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couples laughing on dock during their cape cod elopement

White sandy beaches, charming lighthouses, towering dunes, and beautiful marshlands provide stunning backdrops for a Cape Cod elopement. If your dream beach wedding consists of a ceremony by the Atlantic Ocean with just your partner or with a small select group of close family members and friends then eloping on Cape Cod is the perfect option. Plus if you are looking to have a celebration by the ocean, then you can always have a special day just the two of you and celebrate with additional guests at a reception in the evening or at another desired date if that’s something important to you. 

In the sections below I will answer all your burning questions about planning a Cape Cod elopement, provide you with incredible examples of full day celebrations that encapsulate all the best things to do on the Cape, and provide all fast facts pertaining to wedding logistics in Massachusetts for those traveling from out of state.

1.WHERE IS CAPE COD?

Cape Cod is a hooked shaped peninsula extending into the Atlantic Ocean located in Southeastern Massachusetts. Former home to the Kennedy’s and other celebrities, Cape Cod is a popular summer destination and is known to have the best beaches in all of New England. 

2. HOW FAR IS CAPE COD FROM BOSTON? HOW DO I GET THERE?

DRIVING TIME TO CAPE COD:

Boston to Falmouth is 1 hour and 15 minutes (no traffic)

Boston to Chatham is 1 hour and 35 minutes (no traffic)

NYC to Falmouth is 4 hours and 30 minutes (no traffic)

NYC to Chatham is 4 hours and 45 minutes (no traffic)

FERRIES TO CAPE COD

If your final destination on the Cape is to Provincetown, then skip the traffic and hop on one of the many ferry options to P-Town to save time. 

Provincetown Ferry Options:

Boston Harbor Cruises: The P-Town Ferry, Salacia*, has an average trip time of 90 minutes underway from dock to dock.  

BOSTON HARBOR CRUISES- PROVINCETOWN FERRY LINK

Bay State Cruise Company: Travels from Boston to P-town in 95 minutes.

BAY STATE CRUISE COMPANY WEBSITE LINK

Captain John: Travels from Plymouth to Provincetown in 90 minutes.

CAPTAIN JOHN FERRY WEBSITE LINK

BUS ROUTES TO CAPE COD

Peter Pan buses stop at various points in Boston to Falmouth or Woods Hole.

https://peterpanbus.com

TRAINS TO CAPE COD: CapeFlyer

The CapeFLYER is a “summer weekend passenger train that runs from May 28th through September 6th (Labor Day) from South Station to Hyannis, with stops in Braintree, Brockton, Middleborough/Lakeville, Wareham Village, Buzzards Bay and Bourne”.

https://capeflyer.com

Closest Airports to Cape Cod:

If you are looking to fly directly onto Cape Cod then the Barnstable Municipal Airport located in Hyannis (HYA) and Provincetown Municipal Airport (PVC) are your best options. Otherwise your closest hubs outside of the Cape will be Logan International Airport in Boston (BOS) and T.F. Green Airport in Providence Rhode Island (PVD).

3. WHY YOU MAY CHOOSE TO HAVE A CAPE COD ELOPEMENT OVER HAVING A TRADITIONAL CAPE COD WEDDING

  1. You envision yourself having a day with just you and your partner or a select few close family members or friends to watch you say “I do”. Having a sunrise ceremony on the beach and then exploring Cape Cod with your best friend the rest of the day is totally up your alley!
  2. You love the ocean and when you close your eyes and picture where you’d like to say your vows you have your toes dipped in the sand.
  3. Your ideal wedding meal of choice is local Cape Cod seafood- fried clams, lobster rolls, oysters from Wellfleet (all of the above sound great!). A pretty luxurious picnic on the beach by Grazing Cape Cod sounds even better!
  4. You want to plan your wedding day from start to finish however the two of you would like, whether that’s driving around to the best lighthouses, renting a sailboat charter for two, renting a bike on one of the rail trails or getting in the water yourselves for the ultimate Cape Cod experience.
  5. The average wedding produces “63 tons of CO2 and 400-600 pounds of trash”. By opting for a Cape Cod elopement or intimate wedding you can still have the beach wedding of your dreams, but incorporate your values for sustainability.

If this sounds like the two of you, continue reading on to see what a dream Cape Cod elopement looks like from start to finish!

4. GETTING MARRIED IN MASSACHUSETTS

The Mass Gov website is an incredible resource for all your information on what to do before, during, and after you get married in Massachusetts. The information below gives a quick overview from their website, but you’ll want to read their informative articles linked below to make sure there is nothing you missed!

