How to Elope in Minnesota || A Guide to Eloping in The Midwest
Who says that Minnesota isn’t photogenic enough for your elopement?! If you look hard enough, even Minnesota has it’s very own out-of-this-world views, nooks, and crannies! This guide will take you through everything you need to know about how to elope in Minnesota – including some of the best locations to think about eloping in!
It is absolutely possible to have your dream elopement in Minnesota!! If you can dream it, you can do it!!
Grab your favorite beverage, a notebook + pen, and be ready to start planning the elopement of your wildest dreams right here in Minnesota!!
WARNING: YOU WILL NOT WANT A TRADITIONAL WEDDING IN ANY SENSE AFTER READING THIS! 😘
Why Elope in Minnesota?
There are soooooo many reasons as to why you should consider eloping in Minnesota!! Minnesota just doesn’t get enough credit for it’s beauty. Here are a few reasons why you should elope in Minnesota:
Reason #1: Beautiful locations aren’t as crowded as others in the United States!
You’ve probably seen photos of iconic elopements in Yosemite National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, The Coast of Oregon, the Beaches of California, etc… but what you often don’t see in those photos is all the humans that are actually present (unless they were taken at sunrise!) More than likely, the photographer had to edit out numerous people from these photos! So if you’re looking for a location that’s like a “hidden gem”, not as populated, or not “trendy”… Or if you simply just want privacy and intimacy for your elopement… Minnesota is such a stellar option!
Reason #2: If you’re an outdoorsy kind of couple, there’s endless things to do!
Minnesota is generally a really outdoorsy state! Which means, you have access to countless beautiful hikes, stunning lakes (ahem… it IS THE LAND OF 10,000 LAKES!) for you to go kayaking, paddleboarding or canoeing. There’s also ice caves in the Winter season… Dogsledding… Shall I go on?!?
Of course, the Minneapolis area is perfect if you aren’t wanting to do something outdoorsy and want more of that urban vibe!
Reason #3: A little less strict on permits in certain areas!
Don’t get me wrong, this definitely depends on where you go in Minnesota, but in my experience, permits are WAY easier to get in Minnesota than more popular locations such as California, Utah, etc! Some locations don’t even require permits, like Black Beach on the North Shore! 😘
How to Elope in Minnesota
1. Make Your Elopement Vision Board!
“But why?” you might ask. You have your date and your location – but what is your vision exactly? Trawl through Pinterest or elopement blogs and see how others have done their ceremonies!! Here are some questions to get inspired with your elopement vision board:
- What small details will we include? (Charms, books, lightsabers, etc?)
- What kind of bouquet do I want, if I will have one?
- What activities do we love to do together?
- Will we be obtaining a legal marriage license or getting married back home?
- How will my hair and makeup look like?
- When we close our eyes, what sounds do we hear? What does it smell like? (Does it smell like pine trees? Do you hear waves crashing on the beach?)
- When my partner and I think about our DREAM day, if we could have anything in the world, what would that look like?
- What will my partner and I be wearing?
For this step, I want you to dream as big as you possibly can!! There are no rules, no limits!! There’s no right or wrong way to have an elopement, so if you want to go skydiving after you say your vows – freaking plan it! Your elopement will only happen once with your soulmate, so make the most of it. You only have one life to live, you might as well LIVE it up! 🥰
2. Decide on where your ceremony will be!
Spend some quality time with your partner as you scout out the perfect dream location for an intimate wedding ceremony, elopement or vow exchange! Start by narrowing down what kind of scenery you’re dreaming of! Are you wanting a lake view? Lake view with hills? Bluffs? A field? In the woods?!
You might consider places like:
– An Airbnb or VRBO!
– On the iconic Black Sand Beach! (Psst.. you don’t need a wedding permit for this spot!)
– Within a historical house like the Blaisdell!
– At the bottom of a waterfall such as High Falls in Tettegouche!
– The gardens of an estate!
– On a lake!
– A sailboat!
– In the middle of the woods!
– In a nature reserve or botanical garden like
– A clifftop such as Palisade Head!
