January 24, 2021

St. John’s Elopement Guide: Updated for 2021

Eloping in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador! The wild cliffs, colourful houses, amazing people, and great food scene are all what makes St. John’s a spectacular place to plan an adventurous elopement. 

Eloping in St. John’s is an experience for which most couples hire a photographer for 3-6 hours. My goal as a photographer is to tell a story of your day that you can look back on with fondness, including the quiet moments in between. I meet you about an hour before you plan to say I do, then once you’ve gotten ready, we meet up with your commissioner in a beautiful location to make it legal! You can write your own vows, pop some champagne and celebrate once you’ve signed the papers. After that, we’ll go on an adventure, often a hike on the East Coast Trail with a picnic in tow; or you can plan an excursion, such as walking around downtown St. John’s, exploring Cape Spear, or going on a boat tour in the Narrows. My goal is to make sure you have a stress-free day and beautiful images to remember it by. 

This guide will cover all the aspects that you need for planning your ideal St. John’s elopement, including legalities, best locations, how to get here, and of course, the best sights, restaurants, attractions and accommodations to make the most of your trip. 

If you are interested in hiring me to photograph your St. John’s Elopement, you can contact me by using the form at the bottom of this article. I would love to walk through the process with you.

1. How to Legally Marry in Newfoundland and Labrador

Getting married in Newfoundland and Labrador is a pretty easy three-step process. You get your license, you have a ceremony (during which you fill out the license), then you mail it and have it certified. 

  1.  Apply for a Marriage License: 

You must apply for a license in person with a marriage license issuer. Ideally, you want to give yourself at least 4 days before your desired wedding date so that the issuer has time to get the license to your officiant. The license costs $100. You can find a list of marriage license issuers here. 

  1. Have a Ceremony: 

You must find and book a marriage commissioner, or find a religious representative to perform your ceremony. The commissioner is a different person than the licenser. You can also plan a classic City Hall wedding in downtown St. John’s! The fees for ceremonies vary from person to person, and you should let your commissioner know of your plans when you book them to make sure they are okay to go on an adventure! You can find a list of marriage commissioners here

You will need two legal witnesses to your wedding ceremony. You can opt to bring some friends with you, whether they travel with you or you make pals at the local pub. My partner and I are also more than happy to be your witnesses. I have been ‘Maid of Honor’ for many an elopement!

  1.  File the paperwork: 

Once your ceremony is complete, you must submit the forms to Vital Statistics. Your marriage license issuer or commissioner will often walk you through this process. 

And that’s it! Voila, once you’ve found a licenser and officiant, you’re ready to get married. 

2. Timing: When to Get Married in St. John’s

  1. Time of Year:

While you can elope in St. John’s any time of the year, May through October is the time of year when you are guaranteed the best weather and the most activity options. Winter in the most easterly city in North America often has wet, windy winters with unpredictable storms that can knock the city out for days on end. 

  1. Time of Week: 

The best time of the week to elope is Monday to Thursday, as the trails around the city will be less busy, and you’ll have an easier time finding accommodations. 

  1. Time of Day:

Sunset on Signal Hill is magical! If you can, plan your elopement to hit around sunset. Early in the summer this is around 9pm; later in the season, around 6pm. Planning for sunset also means that there are fewer people around, as most folks tend to do their hikes earlier in the day. 

 

  1. Weather in St. John’s

St. John’s often has nice but somewhat cool weather. In the summer, average daytime temps range from 16-25 degrees celsius. It can rain often, and is almost always a bit windy! I’ve personally never experienced rain that has impeded an elopement, but it’s always smart to plan for rain, wind, and chilly weather when travelling to Newfoundland and Labrador.  

3. Best places to Elope in St. John’s, NL

St. John’s has SO many options. If you want to stay in the downtown core, you’ll find everything you need without having to rent a car. You can walk around historic Duckworth Street, eat great food, and take in the scenery at Harbourside Park.

If you can rent a car or don’t mind taking a cab, your options get a little wilder. You can visit Signal Hill, Cape Spear, Quidi Vidi, or any of the east coast trails surrounding St. John’s. My favourite trails include Sugarloaf, Father Troy, and Blackhead. If you want to go even farther, within an hours’ drive of St. John’s you can visit Bell Island, Ferryland, or Conception Bay North. 

I recommend planning your elopement by picking an area in which we can explore. For example, downtown, Signal Hill, and Quidi Vidi are all close enough that you can go to all three in an afternoon. Likewise for Cape Spear, Petty Harbour, and Blackhead. I’m happy to create a customized itinerary with you when you book based on what you like to do and what sort of day you’d like to have. 

Here are a few of my top locations for elopement photos: 

Downtown

Downtown St. John’s is known for its colourful rowhouses, but it has so much more than that! Gorgeous architecture sits next to amazing ocean views. On the cusp of downtown is The Battery, an historic fishing outport with tiny sheds and houses sitting on the water. Northhead Trail leads to the top of Signal Hill, from which you can see all of the city, as well as Cape Spear (when the fog isn’t rolling in, at least!).  

Cape Spear

The most easterly point in North America, Cape Spear is a favourite destination for a lot of folks! To get married here, you will need a park permit, as it is a Parks Canada site. All fees go towards maintaining the park. Near Cape Spear you’ll find the adorable village of Petty Harbour which has a working harbour along with cafes and restaurants. Blackhead is another village close-by that has a great East Coast Trail and is lightly trafficked.