GETTING MARRIED IN MASSACHUSETTS: BEFORE THE WEDDING

GETTING MARRIED IN MASSACHUSETTS: AFTER THE WEDDING

You need to have a marriage license to get married in the Bay State. To do this you can apply for a license from any city or town in the state — it doesn’t have to be from the town where you live or where your ceremony will be. 

Contact your city or town clerk to find out exactly what you and your future spouse need to do to get a marriage license, but in general, before your wedding you’ll need to:

  • Fill out a Notice of Intention of Marriage Form — You and your future spouse will need to go in person to your city or town clerk to fill out this form. You’ll need to provide:
    • Proof of your age, such as a birth certificate or passport
    • Your Social Security number
    • Payment for fees, which vary by town
    • The name you’ll use after the wedding if you’ve decided to change it
  • Pick up Your Marriage License — There is a required 3-day waiting period before you can pick up your marriage license. In some cases, you can apply for a marriage without delay at the probate or district court in the town where you submitted your notice to waive this period. The license is valid for 60 days. If you’re not married within 60 days of the date the license was granted, you’ll need to apply for it again.
  • Give Your License to the Person Conducting the Ceremony — After you’re married, your officiant must sign and return the license to the city or town clerk who issued it before the 60-day time period is up.

WANT TO GET MARRIED ON THE CAPE COD NATIONAL SEASHORE?

THE SIX BEAUTIFUL BEACHES OF THE CAPE COD NATIONAL SEASHORE:

  • COAST GUARD BEACH
  • NAUSET LIGHT BEACH
  • MARCONI BEACH
  • HEAD OF THE MEADOW BEACH
  • RACE POINT BEACH
  • HERRING COVE BEACH

GENERAL SPECIAL USE PERMIT APPLICATION PROCESS

GENERAL SUP FEES & PAYMENTS

STEP 1: Contact the Commercial Services Office

Telephone: 508-957-0706
e-mail us

Please contact the permit office with any questions and to obtain a permit number to make your application fee payment or other permit fee payments.

STEP 2: The application processing fee is a non-refundable payment of $50.00. Payment must be made at pay.gov.

A minimum of fourteen (14) days is required for processing requests.

SUP GENERAL RESTRICTIONS & CONDITIONS

ALLOWED:

  • Freestanding flowers are permitted as site decorations.
  • Solo acoustic accompaniment is allowed through a Special Use Permit.
  • The use of up to10 folding chairs and a maximum of two folding tables per event may be permitted.

PROHIBITED:

  • Erection of tents or other structures is prohibited.
  • Amplified live or recorded music or voice is prohibited.
  • Throwing confetti, rice, etc. or releasing of balloons, candle lanterns, or similar activity is prohibited.
  • Signs of any kind are generally not permitted. Please inquire with the Commercial Services Office.

5. BEST PLACES TO STAY DURING YOUR CAPE COD ELOPEMENT

Best Cape Cod Hotels:

  1. Chatham Bars Inn
  2. Wequassett Resort and Golf Club
  3. Seacrest Beach Resort
  4. Pelham House Resort
  5. Ocean Edge Resort and Golf Course

To read more about these amazing accommodations and get summer rate information click on my blog post for more information on the “Best Hotels on the Cape”.

Cape Cod Luxury Airsteam Camping

If “glamping” is more your style and you’d like to live your dream of owning an airstream for a few nights then stay at Auto Camp Cape Cod near Falmouth & Woods Hole. https://autocamp.com/cape-cod/

Cape Cod AirBnb Accommodations

Beachfront “Day Cottages” next to Provincetown – Located in North Truro

6. WHEN TO ELOPE ON CAPE COD: CAPE COD AVERAGE WEATHER BY MONTH

See the table below from Current Results Weather for the average Cape Cod temperatures.

