Ultimate Guide to Getting Married in Connecticut

No matter the season, Connecticut has a reputation for being one of the most beautiful states in New England. But that’s just one of the many reasons why you may decide to celebrate your wedding here. When it comes to Connecticut wedding venues and backdrops, you’ll find no shortage of choices in “The Constitution State.” Mild summers and nearly 100 miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean mean dozens of Connecticut beach wedding options.

You will also find a blend of big cities and rural country towns. For example, New Haven offers the modern amenities that you might expect from a municipality that is part of the New York metropolitan area, but its roots date all the way back to 1683, which means you’ll also find many historic sites for your ceremony, reception and photo shoots. Barn weddings in Connecticut are popular in the more rural areas, where you may find centuries-old rustic barns and farmhouses on acres of lush green land. You will even find unlimited options for Connecticut outdoor wedding venues among the state’s gardens, parks, beaches, country clubs and vineyards.

As you read through our comprehensive guide to getting married in Connecticut, you’ll also discover everything you need to know about how much Connecticut weddings cost and how to obtain a Connecticut marriage license, plus fun ideas for getting married in the state’s most popular cities. Follow along with your
wedding checklist to make sure everything is done on time.

Top Wedding Trends in Connecticut

Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estate wedding venue

According to The Knot 2015 Real Wedding Study, Connecticut couples are split pretty evenly when it comes to choosing outdoor and indoor venues. Forty-nine percent chose to say “I do” inside popular Connecticut wedding venues like the Wadsworth Mansion, a historic Greek Revival-style country estate that dates back to 1900. Another 49 percent prefer Connecticut outdoor wedding venues such as the coastal Saltwater Farm Vineyard in Stonington. The other 2 percent of couples mixed things up with weddings that took place both indoors and out.

When it comes to the style of weddings in Connecticut, most couples—68 percent—opted for a semi-formal event, while 23 percent dressed up in formal and black-tie attire. Just 9 percent kept it casual.

Once you have chosen one of the best wedding venues in Connecticut, you may want to find other ways to incorporate your state pride into your ceremony and reception. The official state dance is square dancing, so consider adding a few country songs to your reception playlist to liven things up. It can really set the tone for rustic barn weddings in Connecticut. You may want to consider the official state flower—the mountain laurel—for your bouquet.

As its nickname—The Constitution State—implies, Connecticut played a major role in the American Revolution, the founding of the country and the Civil War. Show off your patriotic side with shades of red, white and blue incorporated into your wedding décor. Also considered nautical colors, the preppy color scheme would work well with your Connecticut beach wedding.

Connecticut Marriage Rates and Wedding Costs

The Knot average costs for Connecticut weddings

Before your marriage in Connecticut, you need to decide on a budget. Taking care of this first will leave you plenty of time to handle the fun stuff without feeling overwhelmed or encountering any surprises before or after the wedding.
The Knot Budgeter is a great place to start. Also, the following findings from The Knot 2015 Real Weddings Study provide you with an idea of what other Connecticut couples spend on their wedding day and the events leading up to it.

Connecticut Marriage Stats

So how many couples are actually getting married in Connecticut? While the US average is 6.8 per 1,000 people, the average in the state is slightly higher at 7.8. Of those people, the average couple spends $41,692 on their wedding, an amount that does not include the honeymoon. With that in mind, 73 percent of all Connecticut couples spend at least $20,000 on their nuptials.

Budget Breakdown: Average Costs for Connecticut Weddings

So, where is all that money going? Connecticut wedding photography, flowers, engagement rings and wedding gowns are just a few of the categories we cover. Take a look at how the numbers break down to get an idea of how much you may spend when choosing your own vendors:

Top cities in Connecticut to Tie the Knot

There are just under 170 towns and cities in Connecticut, and you can find a place to get married in almost every single one. They range from rural farming communities to quaint coastal towns and big bustling municipalities to laid-back suburbs. That said, there are three cities that remain the most popular for couples because of access to vendors, options to Connecticut wedding venues and so much more. They are:

Bridgeport

New Haven

Stamford

Make It Legal

newlyweds showing wedding rings

One of the most important things to do when planning your wedding in any state is to obtain a marriage license. While each state has its own laws and rules for getting married, they usually involve a few simple tasks. And while these tasks may not be as fun as, say, cake tastings or gown shopping, taking care of them on time will help ensure your wedding day goes smoothly and that you can head off on your honeymoon without any worries.

