I think most people think their NYC City Hall ceremony is going to be very dry and to the point. Afterall, you literally take a number and wait your turn when you go in; so it’s hard to imagine in a place that uses the same system for keeping order as a deli counter that there’s going to be a beautiful, heartfelt ceremony at the end. There are three officiants at City Hall that I’ve worked with, and two of them are fine. They do a solid job. You’re married at the end and that’s all that matters. But whatever magic happens in that ceremony is self provided, and again… that’s totally fine. It’s expected.

But the third officiant – and I’m glad to say, the one most often performing ceremonies – is really kind of amazing. And whenever I walk into City Hall with clients and see that he’s the one working, I do a little cheer, because I know my clients are going to get a little more than they would with any other City Hall officiant. This is so embarrassing since I’ve photographed over 50 weddings that he’s officiated, but I don’t actually know his name. I’ve never had the chance to ask. I just refer to him as the Happiest Government Employee in the World because… well… he is.

I love my job. I’m completely obsessed with elopements and the couples I get to work with. But the Happiest Government Employee in the World seriously puts me to shame. Because nobody loves elopements and performing them more than this man. Everyday he’s in a different candy colored shirt and tie, a smile on his face, and I always imagine that when he gets up in the morning and walks to work, he whistles a tune and probably says hello to everyone he meets along the way.

At City Hall they have a script they have to follow – one I pretty much know by heart at this point – but somehow the Happiest Government Employee in the World manages to infuse it with joy and magic every single time. I think he truly understands that even though this is just another day at his job, it’s not just another day for the couples that come in there. It’s a really special day, and he treats every couple as if they were the only ones getting married that day.

He asks my clients how they’re doing, he makes sure to tell me I can take photographs from anywhere in the room, and in a great, booming voice – he gets these two people married. He ends each ceremony with, “And by the laws of the GREAT STATE OF NEW YORK! I now pronounce you married!” Followed by a thundering applause, as if the room were filled with people. He shakes my couples hands, he asks genuine questions about them – tends to give out restaurant recommendations when he realizes they’re from out of town. And then he walks across the hall to the next chapel, the next couple, and does it again… with the same enthusiasm, the same joy. It’s really quite infectious. Couples come in to get married and he gets them MARRIED.

I remember going in there for my first legal same sex wedding last summer. It was the week after the law went into effect, and I was hoping so much that everyone at City Hall would be happy and excited for same sex marriage. And they really were. No bad apples in the bunch at all. When my couple walked in and the Happiest Government Employee in the World married them, he was extra excited, extra loud. At the end he told them how happy he was to be able to finally do this. It was such a genuine moment. A genuine moment in a government office. I just think that’s kind of amazing.

I realize reading this how much my words fall flat when describing this man. How it would be so much easier if I could just show you a video or play a tape of him marrying a couple. Because my words just can’t capture the booming voice and genuine joy of the the Happiest Government Employee in the World. It’s something you just have to witness for yourself, and should you ever get the chance, it’s a lovely experience.

Thanks, Happiest Government Employee in the World for making each of my couples feel so special on their wedding day. Keep on making City Hall a magical place.


  1. Erin
    Jul 11, 2012

    That’s just awesome. I actually think, as government jobs go, that would be my favorite — all joy, all the time. So glad he lets his joy be contagious!

  2. Emilia Jane
    Jul 11, 2012

    This is so seriously cool! Now I do want to see video!! I’m so happy he loves his job as much as you do!

  3. Jacque
    Jul 11, 2012

    Yay! By far my favorite government employee ever!

  4. Emily
    Jul 11, 2012

    Absolutely lovely! A happy, genuine officiant makes a world of difference!

  5. maura
    Jul 11, 2012

    as a town government employee, married person, and former NYer, this makes my heart sing and my eyes tear!

    i hope you print this out and share it with him, or his boss!

  6. Chris Ralph
    Jul 11, 2012

    He married my wife and I in December (beautifully photographed by Katie Jane BTW) and he WAS incredible!

    He’s the Bruno Kirby of marriage officiants and I my wife and I still love to imitate him: BY THE POWER INVESTED IN ME AND THE GREAT STATE OF NEW YORK… I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU HUSBAND AND WIFE!

  7. Chris Ralph
    Jul 11, 2012

    He married my wife and I in December (beautifully photographed by Katie Jane BTW) and he WAS incredible!

    He’s the Bruno Kirby of marriage officiants and I my wife and I still love to imitate him: BBY THE POWER INVESTED IN ME AND THE GREAT STATE OF NEW YORK… I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU HUSBAND AND WIFE!

  8. Rachelle
    Jul 11, 2012

    I rarely ever get teary, even about wedding stuff, but this story definitely brought tears to my eyes! What a great guy to bring such genuine enthusiasm to his job every day, for every couple.

  9. Margaret
    Jul 12, 2012

    After reading this I now want to know the name of this guy!! You have to find out!

  10. Katie Jane
    Jul 12, 2012

    I actually had a couple clients send me his name – I didn’t even think about the fact it would be on their marriage certificates!

  11. Christy Tyler
    Jul 13, 2012

    Your words did not fall flat! I actually got teared up when you mentioned how happy he was to finally officiate a same sex marriage! I love this post & want to meet this man!

  12. Kandise
    Jul 14, 2012


  13. Danae
    Jul 15, 2012

    As soon as George and Fred got back from their wedding in New York, they told me about this guy! I knew it had to be him because the bit they recounted was exactly “BY THE POWER INVESTED IN ME BY THE GREAT STATE OF NEW YORK!” It’s so great to see someone making everyone’s life that little bit more awesome. Rock on, public servant!

  14. melissa koren
    Jul 31, 2012

    totally teared up. such a great moment of appreciation Katie!