7. BEST TIME TO ELOPE ON THE CAPE

Cape Cod is a year round destination that should not be missed. Here are some top tips for choosing when to elope on the Cape:

  1. Weekdays are naturally less crowded- If you are striving to have a quiet beach setting then step one is to plan your elopement Monday-Thursday.
  2. If you want to elope in the summer (between June and late August), but ideally want to have as close to a private waterfront ceremony as possible opt for a sunrise session.
  3. Since you never know how bad Cape Cod traffic will be, travel up the night before your intimate wedding to avoid any mishaps of being stuck in traffic on wedding day. 
  4. The busiest weekends to avoid are Memorial Day, before the Fourth of July, & Labor Day Weekend. The busiest months are July & August (typically because the swimming temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean are the most comfortable). Fun fact- “The beaches facing west on Buzzardz Bay and those facing South on Nantucket Sound are generally considered the warmest.”
  5. The summer crowds are less, the weather is still nice, and Cape Cod room rates tend to be lower in the shoulder seasons- May, June, September, and October. 
  6. You’ll find Cape Cod to be the quietest during its off season December through March. The positive is you’ll feel like you have the area to yourselves, but the downside is many shops & restaurants do close during this time. 

8. BEST TIMES FOR YOUR CAPE COD BEACH CEREMONY BASED ON GOLDEN HOUR

Here are a few examples of the best times for your vows, ceremony, and photos on Cape Cod throughout the year.

  1. MAY 1ST SUNRISE TIMES 5:40AM-7:40AM. SUNSET TIMES: 5:10PM-7:10PM
  2. JUNE 1ST SUNRISE TIMES 5:11AM- 7:11AM. SUNSET TIMES: 5:40PM-7:40PM
  3. JULY 1ST SUNRISE TIMES 5:13AM-7:13AM. SUNSET TIMES: 5:50PM-7:50PM
  4. AUGUST 1ST SUNRISE TIMES 5:37AM-7:37AM. SUNSET TIMES: 5:30PM-7:30PM
  5. SEPTEMBER 1ST SUNRISE TIMES 6:09AM-8:09AM. SUNSET TIMES: 4:45PM-6:45PM
  6. OCTOBER 1ST SUNRISE TIMES 6:40AM-8:40AM. SUNSET TIMES: 3:55PM-5:55PM
  7. NOVEMBER 1ST SUNRISE TIMES 7:15AM-9:15AM. SUNSET TIMES: 2:55PM-4:55PM
  8. DECEMBER 1ST SUNRISE TIMES 6:50AM-8:50AM. SUNSET TIMES: 1:45PM-3:45PM
  9. FEBRUARY 1ST SUNRISE TIMES 6:54AM-8:54AM. SUNSET TIMES: 2:30PM-4:30PM
  10. MARCH 1ST SUNRISE TIMES 6:17AM-8:17AM. SUNSET TIMES: 3:00PM-5:00PM
  11. APRIL 1ST SUNRISE TIMES  6:25AM-8:25AM. SUNSET TIMES: 4:35PM-6:35PM

TIDE CHARTS:

Often overlooked, it’s extremely important to be aware of the tides on your desired wedding day on the beach. The last thing you want is for it to be high tide and you barely have any sand to walk on or the opposite where it’s low tide and you have a massive expanse of sand and boats lying out. Since these are forecasts, I’m always keeping watch of the tide charts as we approach the date for a session on the beach. 

https://www.tideschart.com

9. CAPE COD BEACH PARKING PASSES, CAPE COD NATIONAL SEASHORE PASS, & OTHER LOGISTICS TO NOTE

From Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend popular Cape Cod beaches will charge a parking fee typically ranging from $15-$25 per day from 9:00AM-5:00PM.

For the Cape Cod National Seashore beach entrance fees are collected “daily from late May through early September, and on weekends and holidays from Memorial Day to the middle of September at certain beaches.” All passes (including the America the Beautiful series) are only sold during the months that the fees are collected.The six national seashore beaches where fees are collected are: Coast Guard and Nauset Light in Eastham, Marconi in Wellfleet, Head of the Meadow in Truro, and Race Point and Herring Cove in Provincetown.

Daily Vehicle Entrance Fee – $25.00

If you go to more than one national park a year, then you can purchase the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series for $80.

10. THINGS TO DO DURING YOUR CAPE COD BEACH ELOPEMENT- HOW TO MAKE IT AN INCREDIBLY SPECIAL DAY FOR YOU BOTH

MORNING OPTIONS:

  • SUNRISE CEREMONY + PHOTOS
  • GRAB A LATTE FROM ONE OF THESE POPULAR CAPE COD COFFEE SHOPS

COFFEE OBSESSION (FALMOUTH & WOODS HOLE)

SNOWY OWL (CHATHAM)

THREE FINN COFFEE ROASTERS (WEST DENNIS)

This luxury picnic lasts two hours and ranges in price from $250-$375. They set up everything & clean up for you as well!

