Elopements and non-traditional micro-weddings are on the rise! As a New England elopement photographer + planner, I’ve got the skinny on how to elope in New Hampshire. This post is full of elopement planning tips, as well as suggestions for some AH-mazing ideas on where to go and what to do for your elopement in New Hampshire.
How to Elope in New Hampshire
If you’ve never been married before and are considering eloping, you’re probably asking yourself, “How do you elope in New Hampshire?” It’s actually a lot simpler than you might think.
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 an elopement-style micro-wedding, then a weekend date might be more preferable to accommodate your guests’ schedules. 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).
Hire Your Essential NH Elopement Vendors
Once you’ve got your dates and vibe figured out, it’s time to start hiring vendors. An essential vendor for eloping in New Hampshire is your officiant. This can be a Justice of the Peace, an ordained minister, or a friend you choose who can become ordained online. If your chosen officiant is from out of state, they need to file a petition to perform the marriage with the State, which can be easily done online and takes very little time to get permission back. You probably also want to choose a photographer to document this important day in your lives. Fun fact: some NH elopement photographers are also ordained 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.
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 a catered charcuterie board or other meal for a picnic in the park? 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.
Plan The Day With Your Photographer
Photographers who specialize in elopements and micro-weddings will be able to help you figure out the best 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 elopement planner, but most elopement photographers include this in their service to you.
Get Your Marriage License
In New Hampshire, marriage licenses are issued by any town and you can use that license in any town in NH. So if you live in Manchester or out of state, but want to marry in North Conway, you don’t need to get the license from the North Conway Clerk. There is no waiting period after obtaining your license and the marriage must be performed within 90 days of its issue.
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 how you eloped in New Hampshire. 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 New Hampshire
There are so many fabulous places to elope in New Hampshire. Here is a list of my favorite location ideas.
White Mountain National Forest
New Hampshire’s White Mountains are absolutely breath-taking! The White Mountain National Forest has trails the crisscross the central region of New Hampshire from Vermont to Maine, including the NH leg of the Appalachian Trail. There are also multiple scenic areas you can access by vehicle on the Kancamagus Highway with limited hiking necessary.
New Hampshire boasts over 50 state parks ranging from mountains to forests to lakes to beaches. May favorite one is Franconia Notch State Park, where you can ride the Cannon Tramway to the top of Franconia Ridge. There is literally something for everyone in New Hampshire. In addition to all of the NH state parks being amazingly beautiful, there are a variety of elopement day activities to enjoy while you’re there, too.
The Lakes Region
New Hampshire may be known for it’s mountains, but it also has an incredible lakes region, too, with Lake Winnipesaukee being the crown jewel. There are tons of amazing AirBnB locations around the lakes that make it an easy pick for your “just the two of us” elopement or your family-only micro-wedding.
New Hampshire is quintessentially New England when it comes to city life. There is the vibrant city of Portsmouth, right on the river with tons of things to see and do. Then you have the more quaint cities like Keene with cute downtown strolls, or the picturesque small town vibe of Wolfboro.
A Country Inn
New Hampshire has so many boutique inns and hotels, like the Indian Head Resort in Franconia Notch, The Centennial Inn in Concord, or Mill Falls at the Lake on Winnipesaukee. Cute hotels like these often have easy access to a scenic location for your ceremony and photos, as well as the facilities to feed a family-only micro-wedding.
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. 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.
When to Elope in New Hampshire
Of course fall is an absolutely stunning time of year to elope in New Hampshire, but even on weekdays during leaf peeper season locations can be especially crowded. That just means you may have to get a little more creative in choosing locations instead of going for the more well-known spots (this is where having a NH elopement pro comes in handy!).
I also love spring for New Hampshire elopements. Up in the mountains spring actually doesn’t start popping off until late April and early May, so you get some really fabulous weather conditions with more date flexibility. Tourism doesn’t generally start really picking up until June, making spring an ideal time to elope in New Hampshire.
As a self defined winter princess, you know I have to recommend this season for all the other snow lovers out there! There are so many amazing locations for a winter elopement in New Hampshire, and depending on the time of year and location, it could be a super mild snow presence or LOTS of it.
Summer is great, but it’s actually my least favorite season for elopements (in general, not just New Hampshire). It’s hot AF, there’s usually lots of bugs around and it’s a peak tourism time in NH.
Things to Do for Your New Hampshire Elopement
With all the state parks and the national forest, it’s a no brainer to make hiking a part of your elopement in NH. You don’t even need to be a serious outdoors person to be able to take advantage of the variety of trails and scenery available. You can drive along the Kanc and get out at one of its trailheads or overlooks, or you can ride the Cannon Mountain Tramway up to the alpine zone for some epic views.
If you decide to get married in the lakes region, then renting or chartering a boat for some fun on the water is a must! there’s swimming, fishing, waterskiing, or just hanging out on the deck and taking in the beauty of the scenery.
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.
NH 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 in New Hampshire!
New Hampshire has some of the best skies for watching the stars! Grab a blanket, some lanterns, and a snack and create some fun magic under the stars with your photographer!