How to Elope on Block Island from a Block Island Elopement Photographer

block island elopement details
An intimate elopement captured by a Block Island wedding photographer, Eli Holmes Photo + Film.

Let’s chat all things how to elope on Block Island. A tiny, 3 by 7 mile island off the coast of Rhode Island, this tiny oasis has a lot to offer year round for an intentional, quiet elopement. With beautiful beaches, endless hiking trails, unique hotels and inns, an exotic animal farm, panoramic ocean views from just about anywhere, and SoCal style rock and sand cliffs, the island is a destination location like no other for a New England elopement.

History of Block Island:

Block Island was formed by 2 glaciers sometime between 22,000 and 120,000 years ago. The older of the two glaciers brought boulders, and sediment from Narragansett Bay, while the second glacier came from Connecticut and Southwestern Rhode Island. The two glaciers formed a hilly landscape on the island, scattered with valleys, and surrounded with cliff sides, and sedimentary boulders and rocks.

For me, knowing the history of the island gives me a few thoughts on how to elope on Block Island — I’ll get to those at the end of the blog post. There’s a few books at the Block Island history section at the Island Free Library that go into more depth around the history of the island—both geologically, and how folks discovered the island.

block island elopement details
block island elopement photographer
block island elopement details
block island elopement photographer

Getting to Block Island from the Mainland:

There are a few options to get to Block Island. Year round, you can take a flight out of Westerly through New England Airlines, or the vehicle ferry out of Point Judith (no other ferry allows vehicles). In the summer there are also ferries out of Newport, New London, and Montauk Long Island. Year round you can also hire a private charter flight through New England Airlines (~$500 one way), or a helicopter ride from Heliblock.

When considering how to elope on Block Island, getting there is definitely one piece of the puzzle. Another is getting around the island. You can bring your car over going through Point Judith. If you’re here short term, you can rent mopeds, bicycles, or a car on the island. Getting around on a bicycle or moped is pretty easy — but do know that the roads get congested in the summer, and mopeds are not allowed on dirt roads.

Getting Married Legally on Block Island:

To get a marriage certificate on block Island there’s a few things you must do. First call the Town Hall at 401-466-3200. The staff there will walk you through the process with ease. You both must be 18 years of age or older, have certified copies of your birth certificates, and during your service have two witnesses present (this can’t include your officiant). This is the easy part of how to elope on Block Island

block island elopement couples portraits
An intimate elopement captured by a Block Island wedding photographer, Eli Holmes Photo + Film.
block island elopement couples portraits
An intimate elopement captured by a Block Island wedding photographer, Eli Holmes Photo + Film.

Where to Stay for your Block Island Elopement:

Block Island Hotels

Some of my favorite hotels are great options for a Block Island elopement. The Block Island Beach House offers a modern luxury with nostalgic touches at their in town properties. The Surf is right on the beach, while the Gables is just down Dodge Street with a pool outside. The two properties were recently gutted, and have fully updated rooms with modern, and luxury touches. The suites at either are really great options for a couple wanting to spoil themselves.

The Spring House Hotel, and the Atlantic Inn offer more historical touches. Both properties have been updated and restored while keeping many of the historical architecture, and touches throughout the buildings. Both are independently owned by island families, and the Spring House Hotel offers a few apartments, and larger suites, as well as house rentals and townhomes. The Spring House Hotel has some year round options as well at the Barn properties and the Inn.

block island elopement couples portraits
block island elopement couples portraits

Block Island Inns

The 1661 Inn is a boutique hotel on Spring Street water-front, open year round. The company does have quite a few properties in the harbor town area. On the main property at the 1661 Inn you’ll find one of my favorite suites for a Block Island Elopement—the Adrian Mitchell room. This large suite has a huge spa shower and separate spa bath tub, fireplace, king size bed, private balcony, pull out queen bed, and ocean views. The space is huge for getting ready, and you could even do a private dinner on the balcony or in the suite.

When thinking about how to elope on Block Island, if you prioritize quiet, and peace, I have a few options for you. If you’re looking for something more cozy, comfortable, and secluded, the Sea Breeze Inn is a fantastic option. The Inn offers unique, individualized rooms and suites of different sizes with many ocean-facing options, with and without balconies. The Sea Breeze has a few larger suites that are super perfect for elopements, when you call they’ll direct you to the perfect room for you. The Sea Breeze is open April to October.

block island elopement couples portraits
block island elopement couples portraits

Luxury AirBnbs:

There are a few options for AirBnbs that I absolutely adore. The Ross House is a special one. I was friends with the owner while it was being constructed, and got to see the process from the very beginning. The home is a gorgeous, modern, clean space right on the cliffs on the Southeast side just before the lighthouse. The location is perfect — quiet, remote, and isolated. The house is open, with full floor to ceiling glass doors facing the water. It’s a beautiful location to photograph as it has tons of light, open, clean spaces.

