Married During the Indictment
At 1 p.m. on the day of Donald J. Trump’s arraignment, about an hour before he pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts in Manhattan Criminal Court, a line formed outside the Marriage Bureau around the corner — a smaller, but no less determined crowd than the throngs outside the courthouse.
“We know from experience that when somebody wants to get married, no force on earth will stop them,” said Michael McSweeney, the New York City clerk, “including what’s happening today.”
Some joked online that their wedding hashtag should be #arraignedmarriage
Among the anxious couples waiting to get married were Jerica Guerra, 53, and Natalie Bonilla, 37. They met in early 2020 at work at a post office in downtown Manhattan.
Media crews and people carrying “Trump 2024” signs and “Lock Him Up” signs were in City Hall Park. Regardless of the frenzy nearby, Ms. Guerra and Ms. Bonilla were on clouds, focused on celebrating each other.
“It’s a beautiful day for a wedding,” Ms. Guerra said.
They had scheduled their 1 p.m. appointment at the Marriage Bureau about three weeks ago, so when Ms. Guerra found out about Mr. Trump’s arraignment, she was worried. “I’m like, ‘Wait a minute, that’s my wedding day,’” she said. “There’s going to be chaos, there’s going to be blockage. I wanted this day to be for me.”
But she knew that it still was her special day: “Once I say ‘I do,’ I go back uptown to my reception and it’s going to be all about me and my bride.” Her daughter was at home in Harlem, decorating the apartment in preparation for the newlyweds’ arrival.
Ms. Bonilla, on the other hand, was delighted when she found out that the arraignment would be on the same day as her wedding. “Everybody should get what they deserve,” she said.
She was standing in the line outside the city clerk’s office, often referred to as City Hall, wearing a blindfold because she did not want to see Ms. Guerra until the ceremony. She drove to the Marriage Bureau with her cousin, separately from Ms. Guerra. “I hear everything around me but I can’t see a thing,” Ms. Bonilla said.
Nick Wongshue, 30, and Bella Leung, 28, were standing in the line outside of the Marriage Bureau with his parents, who came to celebrate with them.
“The fourth of the four is a special day for us,” Mr. Wongshue said, referring to the date, 4/4. They chose to get married on April 4 because they had their first date exactly two years ago and toured their first apartment together one year ago. They met through mutual friends at Perrotin, an art gallery on the Lower East Side.
“I’m taking it in because I’ve never experienced something like this before,” said Ms. Leung, who is from Perth, Australia. “I’ve seen this in TV, I can’t believe we’re walking through this now, celebrating marriage.” During their ceremony, she FaceTimed her parents, who were in Australia and stayed up until 1:30 a.m. their time to watch from their phones.
In the morning, Mr. Wongshue, who is from the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, was not even thinking about what the scene downtown might look like. “My morning today was pretty relaxing,” he said. “We woke up, we took our time, we got dressed. We were happy that the weather’s nice.”
While 43 couples were wed at the city clerk’s office on the day of the arraignment, several others did not show up to their appointments, according to Mr. McSweeney, who oversees the Marriage Bureau. “I think people may have been scared off,” he said. He did work to ramp up security that day.
“We’ve had a lot of unusual days,” he said, citing examples like the 2009 Yankees’ World Series championship parade and the first day that same-sex marriages were legally recognized in New York in 2011. “We’re used to big crowds being in the neighborhood,” he said.
As one man walking past City Hall said, “What a day to be married.”