Everything you need to know about getting married in the beautiful Berkshires of Western Massachusetts
Berkshire Massachusetts Elopement Guide
Included in the Outdoor Chronicles Photography Massachusetts Wedding Guide
Everything you need to know about getting legally married in the Berkshires
How to decide what to do on your elopement
How much it costs to get married in the Berkshires (with sample budgets!)
Rolling hills, sparkling lakes, and countless tucked-away gems that make you feel like you've stumbled upon a wonderland all your own. You might assume that the Berkshires are a remote and inaccessible destination. You would be wrong––it’s only a few hours away from major New England cities! A hop, skip and a jump from both Boston and Manhattan, Pittsfield, Massachusetts––heart of the Berkshires––is less than an hour drive from Albany and New York’s Capital Region. The Berkshires hide history ‘round every corner. It boasts hiking trails to suit every ability and waterfalls steeped in legend. The region exudes an almost magical aura that––if it wasn’t for the odd iPhone spotting––could make you believe you've stepped into a different time or dimension.
Though its beauty shifts with each season, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a month when it isn’t breathtaking. For those who want to add a sprinkling of art to their elopement, there are cultural offerings of all stripes. MassMoCA and Norman Rockwell for the art lovers; Tanglewood for the music aficionados; and too many award-winning theaters to reasonably list in one sentence. In brief, it offers pleasures for every pallet and is a truly ideal destination for an elopement adventure.
WHAT ARE THE BERKSHIRES, EXACTLY?
The term “Berkshires'' refers to a region in Eastern New England––unceded homelands of the Mohican Nation––known for its natural beauty. This land and its people have carried a rich history since long before European settlers forced their relocation to Wisconsin, where they now reside under the name Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians. Whether you are new to town or a seasoned veteran, we encourage you to read their story.
For the past century and a half, abundant recreation opportunities and renowned cultural institutions have made the Berkshires famous as a favorite escape of city-dwellers. It is also home to a vibrant year-round community. The roster of notable residents (past and present) teems with artists, writers, and activists: Edith Wharton, Herman Melville, Karen Allen, Meryl Streep and James Taylor, to name a few.
Though the term “Berkshires” can colloquially include parts of Southern Vermont, Northwestern Connecticut and Eastern New York State, the legal portion of this guide provides information specific to Berkshire County, Massachusetts.
For information on eloping to the Berkshire region of New York, check out How To Elope in Upstate New York. Stay tuned for similar guides to Vermont and Connecticut.
DISTRICTS WITHIN THE BERKSHIRES: NORTH, SOUTH & MID COUNTY
What locals refer to as “North County” is just a stone’s throw from Vermont. It includes Williamstown, known for prestigious Williams College, and North Adams, home to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA). North County also boasts Mount Greylock, the highest peak in the Bay State.
“Mid-County” encompasses Pittsfield––hub of the Berkshires and its only official city–– as well as smaller towns like Lenox and Richmond. The Berkshire Museum, Barrington Stage Company, Tanglewood, and Pittsfield State orest are examples of Mid-County attractions.
Head down to South County to discover Stockbridge, Great Barrington, and Sheffield; you’ll find The Norman Rockwell Museum, Monument Mountain, and the birthplace of W.E.B. Du Bois. Though most cultural activity is concentrated in the Western side of the county, those who venture to the hill-towns of the Eastern Berkshires (including Becket, Otis and Windsor) are rewarded with rustic beauty, unspoiled nature, plentiful waterways, and the world-renowned dance center Jacob’s Pillow.
THE NITTY GRITTY (Legal Stuff & Logistics for Your Berkshire Wedding)
So you’ve decided to elope to the Berkshires. Congratulations! But how do you go about making it official? This section lays out everything you need to know about how to tie the knot, legally speaking!
TL;DR on Getting Legally Married in the Berkshires
Apply in person at a city or town clerk office
Both people need to be present
3 day waiting period
You need an officiant
You do not need witnesses
Fees range from $50-$100
Getting your MARRIAGE LICENSE in Massachusetts
You will need to apply for a marriage license before eloping in the Berkshires. This can be done at any city or town clerk’s office anywhere in the state of Massachusetts. It does not need to be in the county where you live, nor where your ceremony will be held (although of course it could be).
