Let me guess - are you're looking into how to elope in New Hampshire? Got it. Well I'm a New Hampshire based elopement photographer, so I am about to give you absolutely everything you need to know about eloping in this beautiful state I call home.
But first, let me get something important out of the way. What even is an elopement? Eloping is no longer a quick stop to city hall or a flight to Vegas. Nope. Over the last few years the Western US has led the charge with shifting elopements into full on experiences. Elopements instead are an intentional and meaningful way to get married, and throw out the traditions to create a day that feels true to you. And guess what? Eloping in New Hampshire is freaking epic. It's also quite simple, AND there is such a good variety of experiences to make your day extra special.
People from all over the world get really creative when it comes to their elopement days. With elopements, you can hike to a secluded Mountain View, or grab your closest 25 family and friends and having an intimate ceremony in the woods followed by a dinner. The best part about eloping is that there are no rules or ways of doing things. You get to be creative and make it your picture perfect day.
I absolutely love that elopements are starting to be seen as an option over here on the East Coast. I truly believe there are so many people out there that don't want the traditional wedding. They don't want to be pulled in a million different directions. This is the one day they get to celebrate one another. Elopements allow you to be fully present and in the moment with the one you love for the entire day.
Alright, you probably get the point by now - I love elopements. And I'm sure at this point you just want to know HOW to do it!
How to elope in New Hampshire
There are a few steps you'll need to take to elope in New Hampshire. To keep it simple, follow the below checklist.
- Find your first vendors: If you find your photographer (oh hey!) or an elopement planner first, they can help you throughout the entire elopement planning process. This includes location scouting, finding vendors, timeline planning and endless guides. Also, take your time with this. Unlike a wedding day, you are literally with your vendors throughout the entire process AND the entire day. The connection between you all is very, very important.
- Daydream up your day: I have an awesome resource here on how to plan your elopement. Ask yourself - what would be our ideal perfect date? Write down your 10 favorite things ever, then figure out how you can combine all of them into one amazing day? It's possible, I promise.
- Choose your location: Once you have an idea of what you want your day to look like, then you can start looking for locations. For some of my favorite New Hampshire elopement locations, check here.
- Find an accommodation: When you elope, you can find an amazing accommodation for the two of you, or even something that you can throw a little dinner party after you get married. You want to try finding something sooner than later so you have all the best options.
- Gather all the details: With elopements, you can have it as extravagant or simple as you want. Some details you may want to think about are ceremony set up, vow books, all your attire, decor, dinner setup, etc.
- Make it legal: The most important step is making sure you can really get married! Find out how to get a marriage license and who can officiate (keep reading below!).
- Have the best day: Once your photographer or planner has built out the timeline for the day, now it's time to just enjoy it!
How to legally elope in New Hampshire
Luckily in New Hampshire it is actually quite simple to elope and get officially married. It's just like weddings. All you need is a marriage license and have your ceremony done by an approved officiant. That's it! Other than that, it can be exactly how you want it to be.
So let's start with the first thing you need, which is a marriage license.
How to get a marriage license in New Hampshire:
To obtain a marriage license, you need to go to any town's Town Clerk in New Hampshire, no matter if you are a resident or not. Thankfully it doesn't take long to get a license. Even if you are out of state, you can just go the day before (on a weekday).
All you need is to head to the Town Clerk with each other and bring the below:
- Bring a document that proves name, age and DOB such as a driver’s license, non-drivers ID or passport
- Full Name
- Date of Birth
- State of Birth
- Current address
- Social Security Number, if applicable
- Years of Education
- Certified record of date last marriage ended, if applicable
- Fathers full name and state of birth
- Mothers full maiden name and state of birth
- A $50 fee by credit card or cash
**All of this is subject to change, so please make sure to go to the link below to make sure you have the latest information!
For more information, here is everything you need to know on the NH Website.
TIP: During the busy season (June-October), Town Clerks can be very busy with marriage licenses. You can get everything done beforehand so you don't have to stress about getting the license on time or not. Don't hesitate to call them and see if there is anything you can do to speed up the process.
Who can officiate your elopement?
A lot of people want to know who can even officiate their wedding. In some places it can be really strict, so I actually called the state of New Hampshire to get clarity! Here are the things you need to know to figure out who can officiate your elopement.
If the person you want to marry you is a resident of New Hampshire:
- A Justice of the Peace commissioned in the State of New Hampshire;
- Can be any minister of the gospel in New Hampshire who has been ordained, who resides in New Hampshire and is in regular standing with the Clergy.
- If you want a friend to marry you, then they would need to become ordained by the state of New Hampshire then apply for the license. You can easily apply online to get ordained. To then apply for the license with the Secretary of State, you can simply head to the NH Website here and apply online.
