Congratulations on considering to elope! What an exciting time in your life! I'm even more stoked that you're thinking about eloping in the state of New Hampshire!
I'm assuming you're here though because, while the thought of eloping excites you, you're feeling a little overwhelmed and you're not sure where to start, or what you actually need to do in order to elope in New Hampshire.
Don't worry, I've got your back :)
In this blog post, I'm going to go over exactly How to Elope in New Hampshire to help you get started with your planning, and set you off on your wedding planning with your best foot forward.
Pros of eloping in New Hampshire
New Hampshire often gets forgotten about or dismissed as a state. I once showed my New Hampshire driver's license to board a domestic flight, and the security officer said, "Wait, people actually live in New Hampshire?"
Yes, sir, we do. And we love it!
Whilst the Granite State may not be on everyone's radar, I actually think that adds to the beauty of New Hampshire! With an expected 1.3 million population in 2021, the people who fill the state generally think being kind is cool! They like to get outside and enjoy nature no matter the weather, and they look forward to a local, cold beer with some seafood at the end of a hard day's work. It's full of fantastic folks who all know how incredible New Hampshire is, but we enjoy the small-town feel the whole state seems to give off.
With its stunning beauty and vast history, New Hampshire is an ideal place for you to consider for your elopement. The process for eloping is super simple here, so if you'd rather do the dang thing rather than throw a huge, elaborate wedding, then you may want to seriously consider saying I Do in the Live Free or Die state.
In this blog, I will go into the how-to's of eloping in New Hampshire by breaking it down into the following segments:
1. Finding a Location in NH to Elope
2. How to research your area, and why it's important
3. Practicing Leave No Trace Principles
4. Obtaining Relevant Permits
5. Getting Your Marriage License
6. Number of Witnesses Required
7. Elopement Photographers in New Hampshire
8. Who Can Officiate a Wedding in New Hampshire?
1. Finding a Location in NH to Elope
In New Hampshire, you have a plethora of options as to where your elopement "venue" could be! There are many hotels that offer elopement services and packages where you could literally get off the bus in the Capital City of Concord, NH, grab your marriage license, check into your hotel, and say "I Do" all in the same day. Talk about convenient!
Hotels are a great option if you want all the glory of a wedding and, perhaps, make a little weekend vacation out of it, but don't want to spend an arm and a leg in return. Places like The Inn at Pleasant Lake in New London, NH offer fantastic elopement packages that will "make your dreams of an unforgettable, stress-free wedding day come true!" I've worked weddings at The Inn at Pleasant Lake before, and I can attest to how wonderful the location is, but even more so of how attentive, kind, and helpful the staff are! Their elopement package includes a 2-night stay, a choice of beautiful ceremony spots on-site with an officiant, a romantic 5-course dinner for 2, champagne toast, bouquet and boutonniere in your choice of colors, planning + execution of your event! Hire your photographer (ahem, hire me!!) and you're all set to elope in New Hampshire with ease!
AirBnB is also a great option when looking for a place to host your elopement in New Hampshire! My biggest advice is to be transparent with the host about your elopement and tell them your plans. There are so many gorgeous AirBnB hosts that you can find that are more than happy for you to elope at their property! AirBnBs are a great option for making a little weekend escape out of the event as well to spend some quality time with your new spouse!
You can also elope on a mountain top, your backyard, near the ocean - pretty much wherever you want! Depending on your location, there may be some permits and regulations you will need to have in place, but we'll cover some of that if you keep reading. As an elopement photographer, I will help you throughout your wedding planning process to ensure you have everything you need to elope in New Hampshire.
2. Research The Area
This step is always a good idea, as it creates a level of respect and understanding for the area you'll be in, and will also deepen your connection to the place, which make your overall elopement experience feel even more special.
Researching the area where you plan to elope is especially important if you plan to elope out in nature, be it a state park, a national park, or in the woods. I studied Outdoor Leadership and Management in college, so a huge aspect of that education that I take through to photography with me is respecting the local area, it's local flora and fauna, and it's history. I encourage you to educate yourself on any recent updates or announcements as well to make sure you're on top of the information, which will lead to a respectful elopement experience. For something as intimate as an elopement, this extra level of mindfulness really adds to the day and your experience saying I Do to your favorite human.
3. Practice Leave No Trace Principles
Once you do your research and find the perfect place for you and your partner to elope in NH, the last thing you want to do is have a negative impact on the land and the environment after your visit. I am a big believer in the Leave No Trace (LNT) policies and guidelines, and I make a great effort to encourage my elopement couples to do the same.
If you're unfamiliar, Leave No Trace is the practice of visiting an area and, well, leaving it without a trace of your visit. There are 7 basic principles to LNT, which include:
Plan ahead + prepare (check!)
