If traditional weddings aren’t your thing and you are looking for iconic ways to tie the knot, Minnesota will definitely offer you so many gorgeous options! Think of lush forests, magnificent lakes, out-of-this-world views, nooks, and crannies! With so many stunning backdrops, you will find yourself torn between choices, but that’s why I am here. This COMPLETE guide will walk you through everything you need to know about how to elope in Minnesota. And before you ask, yes! I will also cover the best spots where you can unleash your wild, romantic spirit and say I DO!
As an experienced Minnesota elopement photographer, I cannot wait to show you all the tips and tricks I have stored up my sleeve! You will learn that it is amazingly easy to have your dream elopement in Minnesota, because let’s face it – if you can dream it, then you can do it!
So, grab your favorite beverage, a notebook + pen, and let’s dive into your elopement planning adventure. By the end of this guide, you will be able to curate the best day of your life, right here in Minnesota!
WARNING: YOU WILL NOT WANT A TRADITIONAL WEDDING IN ANY SENSE AFTER READING THIS! 😘
To put it plainly, Minnesota is one of the states that offers a perfect blend of nature galore, urban chic, and countless amenities and adventure elopement opportunities! It is still a hidden gem as many couples opt for more exposed locations. But that is why I am here – to reveal its underrated beauty and shed light on some reasons why you should have a Minnesota elopement!
In contrast to other breathtaking locations in the United States, such as Yosemite National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, The Coast of Oregon, the Beaches of California, etc; in Minnesota, you won’t find yourself craving intimate spots!!
Did you know that many of these locations have lots of humans around? That they are actually present while the photos are taken? Of course, you can avoid the crowds during sunrise, but when it comes to the rest of the day… tough luck! In fact, most of the photographers I know have to constantly edit out numerous people from their couple’s galleries.
The good news is that Minnesota provides privacy so that you can savor your meaningful moments together. It is a sanctuary for the modern romantics, adventurers, and all those who seek something unique but also value privacy! It is not trendy nor exposed, yet its views are even more astounding and dramatic. When you sum things up – Minnesota is a stellar option!
THE LAND OF 10,000 LAKES, do I even need to say more?!
Generally, Minnesota elopements are hosted in the great outdoors because the state oozes the natural outdoorsy vibe. But besides enjoying gazing upon these stunning lakes, you can do so much more – endless hiking options, kayaking, paddleboarding, or canoeing. Oh, and I should probably mention the ice caves in the Winter season which look like they jumped out of a fairytale! Winter brings so many options too, such as dog sledding, which is quite fun!
Still, if you aren’t fond of doing things all outdoors, the Minneapolis area is perfect if you want more of that urban vibe!
Of course, this depends on the area, but all in all, it is way easier to get a permit for your Minnesota elopement than it is in Utah or California. Some epic locations don’t even require a permit!
Hint – the Black Beach on the North Shore!
Below I made sure to cover EACH STEP of this ‘how to elope in Minnesota’ guide, along with some tips and my experience. It is important for me to translate your dreams into reality in a stress-free way!
It is always important to communicate with your partner and vendors when you are planning your dream day! Communication is crucial, especially before you start organizing everything. After all, it is two of you! Also, it is important for this experience to be stress-free for both so make sure to straighten your priorities. I know you want perfection down to the last detail, and you will get it, but it is safer to prioritize some things. My tip is to make a list and simply focus on the top 3 things that would be high on that list. Once you secure those 3, the rest will follow!
Another one of the basic steps when wondering how to elope in Minnesota, is your budget! True, it won’t break the bank because this is NOT a traditional wedding, but that doesn’t mean your wallet will be off the hook! From the permits and marriage license to the attire and vendors, and from lodging to dining and activities – make sure to set an overall budget that would cover everything. Plus, if you have any leftover finances, you can also treat yourself to some unique experiences that you’ve been wanting to try!
You’re probably wondering, why on earth should you do this? Well, look at it this way – you first need to have an idea about what you are drawn to. Some couples like to set the date and precise location first, but that is completely optional. In either case, you must start somewhere and build your vision. What is it exactly? Simply trawl through Pinterest, elopement blogs, or social media and see what feels right for you both regarding your Minnesota elopement board.
