If you are thinking about planning a New Hampshire elopement, then you’re in the right place! Today I’m sharing a complete, step-by-step guide on how to elope in New Hampshire. Grab a pen to take notes, and keep reading!
Why Should You Elope?
As you are planning your wedding, think about what excites you the most. And if that’s not throwing a big, traditional wedding, then you don’t have to do that! Your wedding day is for you and your fiance to celebrate your love together, so I always suggest doing what makes you the happiest.
For this reason, lots of couples choose to elope. Eloping instead of having a traditional wedding not only helps you save on expenses (by quite a bit!), but it can also reduce the amount of stress you experience while planning your wedding. Large weddings take a lot of work to plan (even if you have a wedding planner!), and in some families can also create stress due to certain dynamics or other situations.
But in addition to these benefits, eloping can also be extremely romantic and a wonderful way to begin your married life together! And, it also allows you lots more flexibility to really create an experience for your elopement day that is unique to you. For example:
- Love to hike? Plan a sunrise or sunset hike and celebrate with a picnic.
- Are you exercise buffs? Start your elopement day with a morning run and then grab coffee at your favorite coffee shop.
- More of the beach-going type? Elope at your favorite beach and then spend the rest of the day basking in the sun and splashing in the waves together.
Once you’ve decided to elope, you can start dreaming up your perfect day. Don’t get me wrong, traditional weddings certainly have their pros too, but I love how elopements allow you to focus on creating an experience together instead of just hosting a party.
Step 1 - Decide When To Elope
The first step in planning your New Hampshire elopement is to decide when you would like to elope. In New Hampshire, each season is truly unique, so once you choose the time of year for your elopement you can start to plan from there. Here are some things to keep in mind by season:
Winter elopements - Do not be afraid of some winter weather! Winter elopements can be extremely romantic - think peaceful and still winter hiking with no bugs, heat, or crowds, followed by a cozy evening by the fire. Snowy backdrops make for really gorgeous photos too - your outfits and florals will really pop!
Spring elopements - Spring in New Hampshire can be a tiny bit unpredictable, but if you are up for being spontaneous and can plan ahead for some weather-related variables, you will have a great elopement day! If you are looking for a typical springtime vibe, then I recommend planning your elopement for late spring versus early to mid-spring.
Summer elopements - Summer is one of the most popular seasons to get married in New Hampshire, and for good reason! The weather between the end of June and early September is almost always spectacular. Whether you are thinking of a mountain, lakeside, or coastal elopement, the scenery in the summer will be amazing. The one thing to consider in the summer is crowds. State Parks and beaches will be busy with vacationers, so keep this in mind as you plan. This is where having a local photographer comes in handy! I know of so many hidden gems that are off the radar!
Fall elopements - When it comes to fall foliage, New Hampshire truly shines. Because of this, fall is the other really popular season for weddings and elopements. For most of the state, peak foliage occurs during the first few weeks of October - check out this website for some great information on foliage timing. Fall is another popular vacation time in New England though, so again something to consider as you’re planning your NH elopement.
Here are some seasonal elopements for inspiration and to get your wheels turning:
- A Fall Apple Orchard Elopement
- An Intimate Fall Elopement
- Winter Elopement in the White Mountains
- Mountaintop Adventure Elopement
- Dreamy Kancamagus Elopement
- Summer Sugar Hill Elopement
Step 2 - Decide Where in NH to Elope
Now that you’ve decided on the season and month for your NH elopement, the second step is to decide where to elope. I might be biased, but my favorite location for weddings (and general adventures!) in New Hampshire is the White Mountains. For some great elopement locations in the White Mountains, check out this post.
Throughout the state, some wedding venues offer special elopement packages that you can check out. I have also seen lots of couples rent a cute Airbnb for their day, which gives you a really personal and unique experience. Besides the White Mountains, New Hampshire’s Lakes Region is also a beautiful location for eloping, as is both the Lake Sunapee region and the Seacoast.
Note - If you are looking into a State Park for your ceremony, you will want to check to see if any special permits are required.
Step 3 - Select Your Vendors
Many people don’t realize that eloping doesn’t have to be just about going to a courthouse to get married (which can be super fun too though!). You actually can partner with quite a few vendors and really build your dream day!
Just because you are eloping doesn’t mean you can’t have gorgeous flowers, a stunning dress or suit, an amazing cake - and more! Since you will not have the expense of hosting lots of guests or outfitting bridal parties, you have a little more flexibility to spend on vendors that you love. Your vendors will work with you to create that perfect experience you’ve been dreaming up.
I also recommend working with a photographer who is familiar with photographing elopements. An elopement day is quite different from a traditional wedding day, so it is great to have someone on your team who is there to help! Knowing New Hampshire inside and out, and all of the important details you need to be familiar with to elope is super helpful! In my experience, this creates more of a stress-free experience for you.
Step 4 - Apply For Your NH Marriage License & Have Your Ceremony
Finally, once you have your date, location, and vendors selected for your NH elopement, it’s time to work on the legal stuff! Getting married in NH is pretty straightforward whether you are eloping or having a large wedding. You need to obtain a marriage license and have your ceremony performed by an ordained officiant.
NH Marriage Licenses
To obtain your marriage license, you will go to any Town Clerk’s office together (regardless of where you live) and complete a marriage application worksheet there in person. You will need to bring several documents including*:
- Government-issued photo ID (Driver’s License, Non-Driver Identification, United States Passport)
- Certified Copy of Birth Certificate
- Individuals having had legal name changes since birth and prior to marriage must provide a certified copy of the legal name change.
- If either party was married previously, a certified copy of the document ending their most recent marriage is required.
Note that they will not accept faxes or photocopies of these documents, they must be originals. You will then be given a marriage license which is valid for 90 days.
New Hampshire Wedding Officiant Info
Then, once you have your license, it’s time for your ceremony! You can choose to work with a professional officiant who is already ordained, or many couples choose to have a friend or family member officiate the ceremony. They just need to become ordained first. Check out this link for information on how to become ordained. In New Hampshire, witnesses are not required, so it can truly just be you, your fiance, and your officiant present for the ceremony - so intimate and romantic!
After your ceremony, your officiant will complete their section of the marriage license, and return it to the Town Clerk where it was issued within 6 days following the ceremony.
Ready to Book Your New Hampshire Elopement Photographer?
I hope you found this NH elopement guide helpful! One final tip as you are planning your elopement is to start planning and booking your vendors well in advance. Even though you are not planning as elaborate of an event, popular times of year still book up quickly for most wedding vendors! I absolutely love meeting new couples, so if you are ready to connect about photography, please reach out to me!