How to Elope in New Jersey

So you’re thinking about eloping, and you want to do it in New Jersey. If you’re considering a New Jersey elopement, there’s a good chance you live there already, or at least in a neighboring state. NJ is a great option for couples who live locally, want a relaxed, charming or, adventurous elopement, but don’t have the money to invest in a major destination wedding. Looking for information on how to make your dreams a reality? This post is the perfect place to start! 

So, why New Jersey?

I know, I know…New Jersey probably isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of elopement destinations. Unless you know the state well, the first things that pop into your head when you think of NJ are probably the Snookie and Pauly D, or Zach Braff’s Garden State, and neither of those really scream “wedding of your dreams.” It also probably isn’t the location that you’re seeing all over social media. 

But don’t let the media fool you: New Jersey is full of so many hidden gems and underrated places. Plus these places are far less packed than the standard elopement and destination wedding locations that swarm your Instagram feed. In New Jersey, you can plan an elopement that is completely unique to you and your partner, and probably save some major cash at the same time!

Below you will find a step-by-step guide to help you plan your NJ elopement from start to finish. 

  1. Location

Your first goal should be to settle on an elopement location. That will make it way easier to find vendors, accommodation, restaurants, or anything else you may be dreaming up. It may not seem like it, but New Jersey has a lot more than just the Jersey shore! There are so many beautiful places to explore, visit, and elope in. From woodlands and mountains to charming towns and beautiful beaches, there’s something here for everyone. Here are just a handful of locations you could choose from: 

  • Asbury Park: Alright, I know I have spent a lot of time in this post ragging on the Jersey shore, but there are actually some really adorable towns dotting the coast that would make for an ideal place to tie the knot. One of those places is Asbury Park! Here you will find dozens of cute beach house rentals, beautiful sandy shores, and a cute boardwalk that makes for great photo opportunities. 
  • Lambertville: Considered one of the “prettiest towns in America,” Lambertville is a charming small town right along the Delaware River, across from New Hope, PA. This town feels like it came straight out of a fairytale. The streets are lined with historic inns, fantastic restaurants, and adorable antique shops. If you are considering more of a micro wedding than an elopement, you will find a ton of venue options here!
  • Princeton: If you and your partner envision wedding photos with Gothic, scholarly architecture (think stone archways and heavy wooden doors, basically a mini Hogwarts) definitely consider eloping in or near Princeton. 
  • Mount Tammany: This option is for those looking for more of a wild adventure on their elopement day. Mount Tammany is one of the highest points in New Jersey, and the hike is a bit of a trek. But the views of the Delaware Water Gap from the top (and those photo ops) make it so worth it!

These are just three examples because I save my best-kept secrets for my clients! If you’re looking for more locations or have questions, shoot me a message.

  1. Get your marriage license

Thankfully, the process for getting a marriage license in New Jersey is super simple! You can download the application here (form 77), or you can fill it out in the Registrar’s office. If you fill out the form ahead of time, make sure you do not sign it until you get to the Local Registrar!

If at least one of you is a New Jersey resident, you can apply for a marriage license in the municipality where you reside. Your license will then be valid regardless of your elopement location. If neither of you is a New Jersey resident, you can submit your application to the municipality where the ceremony is taking place. If you go this route, the license will only be valid in the municipality where the wedding is taking place. You can find more information here through the NJ Department of Health. 

After you apply, there is a 72 hour waiting period before the license is issued. Then, you get your license! Yay! The license will be valid for six months, which gives you ample time for planning and preparation. 

  1. All the day-of details

Now it’s time to plan all of the small details. Are you hiking up a mountain and bringing champagne and food along with you? Renting an Airbnb with a kitchen and hiring a chef for the evening? Need a beautiful bouquet or elopement cake? It’s all completely up to you but the main categories you should consider are: 

  • Vendors: You should definitely have a photographer lined up as early as possible in your planning process, but you should also consider florists, chefs, hair/makeup stylists (if that’s your thing), or caterers if you have a small group tagging along. 
  • An officiant: You will need to find a licensed officiant in the state of New Jersey to solemnize the marriage. If you need recommendations, I can help with that!
  • Accommodation: Where are you staying the day before, and the night of? Do you need to find a hotel to accommodate multiple guests? Are you roughing it and booking a campsite? 
  • What to wear: The location you choose will be a big indicator of what you end up wearing. If you’re planning on eloping out in nature, make sure you have the proper footwear, and be prepared to get a little dirty! 
  • Food: Whether you’re making reservations at a nice restaurant or packing a picnic, make sure you have when and where you’re eating outlined in your schedule. 
  • Activities: Your elopement doesn’t just have to be a one day affair. You can turn it into a whole weekend with fun activities like hiking, sightseeing, or relaxing on the beach.  

The opportunities are endless when it comes to elopements, and that’s the beauty of it! You can plan a day that’s as silly, daring, romantic, or vibrant as you are. But makes sure you have all of your ducks in a row way ahead of time so you don’t have anything to worry about the day of. It can be overwhelming to make sure everything goes according to plan. That’s why if we work together, I can help you plan out the perfect day with my timeline guide and questionnaire, and help keep you on track throughout the day, so you can enjoy every little moment. 

Looking for more information?

Looking for information on the cost of eloping? Check out this post!

Hi, I’m Beatriz, a Northeast native and experienced elopement photographer. I would love to help you plan the elopement you’ve always imagined! I’m committed to helping couples say I do the way they’ve always wanted to, while documenting it along the way. Ready to get started?

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