If the person you want to marry you is not a resident of New Hampshire:
- It can be any minister who resides outside of New Hampshire but has a pastoral charge wholly or partly in New Hampshire, if the marriage is performed within his/her parish.
- Any member of the clergy who is not ordained but is engaged in the services of the religious body to which he or she belongs and resides in New Hampshire - after being licensed by the Secretary of State.
- If you want a friend to marry you who is not a resident of New Hampshire, then they would need to become ordained by the state they live in. Then they would apply for the license IN New Hampshire. To get ordained, you can easily apply online. To apply for the license with the Secretary of State, you can simply head to the NH Website here and apply online.
How to figure out what to do with your New Hampshire Elopement
Elopement ideas are honestly endless. It all depends on what you and your significant other love to do together. The number one thing you need to remember is that this is where you can build out your perfect experience. It can just be one day, or even make it three days. It doesn't matter because it's whatever YOU want.
For example, you two may be really into hiking and the outdoors. Why not take a sunrise hike, then put on your attire? Then you can have a stunning first look as the sun comes up before you say your vows. Afterwards, you can meet up with your family and friends and have the most epic brunch ever.
OR maybe you love the ocean, and never imagined saying I do anywhere else. Well, New Hampshire has some stunning location views. We can find a beach or rocks overlooking the water for sunset, plan out a picnic and pop champagne. Then you can get a beautiful Airbnb to have a weekend together.
As you can see with these two examples, the ideas are endless. The best part about eloping is that you can throw out the shoulda, coulda, wouldas. You can literally do exactly what you want. There will be no regrets. You can marry your best friend in your dream location with your most favorite people, doing your absolute favorite things. THAT is how you figure out how to create your dream elopement experience. But don't worry, I can help you too!
Here are some things I generally ask my couples to start figuring out their plans:
- What type of scenery do you want? Woods, waterfalls, mountain tops, fields, ocean?
- Write down your top 10 favorite things to do together. For example: eat pancakes, go hiking, play with our dog, have our morning coffee, have picnics at a park, etc.
- Do you want to have some type of brunch/lunch/dinner? Where would you ideally want it? Restaurant, airbnb, private chef?
- Do you want to incorporate any type of excursions? Helicopter, ATVing, snowmobiling?
Start there, then you can really start building out the day.
Want some inspiration? Check below for real New Hampshire elopements.
- Sam and Nick's intimate all day adventure elopement in the White Mountains
- Jess and Matthew's family elopement
- Lauren and Corey's Cathedral Ledge elopement with friends
Where to Elope in New Hampshire
The fun part about eloping is that it will most likely just be the two of you, or 10-20 of your closest family and friends. This gives you a wider variety of places you can get married rather than a 100+ person wedding. If you want a more detailed guide on where to elope, I help my couples find exact locations that fit their needs and desires.
Here are a few places where you can elope in New Hampshire:
- The Mountains: A lot of people don't realize this but if you are eloping and love the outdoors, then why not do it in the mountains?! You can plan a hike you've been wanting to do, or even just up to your favorite mountain. Hike up in your hiking gear, and then get changed at the top. You can do a first look, then have your intimate ceremony, set up a picnic for dinner and watch the sun go down. It's magical. Want some ideas? Check out Sam + Nick's White Mountain elopement.
- A venue: There are some venues that have elopement options with them. This could also be a great option especially if it includes accommodation and an experience to go with it.
- Backyard: If you or your family have a beautiful backyard, then this is also a wonderful option. It is a place that could be meaningful, with a lot of space, and you could do everything in one place. Want some ideas? Check out Allie + Pat's backyard elopement.
- The beach: New Hampshire is great because it also has beaches. Head to southern NH and get married on Rye beach followed by a picnic. A lot of our lakes have beaches as well if there is a lake that is special to you two.
Additional things you need to know
Below are some additional things you need to keep in mind when planning your elopement that I feel is really important.
Permits: Depending on where you are planning to elope, you may need a permit. For the White Mountains, you can look here for information on whether or not you need a permit. Every state park is also different. I'd recommend googling the State Park + wedding information. Then everything you need to know will show up - including contact information!
Finding your why: People have different reasons to why they get married and have the wedding they do. Finding your why is going to help you fully enjoy the experience of your elopement. If you are eloping because your wedding was cancelled due to COVID, then that is a totally fine "why". But I will challenge you - how can you make it the most epic elopement day as possible? This day is for you to be in the moment and create a day that feels 'you'.
Forget how other people do it: I get a lot of questions like "what do other people do for their days". The blessing and a curse for elopements is that there are no rules. You can throw out all the traditions and start from scratch. This thought can be overwhelming, but that's where I come in, to help guide you into creating the best day ever. Let your dreams take you places they couldn't have gone if you were planning a big wedding!
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