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How to Get Married in New Hampshire - Planning a Wedding in the Granite State

Published Wednesday, Feb. 1st, 2023

Planning a New Hampshire wedding? This short guide will help -- from finding an officiant to completing the marriage license. 


From its small but mighty coastline to vast forests, to a thriving nightlife and dozens of seasonal festivals, New Hampshire offers romantic backdrops of every kind, making it a perfect choice for a quick & quaint elopement or destination wedding. 


Applying for a marriage license in this New England State will look different in each county, so it’s important to get a head start on the planning process to avoid unnecessary stress. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a short guide to help you begin.



Asked to officiate a wedding in New Hampshire? 

Read How to Become a Wedding Officiant in New Hampshire




Happy newlyweds on the wedding day, the groom holds the brides hand while smiling at her

New Hampshire has hundreds of beautiful wedding venues to choose from, whether you want a large indoor ceremony or a tiny outdoor elopement. 




How to get married in New Hampshire in 6 Steps



1. Get yourself a sweetheart! 

Got one? Whew! There will be a few more boxes to check, but the hardest part’s over.


2. Find a wedding officiant in New Hampshire.

A wedding officiant is the person who conducts your ceremony and signs the marriage license, making things legal.


A friend or relative can perform your wedding ceremony if they’ve been ordained.




If you want to hire a professional, the state has many qualified independent officiants to choose from. The following people are authorized to solemnize marriage in New Hampshire:


A justice of the peace as commissioned by the state; various judges; any minister of the gospel in the state who has been ordained according to the usage of his or her denomination, resides in the state, and is in regular standing with the denomination; by any member of the clergy who is not ordained but is engaged in the service of the religious body to which he or she belongs, and who resides in the state, after being licensed therefor by the secretary of state; or within his or her parish, by any minister residing out of the state, but having a pastoral charge wholly or partly in this state.” (Summarized from § 457:31)


(Find a detailed list of authorized officiants and more New Hampshire marriage laws here.)




Aerial view of Portsmouth, New Hamphshire

Need to purchase a Portsmouth marriage license?

Head to the City Clerk's Office located in City Hall. 



3. Choose a date and a venue...

New Hampshire is home to hundreds of miles of hiking trails, stunning natural scenery, rich American history, quirky arts scenes, and some of the best cider donuts and seafood you could ever hope to try. Add in a few quiet towns and modern cities like Manchester, Portsmouth, Nashua, and Concord – and it’s a favorite for destination weddings. 


Whether you’re dreaming of a big to-do or a romantic elopement for two, there’s something for everyone!




Popular dates, venues, and officiants book up fast, so start early. And remember you’ll need permission (and a permit) to use a public space, such as a city park or recreational area. Permits can take weeks to process, so factor this into your timeline, too. 



New Hampshire Marriage License Quick Facts

 No Waiting Period
♡ 90 Day Expiration Period
♡ 6 Day Return Period

Illustration of a newlywed couple and their wedding officiant signing the marriage license

Did you know? Every state has different laws governing when the marriage license is issued, can be completed, and must be returned. There are called a state's marriage license Waiting Period, Return Deadline, and Expiration. Learn more here. 



4. The marriage license. 


Alright, time to make sure your wedding’s legal! We’ll break down each part of the marriage license process, one step at a time: 


Applying for your license


You’ll apply for your marriage license through the City or Town Clerk Office. You can apply for your license in any city, and you don’t need to be a New Hampshire resident to marry there.


Requirements to Apply: 


  • Both parties must be at least 18 years old or meet the requirements for minors
  • Both parties must show proof of their identity and age (such as a driver’s license, state ID, or passport)
  • If either party was previously married, they must provide a certified copy of the document that ended their most recent marriage (such as a divorce decree or death certificate)
  • Some counties may ask applicants for personal information such as their race, full legal name at birth, years of education, social security number, full name of parents and location of their birth, and other details.


If you’re planning a wedding anywhere in New Hampshire, we recommend contacting the city clerk’s office closest to your venue to learn more. 


Your license will cost about $50. Some offices will only accept cash or credit / debit cards, so plan ahead! There’s no fee to register your marriage after the ceremony.

Waiting period


There is no waiting period between the time you receive your license and when your ceremony can take place.

Using and returning the marriage license


A New Hampshire marriage license can be used in any town or city in the state, and expires 90 days from the date it’s issued. A license can be used the same day it’s issued.



The marriage certificate (license) must be signed by each party to the marriage and the marriage officiant following the ceremony, and returned by the officiant to the clerk’s office where it was issued. Specific instructions on returning the license will be given to you when you apply for your license.


The license must be returned by the officiant within 6 days of the ceremony.


A happy couple smiling on the wedding day, outdoors posing for the camera

New Hampshire offers several friendly destinations for same-sex and other LGBTQ+ couples. 



5. Meet with your wedding officiant...


Once you’ve chosen a date, a venue, and have your marriage license details worked out, you’ll be ready to meet with your wedding officiant to plan the ceremony! 


This is when things start to come into focus. You’ll talk about the tone of your ceremony, the ‘vibe’ you want to create for your guests, and any special elements and unity rituals you want to include. You and your officiant might meet a few more times to exchange more ideas, fine-tune a script, or rehearse the ceremony leading up to the wedding day. 


AMM’s website is full of resources to help you decide what kind of ceremony you want, tips on working well with your officiant, and advice on keeping your ceremony authentic and on budget. 


Visit Articles for Couples on our American Weddings blog, or browse general articles by category or keyword. 



6. The wedding day! 


Aside from yourselves, the most important thing you’ll bring with you on the wedding day is your marriage license -- because no license means no marriage. Your officiant won’t be able to perform the wedding without having a license present (even if you have it at home), so make sure it’s with you. 


After the ceremony, you and your officiant will sign the license. 



After it’s signed, you must record it with the local county before the end of the 30 day expiration period. Check with your county for details.


Once it’s been recorded, you’re officially married! 



Happy newlyweds kiss and embrace outdoors on the wedding day, the bride is in a white dress with a white veil and a flower wreath in her hair





Do you want to officiate a wedding in New Hampshire? 


Visit Weddings by State: New Hampshire 


We’ve got everything you need to understand the state’s licensing and registration requirements, plus any ministry credentials and paperwork you might need.






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a rustic and chic indoor wedding venue, a barn with warmly colored wooden panel walls and golden lights, set up for a wedding ceremony

If you’re looking for a nearby wedding venue, you might notice that many businesses book up months in advance. This can make finding a venue stressful! Luckily, we know the secret to finding the perfect venue... Read the full article here.





Propose to your wedding officiant ! 


Will You Marry Us? Gift Box



Asking a friend to officiate your wedding? Why not give them the Will You Marry Us? Wedding Officiant Gift Box and Ministers Credential Package. This gift box contains everything you need to 'propose,' and everything your chosen officiant will need to perform your wedding -- including the most robust minister ordination available and full documentation of credentials.


Order the 'Will You Marry Us?' Officiant Gift Box here. 







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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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