How To Plan An Elopement Wedding in New Hampshire
I've created this elopement guide because I truly feel that there is nowhere quite like New Hampshire. And it might just be one of the best places on the East Coast to elope!
The first time I hiked in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I fell in love. April 18, 2016-it was the day I snowshoed up Moosilauke and snowboarded back down. The scenery reminded me so much of where I grew up in the Austrian Alps. The White Mountains were the first time I felt a semblance of the peace I feel hiking around the Tirolean Alps. And as a bonus, there are the huts! Hiking hut to hut solidified that this beautiful wilderness might just be my second home.
That summer, I visited friends in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire and spent days water skiing and kayaking the waters. That's when I realized that New Hampshire offered something for everyone- amazing skiing, great hiking year-round, adorable small towns with locally-owned shops, and amazing waterfront.
New Hampshire is one of the best places to elope! So let's jump right in.
How To Get Legally Married in New Hampshire
You don't need to be a resident of New Hampshire to get married in New Hampshire, making it perfect for a destination elopement. Once you have your marriage license, you are free to marry anywhere in New Hampshire, including at your favorite mountain hut! Unlike some of the surrounding states, there is no waiting period after receiving your license to get married in New Hampshire and your license is valid for 90 days.
How To Apply For A Marriage License in New Hampshire
To apply for a marriage license, both individuals must appear at the Office of the City Clerk. If one member of the couple is part of the armed forces, there are some exceptions in which they can file marriage intentions prepared by an armed forces legal representative.
What Do I Need To Get A Marriage License?
Proof of age (example - driver's license, passport, certified birth certificate)
Photo identification (example - driver's license or passport)
Certified copy of a death certificate of a former spouse, if either applicant is widowed.
Certified copy of a final divorce decree, if either applicant is divorced (Note: This is not your divorce papers. It is an official decree that you must apply for separately)
Certified copy of a civil annulment decree, if the applicant's previous marriage was annulled (This is a court document)
Who Can Officiate A Marriage in New Hampshire?
For couples who don't want a lot of extra people at their elopement, I can officiate your marriage for you! That said, I keep it pretty simple, so that the focus of your day can be on your experiences. You can also apply for a Special Marriage License for which a friend or family may perform your wedding ceremony after being license by the Secretary of State.
For people who want a more formal ceremony, the New Hampshire marriage ceremony can be performed by:
A Justice of the Peace commissioned in New Hampshire
A minister of the gospel in New Hampshire who has been ordained to the usage of his denomination, resides in New Hampshire and is in regular standing with the denomination
A minister within his parish, residing outside New Hampshire, but having a pastoral charge wholly or partly in New Hampshire
Jewish Rabbis who are citizens of the United States and reside in this state
A deacon in the Roman Catholic Church ordained according to the usage of his denomination
Judges of the United States, a US magistrate judge residing in this state pursuant to federal law, a clergyman who are not ordained, and non-resident Justices of the Peace, ministers and Jewish Rabbis, after being licensed by the Secretary of State.
Do I Need a Witness to Get Married in New Hampshire?
You do not need a witness to be present to have a valid marriage ceremony in New Hampshire.
How Much Does it Cost to Get Married in New Hampshire at City Hall?
If you would like to get legally married at City Hall, it will cost about $200. The New Hampshire marriage license fee is $50, the Justice of the Peace fee is $135, and it costs $15 to obtain a copy of your marriage certificate. Each additional copy is $10.
If I Choose To, How Do I Change My Name After Marriage in New Hampshire?
When filling out your marriage paperwork, each individual must indicate their name after marriage. Either individual may choose to keep their name, change their surname to the surname of the other party, or hyphenate their surname. Hyphenated names must be a combination of both surnames. If either individual requests to change their surname on the marriage license, they may also change their middle name to their surname prior to marriage.
Where To Elope in New Hampshire
There are so many great places to elope in New Hampshire, so it really depends on the experience you want to have and the type of scenery you want to see! New Hampshire has 20 miles of coast-line, a huge lakes region, and oh-so-many mountains. And did I mention that there are over 90 state parks?
In short, you may need more than one day to truly experience New Hampshire. And if you aren't sure of exactly what experiences you want to have during your elopement, I will help you! Working with me, we go through an exercise where you visualize how you feel and what you smell when you wake up on your elopement day; what you see while exchanging your vows; and what activities you want to do on your best date ever. After filling out a questionnaire, I go out and scout out the perfect locations for you and your honey to elope. I'll even recommend venues to you to wake up in- if you want that resort experience with a beautiful view and a catered breakfast, I've got a list! Or if you are more adventurous and would rather wake up to the smell of crisp fresh air and enjoy the sunrise looking over the White Mountains during your Lake of the Clouds Hut Elopement (a New Hampshire bucket list destination for many!), I'm here to celebrate you and document your elopement adventure.
Isn't this a dream elopement location? It's perfect for a two-day overnight elopement adventure! Sunrise AND sunset. Plus, there's a mountain lake nearby too!