If being in the hustle and bustle of it all is more your jam check out the Mod Pod on Dodge Street. Located in the same building as Persephone’s, you’ll always be able to grab a cup of kombucha or a latte when you get up. Walk down to the beach, or to any of the trails just outside of town easily. You can go shopping, or check out any of the restaurants or bars with this easily walkable location. When thinking about how to elope on Block Island, I’m always one to consider how where you stay encourages the experience you want for the weekend.

block island elopement couples portraits
Block Island RI Wedding Photographer
block island elopement couples portraits
Block Island RI Wedding Photographer

Low-Key Block Island AirBnbs:

If you’re ok without an ocean view, and maybe want space for a few guests, Ocean House is an incredible option. Available year-round, the house is new construction, with modern, clean touches. The house is close to trails, and the airport, with a large yard with lots of greenery. When considering how to elope on Block Island — this house has so much to offer. Hire a private chef, have a yoga class on the lawn, and more.

The West Side of the island is known for lush, open spaces with privacy, and historic houses. The Mermaid House has an interesting history, owned by a longtime island creative couple. There is a recording studio at the house (that is for use by the owners). The owners talents and creativity are shown in the decor of the suite. Walking distance to Cooneymus beach, this spot is perfect for the nearlyweds looking to walk the beach at sunrise and sunset daily while they’re on island.

Ways to Customize Your Block Island Elopement Experience

There are plenty of ways to round out your Block Island Elopement experience. Have a private yoga session at a remote location on the island, have a private tour of the exotic animal farm, have a couples massage at Calm, and more. Here are a few of our favorite options:

  • Private yoga or personal training class at a remote location
  • Couples massage at Calm
  • Exotic Animal Farm tour at the 1661 Inn
  • Helicopter tour through Heliblock
  • Private fishing charter through Rooster
  • Hike any of the Greenway trails and hunt for glass orbs
  • Have a private magician show or take a private ghost tour
  • Have a couples reiki session or have your fortune read with Bewitched on the Block
  • Have a private lobster bake through Sediment
  • Do a flower crown workshop with the Farmer Florist
  • Go horseback riding with Rustic Rides
  • Learn how to surf with Diamond Blue
  • Spend the day at a remote beach like Vaill, or Cooneymus
  • Take a Wind Farm Tour
  • Spend a rainy day at the Island Free Library learning about the history of Block Island
  • Go for a parasail in Old Harbor
  • Rent a moped or bicycles and explore the island
  • Explore the Historical Society and go on an art tour of the galleries on island
block island elopement couples portraits
block island elopement couples portraits
block island elopement couples portraits

When to visit for your Block Island Elopement

There is no wrong time to visit for a Block Island elopement. Winter elopements on Block Island can be just as stunning as eloping on Block Island in summer. I honestly prefer the off season as you have more time and space to yourself. You can go to any of the popular beaches, and trails and not see a soul. It’s also a time of year where there are hardly any other visitors or weddings so your images will be super unique to you.

If you’re looking for a lot of amenities on island you’ll want to come out in July/August. Know that you should plan your elopement further in advance for this time of year. It’s high season and some folks plan and book well into two years out for their vacations and weddings/elopements on Block Island.

block island elopement couples portraits
block island elopement couples portraits
block island elopement couples portraits

Options for Your Adventurous Elopement on Block Island

Let’s talk a little bit about what your day could look like. On island, there are lots of little services that you might not know about, or might not think about. There is no wrong way when it comes to how to elope on Block Island. The island offers so much and it’s easy to do nothing at all or everything.

Start your day at Persephone’s for coffee and breakfast—they’re open seasonally, so in the winter or late fall/early spring stop by Odd Fellows Cafe across from the Block Island Ferry. In the summer, you also have the options of Cracked Mug, and Ernie’s for breakfast and coffee. While Persephone’s, Odd Fellows, and Cracked Mug will offer lattes and breakfast sandwiches/smoothies/salads, Ernies is more that classic diner food. Ernie’s does offer fantastic vegan, gluten-free/dairy-free classic options for those with food sensitivities.

What to do to enjoy your time on Block Island

Mornings are a rad time to have your wedding ceremony. Usually the beaches, and trails tend to be quieter, and easier to navigate. It can be a bit cooler, especially in the summer before 9:30/10AM. You could also enjoy things like a private yoga class, private fitness class, flower crown workshop, classes with BIMI or BIC, or the Historical Society. Charter fishing, parasailing, and banana boating are all great options in the mornings as well.

The 10AM-2PM window on island year round tends to have harsh light, and in the summer can be super hot. In the summer, it’s a rad time for the beach, and other water sports like kayaking, surfing, and more. Diamondblue offers surfing lessons on island—if you’ve never tried it’s definitely worth checking out. You could also go clamming at low tide (make sure to get a shellfishing license from Harbors), kayak and more. If you’re like me thought, you might sit in a bath tub reading a book, or find a cool tree to sit under with a picnic blanket, a few pillows and a couple of books.

Year-round options for dining and more in the evenings

Things to Consider When Thinking About How to Elope on Block Island

Let’s talk a little bit about the morality and ethics of eloping on Block Island. While the island solely relies on tourism as an economy, there is quite a bit of impacts to the island—from water, and electric conservation, to thinking about the considerations of where to spend your money on the island, if you’re thinking about this side of it let’s talk.