  • GO FOR A BEACH STROLL
  • PRIVATE SAILBOAT RIDE

MOMENT SAILING (PROVINCETOWN- 2, 4, AND 6 HOUR OPTIONS)

DOWN CAPE BOATING (WEQUASSETT)

CHATHAM BARS INN BOATING

THE LIBERTE (FALMOUTH)

SWEET YACHT CHARTER

AFTERNOON OPTIONS:

  • WALK THE BEACH
  • GO TO THE CAPE COD NATIONAL SEASHORE
  • DRIVE AROUND AND CHECK OUT THE CHARMING LIGHTHOUSES

Cape Cod has 14 lighthouses, but these 6 are the most beautiful and well known: Chatham Lighthouse, Nauset Lighthouse, Race Point Lighthouse, Highland Lighthouse, West Dennis Light, Nobska Lighthouse

  • EXPLORE THE CUTE DOWNTOWNS OF CHATHAM, FALMOUTH, HYANNIS, AND PROVINCETOWN
  • GO SWIMMING
  • RENT A KAYAK, SUP, OR TAKE A SURFING LESSON
  • RENT A BIKE AND GO RIDING ON THE SHINING SEA BIKEWAY OR THE CAPE COD RAIL TRAIL
  • GO WHALE WATCHING
  • BOOK A WINE TOUR AND TASTING AT TRURO VINEYARDS  https://trurovineyardsofcapecod.com

Other Cape Cod wineries to visit: https://capecodwinery.com https://firstcrushwinery.com

  • TAKE A DAY TRIP TO PROVINCETOWN, MARTHA’S VINEYARD, OR NANTUCKET
  • HAVE A SPA DAY OR GO FOR A COUPLES MASSAGE

Shui Spa  (Provincetown) does couples massages

Namaste Spa (Provincetown)

Le Petite Day Spa (Chatham)

The Spa at Chatham Bars Inn– (Chatham Bars Inn) does couples massages

EVENING OPTIONS:

  • SUNSET CEREMONY +PHOTOS (IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE A SUNRISE CEREMONY)
  • GRAZING CAPE COD PICNIC ON THE BEACH
  • GO TO A CAPE COD BASEBALL GAME
  • CATCH A MOVIE AT THE WELFLEET DRIVE IN
  • WATCH A CONCERT AT THE CAPE COD MELODY TENT
  • JOIN A FARM TO TABLE DINNER AT THE CHATHAM BARS INN
  • TAKE A SUNSET CRUISE

Bay Lady II (Provincetown) Sunset Sail 7-9PM $50 for adults

Down Cape Boating Private Charter Sunset Sail 2 Hours 1-6   Passengers $595.00

Bay Spirit Tours Bay Breeze Sunset Price $30 for adults, Private Sunset Charter $1,550 for 2 Hours Duration 75 minutes

Cape Cod Catamaran (Wellfleet) Private Charter 2 Hour Sunset Cruise- up to 6 people $450

Blue Claw Boat Tours Private Charter: $400. for 1- 4 passengers for 1.5 hours. Additional $50 per passenger fee up to 10 passengers. Please call for groups larger than 10.

11. EXAMPLE OF WHAT A CHATHAM CAPE COD ELOPEMENT COULD LOOK LIKE

4:45 AM DRIVE TO THE BEACH

5:00 AM ARRIVE AT THE BEACH

5:15 AM CHATHAM BEACH CEREMONY, VOWS, RING EXCHANGE (POP CHAMPAGNE)

5:30 AM SUNRISE EXPLORE AROUND & TAKE COUPLES PHOTOS ON THE BEACH & BY THE LIGHTHOUSE

6:30 AM BEACH PICNIC BREAKFAST FROM GRAZING CAPE COD

7:30 AM HEAD TO CAR & DRIVE TO BOAT DOCK

8:00 AM PRIVATE SAILBOAT CHARTER

10:00 AM ARRIVE BACK ON LAND & HEAD TO DOWNTOWN

10:30 AM-12:30 PM GRAB COFFEE & EXPLORE THE LOCAL SHOPS

12:30 PM-1:00 PM DRIVE TO NAUSET LIGHTHOUSE

1:00 PM-1:30 PM EXPLORE AROUND NAUSET LIGHTHOUSE 

1:30 PM-3:00 PM HANG OUT AT NAUSET BEACH, GO SWIMMING ETC. 

