Just the Two of Us: Real New Hampshire Elopements
It hasn't gotten a lot of attention (perhaps because it's mostly done in secret), but elopements on are the rise. Couples — for a lot of different reasons — don’t want a traditional wedding. But that doesn’t mean the wedding can’t be chic. Venues around the state are offering elegant elopement packages, where everything is ready when you arrive — bouquet, champagne, justice of the peace, the works. We talked to six couples who chose a bucolic B&B, the Inn at Valley Farms in Walpole, as their getaway venue. Their photographer, Kendal J. Bush, captured the precious moments to later share with family and friends.
The Perfect Wedding
Sarah Gamble and Josh Cannon
Save-the-date cards had already been sent out, but then Sarah and Josh had second thoughts about a big wedding. “It just didn’t feel right,” says Sarah. “For us, getting married was about our future, our love, us.”
They canceled the wedding and eloped soon after. It was just the two of them. “If we invited anyone, we would have to invite everyone,” she says.
They were married at sunset at the inn, her bouquet flowers picked from its garden. “We said our vows surrounded by green rolling hills, the chirping of crickets and the promise of champagne afterward,” she says.
To let friends and family know, they sent postcards from the inn.
Neither has any regrets. “We can’t imagine being married any other way,” Sarah says. One plus — saving money by not having a traditional wedding allowed them to buy a house.
Advice for others who might want to elope? Sarah says, “The person you love is all you need for the perfect wedding.”
Nicole Gemoules and David Koonce
For their wedding, Nicole and David wanted “low stress, no stress.” After attending a lot of big weddings, they knew they didn’t want to do all the work that’s required for what Nicole calls “effectively a large party.”
Instead, they were wed in a simple ceremony atop a hill at the inn. They did have nine guests, their immediate families, invited with short notice. Nicole’s niece was the flower girl, David’s sister played the violin, and his mom read a beautiful poem.
Afterward, there was champagne, and a steak and lobster dinner prepared by David at the farmhouse.
“We were focused on simply enjoying the experience,” Nicole says. A few months later, for those who didn’t attend, they hosted a celebration at their home.
By eloping, they saved a ton of money — the wedding cost less than $3,500. “Keep in mind,” Nicole advises others who might consider eloping, “that the size of the wedding ceremony does not correlate to a successful marriage.”
Michelle Fish and Robert Horn
Michelle and Robert started out planning a traditional wedding, but after a weekend of visiting venues and realizing how much time, money and planning would be required, Michelle says they “looked at each other in the car on the way home and just said ‘Forget this, let’s elope.’”
That way, she says, there would be no worries about “someone being late or the flowers not being right or that Sallie doesn’t like Sue or the food getting cold.”
They were married, just before sunset, at the inn. After they exchanged the vows they had written, they toasted their new life with champagne. “Our wedding day was all about us and we got to spend our first moments as husband and wife together, carefree and uninterrupted.”
Telling their family and friends they had eloped was the hardest part. “We’re from Alabama, the land of large traditional weddings, and this kind of thing is not heard of,” Michelle says. But they needn’t have worried; everyone was supportive. They would all celebrate at a party a few weeks later.
Any regrets? “Nope,” says Michelle. “Not a one."
Happy to Not Worry
Emily Eklof and Colin Abrahamson
“We knew we were going to elope before we even got engaged,” says Emily. The cost and complicated family dynamics were the reasons why. Plus, neither of them really wanted a big wedding.
They researched New England elopements and chose the inn. On a hot and rainy August day, they were married there, with farm animals all around.
“Colin’s favorite part was when the goats ran into the barn while we were waiting for the rain to stop,” Emily says. “He loves goats, and that made his day.”
The best part for Emily was not having to do any planning. “I have been involved in so many weddings, and I was happy to not worry about colors, favors, etc.”
The only downside for Emily and Colin was that family and friends weren’t there to share the day. To let them know, Emily says they “called some people, and texted and emailed others.”
They’d do it again, Emily says, though “maybe not in August.”
Every Girl's Dream
Alysa Rentschler and Jon Anderson
“We’d choose to elope again in a heartbeat,” says Alysa. “A romantic getaway was the perfect start to our marriage.”
Alysa and Jon did keep some of the usual traditions for their wedding — Alysa wore something borrowed, something blue, and included her grandmother’s favorite flower in her bouquet; Jon used a flask that had been gifted to him for the big day.
Their friends and family knew they were eloping. “Even though the day was shared between just the two of us,” Alysa says, “we felt surrounded by the love of our family and friends.” Their parents had sent along words of love and encouragement to include in the ceremony.
The couple loved that they were on their own timeline and that they could choose what they wanted in the moment. Also appealing was less planning, less stress and more money for a honeymoon.
Alysa says, "At the end of the day, I felt like a beautiful bride standing in front of the man I chose to share my forever with, and isn't that every girl's dream?"
A Magical Weekend
Camila Fonseca and Thomas Simard
Very quiet and spiritual — that’s how Camila describes their wedding. “It was all we could hope for and more,” she says. “It just felt right.”
It was the couple’s busy schedules that convinced them to elope. “I literally just had to show up at the farm, get my makeup done and get dressed. A dedicated staff helped with all the details,” Camila says.
Another factor in the decision was that Camila’s family lived in Brazil. Instead of complicated and expensive travel for the family, the ceremony was FaceTime’d so they could see it live.
One person who did attend — the couple’s 7-year-old son Aidan. “I loved the memories we built as family. I can say it was a magical weekend for all three of us.”
For others who might want to elope, Camila’s advice is to “call different places, talk to the owners, find someone you feel comfortable with, and find a place and scenery that speaks to you.” For them, it was a peaceful, beautiful farm.