Water and Power Conservation

In the summer, things are really hectic, and busy — we as an island are desperately in need of conserving water. Summer resorts and tourism drains our water reserves much faster than we’re able to maintain them. Try to keep showers, and more to a minimum, and be thoughtful around water usage, especially in the summer.

The island used to be run on diesel engines. Now that we’re on a wind farm, and have a power cable to the mainland, I think some still don’t consider how the over use of electricity impacts the island. When an island that is accustomed to 1,000-5,000 for 9 months out of the year surges to 25,000 for 3 months, there are still some implications. Years ago we used to have lots of brown outs during the summer when the surges and air conditioning first started to become popular. While things have certainly settled, I still think it’s wise to think about how power consumption impacts the island. Consider limiting the use of air conditioning and other high-powered electronics while here.

Indigenous History

The island’s indigenous history is not particularly well detailed. Around 500BC the Niantic called the island Manisses. The indigenous people lived by growing corn (hence Corn Neck), beans, squash, and hunting deer, catching fish, and shellfish. The island was later occupied by explorers and here’s where things get murky. The Historical Society has tried quite hard to accurately document and tell the story of indigenous folks on the island, networking with tribes currently in the area today, and more.

That all said, there is one story that I think is quite important to share. The Mohegan Bluffs are the site of a battle — a massacre of the Mohegan tribe. The Mohegans were not thrown off the bluffs as many island locals will tell you, but rather battled at the Bluffs. The Mohegan Bluffs stretch from the Southeast Lighthouse, down to almost Vaill Beach.

When thinking about where to elope, I often don’t suggest the Mohegan Bluffs out of respect for what has happened there. A few couples have brought it to my attention as well — they didn’t feel comfortable getting married or having their wedding portraits taken somewhere lots of people died, in a battle.

Local Tourism

While the island thrives off of local tourism, there are a lot of folks that make quite a bit of money off tourism, that doesn’t get invested back into the community. When thinking about where to spend your money, consider locally owned businesses, and not necessarily corporate owned businesses. My favorite year-round, invested in the community, locally-owned businesses are as follows:

  • Old Island Pub
  • Tiger Fish
  • Poor People’s Pub
  • Club Soda
    Mad Hatters
  • Salt
  • Spring House Hotel
  • 1661 Inn
  • Odd Fellows Cafe
  • Persephone’s
  • Cracked Mug
  • EmEd Art and Prints
  • Royal Jewelers
  • Diamond Blue Surf Shop
  • Hotel Manisses
  • Kimberly’s
  • Yellow Kittens
  • Koru
  • Captain Nick’s
  • Glass Onion
  • Pond and Beyond Kayak
  • Black Dog and Peppered Cat

Local Non-Profits and Ways to Help the Island

There are a ton of non-profits on the island that support the local community in many ways. Encouraging your friends and family to donate to some of the island non-profits instead of gifts you might not need or want anyways is a great one! The island survives and thrives because of many non-profit organizations on the island.

The Mary D Fund was started by the islands longest, and oldest nurse Mary D. She started the organization to support island locals that might be struggling with ordinary necessities like medical care, utilities, and more. The Mary D Fund has provided critical support to many island locals over the decades it’s existed. The first weekend of August there is a ball for the Mary D Fund that’s a great way to celebrate the end of your elopement and give back to the community.

Incorporating Local Non-Profits in Your Block Island Elopement

The Block Island Volunteer Fire Department is the only fire department that provides services to the island. Without any mutual aid, the volunteers provide inspections, responses to fire alarms and more. The BIVFD also encompasses the Block Island Rescue. Rescue provides life saving care year round to island residents and visitors. During the summer, the department sees a huge surge in calls, without a huge surge in volunteers. Volunteers tend to be year round residents who sacrifice a lot to be a part of the department. In the summer, most residents make a 70% or more of their income — when volunteers see the biggest surge in calls. You can donate to the BIVFD by clicking this link.

The Block Island Conservancy provides care to the island’s favorite locations — the pristine nature that all of us enjoy so much. When thinking about how to elope on Block Island, many of the locations you’ll consider for your ceremony are maintained by the Block Island Conservancy. Run by primarily volunteers, the teams mow and care for the trails and land. The Conservancy also offers education and more for folks to promote respect and care for the island. If getting to know the island is a priority consider attending one of their many events on island during your stay.

Erosion and Land Conservation

The Mohegan Bluffs have turned into our version of Horseshoe Bend. Most tourists know exactly where it is, and have at some point visited the Bluffs. As someone who’s photographed the Bluffs for years, I’ve noticed the erosion at the cliffs, how much higher the tide has gotten — there used to be a beach there at high tide, and so much more. Consider avoiding the Mohegan Bluffs. In doing so, you will use other areas of the island that aren’t densely visited, and highly encouraged.

There are hundreds of equally beautiful locations, and areas on the island that aren’t even marked—on public property. If you are up on any of the cliffs, just know that climbing the cliffs from above or below is exceedingly dangerous and can cause cliff collapses. Cliff rescues are very challenging for any rescue team, so please be kind to yourself and to the island by being thoughtful around the cliffs.

Elopements, Wedding and Elopement Guides

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