3:00 PM- 4:30 PM DRIVE BACK TO CHATHAM BARS INN FOR A COUPLES MASSAGE

4:30 PM-5:30 PM COUPLES MASSAGE

5:30 PM-7:00 PM HEAD BACK TO ROOM TO RELAX & GET READY FOR DINNER

7:00 PM-8:00 PM CHATHAM BARS INN CLAMBAKE DINNER (TO TRY ALL THE SEAFOOD CAUGHT LOCALLY) & CATCH THE SUNSET ON THE BEACH AT 8:10

8:30 PM-8:55 PM SKIP THE CAKE & DRIVE TO ONE OF THE SUNDAE SCHOOL ICE CREAM LOCATIONS (VOTED #5 IN THE COUNTRY BY USA TODAY)

8:55 PM-9:40 PM INDULGE IN ICE-CREAM SUNDAE GOODNESS

9:40 PM-10:00 PM DRIVE BACK TO THE HOTEL

10:00PM OPEN A BOTTLE OF WINE FROM ONE OF THE LOCAL CAPE WINERIES (TRURO VINEYARDS, CAPE COD WINERY, FIRST CRUSH WINERY) SNACK ON SOME SALT WATER TAFFY AND REMINISCE ON A PERFECT WEDDING DAY

12. CAPE COD FLORISTS TO CONSIDER FOR YOUR COASTAL ELOPEMENT

KJ FLORAL DESIGNS

DESIGNERS TOUCH FLORALS

BEACH PLUM FLORAL

LESLIE LEE FLORAL (SHE EVEN HAS AN ELOPEMENT PACKAGE)

LILACS FLORALS

BOTANIQUE

GARDEN PARTY CAPE COD

THE WILD DAHLIA

13. CAPE COD MAP (HOTELS, THINGS TO DO, ETC)

14. PLANNING A CAPE COD ELOPEMENT STEP BY STEP

  • Get engaged to the love of your life!
  • Figure out if you want a traditional Cape Cod wedding or an seaside elopement
  • Select a date (Top tips : weekdays are less crowded and the best months are May, June, September, and October)
  • Invite friends & family (if applicable)
  • If planning an intimate wedding on the Cape Cod National Seashore- pay $50 & submit the special use permit for your date
  • Book your photographer-hopefully me! ( we will come up with ideas where you want to say “I do”)
  • Book accommodations & travel if needed
  • Book other vendors-if applicable (Justice of the Peace, Planner, Hair & Make-up, Florist, Live Music/DJ, Videographer, Private Chef, Baker, etc)
  • Both fill out a Notice of Intention of Marriage Form in person with a town clerk and then pick up your Marriage License 3 days later. Valid for 60 days.
  • Have the Cape Cod intimate wedding you always envisioned 🙂 

15. BOOK YOUR CAPE COD ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER

I offer 4 hour, 8 hour, and Multi-Day Cape Cod Elopement Packages starting at $2,500. Each includes the follow:

  • PLANNING ASSISTANCE & TIPS
  • VENDOR RECOMMENDATIONS
  • CUSTOM ELOPEMENT TIMELINE
  • HIGH RESOLUTION FULL EDITED DIGITAL FILES
  • PRIVATE ONLINE GALLERY
  • PRINT RELEASE
  • I COVER THE PHOTOGRAPHY SPECIAL USE PERMIT FOR THE CAPE COD NATIONAL SEASHORE (IF APPLICABLE)
  • *TRAVEL

*What does my travel cover? What isn’t included?

Accommodations, food stipend, gas, travel time, beach parking pass, entrance fees into any state park or the National Seashore, ferry to ceremony location (if applicable). 

If you’d like me to accompany you on any activities that require additional tickets to document your day (example: whale watch, oyster tour, wine tour, etc)  or any transportation aside from my personal vehicle (sailboat charter, sunset cruise, ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, etc.) that will be covered by the client.

Since the weekends are reserved for traditional weddings that require venues, I photograph Cape Cod elopements and intimate weddings (less than 20 people) Monday-Friday year round. Bonus-weekdays have less crowds!

PLEASE NOTE: In order to give my couples those dreamy seaside photos with the best light I only photograph ceremonies & formal couples photos during golden hour light- two hours after sunrise or two hours before sunset. The early wake-up call in the summer is totally worth having a private beach experience.

LET’S MAKE THESE BEACH WEDDING DREAMS OF YOURS COME TRUE! IF YOU ARE THINKING OF HAVING A CAPE COD ELOPEMENT OR AN INTIMATE WEDDING ON THE CAPE THEN SHOOT ME A MESSAGE IN MY CONTACT FORM SO I CAN CHECK MY AVAILABILITY!

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