Photograph of the Municipal Building by dietrich on Flickr

While the Manhattan Marriage Bureau occupies space in that glorious wedding cake of a building--the Municipal Building designed by McKim, Mead & White--the bureau itself is pretty dingy, and is getting ready to move to a new space, one with marble floors and columns, chandeliers and even a seating area! The NY Times visited the bureau recently, observing 51 weddings (shortest: 48 seconds; longest: 2 minutes, 32 seconds) and speaking with one city employee who has performed thousands of weddings:

Walter Curtis can find a wealth of vivid memories: The bride who showed up in a princess costume one Halloween. The 126 couples who came before him over the course of a single Valentine’s Day. The former Balkans freedom fighter who, when instructed to kiss the bride, turned and planted a smooch on Mr. Curtis’s cheek.

He has a harder time finding anything colorful to say about the setting: a warren of offices on the second floor of the Municipal Building, its hallways lined with cracked tile floors, fading yellow walls and dim fluorescent lighting, where city employees like him have been giving true love a brief, secular send-off since 1916.

“I love my job,” said Mr. Curtis, who is in charge of the marriage records room, as he rested his large frame on a creaky chair in the bureau’s conference room. “But I don’t think I’ll miss anything about this place.”

The move, announced last fall, from cramped 1 Centre Street to the 5,000-square foot space at 80 Centre Street (at Worth) means that Mayor Bloomberg and the city tourism officials will get to market NYC as a wedding destination, more like Las Vegas. And the space is being decorated by Bloomberg's personal decorator, Jamie Drake who has also decorated the mayor's Upper East Side town house. But it won't have the graffiti wall.

The Times has a slideshow of some couples who got married--one bride seems to be Shandi Sullivan, the former America's Next Top Model contestant.