My BEST TIP about this step is to DREAM BIG! Just dream as big as you possibly can! In essence, there are no rules or limits. This is your day and there is no right or wrong way to host it. Hell, If you want to go skydiving after you say your vows – freaking plan it! This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience so make it count. You get to say I DO once to your soulmate – make the most of it!!! You’re not just planning your elopement. You’re planning your ELOPEMENT EXPERIENCE!!
As I mentioned, communication is key! Pop a bottle of wine, sit with your partner and have fun scouting out the perfect dream location for an intimate wedding ceremony, elopement, or vow exchange! You can start by sharing with one another what kind of scenery you’re dreaming of. Do you wish to have a lake view? Lake view with hills? Bluffs? A field? In the woods?!
Here are some of my ideas that you can consider:
You will see that when it comes to Minnesota elopements, the possibilities are endless! But have in mind that if it is owned property, you need to check if they allow private events and remember to obtain the permits you’ll need for these locations! But don’t worry, your Minnesota elopement photographer or elopement planner will be able to help you with this!!
First, start with the season! Your schedules come first when planning the perfect date but it is best to begin with what you think feels right for you. I would recommend choosing from May to June because the weather is mild and there are light breezes. Fall will also totally spoil you with golden foliage, and the weather is perfect between September and October too. Wish to elope on the North Shore? Then choose mid-September as Fall comes sooner then the southern part of the state!
Winter is harsh with temperatures that can make you feel rather… unpleasant. So avoid it unless your hearts are absolutely SET on having a winter elopement with snow and freezing temperatures! But when is the best time to tie the knot in winter? Elope in November or early December. In this way, you will avoid the -50 temperatures in January/February!!
True, you are not planning a traditional wedding, but you will still need some extra hands to realize your dream vision and make sure your memories are in safe hands! Research experienced and professional vendors that can help you plan your dream Minnesota elopement. Some of them include:
Remember, it is important to book the right professionals that will fulfill your vision! My tip for finding the right vendors, is to meet with them over the phone or on a zoom call. Ask all that you need to know! In my experience, vendors who specialize in elopements, not traditional weddings; will be the most helpful – especially photographers and videographers!!
If you wish to get legally married in the state of Minnesota, then you need to contact the specific county’s clerk’s office and they will explain what you need to do to obtain a marriage license. Have in mind that you may also need some additional permits in some places for your elopement! Naturally, this varies based on the chosen location. Not every location requires permits, but some do (especially around the Minneapolis area!)
Remember – get your marriage license before the elopement ceremony!!!
Book a lovely romantic Airbnb place that would be near to your Minnesota elopement location. Not only will this give you the feeling that you are living your best life, but it will give you the illusion that you are having your own private “property” in an EPIC location!
This experience will make you feel better intimacy and closeness to one another. In addition, it is a great option that serves a double purpose – as a getting-ready space, but also for a part of your photoshoot! (Which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!)Need recommendations? Head over to this link to browse some of my favorite Airbnbs up on the North Shore!
It is quite simple really – glam yourself but do it wisely! If you are going to be out in nature and need to hike, then comfortable footwear will be essential! For example, a lot of my couples bring a gorgeous pair of shoes for the moment when we arrive at their Minnesota elopement location. Also, it is your day, wear whatever you like! You can opt for traditional wedding attire, but also choose casual wear! (FYI Pantsuits are definitely a thing!)
This may be one of the most important steps regarding how to elope in Minnesota – ENJOY YOUR FREAKING ELOPEMENT!! The whole experience should be FUN and STRESS-FREE! So just take a deep breath and relax. You are getting married to the love of your life, your partner in crime, your rock, your everything! You have your marriage license successfully filed so now love and let live! Ride on your high and possibly the best experience in your life. Take your spouse by the hand and explore!!!
🥂 CELEBRATEEEEEEE GOOD TIMES C’MON!!!!! 🥂
As a Minnesota elopement photographer, I have done my fair share of scouting and capturing memorable moments… I can tell you that this state has SO much hidden beauty! You must have come across many options, so to help you narrow it down, I am SO PUMPED to share 7 of the most popular and absolutely awe-inspiring locations around the state of Minnesota!! Get ready because there are SO many gorgeous options!