Getting a Connecticut Marriage License: The Basics

Each town in Connecticut has specific requirements for obtaining a marriage license, which means you will need to check with the town in which you plan to wed to ensure you have taken care of the details, but here are some basics to help you get started:

  • You and your partner must appear in person at the vital records office in the town where your ceremony takes place
  • While at the office, you will fill out the application, make a sworn statement, pay a $30 fee and present a standard form of identification, after which you have 65 days to get married.
  • Once your wedding is over, the officiant submits your license back to the vital records office where it becomes permanent record

You may also wonder who can officiate your marriage in Connecticut. Your options include:

  • Any retired or current judge, including federal judges who are ordained to officiate marriages in other jurisdictions
  • Justices of the peace, state referees and family support magistrates appointed in Connecticut
  • All ordained or licensed members of the clergy from any religious denominations

Permits and Other Important Legal Requirements for Wedding Venues in Connecticut

In addition to your wedding license, you may be required to purchase a permit for certain Connecticut wedding venues. The rules often vary by location and the town where the ceremony and reception will take place. For example, in the city of Hartford, you must purchase a permit if you wish to hold your ceremony or take wedding photos in one of the local parks. You wedding planner can help you work out the details for your specific location.

How to Change Your Name in Connecticut

If you decide to change your name after the wedding, the process in Connecticut is pretty straightforward. Check out
HitchSwitch professional name change service or follow The Knot simple guide to changing your name. If you decide to do it yourself, you do not need to make any special request from the state. But you will need a certified copy of your marriage certificate to make the changes to other important documents. These include:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social security card
  • Insurance policies
  • Passports
  • Employer payrolls and records
  • Bank accounts and credit cards
  • Utility bills
  • Rental or mortgage agreements
  • Voter registration
  • School records
  • Library cards
  • Medical records and prescriptions

It’s All About Timing

organized pink desk accessories

Connecticut’s climate varies by location, but in general, it has mild summers and cold winters. According to The Knot 2015 Real Weddings Study, 45 percent of all couples opt to celebrate their weddings during the fall. The summer season draws 34 percent, while 17 percent go with spring. Only 4 percent brave the weather by holding a winter wedding.

The Four Seasons in Connecticut

New England has a reputation for its beautiful fall foliage, and Connecticut is no different. The backdrop of richly-colored leaves might be one reason couples choose this season. In 2015, the temperatures in Stamford, Connecticut, typically fell into the 60s and 70s range. The moderate weather can seem quite attractive when you know you will be wearing a heavy gown or suit at popular Connecticut outdoor wedding venues.

In January and February, Hartford typically sees highs in the ’30s and lows in the teens, while July and August bring highs in the ’80s and lows in the ’60s. Just remember, especially when planning a Connecticut beach wedding, that June through November is hurricane season, and thunderstorms are more likely to occur in the summer. But here’s some good news: Connecticut sees more sunny days than most other states in the nation and averages over 2,400 hours of sunlight per year.

Connecticut Wedding Dates to Avoid

Depending on where you get married in Connecticut, there are some important dates you may want to avoid in order to make sure that your wedding guests are comfortable and can easily find a place to stay. Ask your wedding planner or venue for tips about how to avoid major traffic times or local events that might make your wedding weekend more difficult for guests and more costly for you.

If you’re on a tight budget, try to avoid common national holidays and busy weekends that tend to inflate the cost of everything! (We cover these dates for 2016-18 in our
comprehensive guide). Additionally, here are some local festivals and events you may want to note for 2017:

  • New Haven St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Weekend Parties (Mid March)
  • Sea Music Festival at Mystic Seaport (June)
  • Greater Hartford Festival (mid July)
  • Native American Festival in Ridgefield (September)
  • Artists in the Country in Woodstock (September)
  • Discover Hartford Bicycle and Walking Tour (October)

When checking out Connecticut beach wedding venues, keep in mind that the summer beach season will be much busier than the other three seasons.

Great Guest Experiences

The Knot personalized wedding website

Helping your guests feel comfortable and welcome is one of the key ingredients to wedding success. With such a wide variety of unique wedding venues in Connecticut—from rustic barns to seaside beaches—there are so many places for a celebration that is a true reflection of your couple style while also making it fun for your friends and family. No matter where you choose to get married, giving your guests a great experience starts with you creating your
very own wedding website. It’s a great way to keep everyone connected and informed.

Finding Your Way: Connecticut Travel Info

It is also important to ensure your guests know how to get to your Connecticut wedding venues for the ceremony and reception, especially if they are arriving from out of town. Four major interstates run through Connecticut. They include

  • I-95 runs along the coast and can take you to and from New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts. The portion between New York City and New haven is one of the most congested roads in the entire country—be prepared for heavy traffic
  • I-91 runs through the center of the state and north to Massachusetts
  • I-84 runs from New York to the Southwestern portion of Connecticut and through the northeast portion of the state to Massachusetts
  • I-395 runs along the eastern portion of the state from the coast to Massachusetts

Ferry service is available between various cities in Connecticut and cities in New York and Rhode Island. Bradley International Airport in Hartford County is one of the largest airports in New England, and it welcomes flights from select destinations via Delta, American Airlines, JetBlue and Southwest. Several other major airports are less than 3 hours away from many Connecticut wedding venues, including Boston Logan International, Laguardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Around Town: What to Do and See in Connecticut

Another way to help your guests have a good time is to provide them with a list of things to do and see in the area. No matter where you are celebrating your marriage in Connecticut, you are sure to find something for every single person to enjoy. A few of the state’s top attractions include:

  • Yale University Art Gallery
  • Submarine Force Museum
  • Mystic Seaport
  • Mark Twain House and Museum
  • Gillette Castle & State Park
  • Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
  • The Maritime Aquarium
  • Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
  • Mohegan Sun Arena
  • Foxwoods Resort and Casino

Go Local: Food and Favors

Yale paraphernalia and Connecticut souvenirs

One of the most fun parts of planning a wedding is choosing the food and favors to offer your guests at the reception. And one of the best ways to incorporate your love for all things Connecticut into your wedding day is to serve up a taste of the local cuisine and culture. Check out
The Knot Shop for other personalized favors.

