At a guess, 90% of the weddings I perform are at the beach. That makes sense: wedding destinations become destinations specifically for the unique features each place has to offer.
And 90% of the beach weddings I perform are at Herring Cove.
Why? Let me count the reasons … Herring Cove is one of the few places on the east coast where you can watch the sun dip into the ocean at sunset and color the water with brilliant hues. There is lovely sand, there are some of Cape Cod’s famous dunes, and there’s a fantastic view of Race Point Light in the background… it doesn’t get much better than this! It’s a wedding photographer’s dream destination, with the only problem being the occasional wind—not necessarily good for brides, grooms with long hair, or female wedding officiants!
It wasn’t always that ideal for weddings, of course. In the 19th century, much of the current beach was underwater and known as Lancy’s Harbor. At that time, a group of fishermen’s huts called Herring Cove was nearby (in the days before gasoline-powered fishing boats, it paid to be closer to the water when setting out!), named for the piles of herrings that could be regularly harvested on the beach.
Natural changes in topography, combined with the fishing fleet’s new motors and the completion of a new highway, made the beach accessible to the public in the 1930s, and it was named “New Beach” as it grew for the first time into an increasingly popular resort destination. (That highway, by the way, is U.S. Route 6, which runs from Herring Cove all the way to Long Beach, California.)
In the 1950s it was still somewhat associated with fishing and the sea, as New Beach served as a measured-mile course, with three pairs of “targets”—tall towers used by offshore sailors and fishermen to determine a precise half-mile or mile. Even that last connection to fishing is gone now, and it’s all about the sun and the waves, unless you count the tourists who today stand on the beach with their fishing lines, hoping for something for supper … or the boats you can watch going out and returning, chugging past the beach on their way to and from Provincetown Harbor.
In 1963, New Beach officially became “Herring Cove,” though there are no longer piles of herring to be had here. Instead, couples—like Eugene and Rodrigo—come to watch the sun slide into the water and commit themselves to each other, surely a brave and daring endeavor … and the best reason of all to come to Herring Cove!
So you’re all set to get married, and you want to do it in the very picturesque Provincetown … but then there’s that pesky marriage license. Massachusetts requires three days of waiting before the wedding? I’d rather spend the three days on my honeymoon!
If you’re already here on vacation, three days isn’t a problem. But if it is, don’t worry: you have options.
- Doing it the traditional way. This means arriving at the town clerk’s office and applying for your license three full days before your wedding. The good news is that the weekend counts into the three days. The bad news is that it’s still … three days.
- Getting a waiver (known as “marriage without delay”) in Orleans. Orleans is the closest town to Provincetown that has a court, and a waiver of the three-day waiting period can only be granted by a judge. You will need to go to the Orleans District Courthouse, 237 Rock Harbor Road, Orleans, MA, 02653, where the waiver will be granted … at a cost of $195.00. Call the clerk’s office for more information at (508) 255-4700 or (508) 255-4701.
- Getting the waiver in Hyannis. The Barnstable County Probate and Family Court, located at 195 Main Street, Barnstable (Hyannis’ legal name), MA, 02630, will also grant you a waiver for $65.00. Call the domestic relations department at (508) 375-6722 for more information.
So there you have it. Remember that regardless of the waiver, you must apply in person and together. You do not need witnesses, a blood test, or citizenship papers. So plan ahead, and you’ll be able to see everything go smoothly when you arrive for your wedding.
And remember: when you get married, get married in PTown!
Yes: I know that it’s March, and 2013 officially began back in January; but when you blog about weddings in a seaside town, the year really doesn’t get going until the air gets softer and the whales start their annual spring migration. So: happy spring, and happy new year!
Already the wedding calendar is filling up, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s not the only thing I do with my life, performing weddings; but it has to be one of the best things. Being with a couple on the happiest day of their lives? Nothing can beat that!
If you’re planning a Provincetown wedding this spring, remember that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has marriage-license requirements; you can read how to follow them here with an exploration of the three ways you can apply for your marriage license. Town Hall closes at noon on Fridays, just to add that extra twist, so do plan around that.
And we can’t wait to see you! So start planning now … the whales and the birds, the sun and the sand, the streets and the people will all be here to welcome you! So when you get married … get married in PTown!
“Tra-la, it’s May, the lusty month of May …” Those words from the musical Camelot are generally the harbinger of spring, with April showers bringing May flowers——and plenty of beach weddings here in PTown!
Not so much this year. We’ve had a few rather splendid days, but more that have been overcast at best, and foggy and rainy at worst. And yet one doesn’t necessarily postpone one’s wedding because of the weather. So what is an engaged couple to do?
As I’ve told many couples, “No matter what happens, your wedding day is perfect. By definition.” And it doesn’t have to be gorgeous outside for you to appreciate what Provincetown in the springtime has to offer as a wedding venue.
- We’re still where it all began. If you’re a same-sex couple, we have history for you. Massachusetts was the first state to legalize marriage equality, and as an acknowledged gay resort town, Provincetown celebrated those first weddings like no place else on earth. There’s an echo of that joy every time anyone gets married here. People will applaud you. We want to share in your happiness.
- Even on an overcast day, Herring Cove is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Just check out this recent wedding picture. A gray day, but the sound of the ocean susurrating behind us, the gulls wheeling and crying overhead, and the indescribable sense of peace one has whenever one is near the water are all still good reasons to be there.
- It’s May, which means that while The Season hasn’t officially begun, everything is now open: our fantastic restaurants, our fabulous shows, our unique shopping. It’s all here for you, and the crowds haven’t started yet.
So don’t let the damp discourage you. Provincetown is open for business, and we’re honored and delighted to include the wedding business in there! So, as they say, come on down… and when you get married, get married in PTown!
We talk a lot about Provincetown weddings here, but less about the honeymoon. And now that Provincetown has been voted one of the best gay resort towns, it’s a terrific time to remind you that a honeymoon here on the outer Cape will create memories for a lifetime!
But first, a word about honeymoons.
In Western culture, the custom of a newlywed couple going on a holiday together originated in early 19th-century Great Britain, a concept borrowed from the Indian elite: in the Indian subcontinent, upper-class couples would take a “bridal tour,” sometimes accompanied by friends or family, to visit relatives who had not been able to attend the wedding. The practice soon spread to the European continent and was known as voyage à la façon anglaise (English-style voyage) in France from the 1820s on.
Nowadays we see honeymoons as an opportunity to take some time apart from regular life. Even if you’ve been with your partner for months or even years before the wedding, it’s good to have a ritual that makes the time special, apart, sacred in some way.
And there really is something for every couple in Provincetown! Whale watches and dune tours, museums and schooner rides, beaches and nightclubs and restaurants all beckon travelers and honeymooners alike. You can shut yourselves up in your lovely room (and almost every room in town is lovely!) and just be together, or hang out with the tourists in the streets, or anything in between.
So think about this as a honeymoon venue. And when you get married … get married in PTown!