Eloping in Connecticut (or Having a Small Wedding)
- Eloping in Connecticut (or Having a Small Wedding)
- Why Connecticut is Great for Eloping
- What You Need to Elope in Connecticut
- Places to Elope in Connecticut
- Learn More
Connecticut is the third smallest state in America. It’s a great place to get married, with plenty of conventional wedding venues. Fittingly, this small state is also ideal for small weddings. Here’s a guide to eloping in Connecticut (or having a minimony).
Why Connecticut is Great for Eloping
Our state has everything from big places to get married to small wedding venues. But its Connecticut’s everyday charm that makes it nice for elopements and small weddings. For example:
- There are lots of parks: Connecticut has over 130 parks. As I describe later in this guide, many of them are superb candidates for your elopement in CT.
- There are lots of restaurants: You have to eat. With that said, whether you get a nice seated dinner after your elopement or reserve a private room in a restaurant for your small wedding, CT has plenty of culinary choices for your wedding day.
- It’s centrally located in the northeast: Geographically, Connecticut is like a land bridge between New York and Boston. You could elope here, then head away on a nice trip to either city (or beyond).
- It has plenty of overnight accommodations: From boutique hotels to bed & breakfasts to private rentals, Connecticut has you covered as far as options for places to stay before, during, and after your elopement.
- There’s plenty to do here: The fact that CT is a really nice state is well established. Here’s an entire list of things to do for couples in Connecticut.
What is an elopement?
Merriam-Webster (yes, the dictionary company) explains that these days, “elopement” has taken on the meaning of “‘small destination wedding‘”. There are plenty of reasons why couples choose to elope rather than have a conventional wedding day.
For example, a Connecticut elopement is potentially great for a couple who prefers not to be the center of attention. Also, it’s an excellent option when planning a wedding on a budget. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a great way to focus on each other without the formality of a cocktail hour and the other aspects of larger weddings.
There’s an old, antiquated definition for elopement, which is basically “the act of leaving home secretly in order to get married.” This meaning no longer fits. Modern couples are much more in tune with their preferences, abandoning the norms of long ago.
What is a micro wedding?
A micro wedding is basically a medium-small wedding. Micro weddings tend to consist of the two of you and up to about 50 or so guests who join you for ceremony and everything else.
For a micro wedding in Connecticut, you’re probably looking for smaller wedding venues as opposed to elopement locations.
What is a minimony?
Similar in concept to micro weddings, minimonies are much, much smaller celebrations. These usually involve the two of you and up to a dozen or so guests, present for your ceremony, reception, etc.
For a small CT wedding of this type, most fine restaurants could probably accommodate your celebration.
What You Need to Elope in Connecticut
Eloping in Connecticut is easy. Here’s a quick checklist to help you get going with wedding planning:
1. Plan for Your CT Elopement
Accordingly, the first thing to do when planning any intimate wedding is to start with your vision. What are you two picturing for when you elope in Connecticut? Things to consider include:
- The season and, eventually, the exact date
- The general location type (keep reading for suggestions)
- The vibe, theme, or feel for when you elope (get creative)
- The clothes and accessories you’re going to wear on your wedding day
- The people you want to see after you two tie the knot
This is absolutely the time to dream. Pinterest is great for inspiration. Let your personalities shine through your ideas!
2. Decide What to Do After You Elope
While you plan your Connecticut elopement, it’s a good idea to search around for the attractions and activities that you two would like to enjoy along with it.
Would you like to hike with your photographer and officiant to your ceremony location? Will you celebrate afterwards with a stroll through your favorite park for photos? Is heading to an awesome restaurant for some awesome food more your style?
I wrote this post to highlight some of the best things to do for couples in Connecticut.
3. Contact the Town Hall/Office for Your Marriage License
In the State of Connecticut, marriage license filing takes place at the vital records office of the town/city where you elope. Here’s how it goes:
- You apply for your marriage license before you elope. Both of you have to be present at the same time for this. You’ll have to provide ID and sworn statements, as well as pay a small fee. You need to time this correctly, not too far in advance of your wedding.
- Next, you receive your marriage license from town hall. Again, it comes with an expiration date: you have about 60 days to actually get married after your application is approved.
- Lastly, you legalize your marriage after your wedding ceremony by having your officiant sign the marriage license and then submit it back to the town office that issued it. Make sure to do this before it expires.
As you might expect, town halls and the like usually only operate on weekdays. Best to plan ahead.
4. Book Your CT Elopement Photographer
Next to your officiant (which is coming up next), your photographer is the most important vendor for your elopement. Intimate weddings are even more focused on the love between the two of you. Best to make sure your elopement is documented properly.
Wedding photography is about more than the resulting artwork. There should be a connection between you as a couple and the person behind the camera! This post about things to ask your prospective wedding photographer will help you make your choice.