The possibilities are endless! If it’s owned property, make sure to check if they allow private events and remember to obtain the permits you’ll need for these locations! Your elopement photographer and/or elopement planner should be able to help with this!
3. Get Your Permits & Marriage License!
This will be different for every couple as it totally depends on where you’re eloping (legally getting married) in the state of Minnesota!! You will need to contact the specific county’s clerk office and talk with them about the specifics of getting your marriage license!
You may also need additional permits in some places for your elopement!! Your elopement photographer/planner should also be able to assist you with these steps!!
Remember – get your marriage license before the elopement ceremony!!!
4. Determine Your Wedding Date!
Obviously your schedules come first when planning the perfect date, but try to pick the most appropriate season!
Spring, which runs from April to May, brings light breezes and mild weather. Fall is another great season to visit, especially between September and October. (If you’re thinking of eloping on the North Shore in MN… I would highly recommend planning for mid-September as their fall season comes a lot sooner than the southern part of MN!)
Winter limits with rather unpleasant temperatures; I wouldn’t recommend eloping in the winter season unless your hearts are absolutely SET on a winter elopement with snow and cold temperatures!! I would definitely recommend trying to elope in November or Early December to avoid the -50 temperatures in January/February!
5. Book Your Airbnb!
Book yourself a romantic airbnb around your elopement location to feel like you’re living the best life OR if you’re dreaming of getting married in an EPIC location with your own private “property” so to speak!!
Having a private space to yourselves makes it all the more intimate. It’s also convenient to have a space to get ready in (especially since you probably won’t be renting a huge venue with bridal rooms). Who knows? You might even use it for part of your photoshoot! (Which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!)
7. Start Researching + Contacting Elopement Vendors!
Just because you’re not having a traditional wedding, doesn’t mean you don’t need extra hands to make everything perfect. Start researching and contacting elopement vendors that will help make your dream elopement come to life. Here are some elopement vendors you’ll want to research + book:
- Stylist (hair + makeup)
- Officiant (If you book me as your elopement photographer, I am ordained in MN if you’d like me to sign off onyour license!)
When choosing your elopement vendors, it’s really important to know if they will match your vision or not. Try to meet with them over the phone or on a zoom call and ask them questions! Vendors who specialize in elopements and not traditional weddings will be the most helpful, especially photographers and videographers!
9. ENJOY YOUR FREAKING EPIC DAY!
Do I need to say more? This is the day you’ve been waiting for! With your marriage license successfully filed and your best friend, the love of your life, beside you, there’s only one last thing to do: love and let live.
Congratulations on getting married!
While riding on your high (and possibly the best experience in your life), take your spouse by the hand and explore!!
The Best Places to Elope At in Minnesota
If you’re not sure where to elope in Minnesota… well, I don’t blame you at all. Minnesota is definitely has it’s hidden beauty and can take a little more work to determine where you should elope!. To help you narrow it down, here are some of the most popular (and pretty) locations around the state of Minnesota!
Black Beach near Silver Bay!
If you’re wanting some truly epic scenery, don’t want to walk/hike for miles, and want to feel like you’re somewhere else in the world… Black beach is the perfect option!
This black beach is a result of the nearby mining, and is truly a sight to see. It gives me all the Icelandic vibes, that’s for sure!! However, this beach can be EXTREMELY busy during the summer and winter months!! So I highly recommend eloping during a weekday and/or at sunrise to avoid crowds!
Stone Arch Bridge + St.Anthony Main in Minneapolis!
If you’re looking for a beautiful and URBAN location – St.Anthony Main with the Stone Arch Bridge is iconic!! Be prepared, it is usually VERY busy in the evenings!! So if you don’t mind the hustle and bustle of the city, you may want to consider this beautiful location in the heart of Minneapolis!
Wanting dramatic bluffs with gorgeous colors?! SAYYY LESSS!! Palisade Head has grown in popularity over the last couple of years, but is still easily one of my FAVORITE spots!!
When you’re traveling here, please make sure to stay on TRAILS and to not get super close to the edge. Please pick up anything you take with you – don’t leave garbage! Even leave it in better shape than when you arrived 😉
Tettegouche State Park
Tettegouche State Park up on the North Shore of Minnesota is an absolutely STUNNING location to choose for your elopement!! From the incredible overlooks at Shovel Point to the cascading 60-foot high waterfall… this State Park has limitless possibilities!