Lake Elopement in New Hampshire
The Lakes region is pretty spectacular! Instead of summit after summit, the hikes are on the easier side and you will have some beautiful blue lakes in the background. If you dream of waking up at your lake house rental, spending the day boating or on the water, and finishing up with an evening hike to look over the water, a Lake Winnipesauke elopement may be for you!
Waterfall Elopement in New Hampshire
If you dream of eloping at a waterfall, Northern New Hampshire is your best bet. Some of my favorite waterfalls in New Hampshire are located in Crawford Notch State Park. The best part? There are even a few that are relatively unknown and to which you can hike to the top of for some additional privacy!
Mountain Elopement in New Hampshire
Whether you want to have a New Hampshire Hut to Hut hiking adventure elopement (Yes, it's totally possible and I am the perfect photographer for you if that is what you want!) or want a half-day adventure with minimal hiking, you can have the perfect wedding day in the mountains. If you would like a more accessible location, Cathedral Ledge is drivable and offers amazing views. If you are up for working for a view, there are options all across the State depending on the hiking experience and views you want to have.
Coastal Elopement in New Hampshire
If you love the ocean, New Hampshire has about 20 miles of beautiful, rocky coastline perfect for your wedding day. The New Hampshire sea coast region is small but incredibly beautiful. With 18 miles of shoreline, you can choose to visit both sandy beaches and rocky coastline. A coastal elopement might be great for you if you also want to have a city elopement! Just over the border from Maine, Portsmouth is a hip place to spend your elopement getaway in New Hampshire. With a lighthouse, delicious restaurants, and fun museums, I promise that you won't run out of things to do and places to explore!
How To Get To New Hampshire
The easiest way to get around New Hampshire is by car. However, if you are coming in from further away, there are a few other options.
Traveling to New Hampshire by Plane
If you are flying into New Hampshire, you will fly into the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. The Manchester Airport has direct flights to/from Chicago, Newark/NYC, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Charlotte, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, and Fort Myers.
Once you arrive at the airport, you are able to rent a car to travel around the New Hampshire.
Traveling to New Hampshire by Train
Amtrak offers train service to New Hampshire from Albany, NY/Vermont or from Boston. However, there is only one train a day, so you will need to plan your trip around its limited availability.
New Hampshire Elopement: How to Travel From Boston to New Hampshire
If you live in Boston and think that New Hampshire might be the best elopement destination for you, you might be right! Especially if you live in Boston but want to elope some place where you can be surrounded by nature, yet still not have to travel too far away.
The New Hampshire border is less than an hour from Boston, making it the perfect weekend getaway destination. And within 3 hours, you could be in the middle of the White Mountains.
While you can take a train from Boston to Manchester, NH and then rent a car, it might be best to drive directly from Boston to New Hampshire for your elopement. If you don't own a car, you can choose to rent a car through a traditional agency, or work with a company like Zipcar for your elopement vacation.
New Hampshire Elopement: How to Travel From NYC to New Hampshire
If you live in NYC, the Granite State is about a 5 hour drive away or you can fly from Newark into Manchester and then rent a car. The direct flight is about an hour and a half long and costs about $200. With about three flights a day, it is relatively easy to travel from New York City to New Hampshire for your elopement.
There is also an Amtrak train, however, there is usually a transfer once you get to Boston.
When To Visit New Hampshire - The Best Season to Elope in NH
New Hampshire is a beautiful place to elope any time of year because there is something for everybody!
Winter Elopement in New Hampshire
If you love the snow, you will love winter in New Hampshire! Romantic sleigh rides, exciting dog sledding tours, and snow-shoe hikes are just some of the activity highlights to incorporate into your own winter elopement.
Other Winter Elopement Activity Ideas:
Visiting the ice castles
Going skiing or snowboarding
Take the snow coach up Mount Washington for a snowy ceremony
Spring Elopement in New Hampshire
Spring is known as mud season up in these parts- and for good reason! As the snow melts, the trails get very muddy and delicate. Abiding by Leave No Trace principles, it is recommended to stay away from high-elevation hikes during this time. That said, the waterfalls are wonderful at this time of year!
Spring Elopement Activity Ideas:
Hike around low elevation waterfalls and lakes
Go Wine Tasting
Spring Skiing (usually through the end of March/beginning of April)
Check out local museums
Go Mountain Biking
Summer Elopement in New Hampshire
Summer is a beautiful time to elope in New Hampshire- but it's also a busy time. If you love the water, this is the season for you to elope! The lakes and rivers are a wonderful way to cool down and avoid the warm summer heat. And if you want to escape the crowds and go hiking, August and September are a great time of year to hike hut-to-hut in the White Mountains (if hiking the New Hampshire huts is on your bucket list, why not elope while doing it!).
Summer Elopement Activity Ideas:
Hiking to your ceremony location and exchanging vows amidst epic scenery
Kayaking, Canoeing, or boating in the Lakes Region
Visit Farmers Markets or pick your own produce at a local farm
Go on a scenic lake cruise
See New Hampshire from above and go hang gliding, hot air ballooning, or enjoy a scenic helicopter tour
Fall Elopement in New Hampshire
Fall is arguably my favorite time of year for a New Hampshire elopement. Only second to winter (I really love the snow...). Fall foliage begins to peak around the end of September or early October, but it tends to remain colorful and beautiful later into the fall as well. And if you are looking for a pine forest location for your forest wedding, the deep greens of the pine needles in the Fall really can't be beat.