You and your soon-to-be spouse need to apply together, in person. Call ahead to confirm what documents you will need, as this can vary by location. Generally speaking, you should be prepared to share proof of age (like a birth certificate or passport), your Social Security number, and––if you and/or your partner plan to change your name after getting hitched––what your new name(s) will be. You'll also need to pay a license fee, the cost of which varies by location and is generally somewhere between $25 and $50 .
There is usually a 3 day waiting period after applying for your license. This occasionally can be waived through a separate application, but planning ahead is advised. Once received, your license is valid for 60 days.
WHO CAN OFFICIATE A MASSACHUSETTS WEDDING?
A Justice of the Peace or ordained clergy member can conduct Massachusetts marriage ceremonies. But if that's not your style, it isn't the only option. You can have a friend or family member apply for a 1-Day designation (1 week to 6 months before your nuptial date). For those you prefer to keep the day between you, your partner, and your photographer, you’re in luck: I, Molly, can officiate your wedding while also serving as your elopement photographer! If you have any questions, or want more details on applying for a marriage license in Massachusetts and the legal aspects of getting married in the baked bean state, check out “Getting Married in Massachusetts; Before The Wedding” from mass.gov
DO YOU NEED A WITNESS AT YOUR MASSACHUSETTS WEDDING?
Short answer: nope!
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GET MARRIED AT CITY HALL IN MASSACHUSETTS?
For those who marry at a City Hall in Massachusetts, fees total between $50-$100. Apart from this, your wedding adventure can cost as much or as little as you want it to. You’ll find sample budgets for luxury elopements, mid-range elopements and budget elopements at the end of this guide.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO GET MARRIED IN THE BERKSHIRES OF WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS?
City Clerk fees range from $50-$60 in Western Massachusetts.
WHERE TO GET MARRIED IN THE BERKSHIRES
Home to an essential corridor of the Appalachian Trail, there is no shortage of magnificent and intimate elopement locations in The Berkshires.
Berkshire County comprises a key section of The Berkshire Wildlife Linkages, an ecological network reaching into neighboring states which, according to The Nature Conservancy, “contains the highest concentration of complex and varied habitats in Southern New England.” So whether mountain tops, waterways, bird sanctuaries, or adorable historic villages call your name, the Berkshires answer the call!
With so much to offer, you’ll likely need more than a day to fully profit from such ecological abundance.
Discovering Your Unique Elopement Experience (i.e. What to do on your elopement & how to decide)
If you want to plan a Berkshire elopement, but don’t know where to begin, I don’t blame you; in fact, I'll help! Working with me, you’ll be guided through a process to help you discover an individualized elopement experience––perhaps something you haven’t yet allowed yourself to fully contemplate until now. Imagining your best date ever, you will visualizing your elopement––what you smell/taste/hear, how you feel––and map out the sensory and emotional landscape of the day.
From the moment you wake (sipping mint tea together in a rustic cabin? breakfast in a silky-sheeted bed followed by a spa treatment?) to exchange vows (beside a mossy waterfall at dawn? overlooking miles of brilliant foliage at sunset?), and your after-event evening (picnic with the Boston Pops at Tanglewood? counting fireflies at Olivia’s Overlook?), every moment of the day will be as unique as you and your relationship. Based on this, I will scout out the perfect location(s) for you and your sweetie. If you’re ready for the full experience, I can even create a customized itinerary with detailed recommendations for food, lodging, and activities just for the two of you. Every step of the way, Outdoor Chronicles Photography is here to celebrate you and document your elopement adventure!
Lake Elopement in Massachusetts
Floating weightless in the water and holding hands as you say your vows. Waking to bird songs. Sharing a newspaper and coffee on the dock, feet dangling in the water as the sun rises. A day full of kayaking, fishing, and swimming. Watching sparkles reflect on the water through your lake house window. Dinner at a historic inn, then marshmallows and serenading at a campfire-built-for-two. If this sounds like a dreamy way to celebrate your love, a lake elopement might be the thing for you!