If you’re into rock-climbing, be sure to hike to Shovel Point and bring your gear 😉
Square Lake Park
Square Lake Park is just outside of Stillwater, MN (about 35 minutes from Minneapolis) and is a quiet but beautiful location!! This location is perfect if you’re wanting a more woodsy, intimate spot for your day.
Who doesn’t love quaint small towns with a whole lotta charm?! If the vibe is to be in a Hallmark movie (especially during the winter) than look no further than Stillwater!
Stillwater is very historic and gorgeous! It can be busy during the summer months! 🥰
Temperance River State Park
I’m not gonna lie, Temperance River State Park is one of my favorite State Parks on the North Shore in Minnesota. It is so underrated and full of so many beautiful things! 😍
Gothic, Byzantine and Renaissance influences dominate the streets, peppering the city with gems like St. Mark’s Basilica, the Campanile and Rialto Bridge. But don’t overlook its lesser travelled islands as well! Burano is made for photographs, brightly painted houses a vibrant backdrop. The brownstone and industrial pickings at Castello are an edgy alternative. OR go for a classy on-the-water experience – there’s no shortage of canals after all!
Frequently Asked Questions About Eloping in Minnesota
WHEW! Now that you know about the important steps to take about how to elope in Minnesota, I’m sure you probably have a few more questions, but don’t go anywhere! I have found the answers to the most frequently asked questions just for you!
How much does it cost to elope in Minnesota?
This is a big question! When budgeting, start with the obvious things you have to pay for:
Mid-range hotels cost $125-250 per night while luxurious stays can cost up to $800 per night. There are plenty of family-run B&Bs, boutique hotels and Airbnb options that come in under the $200 mark. (Highly, highly recommend an Airbnb/VRBO!)
Restaurants can be as inexpensive or expensive as you want it to be! Expect to spend between $25 and $75 a day for food and drinks! Or if you prefer to just make your own meals, GO FOR IT!!
Most marriage licenses throughout the state cost anywhere from $60-$140! It just depends on what county you’re filing in!
An elopement with knowledgeable and expert elopement vendors costs anywhere between $5,000 and $15,000. Since many photographers double as an elopement planner (like myself), they may charge $3,600 – $9,000! (But remember, photographers & videographers are the most important vendors to have for your big day!)
Expect to pay $100 – $600 depending on the officiant!! (Every officiant charges differently! If you’re wanting to just exchange vows, I am ordained in the State of Minnesota and can sign your marriage license for no extra fees if you hire me as your elopement photographer!)
You don’t have to spend $3,000 on a wedding dress if you’re choosing to wear one! Check local bridal consignment stores, Amazon, Lulus, Baltic Born, Etsy, Bella and Bloom, Ebay, or even Facebook Marketplace! (Click here to check out these 6 affordable but beautiful wedding dresses under $250!)
It’s also important to know that you don’t have to wear a wedding dress if you don’t want to!! If you’re more of a white suit or jumpsuit person, GET IT!! 😏
There are many elements that factor into budget! It comes down to what you want to do, whether you prefer a simple ceremony or something more luxurious. Ask yourself: Are you willing to splash out for a private venue? What is the scale of the decor, if you’re going to have any? What kind of ceremony will you be having? Are you hiring an expert elopement photographer or a photographer that’s just in it for the pretty photos? How many guests are you bringing, if any?
When is the best time to elope in Minnesota?
Definitely during Spring, Summer or Fall! April to May and September to October gifts you with perfect weather for outdoor ceremonies – this way you can look and feel your best!! The summer is also a great time to elope in Minnesota, but remember that it CAN get hot!! The North Shore is also the BUSIEST in the Summer and Fall seasons!!
If you’re wanting to beat the heat and the crowds, your best bet is to elope at sunrise/in the early morning and pick a week day! (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are the busiest days!)
Other Things to Consider When Eloping in Minnesota
As an elopement photographer, I’m here to give you all the guidance, tips, and knowledge on how to make the most of your elopement AND how to make your dream elopement come to life! So here are a few additional tips we haven’t covered yet!