Connecticut Flavors: Unique Regional Foods for Your Wedding

While pizza is not your typical wedding reception fare, anyone who has seen the movie
Mystic Pizza will understand why it’s one of state’s official foods. Other official state foods include the Snickerdoodle cookie and ice cream. Consider an ice cream sundae bar with plenty of toppings, especially for summer weddings, or send guests home with a bag of your favorite Snickerdoodles. History and political buffs may want to consider adding election cake to the menu, especially if getting married in and around Hartford.

Of course, like other states that sit along the Atlantic, fresh seafood is another option that makes for great reception food, especially if you’re putting together a Connecticut beach wedding. Lobsters and oysters are local favorites. For weddings that take place during the cooler months, consider turning the seafood into a delicious bowl of chowder. If you want to combine local traditions, opt for a thin crust pizza with light cheese, oil, spices and clams. This dish is often referred to as New Haven-style pizza because it originated at a restaurant in the city.

Do Your Guests a Favor: Connecticut-Inspired Take Home Treats

Another great way to celebrate the Connecticut culture is to send your guests home with goodies and favors that represent your love for the state. These may include:

  • Bags of Snickerdoodle cookies with the recipe printed on the tags
  • PEZ dispensers (the company is famously located in the state)
  • Yale College memorabilia
  • Vintage postcards from Connecticut beaches
  • Copies of the movie Mystic Pizza
  • Books of Mark Twain’s work
  • Fancy jars of nutmeg (Connecticut is often called the “Nutmeg State”)

Connecticut City Guides

Wedding venues in Connecticut range from parks, barns and beaches to country clubs, vineyards and banquet halls. In other words, there is something for every taste and budget. But there are a few cities that tend to be more popular than others. Whatever city or venue you choose, consider using The
Knot ultimate wedding
vendor marketplace to find everything nearby from DJs to Connecticut wedding photographers.

Bridgeport

industrial view of Bridgeport, Connecticut

Nestled along the coast, Bridgeport is the most populated city in Connecticut and the fifth-most populated city in New England. Rich with culture, you will find an assortment of theaters, music venues, museums, parks and zoos scattered throughout, many of which serve as excellent backdrops for your wedding photo shoots. Speaking of photo shoots, numerous movies have filmed in Bridgeport because of its picturesque streets and neighborhoods. Several historic religious venues also fill the city’s streets, such as Cavalry St. George’s Episcopal Church, which dates back to 1930, and Rodeph Shalom Synagogue, which dates back to 1949.

For local Bridgeport vendors, check out:

  • Reception Venues
  • Wedding Photographers
  • Bridal Salons
  • DJs
  • Florists
  • Wedding Planners
  • Videographers
  • Jewelers
  • Wedding Rentals

New Haven

New Haven lighthouse

When it comes to potential New Haven wedding venues, you have a unique assortment to choose from. Also a coastal town, New Haven is Connecticut’s second-largest city and dates back to 1638. Yale University is located here, and its historic grounds are popular with couples tying the knot. Moreover, some of the state’s highest-rated restaurants are in New Haven and make for great catering options and reception venues. Other potential venues here include museums, theaters, music venues and historic landmarks that date back to practically every time period in American history.

Check out these local New Haven vendors:

  • Reception Venues
  • Wedding Photographers
  • Bridal Salons
  • DJs
  • Florists
  • Wedding Planners
  • Videographers
  • Jewelers
  • Wedding Rentals

Stamford

marina in Stamford, Connecticut

Stamford is a business hub for the New York City metropolitan area and for the entire nation. Several Fortune 500 and Fortune 1,000 companies make their headquarters here in Connecticut’s third-most populated city. But it’s not all business in Stamford, especially when it comes to choosing your wedding venue and vendors. The city is home to many spectacular parks, museums, theaters and music halls. Golf clubs, historic mansions, grand hotels and maritime locations are also popular here.

Check out these local Stamford vendors:

  • Reception Venues
  • Wedding Photographers
  • Bridal Salons
  • DJs
  • Florists
  • Wedding Planners
  • Videographers
  • Jewelers
  • Wedding Rentals

Check out more Connecticut wedding inspiration here.

Don’t forget to download The Knot Wedding Planner app—it’s a must-have for on-the-go planning.

Download for iOS: Wedding Planner App by The Knot

Download for Android: The Knot Wedding Planner

SOURCE:https://www.theknot.com/content/connecticut-wedding-planning-tips

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