Berkshire Lake Elopement Ideas:
The Stockbridge Bowl
Waterfall Elopement in Massachusetts
The rush, rhythm and babble of the water. Smell of the woods and moss. Wading upstream and finding hidden swimming holes. Salamanders under rocks. A championship skipping stone. Cascading––sometimes seasonal––waterfalls offer a particular kind of joy and transformation. Sun-drying while sharing dreams, gratitude, and vows. A picnic of farm-stand fruits, homemade sourdough and gourmet cheese. Toasting your new spouse with craft beer from the brewery you toured together earlier in the day. Cozy, nostalgic and daring, waterfall elopements are perfect for couples who love exploring, embracing their inner child, and eschew arbitrary obligations.
Berkshire Waterfall Elopement Ideas:
Pittsfield State Forest
Mountain Elopement in Massachusetts
With views into neighboring states––farms and forest spread out below––a mountain elopement puts you on top of the world, literally. Perhaps you spent the morning hiking to this lookout and are basking in endorphins (and sweat). Or maybe you arrived by car after a leisurely morning at a local coffee roaster and independent bookstore. Either way, you are here with your sweetheart and the air is clear. You can see the backs of hawks as they circle below. The mountain breeze adds dramatic flare and mild chaos, blowing hair into your face as link hands and turn to one another, giggling out your “I do”s.
With several mountain-top views accessible by car, the Berkshires are an ideal option for couples who want a mountain elopement but aren’t able to hike—whether due to physical limitations or a desire to check out Degas at the Clark! If you do want to hike, of course, Molly will find the perfect trail to match your abilities and desires.
Berkshire Mountain Elopement Ideas:
Bascom Lodge at Greylock
Quaint Village Elopement in Massachusetts
Do you dream of wandering down storybook Main Streets and discovering quintessential Americana scenery arm-in-arm with your sweetheart? Imagine lingering in cozy coffee shops: locally roasted cappuccinos steam up your beloved’s glasses, and you both savor a just-baked blueberry muffin. Purchase your wedding rings from a local artisan in the morning and exchange your vows in the privacy of a tucked-away gazebo in the afternoon. Share your favorite reads with friendly independent bookstore proprietors, sample local cheeses, and admire gilded age architecture, before retiring to your room in a historic inn (or this octagonal treehouse!) for your wedding night.
Downtown Stockbridge––literally lifted from the front page of The Saturday Evening Post––has barely changed in over 50 years. You can experience a recreation of Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting each December, complete with vintage cars. The Berkshires is brimming with postcard perfect towns and small businesses you’ll feel great about patronizing. Quaint Berkshire Villages Elopement Ideas:
Norman Rockwell’s Stockbridge & Lee
Literary Lenox (The Mount, Lenox Bookstore, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s footsteps)
Hidden Gems & Jewelry of Berkshire County
Berkshire Woodland Elopement in Massachusetts
If you and your partner feel most connected in the tranquility of nature, a Berkshire Woodland Elopement might be exactly the wedding experience you crave. Bathed in the call of birds, the melody of lapping water, and the rustle of leaves in the wind, a deep calm settles in you. At one with your surroundings and each other, you are submerged in a vibrant ecosystem, a birdwatcher’s paradise. The scent of sweet grasses and wildflowers, a chorus of peepers and whippoorwills, perhaps? Or maybe the musk of fallen leaves and soil, with honking geese overhead? The hush that falls when, mid-vows, a Great Blue Heron touches down mere feet away to preside over the proceedings.
Along with bird watchers, ecologists, and nature buffs, this is a particularly great option for those with mobility limitations. Bird sanctuaries & nature walks abound across Massachusetts, with particularly high concentrations in the Berkshires. A Woodland Elopement is perfect for any couple looking for an intimate yet accessible scenic setting for their special day.
Berkshire Woodland Elopement Ideas:
When To Visit The Berkshires | The Best Season to Elope in Western Massachusetts
From lush fields to fiery fall vistas, from snowy wonderlands to blossoming orchards, Western Massachusetts is magical year-round! Of course, outdoor adventure options vary with the seasons, so it’s helpful to consider your ideal experience when deciding on a date. Like many regions of the northeast, the timing of season-to-season changes can differ year to year. Keep that in mind when planning a wedding during “transition months” like April and November.