Fall Elopement Activity Ideas:
Explore the woods
Visit up to 9 waterfalls in a day
Hike one of the 52 With A View summits
Ride the Conway Scenic Train
Go apple or pumpkin picking in your wedding attire
How Much Does it Cost to Get Married in New Hampshire
When you choose to elope or have an intimate wedding in New Hampshire, I recommend that you determine your budget around the experiences you want to have. You have the freedom to have an untraditional wedding experience, which means you don't NEED to spend money on traditional items like big cakes or a boring venue that could really be located anywhere and you would have no idea.
By having an elopement wedding or an intimate wedding with just your closest friends or family, you will immediately notice that your money goes a lot further. You can spend more on having good food and a great experience, while still spending only half of what you might have on a one-day party with mediocre food. For my own elopement, we spent around $10,000 on an entire 2-week experience with our families. When making your budget, it's all about choosing what your priorities are.
The average cost of a wedding in New Hampshire is about $35,000- well below what it costs to get married in Boston or New York City. The average wedding cost in Boston is $45,000, about $10,000 more than the US average. But $45,000 is still half of what it costs to get married in Manhattan, a stunning $96,000.
2 Day Luxury New Hampshire Elopement Costs (Up To 7 Guests)
$4000 – Luxury accommodation for 3 nights
$8,900 – Photographer
$1000 – Helicopter flight
$750 – Hair & makeup
$2000 – Private chef
$1000 – Bouquet, boutonniere & flowers for dinner table
$200 – Small cake
$4000 – Wedding dress & accessories
$2500 – Suit & accessories
$3000 – Elopement planner
$65 – Legal Fees
Total = $27,265
Moderate Budget New Hampshire Elopement Costs
$1000 – Mid-range accommodation for 3 nights
$6,500 – Photographer
$500 – Hair & makeup
$500 – Bouquet, boutonniere & flowers for dinner table
$100 – Small cake
$2000 – Wedding dress & accessories
$1000 – Suit & accessories
$250 – Romantic Dinner for 2
$65 – Legal Fees
Total = $11,915
Budget New Hampshire 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
$500 – Budget accommodation for 3 nights
$4300 – Photographer (Half-Day Coverage)
$20 – Hair & Makeup Supplies - DIY
$50 – DIY Bouquet & Boutonniere
$500 – Wedding dress & accessories
$500 – Suit & Accessories
$100 – Wedding Night Dinner
$65 – Legal Fees
Total = $6,485
What Can You Do During a Full Day Elopement in New Hampshire?
A full day elopement is where it's at! Doesn't a day full of fun sound like a great way to celebrate your wedding day?
While at first you might wonder what you could possibly do for an entire day when you elope and why you might want to hire a photographer for the entirety, remember that it is not an all day photoshoot. Let me say that again- your elopement is not an all day photoshoot.
Your full day elopement is choosing how you best want to spend your wedding day with your partner and celebrate your relationship. From the moment you open your eyes to when you close them at night, this was your wedding adventure and it deserves to be documented just as much as a traditional wedding day does.
New Hampshire Elopement Activity Ideas
View the presidential range by taking a helicopter tour
Spend the night at a mountain hut, exchanging vows at first light
Spend the day boating in the Lakes Region
Ski or Snowboard at one of the many resorts
Explore one of the 90 state parks in New Hampshire
Go on a brewery or wine tasting tour
Visit the museums in Portsmouth
Take a sunrise hot air balloon ride
Visit some mountain biking trails
Visit the ice castles in the winter
Go antiquing in one of the many small towns in New Hampshire
Explore 9 different waterfalls in a single day
Hike one of the 52 with a View mountains
Go on a picnic
Follow a winter hiking trail
Take the cog railway up to the top of Mount Washington
Go Hang Gliding
Kayak or Canoe one of the many rivers or lakes
Bike the coastline and get ice cream or have a picnic
Take a road trip down the Kancamagu Highway, stopping at multiple places with epic scenery
Spend part of your day getting pampered at a spa while staring at mountains
New Hampshire Elopement Packages
New Hampshire Elopement Photographer
Your New Hampshire elopement isn't complete without finding the right photographer to capture your wedding day. You will want to find someone who is an experienced adventure wedding photographer who is a local expert -- and that's me! I'm an award-winning photographer who has been featured in several publications. And when I'm not photographing elopements, I'm usually out hiking, skiing, or biking to find new, amazing locations in New Hampshire. As a local expert, I'm here to guide you through planning your elopement in New Hampshire. And then I'll be there to photograph every moment.
My New Hampshire packages range from $4,300 to $8,900. Packages range from 5 hours of coverage to 2-days of coverage. Are you planning a longer adventure, such as a multi-day hike during which you will exchange vows on a secluded peak? I offer custom packages for your multi-day hut to hut hiking elopement. 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 New Hampshire expert and I want you to have the best wedding day!