FOR 15 YEARS, The Darby Field Inn just outside of North Conway has offered couples an Elopement Package, a development that reflected an obvious emerging need.
“Our Innkeeper Marc Donaldson became a justice of the peace, because he saw the demand for elopements,” said Carol Shiers, who has worked at The Darby Field Inn in varying capacities for 14 years.
Initially, the package included two nights in deluxe accommodations, ivory rose bouquet and boutonniere, simple ceremony, bottle of champagne for toasting, staff photos, and dinner for two that evening.
“A few years later, we began offering a one-night Elopement Package with or without dinner depending on the day of week selected,” she said.
Couples can choose the spot on the property that appeals to them for the ceremony site, and Shiers said this decision sometimes happens before they arrive or when they check in.
“The hands-down favorite is out on the mountain view patio,” she said. “No matter the season, folks want a shot out there.”
The inn’s perennial garden is the runner up, except in winters.
“When it rains or snows, the back-up spot is in the living room before the large fieldstone fireplace with a crackling fire as the backdrop for their vows,” she said. “It’s also very romantic.”
Currently hosting between 10 and 20 elopements annually, Shiers said one of the most memorable took place in February one year.
“The couple really wanted it to snow on their wedding day and especially while they exchanged vows,” she said. “I have always loosely promised, ‘We provide the weather,’ meaning it rarely rains during a wedding at The Darby. That time, though, it actually did snow for them. I was as excited as they were.”
For Shiers, though, every wedding at The Darby, regardless of circumstance, is memorable.
“I look through our pictures and remember them all,” she said. “Young couples getting married before one or both of them head overseas to provide military support, a grandmother getting married in the dress her granddaughter picked out for her.
“We had a bride who wore turquoise high top Chuck Taylors, couples finding each other later in life — myself included, couples marrying their best friends or someone they recently met,” she said. “It’s so interesting to meet each couple and hear their stories.”
The best part about elopements, she explained, is they are usually relaxed.
“Most of the time, it’s the couple, Marc performing the ceremony and me taking pictures,” she said. “There is no stress there.”
On one occasion, though, there may have been just a little bit of stress.
“We agreed to perform an elopement for two young ladies through the TLC channel,” said Shiers. “It was strange to take pictures of the ceremony with all the cameras and lights in the background.”
For her, the amenities and ambiance of The Darby Field Inn is not the only selling point when it comes to a wedding there.
“North Conway and the White Mountain area offer the best of living in the country with some shopping thrown in,” she said. “You can do anything outdoors — hiking, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, running, ice climbing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing. Basically, if you want to do it outdoors, you can do it in the area.”
After a day of adventure, Shiers said The Darby is a great place to which a couple can return.
“Share your stories from the day over a delicious meal or with a cocktail from the tavern,” she said. “We also love that many of our couples return to update us on their lives or to even renew their vows.”
To learn more about The Darby Field Inn, or its Elopement Package, visit darbyfield.com.