Winter Elopement in The Berkshires
Anyone who has snowshoed through a Berkshire forest after a blizzard and heard the hush of drifting snow mingle with the tinkle of ice will tell you that “magical” doesn’t even begin to cut it. Draped in winter’s comforter, the Berkshires offers otherworldly landscapes and memories. Is there a better way to wrap up your outdoor elopement adventure than snuggling up with a warm drink, and your newly-minted spouse, in front of a blazing fireside at your historic B&B?
Other Winter Elopement Activity Ideas:
Discover the Appalachian Trail the Nordic way (cross-country skiing)
Alpine ski and snowboard at Bousquet, Butternut or Jiminy Peak
Remember the magic of “snow days” with sledding and a Chocolate Springs hot chocolate
Snowshoe in Kennedy Park
Practice tracking ID skills on a nature walk or birdwatching tour
Explore local museums
Experience the Winter Light Show at Naumkeag
Winter Honeymoon Idea: Nordic Skiing and a Spa Weekend Miraval
Spring Elopement in the Berkshires
Spring can be unpredictable in Massachusetts, but it rewards those willing to risk the unknown. At what moment will budding trees burst into full greenery? Do daffodils announce that winter is over at last, or are they red herrings before spring snowstorms? Will melting drifts leave trails an icky mess, or offer a rare view of seasonal waterfalls? And––perhaps most importantly––are the baby animals at Hancock Shaker Village lethally cute, or just temporarily debilitating? (Think: vocabularies reduced to “oh my gosh!” cooing noises). If you and your partner prefer abiding by a fixed, unchanging plan, you may want to pick a different season to elope in Western Massachusetts. But if the idea of adapting to the circumstances sounds like fun to you, pack your raincoat and a sense of humor. And get ready for an adventure you’ll never forget!
Spring Elopement Activity Ideas:
Visit Baby Animals at Hancock Shaker Village
Hike Mt Greylock
Taste fresh maple syrup at Ioka Valley Farm
Visit the Impressionist paintings at The Clark
Get the endorphins flowing with the outdoors course at RambleWild
Check out the blooming plants at Berkshire Botanical Gardens
Go Mountain Biking
See the Berkshires from above on a hot air balloon
Spring Honeymoon Idea: Retreat & Renewal at Kripalu
Summer Elopement in the Berkshires
Long days, warm nights, and a plethora of ways to get wet: summer is prime time to profit from the outdoor adventures Western Mass has to offer. But it’s also when everyone else is enjoying the Berkshires. Tourist season begins mid-May, but is mainly relegated to weekends until late June. If you’re planning an elopement in June, July, or August, there are several steps you can take to avoid the hassle of the season. Our advice? If you’re spending the night, book lodging well in advance, and consider farther-flung locations. The majority of vacationers concentrate on the Western side of the county near the larger towns of Lenox, Pittsfield, Williamstown and Great Barrington. So if you are an outdoor adventurer looking to steer clear of the crowds, places like Otis, Becket, and Savoy will allow you to benefit from abundant nature and smaller populations. To avoid traffic jams, keep an eye on Tanglewood’s schedule. Unless you’re attending the performance, avoid driving through Lenox any time James Taylor is performing.
Summer Elopement Activity Ideas:
Hike to your ceremony location and exchange vows amidst epic scenery
Kayak or canoe in the Stockbridge Bowl or Otis Lake
Visit Farmers Markets
Catch tunes at a music festival
Sample the local theatre scene
Wade in a creek
Go berry picking at a local farm
Bike from Pittsfield to Adams on the Rail Trail
Have a picnic scavenger hunt (aka do a “food tour” trail of local producers, ending in a scenic picnic)
Summer Honeymoon Idea: Berkshire Camino (walking pilgrimage inspired by the Camino de Santiago)
Fall Elopement in The Berkshires
Fall in the Berkshires! Simultaneously fresh and nostalgic. Contemporary and timeless. Vivid and dreamy. Crunchy apples, faint scent of woodsmoke, blazing maple leaves! Fresh-pressed hot cider with cinnamon sticks warding off the bite in the air. Autumn in rural New England is a veritable feast for the senses. Arguably the most festive season to visit the Berkshires (save, perhaps, the winter holidays), the fall offers endless opportunities to engage with the outdoors and each other. The excitement of summer pairs with the coziness of winter, offering the best of both worlds, and perfect balance for your elopement experience
Fall Elopement Activity Ideas:
The Great Pumpkin Show at Naumkeag
Explore the woods
Take a historic train ride on the Berkshire Scenic Railway
See the view from Monument Mountain or Greylock
Go apple or pumpkin picking in your wedding attire
Experience fall foliage from above in a hot air balloon
Fall Honeymoon Idea: “Farm To Fork” Local Food Bike Tour
How To Get To The Berkshires
The easiest way to get around the Berkshires is by car, but if you are coming in from further away you have a few options. Once you’ve arrived, rentals are available from Enterprise and Hertz in Pittsfield; the former also offers a North Adams location.