Have an Engagement Session
If I can be frank for a moment, too many people skip their engagement session. You should have one even if you’re eloping! When looking for wedding photographers for your elopement, make sure to ask about your options for a session.
Tell your photographer what your expectations are and ask them to help you pick the perfect location for your session.
5. Book Your Other Elopement Vendors
After choosing an elopement photographer, it’ll be time to find your other vendors. You really only need one other one: an officiant empowered to handle a wedding ceremony in Connecticut. But also consider:
- Dress shops
- Jewelers for wedding bands
- Hair and makeup stylists
- Restaurant or private chef reservations
6. Make Travel Arrangements
The travel aspect of eloping to Connecticut can be as simple or creative as you want it to be. Think about booking a room somewhere for the night, or maybe even renting a small house.
If you’ll be eloping on the water, for example, remember to buy tickets in advance (for yourselves and your vendors). Splurging to rent a fancy car for the day might be a fun idea, too, and could be cool in your photos.
Once all of your elopement planning is complete, it’ll be time to do the thing. Remember: one of the beautiful things about your intimate wedding is that almost all the pressure is gone. You two can focus entirely on each other and revel in the fact that you made this happen together.
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Places to Elope in Connecticut
Here are some picturesque locations to elope in Connecticut. Though you should verify yourselves first, most every venue listed here has no fee associated with an elopement. At most, these locations may require that you purchase a permit for professional photography.
1. Wooster Square Park
A small, picturesque park in New Haven, Wooster Square Park is a great place to elope to. If you decide instead to get creative elsewhere in the city, at least consider stopping here for portraits. This park has beautiful cherry blossom blooms in early April.
2. Lighthouse Point Park
Another New Haven elopement option, Lighthouse Point Park is home to a small beach and an iconic lighthouse. There’s plenty of space here for the two of you to walk and talk for pictures after tying the knot.
3. Lantern Hill Trail
One of southeastern Connecticut’s most scenic trails is Lantern Hill in North Stonington. The hike is a gentle hill and the views are worth it. If you two are feeling lucky, then head over to Foxwoods Casino afterwards to gamble a bit.
4. Old Furnace State Park
Also for vista lovers, Old Furnace State Park in Danielson is about as close as you can get to eloping in the mountains in Connecticut. Getting to the top is a pretty good commitment (from my perspective anyway) but you’re rewarded with a beautiful view of Furnace Pond. The trees are plentiful here; a fall Connecticut elopement to this spot would be perfect.
CT’s very own “perfect small American town,” Essex has plenty of charm. The downtown area is walkable and cute, complete with a public dock area and a great museum (which is also a wedding venue). If the water doesn’t do it for you, consider booking the Copper Beech Inn when you elope.
6. Stonington Point
You could call Stonington Borough the little cousin of Mystic. The Point is located here and is an absolutely lovely place to elope to in Connecticut. Just steps away are a public beach and a historic lighthouse. You’d be surrounded on three sides by water, too.
After photographing multiple portrait and engagement sessions here, I think Noank would be a perfect option for you to elope. The Main Street dock, for example, is a great spot that’s open to the public and is literally on the water. Best to be there very early to avoid crowds. You two could have your own “private reception” at one of two lobster roll restaurants at the right time of year, too.
8. Hubbard Park
Another great town park, Hubbard Park in Meriden is quite big and has multiple beautiful spots for to you elope. If you enjoy the stage, you could even utilize the public amphitheater for your ceremony. This is a great sleeper location for a Connecticut elopement.
9. Hartford City Hall
A wedding venue in its own right, Hartford City Hall is probably one of Connecticut’s most iconic locations for elopements. The architecture is great (and the on-site marriage license aspect is a bonus). Restaurants and hotels are plentiful in the area. With highways near by, it’s easy to get to and leave from (such as for a honeymoon in New York City).
I’ve photographed so many couples in Mystic that these tips for where to elope would be incomplete if I didn’t suggest to you. This village is very walkable and the Mystic River provides many options for a private ceremony. A destination elopement would be great here; there are plenty of hotel rooms and houses for rent in the area. When you’re done, explore downtown with your photographer for more photo ops.
11. Harkness Memorial State Park
Heralded by many as the perfect backdrop for any photography session, Harkness in Waterford could be Connecticut’s best park for an elopement. First of all, its 200+ acres involves gardens and beachfront, giving you options for privacy during your wedding ceremony. Secondly, it’s stunning. Fun fact, there’s also a wedding venue here (Eolia Mansion).
12. Cranbury Park
Like Harkness, Norwalk’s Cranbury Park is huge, beautiful, and picturesque for your Connecticut elopement. While you could go through the formality of booking the park’s Gallaher Mansion, the property is big enough that it would be perfect for a darn good elopement.
13. Elizabeth Park
Home to Pond House Café, a popular wedding venue in Connecticut, Elizabeth Park in West Hartford is an elegant place to elope with plenty of gardens around. There’s a nice gazebo in the rose garden area, which is a popular aspect.