses adorned with baby's breath and purple statice were showcased in vases next to trays of rings.
"It feels great to be back," said Taxi. "Just being around people who are happy... It's one of the happiest days of their life so to be a small part of that is great."
(Production: Roselle Chen, Maria Caspani, Hussein Al Waaile)
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: Footage contains photographs or artwork. User is responsible for obtaining additional clearances before publishing this clip.