Flatrock

Flatrock is a little bit farther out from the others; you’ll have to drive about 30 minutes from downtown. The Father Troy trail is one of my favourites for a nice hike and a picnic! On this trail you are more likely to have a very private elopement. Near Flatrock are lots of traditional houses and wharves, along with stunning cliffs and beaches. 

Torbay Point

The short, easy walk into Torbay Point is a gorgeous walk through the woods; the view at the end is simply spectacular. This trailhead is approximately 15 minutes from downtown, and the entire round-trip hike can be done in less than an hour.

4. How to Get to St. John’s

To get to St. John’s from outside of the province, you have two options: flying or taking the ferry. 

Flying: 

You can fly into St. John’s International Airport, which is less than 20 minutes from downtown St. John’s. Shuttles and cabs are available. If you plan to leave the downtown core, you may want to rent a car at the airport as the city is not very walkable outside of downtown. There are lots of car rental options at the St. John’s airport. 

Ferry: 

You can take the ferry across from North Sydney to Port Aux Basques. The cost is approximately $200 each way for two people and a vehicle. The ferry takes approximately 9 hours to cross the channel. Once in Port Aux Basques, it is a 10-hour drive to St. John’s. While this option is not for the faint of heart, making a journey of Newfoundland is an incredible experience. Making a trip of Newfoundland is well worth the drive, as there are many beautiful spots along the way, such as Twillingate, Cape Spear, and Bonavista. 

5. Where to Stay in St. John’s

St. John’s has tons of accommodation options, from hostels to boutique hotels. 

Blue On Water is my personal favourite place for couples to stay: the brick walls make a lovely backdrop for photos, and it’s right next to everything you’ll need, such as shops, restaurants, and pubs. 

The Mallard Inn is a lovely boutique hotel in Quidi Vidi. All of the amenities of a modern hotel, but with a traditional Newfoundland flair.

 

For a really unique stay, you can rent this historic church in the heart of downtown. It’s a full apartment with a kitchen and living space so you can settle in. Bonus: it’s pet-friendly!

6. Venue Options in St. John’s

One of the best parts of eloping is that you can get married anywhere you’d like!

I’m always happy to suggest my favourite ocean-side locations for your elopement ceremony.

If you are bringing a few guests with you and you would like a more traditional ceremony and reception location, Yellowbelly is an ideal location. It’s an historic building and they host weddings regularly. It is right on George Street! Mallard Cottage is another favourite; they host intimate weddings in the restored cottage in Quidi Vidi. The food is to DIE for.

7. Other Vendors

If you’re looking for flowers, NL Floral Design makes custom bouquets using local flora she finds on her daily hike. Your bouquet will likely be a beautiful surprise, filled with whatever is in season. Past bouquets have included blueberries, juniper, lupins, and more.

Cakes at Rocket Bakery are delicious and beautiful, and can be picked up without ordering. They also provide all the ingredients for a picnic lunch!

If you’d like a musician to play your first dance, Brad Jefford is a talented local musician. Alternatively, you can always head to George Street and stop into whichever pub is playing the best song!

8. Where to Eat in St. John’s

For me, travelling is all about the food.

The Merchant Tavern is one of my favourite places to eat. Local ingredients in a beautiful building with no fuss.

Basho is a phenomenal restaurant that serves a mix of Japanese/Newfoundland food. You have to try it to believe it!

Raymonds, because, of course. They are one of the top in the world, and for good reason.

Johnny & Mae’s is a food truck that is usually parked at St. Thomas Church (near Bannerman Park). Their giant burgers are to die for.

9. Things to do in St. John’s

Hike The East Coast Trail

While you likely won’t do the whole trail system (it spans over 300km) you can do individual portions of the trail. Each trail is unique and all are special! Plan to take a lot of water and wear comfy shoes. The views are worth the journey!

Go on an O’Briens Boat Tour

O’Briens offers a great tour of The Narrows! The boat launch is behind Jack Astors on the west end of downtown. The tour takes a couple of hours and is a sweet family activity with great photo opportunities.

Get Baked Treats at Toslow

My favourite cafe! They make amazing donuts. Go early, they often sell out by mid-morning.

Check Out The Geo Centre

If you get sick of hiking but not of nature, the Geo Centre is a cool way to spend a rainy day. There’s a big rock wall, solar system, and other cool things to see.

Get a Beer at Quidi Vidi Brewery

Quidi Vidi Brewery is tucked away in the village in an old fish plant. They often have live music, and walking to the brewery is a great way to see St. John’s (stumbling home from the brewery, however, is not).

Visit Signal Hill

Signal Hill is rich with history and has one of the best views in the city. You can do The North Head Trail, which links to The Battery, or you can just drive to the top and get an ice cream at The Newfoundland Chocolate Factory while you watch the boats come and go from the harbour.

Walk around Georgestown

Duckworth and Water Street get all the love, but if you want to experience a different neighbourhood, go past Bannerman Park into Georgetown. I love grabbing a coffee at The Parlour and walking around the little one-way streets.

I hope this guide was useful! If you’re ready to start planning your St. John’s Elopement, you can contact me by using the contact link below. We will set up a time to walk through what you’d like out of your day, and come up with an itinerary for your dream elopement in St. John’s!

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