Micro-weddings and adventurous elopements are on the rise! If you want to elope in Massachusetts, this post is full of elopement planning tips, as well as suggestions for some of the best places to elope in MA.
How to elope in Massachusetts
If you are considering eloping, you’re probably asking yourself, “How do you elope in Massachusetts?” There are multiple routes to go when it comes to choosing your elopement style and where to elope, but follow these simple steps to get you on the right track.
- Pick Your Date – Maybe your elopement date is a special day for you and your future spouse or maybe you just want to have it during a certain time of year. Because you’re eloping and it’s just the two of you, a weekday is an excellent choice to look at. If you’re planning on having a select number of guests for a micro-wedding, then a weekend date might be more preferable. Having a date range to bring to the potential vendors you’ll be hiring for your elopement is also pretty good, because then you don’t have to be worried about a vendor you really love not being available for your specific date.
- Figure Out Your Vibe – By this I mean decide about the kinds of things you want to do for your elopement. Are you keeping it casual? Maybe you want to still dress up super glam. What about the activities you’ll do on your elopement day? Perhaps you want to elope in a pretty park and then hire a private chef for a romantic dinner for two. With a “just the two of us” elopement your options for this are pretty endless. If you plan on having a few guests, consider their abilities (like maybe Gramma can’t hike a mountain with you). Massachusetts also has a variety of amazing settings that add to your vibe. Elope in the Berkshires and be one with nature; elope on Cape Cod and you’ve got a super fun beachy vibe; elope in Boston and your elopement can feel more dramatic with the city-vibe.
- Hire Your Officiant – Once you’ve got your dates and vibe figured out, it’s time to start hiring vendors. An essential vendor for eloping in Massachusetts is your officiant. This can be a Justice of the Peace, an ordained minister, or a friend you choose who can become ordained online. Whichever officiant you choose for your elopement in MA must be registered with the Secretary of State, and the process for registering is different depending on if the officiant is a MA resident or not. Out-of-State officiants have to file every time they wish to perform a ceremony and they need a 3-4 week lead time to receive their certificate and file it with the municipality that you’ll be getting married in. If you are asking a friend to officiate, they must file for a 1-Day Designation and can do so between 6 months to 1 week before your wedding regardless of if they are a resident.
- Hire Your Photographer & Plan Your Elopement – You probably also want to choose a photographer to document this important day in your lives. Fun fact: some MA elopement photographers are also ordained (I am!) so that we can legalize your marriage for a “just the two of us” elopement. I do recommend hiring both an officiant and a photographer if you plan on inviting some guests, that way your photographer can be more focused on documenting the ceremony. Photographers who specialize in elopements and micro-weddings will be able to help you figure out an ideal timeline, recommend locations and vendors for the vision you have, and are essentially your point person for your elopement. You could also hire a specific planner, but most elopement photographers include this in their service to you.
- Other Vendors – Think about other vendors you might need to hire based on the vibe you’re setting. Should you hire a florist to create a bouquet? What about hiring that private chef? Do you need to reserve your date and a time for a special adventure you want to take? Don’t forget about the outfits you want to wear for your elopement.
- Get Your Marriage License – In Massachusetts, marriage licenses are issued by the town or city clerk, and you must wait three days after filing. You don’t need to file for your license in the town you plan to elope in, but you must wait 3 days after filing to be able to pick up your license and the marriage must be performed, signed and returned by the officiant within 60 days of its issuance.
- GET MARRIED! – This part is pretty simple. Once you’ve planned the day and hired all your vendors, it’s time to have a great time on your wedding day!
- Tell People You Eloped! – Your photographer can help you design an announcement that you can mail to people or publish online to spread the good news about your marriage. Maybe you wanted to keep the actual marriage ceremony between you two (and perhaps your immediate family) but you still want to celebrate with everyone. A catered backyard bash is always good for this, or renting the event space at your favorite local brewery or restaurant.
Places to Elope in Massachusetts
There are so many fabulous places to elope in Massachusetts. Here is a list of my favorite spots as well as other popular locations.
There are some truly gorgeous private parks in Massachusetts which make for amazing settings for your elopement. My top favorite locations for this are Forest Park in Springfield and Mittineague Park in West Springfield. Some private parks, like Forest Park or Stanley Park in Westfield, have a permit fee for weddings or photography (or both!), so be sure that you and your photographer do your due diligence before showing up to a park on elopement day.
Massachusetts has some of the best cities around for eloping. The greater Boston region is packed full of potential locations, from city halls to museums to amazing city streets. Downtown Salem is perfect for the eloping couple who wants to bring some history and fun flair to their elopement. Definitely be aware that some city halls may require an appointment or permit, and the same goes for weddings and photography at popular museums and other establishments.
Hands down state parks are my favorite place for elopements. Massachusetts has many state parks and they welcome small weddings and elopements! The only requirement is that your wedding needs to be permitted via a special use permit. There are so many to choose from that range from epic mountains to coastal scenes.
In a Home
Sometimes the best elopements are the simplest. Eloping in your own backyard or living room can create an extra layer of sentiment to your elopement. Another great option for an “elope at home” setting is an AirBnB or VRBO. AirBnB recently put a permanent, sitewide ban on events, but elopements and micro-weddings with less than 16 people are permitted at AirBnB locations with owner approval. No matter which home setting you choose, the big benefit here is the kind of seclusion and privacy you likely won’t get at some of the other venues mentioned here.
Things to Do for Your Massachusetts Elopement
Massachusetts has almost every kind of scenery you could ask for. From forests and fields to the dunes of the Cape to the Berkshire mountains, there is a setting that makes everyone’s heart sing!
Night on the Town
If you choose a city location for your elopement, there are always things to see and do, like finding a local spot with music, visiting an art gallery or museum, or heading to a local brewery. As a former North Shore resident, I love wandering around Salem MA, or taking the T into Boston and seeing everything there is to do there. Even the little towns of the Berkshires have a lot to offer with their artsy atmosphere
Biking or Boating
Massachusetts has a TON of rail trails which are great for leisurely walks or taking in the sites on your bike! it also has tons of options for boaters, be it fishing and relaxing on a lake or taking a pleasure cruise around the North Shore or Cape Cod.
Massachusetts has so much to offer for winter recreation, like skiing & snowboarding, snowmobiling or ice-skating. All of these things can make a fun addition to your winter elopement!