Epic scenery yet you don’t need to walk or hike for miles!
This incredible beach gives you that otherworldly feeling! You literally feel like you are in your own universe! Plus, when it comes to photography, the contrast with the black sand is just beyond amazing. It is a result of the nearby mining and is truly an incredible sight to see. If you were thinking about Icelandic vibes for your elopement – this beach is perfect for you!! Here’s a little tip though: Black Beach can be EXTREMELY busy during the summer and fall months, so I’d recommend choosing a weekday or sunrise to elope. This way you will have privacy and avoid the crowds!
Looking for an URBAN spot that looks absolutely iconic? St.Anthony Main with the Stone Arch Bridge is an incredible location for your elopement in Minnesota! But fair warning, it is usually VERY busy during the evenings. If you love to feel the charm of the city with its own hustle and bustle, then you definitely need to consider this beautiful location in the heart of Minneapolis!
Do you want your Minnesota elopement to feature dramatic bluffs and breathtaking colors?! SAY NO MORE! Palisade Head is easily one of my FAVORITE spots. The fact that its popularity has grown over the last couple of years means that it has become a favorite for many. But a word of advice – when you’re traveling here, please make sure to stay on trails and don’t get super close to the edge. And of course, please pick up everything you take with you and keep the environment clean! ❤️ (This goes with every location!)
Wish to see how an elopement looks at the Palisade Head? Head over to Sam and Trisha’s Elopement! Plus, you will get answers to some of the common questions regarding this location.
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 😉
Craving some quiet woodsy vibes and intimacy for your Minnesota elopement? Well, this amazing lake that is just outside of Stillwater (about 35 minutes from Minneapolis), will prove to be the perfect getaway for your special day!
To continue with the previous location, why not check out this quaint small town? Not only does it have a whole lotta charm, but it oozes that quintessential Hallmark movie vibe (especially during the winter)! It is a historical town that will provide you with many wonderful places to host your destination elopement.
Keep in mind that Stillwater hosts lots of activities and is usually pretty busy in the summertime!
Hands down one of my absolute favorite parks on the North Shore in Minnesota! The fact that it is still so underrated makes it perfect for your intimate elopement experience. A lot of guests don’t go very far into the park though, so use this to your advantage! Most people walk down the the bridge and back up to the highway. I highly recommend adventuring further into the park! Just be careful when parking in the spots on the road!
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to budgeting your elopement: every couple’s budget will look and be different!! There’s no “one budget fits all” size when it comes to finding your budget and that’s okay! But here’s the average cost for eloping in Minnesota:
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. In case you are wondering, I highly, highly recommend an Airbnb/VRBO!
In short, 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! (Campfire meals, homemade meals at your airbnb, or even hire a private chef!)
Most marriage licenses throughout the state cost anywhere from $40-$140! It will depend on what county you’re filing in!
Expert elopement vendors cost anywhere between $2,000 and $15,000. Also, many photographers double as elopement planners, just like myself, so the charges may range from $3,000 – $9,000! However, remember – photographers & videographers are the most important vendors to have for your big day!
You should expect to pay from $100 to $600 depending on the officiant! But, 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!!! 😘
The cost here is totally optional! For example, 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! Head over to this link to check out these 6 affordable but beautiful wedding dresses under $250! Besides, it doesn’t have to be a dress, it can be a suit or a pantsuit!
You can where whatever the frick frack you want 😉
Ready to create some fun and epic memories?! Here are some fun and romantic activity ideas to consider and possibly plan for your elopement day or the days before/after your elopement! Activities are just as important to plan as your ceremony location! I would also recommend bringing your photographer and videographer with you! They will DOCUMENT and TELL your whole story!!
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??)
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.
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 😘)
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.
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!
Thank you for reading the whole guide! Now, you have all the tools on How to Elope in Minnesota so you can begin planning your dream day! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me! Also, get in touch for any elopement planning and photography services. I would love to document your elopement experience!
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!