Let me guess - you are here because you are looking into how to elope in the White Mountains? Well, you're in luck! I'm a White Mountain based elopement photographer (yep, I live in this beautiful part of New Hampshire). In this blog post, I am about to give you absolutely everything you need to know about eloping in one of my favorite places (and yes, I may be biased).
The White Mountains are such a special place. We have of course the beautiful mountain range, but also rivers, waterfalls, ponds, lakes, fields and more. It is a place that you can get such a wide variety of scenery on your elopement day, and make an adventure while you're at it. It's beautiful in all of the seasons (but HELLO Fall!), and there are fun activities you can incorporate throughout the year.
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 have 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.
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, specifically in the White Mountains!
And don't hesitate to reach out! Since I live here, I am an expert in the White Mountains, giving you all of my favorite locations outside of the popular touristy spots. There are SO many places to get married here, and trust me when I tell you that I have your best interest!
How to Elope in the White Mountains
- 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.
- Find your first vendors: If you find your White Mountain elopement 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.
- Find accommodation: When you elope, you can find a fantastic accommodation for the two of you or even something 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 facts you may want to think about our ceremony setup, 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!). And no, in New Hampshire, you don't need any witnessses.
- 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 the White Mountains
Luckily in the state of 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: 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.
Do you need an officiant?
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. Some couples sort out the paper working beforehand, while others prefer having their elopement day be more official. If you're planning on having an adventure elopement, I'd recommend hiring someone whose passions align with yours! Hiring an experienced officiant who also loves the outdoors really ties everything together. Here's a few details on picking an officiant, and my recommendations too!
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.
- ME! Yes, your photographer. I am ordained and can sign off on your marriage license - for no additional cost.
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.
What to do at your White Mountains Elopement
Elopement ideas are endless. The number one thing you need to remember is that whatever you choose to do on your wedding day is "you". On this amazing one of a kind day, 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. Afterward, you can meet up with your family and friends and have the most epic brunch ever. Or you can plan an all-day adventure just you two, then head back to a cozy Airbnb to pop some champagne and relax!
Or maybe your family has a cabin they've visited since you were little. This could be a beautiful way to celebrate in a place you love, with the people you love.
The White Mountains have some stunning views and plenty of trails ranging from easy and accessible to multi-day hiking options! I've been to so many of them over the last couple years, for elopements and just to hike for fun! I can offer a list of options for your elopement, and suggestions for the best trails based on your vision and level of hiking skill!
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, cabin?
- 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 a picnic, reading, horseback riding, play board games etc.
- Do you want to have some type of brunch/lunch/dinner? Where would you ideally want it? Restaurant, airbnb, picnic, private chef?
- Do you want to incorporate any type of excursion? Helicopter, ATVing, snowmobiling, horseback riding, skiing, kayaking, etc?
Start there, then you can really start building out the day.
WANT SOME INSPIRATION? CHECK BELOW FOR REAL WHITE MOUNTAINS ELOPEMENTS
- Sam and Nick's intimate all day adventure elopement in the White Mountains
- Meg + Richard Horseback Riding Elopement
- Jess and Matthew's family elopement
- Christie + Cayce's Fall elopement in the White Mountains
- Martha + Nicks Summer Elopement (+swim) in the White Mountains
- Jana + Connors two-day hiking Elopement in the White Mountains
- Lily + Charlies Summer elopement in the White Mountains
- Maria + Pete's Winter elopement in the White Mountains
- Artists Bluff Proposal in the White Mountains
- Franconia Notch Elopement
Where to Elope in the White Mountains
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 the White Mountains
Franconia Notch is close to my home here in the White Mountains, so I may be biased when I say it's probably my favorite region. This is home to the famous Artists Bluff, Echo Lake, and Franconia Ridge trail. You also have Cannon Mountain, where you can take a gondola up to the top if you don't want to hike. This part of the park is right along I-93, so it is incredibly easy to get to, especially from Massachusetts (or Boston Logan airport).
Crawford Notch is north east of Franconia notch, but still extremely simple to get to. It's home to the popular trail Mount Willard, and the tallest waterfall in New Hampshire, Arethusa Falls. The closest major town within Crawford Notch is Bethlehem, one of my favorite little spots in the Whites!
Alright, as us locals like to call it, "the Kanc" is a 56 mile highway that connects the towns of Lincoln to Conway. It is one of the top rated scenic highways in the world, especially in the Fall. It is majorly backed up through September and October, so if you are looking for a secluded location for your elopement, I'd probably stay away from this area! However, keep it on your own list because it has so many amazing trails and also follows a river.
When to elope in the White Mountains
Depending on where specifically you choose for your location, the weather/season actually varies! Luckily as your experienced White Mountains Elopement photographer, I know all the ins and outs of the seasons in the White mountains! If you want to read more about which season to elope in, check out my blog post here.
Elope in the Spring
Read this entire paragraph - don't stop at the first sentence! The Spring is probably my least favorite in the Whites. It is mud season, can be really icy, and the weather can still be pretty frigid. However, if I had to choose a month that I really enjoy, it would be May. May can be an incredible month to elope in. The waterfalls are flowing, if you are hoping to have a waterfall elopement. Plus the trees are all starting to bloom so the colors are really beautiful. AND it is still very quiet so you will have more of a change of seclusion.
The summer in the Whites can honestly be tricky. Mother nature likes to keep us on our toes. But if you are hoping to stick to the summer months, then I'd highly recommend June. July and August are historically incredibly hot and humid, whereas June fluctuates but can be incredible "spring" temperatures. You'll get lots of lush green, and in the later June time period, you have the lupines in bloom!
Fall, is undoubtedly my favorite time of the year in the White Mountains. The colors, the temperature, the beauty. I cannot get enough of it. Honestly, everything about it is perfect...
However, it is insanely busy. I cannot stress enough that if you are getting married in the outdoors, you need to have a photographer who is familiar with the area. You will not have a private and secluded elopement without one. Most photographers who don't know the area will bring you to the most popular areas, and in turn, you will have zero seclusion. Just keep this in mind for your Fall elopement!
The winter can be SO beautiful in the Whites, but also SO cold. It is one of my favorite times of the year for its beauty, but you need to be prepared for lots of breaks and cold weather. As long as you are prepared with winter gear, backup options, and have a place to get warm, the winter can be an incredible time to elope. Plus think of all the fun winter activities you could incorporate!
Where to stay in the White Mountains
Airbnb / VRBO / Expedia
I always tell my couples that where they choose to stay depends on what they are hoping for. What I love about Airbnbs/VRBO's is that they provide seclusion and privacy. If you don't want random strangers around, then this is a good option for you. The other benefits is that there are option to hold plenty of guests, they have tons of space, and some are super cool and unique! They always can make for a fun experience and even cooler photos!
Here are a few of my favorites:
Short term rentals
B&Bs + Inns (small wedding venue) - check out my full list of intimate wedding venues in NH
- White Mountains Hotel and Resort
- Omni Mount Washington Resort
- Nordic Village Resort
- Bear Mountain Lodge
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!
Hey, I'm Kelsey!
A New Hampshire based adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer for the adventurous souls. I travel throughout New England and worldwide, empowering you to create the most beautiful, adventurous day and give you the memories you'll be able to look back on for all the years to come.
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