Traveling to the Berkshires by Plane for your Elopement
If you are flying into the Berkshires, the closest airport is Albany International. Once you land in Albany, you will have a about an hour long drive through rolling hills to get to the Berkshires. Bradley International Airport in Hartford is an hour and a half drive.
Traveling to the Berkshires from New York City
By car, the Berkshires are a straight shot North from Manhattan. The scenic Taconic State Parkway is a pleasure to drive––there are no on-highway tolls or big trucks––but stay alert for deer, especially at dawn and dusk. Bathroom stops are also limited (if you don’t want to chance an unknown exit), so plan accordingly. For locomotive options, you can take Metro North from Grand Central Terminal to Wassaic, NY or go from Penn Station to Pittsfield via Amtrak. Arriving in Wassaic, it’s just a 35 minute drive to the Massachusetts border, and about an hour more to reach the Northern parts of the county. Amtrak has the advantage of bringing you into the heart of downtown Pittsfield, though you will have to transfer in Albany.
How to Travel From Boston to the Berkshires for your Elopement
It takes between 2 and 3 hours to drive to the Berkshires from Boston. There is a bus from Boston to Pittsfield daily and the trip is slightly under 4 hours. (We wish there was a train serving Boston to the Berkshires, but unfortunately that's still just a dream!)
How Much Does it Cost to Get Married in the Berkshires
When you choose to elope in the Berkshires, your budget could literally be anything. Unlike a traditional wedding, where there are elements you are expected to include, you have the freedom to include only the features you really care about. For example, if you don’t love the idea of cut flowers, no need to have a bouquet. Still want a floral element? Consider getting married somewhere with beautiful gardens!
The Berkshires are a wonderful destination for your wedding; you could have a luxury elopement with 15 guests, or have a more budget friendly combined elopement-and-honeymoon, spending your days hiking or experiencing the Berkshires many free offerings.
The average Massachusetts wedding cost is $45,000, and the average cost of getting married in the Berkshires is $63,550. The cost to elope in the Berkshires is anywhere from $5,870 to $32,460 depending on what kind of experience you want to have. For my own elopement, we spent about $10,000. It all depends on what is important to you!
Luxury Berkshire Elopement Cost (Up To 15 Guests)
$5,400 – Luxury accommodation for 3 nights
$8,900 – Photographer
$1,300 – Pre-wedding day at the spa
$400 – Day after activities, such as skiing, renting a boat, etc.
$500 – Musicians
$750 – Hair & makeup
$2000 – Private chef
$1500 – Bouquet, boutonniere & flowers for dinner table
$160 – Small cake
$4000 – Wedding dress & accessories
$2500 – Suit & accessories
$5000 – Elopement planner
$50 – Legal Fees
Total = $32,460
Mid-Range Berkshires Elopement Costs
$1400 – Mid-range accommodation for 3 nights
$5,900 – Photographer
$500 – Hair & makeup
$500 – Bouquet, boutonniere & flowers for dinner table
$120 – Small cake
$2000 – Wedding dress & accessories
$1000 – Suit & accessories
$250 – Romantic Dinner for 2
$50 – Legal Fees
Total = $11,720
Budget Berkshire Elopement Costs *
*Your elopement can cost anything; it just depends what does and does not matter to you. Here is what a budget elopement might look like:
$750 – Budget accommodation for 3 nights
$3900 – Photographer (Half-Day Coverage)
$20 – Hair & Makeup Supplies - DIY
$50 – DIY Bouquet & Boutonniere
$500 – Wedding dress & accessories
$500 – Suit & Accessories
$100 – Wedding Night Dinner
$50 – Legal Fees
Total = $5,870
Sample Berkshire Elopement Wedding Timelines and Itineraries
A full day day elopement is not about having an all day photoshoot! It’s about the two of you having the freedom to truly enjoy your time together, without rushing from location to location with only a few minutes to enjoy your meal. I’m just here to document your experience so that you can relive your memories together for decades to come!