Communication, communication, communication!
Communication is absolutely everything when it comes to planning your dream wedding day!! Always communicate with your vendors AND your partner!!
Get your priorities sorted!
We tend to want to aim high and get EVERYTHING right, but I suggest setting a list of priorities just in case! This way, you can focus on the top 2 to 3 things you care about and let everything else fall in place. The point of eloping is to keep things stress free!! You deserve to have a stress-free elopement!
Do set up an elopement budget!
Elopements are less expensive than your traditional wedding, but it doesn’t mean your wallet is off the hook! Take into consideration any kind of permits needed and license fees. You won’t want to get through your elopement just to realize a huge dent in the bank. This way, you can also treat yourself to a unique experience with any leftover budget! (Sailboat ride at sunset, anyone?!)
Choose your attire carefully!
Do glam yourself up for the day but be smart about it! If you’re wanting to be out in nature and do some hiking for your elopement, make sure you’re wearing comfortable footwear! A lot of my couples will also bring a nice pair of shoes to put on WHEN we arrive at their elopement location! While many people end up wearing traditional wedding dresses and tuxes, some couples opt for more casual attire too! (Pantsuits are definitely a thing!)
Remember to have freaking fun!
Your elopement should be FUN and STRESS-FREE!! Take a deep breathe, relax, and just enjoy this season of life that you’re in!! You’re marrying the love of your life, your partner in crime, your rock, your everything! That’s all that matters at the end of the day. ENJOY IT!
Fun Activities To Consider For Your Elopement in Minnesota
Here are some fun and romantic activity ideas to consider and possibly plan for your elopement day or the days before/after your elopement! (And I recommend bringing your elopement photographer/videographer along with you!! Remember, your elopement photographer/videographer is here to DOCUMENT and TELL your story!)
Go Indoor Rock Climbing at Vertical Endeavors!
Are you an adrenaline junkie? Or just like to be adventurous and try new things? Totally consider gearing up and rock climbing at Vertical Endeavors!! This is a great alternative if you don’t like actually rock climbing and if it’s winter time! (Maybe this would be the perfect time to try the iconic upside-down Spider-Man kiss??)
Hike the Gunflint Trail in Grand Marais!
If you’re looking for something outdoorsy to do in a beautiful location, you may wanna consider adventuring on the Gunflint Trail near Grand Marais, MN! There’s countless ways to see hike on the Gunflint Trail, but no matter what route you take, you’ll fall in love.
Adventure Around The Minnesota State Fair!!
Does walking around and eating good food sound fun for you and your partner!? Consider spending part of your day at the MN State Fair, if you’re eloping around that time! Not only will it be TONS of fun, but the State Fair can also make for some unique photos!! (PRO TIP: Make sure you don’t forget to buy a bucket of St.Martha’s Cookies 😘)
Take a Gondola Ride in Stillwater!
Are you dreaming of riding in a Gondola, but think you have to actually travel all the way to Venice for it? NOPE!! Downtown Stillwater offers so many things in the summer and fall, and Gondola rides are one of them! Gondola Romantica is a perfect activity to include on your elopement day.
Go Axe Throwing!
Are you adventurous, but not in the sense of hiking? Or just looking for a unique thing to do? Try axe throwing! There’s multiple locations around the Twin Cities Metro Area, so find the perfect spot that fits your vision for your day!
NOW START PLANNING THE ELOPEMENT OF YOUR DREAMS NOW THAT YOU KNOW HOW TO ELOPE IN MINNESOTA!
Now that you have all the tools on how to elope in Minnesota, you can begin dreaming up your dream elopement day in one of the most romantic cities in the country!
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me!
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Samantha Burke is a traveling adventurous elopement photographer for the wild and goofy soulmates that’s based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota! She’s also an educator for fellow photographers that are wanting to grow their business! Samantha is also a traveling addict that’s always looking for somewhere to travel too! Sam is also obsessed with Star Wars, Marvel, and Chai Tea! Please contact Sam if you would like to have her be your elopement photographer or if you have any questions!