Travel and camp on durable surfaces (stay on established paths)
Dispose of waste properly (pack out your trash, and pick up any trash you see)
Leave What You Find (refrain from taking rocks, shells, etc as souvenirs)
Minimize Campfire Impacts (keep fires in fire pits, and clean up properly afterwards)
Respect Wildlife (don't torment or bother the local critters)
Be Considerate of Other Visitors (keep noise levels down, for example)
I won't go in-depth into all the LNT principles here, but it's definitely something I encourage you to look into and consider when planning your elopement in New Hampshire. Here at The Francis Frames, sustainability is an important aspect of our business, and is honestly a big issue within the wedding industry that needs to change. I like to think that I'm a voice within the industry that stands up for eco-conscious wedding practices and decisions, and I will encourage my couples to choose sustainable options for their wedding, and, in turn, for the environment.
Now that my Outdoor Education + Sustainability segments are out of the way, let's move on to the nitty gritty aspects of eloping in New Hampshire!
4. Obtain Relevant Permits
One aspect that is very important, but perhaps overlooked when couples first think about Eloping, is that you may be required to get a permit to get married in certain parks and natural areas. These regulations and permits differ depending on the location, which, again, is something I always try to help my couples out with to make the planning process even easier. It's definitely worth doing a quick google search to find out what permit you need to get before you get hitched, if any!
If you're thinking about eloping in the White Mountains, there's a lot of information available regarding permits and regulations on the White Mountain National Forest page on the United States Department of Agriculture website that I would highly suggest you take a look at if this is a route you'd like to go down.
5. Getting Your Marriage License
Obtaining a marriage license in New Hampshire is actually pretty straight forward! You can apply for one at any town or city's clerk office in the state, even if you do not have an established residency here. It's important to note that, due to Covid, some places had restrictions in place surrounding marriage licenses (for example, if you're getting married in NH but you're from out of state). Many of these restrictions have been lifted, but definitely do your research and give the town office you plan to go to a call beforehand to check out the guidelines!
It's also worth mentioning that these offices are not necessarily open every day of the week to help you obtain your marriage license, so once you know where you'd like to get your marriage license from, check out the town office's website for the times they're open and available for this process.
The actual process of getting your marriage license at the town office takes about 30 minutes, and is valid immediately, and remains valid for 90 days. The cost is $50 in New Hampshire for your license, and you most likely only need to bring your drivers license or passport in order to apply! Definitely double check this before you go though, as there are other items that may be required if, for example, you have been married previously, or if the town office has certain Covid restrictions and guidelines in place.
Also, your NH Marriage License is only valid in the state of New Hampshire. So if you're not planning on eloping in NH, don't get a NH marriage license!! You also need to be 18 to get married in New Hampshire, or, if you're 16 or 17 years of age, you'll need parent permission. Nobody under the age of 16 is allowed to get married in the state of New Hampshire.
6. Number of Witnesses Required
The State of New Hampshire really makes it easy for you to get hitched, for real. New Hampshire does not require you to have any witnesses at your ceremony. Talk about an intimate elopement, am I right?!
7. Who Can Officiate A Wedding in NH?
The state of New Hampshire is relatively flexible about who can officiate your marriage, however, there are still some guidelines in place. Here's a list of people who can help you seal the deal:
A Justice of the Peace commissioned in New Hampshire
Ministers in New Hampshire (either residing in New Hampshire or at least having part of their pastoral charge in New Hampshire).
Ministers living outside New Hampshire (ordained or not) can still officiate a marriage in New Hampshire with a license and fee.
An individual living outside New Hampshire can also officiate a marriage in New Hampshire if they are authorized to perform marriages in their state of residence with a license and fee.
Certain judges residing in New Hampshire with a license and fee.
A temporary special marriage license can also be obtained by any individual for a fee.
You can find out More details here on who can officiate marriages in New Hampshire.
8. Elopement Photographers in NH
After you spend all that time researching, learning, organizing, and planning, you're going to want to make sure your elopement is documented so you're able to relive that day over and over again! It's a huge day in your life, even if your ceremony is small. Whether you elope in a gown or in jeans, you are definitely going to want to have SOME professional photographs taken for you two to look back on in the future. The amount of horror stories I've heard about people trusting their friends to take photos of their day for them, either on film or digitally, have been such sad stories to hear! My parents were among that group, and my mum has always said it was her biggest regret from her wedding.
So make sure you hire a photographer, even for a few hours, to document your day. Seriously, it's an investment you will not regret.
There are SO many incredibly talented photographers out there that it may be hard to choose! I would suggest finding a photographer that specializes in elopements (especially adventurous ones if that's the route you decide to go down!). You want someone who knows what they're doing, and who feels comfortable in, a more intimate, relaxed environment. As you can probably infer from the information I've presented above, there's still a lot that needs to go into an elopement, and having a supportive photographer who will hype you up along the way is so important.
As the head photographer here at The Francis Frames, I have loads of experience with documenting elopements without feeling too intrusive. I am educated about how to be prepared for outdoor adventures, and doing so in a respectful, proper, and safe way. I also prioritize you two and what YOU want, and I will always advocate for your day to be FUN!
I would absolutely LOVE to be considered to document your elopement! If you'd like to learn more about us and the Elopement Collections we offer, you can click, "Services," or "Investment"!
I hope this helps you plan your elopement in New Hampshire, and has given you more confidence to plan the day of your dreams. If you found this helpful, please 'like' this post, and comment down below with any and all of your other NH Elopement related questions!
Thanks again, and happy planning!
The Francis Frames