Maybe you have been thinking about eloping for a while or maybe you just recently decided. Either way, there are still quite a few things to plan! Where better to exchange vows than America’s oldest seaside resort? Here are our suggestions for having a perfect fall elopement in Cape May, NJ. If you already have some ideas, give us a call and we’d be happy to help you make them a reality.
Why Cape May?
Whether or not you are thinking about a ceremony on the beach, there is nothing as romantic as the rhythmic sound of the waves and the gentle, salty scent of the ocean. The reasons to elope to Cape May are the same as those for having a wedding here.
Not only do you have the beach, but you also have the streets lined with brightly painted Victorian homes that seem to speak directly to the long-standing tradition of the marriage vow. Our time capsule is a destination, yet still so accessible from NYC, and other major eastern hubs.
Why the Fall?
The east coast is famous for gorgeous fall color, with the start of leaves changing in Maine and continuing south to New Jersey. September and October are also two months with moderate temperatures and fewer crowds.
NJ Marriage Laws
If you are planning on having a legal ceremony versus just a ceremonial one, you will need to get a license. If you are a resident of New Jersey, the license must be obtained in the municipality where either party resides. If neither of you resides in New Jersey, then you must apply for a license in the municipality where the ceremony is to be performed (and it is only valid in that municipality).
You may apply for a wedding license up to 6 months prior to the expected wedding date. Once you apply, there is a mandatory 72-hour waiting period before you can pick up your license. Upon receipt, you’ll need to exchange your vows within 30 days. Be aware that you must both be present to pick up the license along with a witness. If you cannot both be at the registrar’s at the same time, you may go separately, but the same witness must be present with both of you.
Whew! What does this mean? You could make two trips to Cape May (what is wrong with that), one to apply, and one to pick up the license and have your ceremony. OR, you could plan a nice long getaway to ensure that you meet the 72-hour waiting period. That would mean arriving Tuesday or earlier for a planned ceremony on Saturday or Sunday.
Locations for your Ceremony
Now for the fun stuff! Where do you want to have your ceremony? Do you want it on the beach? Here is a list of beach locations that are available; they must be reserved in advance with the city. You will be given a 30-minute slot for the ceremony only, no receptions are allowed on the beach.
If the beach is not your thing, or you want something indoors, we can help! Depending on the size you’re planning on, we will also be able to offer suggestions for smaller venues. Maybe our downtown trolley, or a garden terrace!
Finally, you will need to decide if this will be private (the two of you) or if you want some sort of small celebration. You will need two witnesses to sign your marriage license when officiated (this is different from the witness at the Registrar’s office, but could be the same person). In New Jersey, there is no such thing as a “Justice of the Peace.” There are officiants and we can help you find one.
A small ceremony can be memorable and fun! You will need to decide if you want flowers, a photographer, or any of the other typical amenities. You may love arranging this yourself or want a little help.
Make sure you plan some fun outings for your time here in Cape May. You could visit a winery, take a whale watching tour, or schedule your elopement to coincide with one of the many fall festivals! Truly the perfect fall elopement in Cape May, NJ should reflect your hopes and dreams for the present and the future!