The biggest difference between the timeline of a traditional wedding versus the timeline for an elopement is that, for a traditional wedding, the timeline is built around the experience of the guest. For an elopement, the timeline is built around YOUR experience.
A 3-Day Elopement Experience in the Berkshires (with guests)
Arrive in the Berkshires and spend the day exploring the cute villages, visiting a museum, doing some yoga, or getting a massage at one of the local spas.
Day Of Your Elopement
9-11AM Getting ready at your Air BnB; play games (perhaps there is a ping pong table?), make breakfast, and cuddle together. Perhaps spending some time copying your vows into your vow books
11AM-1PM Have your hair and make up team arrive and enjoy being pampered
1-1:30PM Get dressed
2PM Arrive at the location where you want to say your vows. For a beautiful garden location, I recommend The Mount in Lenox, MA for your intimate wedding or elopement. After your elopement ceremony, spend some time enjoying a toast or small picnic and exploring the area.
4PM While your guests take a break, the two of you head off on a mini-adventure to enjoy being newly married. Perhaps it’s heading to an overlook, taking the canoe out on the lake, or enjoying a walk in the woods.
6:30PM Arrive at your reception dinner location. Enjoy delicious food, fun, and laughter together. Perhaps end the day with s’mores around a fire.
9PM Photo coverage ends
You and your photographer (that’s me!) meet up the next day for a solo adventure doing something you love. Maybe it is taking a hike to some waterfalls along the Appalachian Trail, going on a horseback ride, or go for a swim in a private swimming hole. This is your day to relish being MARRIED!
A Full-Day Berkshire Elopement Timeline (with just the two of you)
Stay at a beautiful octagonal treehouse in the Berkshires:
6 AM Wake up in your beautiful treehouse stay in the Berkshires
7 AM Your photographer arrives. You spend the morning getting ready together, just you two.
8:30 AM Head out to your ceremony location on a lake. Exchange vows with just the trees as your witness followed by a breakfast picnic
10AM Take a paddle in your wedding clothes
Noon Arrive back at your Air BnB. Hang out, cuddle. Perhaps taking a quick nap before going out on part 2.
3PM Arrive at the trailhead for part 2 of your elopement day
5:30 PM Arrive on the summit. Enjoy the views together. Perhaps playing music or creating art together. Enjoy cake and champagne!
8PM Arrive back at the trailhead and go back to your AirBnB and hop in the hot tub!
Berkshires Elopement Packages
Meet Your Berkshires Elopement Photographer
You want amazing photos of your elopement in the Berkshires, and that’s where I come in! I’m an award-winning elopement photographer who is an expert local guide. I explored the Berkshires before AllTrails was a popular app, so that means I still have some hidden locations up my sleeve! Additionally, I’m here to guide you through planning your Berkshires Elopement so that you have the best experience together. Whether you want a quiet, lakeside wedding day or one with a bit more adrenaline infused, I’m ready! And I’ll be here to photograph every moment or you and your love having the best day together!
My Berkshire elopement packages range from $3,900-8,900. Packages range from 5 hours of coverage to 2-days of coverage. Are you planning a longer adventure, such as a small wedding with friends and family one day followed by a ski adventure, hike, or paddle the next day? I offer custom packages for your multi-day elopement or honeymoon adventure Packages include overall planning assistance, helping you find the perfect location to get married, vendor recommendations, and establishing the perfect timeline for adventuring without feeling rushed. I'm here as your Berkshires Wedding Expert and I want you to have the best wedding day!