How to Elope in Minnesota

How to Elope in Minnesota

A Guide on How to Elope in Minnesota from a Minnesota Elopement Photographer

This How to Elope in Minnesota Guide Covers:

  • 3 Reasons Why You Should Elope in Minnesota
  • How to Elope in Minnesota
  • Where To Elope in Minnesota
  • How Much Does It Cost to Elope in MN
  • Fun Activities For Your MN Elopement

As an experienced Minnesota elopement photographer, I cannot wait to show you all the information I have put together for you and your partner so you can the dream elopement experience you both deserve. This guide will give you all the tools on how to elope in Minnesota, so you can plan your elopement with ease!

WARNING: THIS GUIDE MAKES IT ALMOST TOO EASY TO PLAN YOUR MINNESOTA ELOPEMENT!! So if you’re looking to take the stress off when it comes to planning your dream elopement day, KEEP ON READING BOO!!

3 Reasons Why You Should Elope in Minnesota

Minnesota is a state that offers the perfect blend of untouched nature, urban beauty, 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 before you learn how to elope in Minnesota!

Reason #1: Beautiful Locations with Less Crowds!

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’ll find LOTS of hidden gems for your intimate elopement experience.

Did you know that many of the locations I listed above 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 because they’re so popular!

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!

Reason #2: Minnesota is perfect for those who LOVE the outdoors!

THE LAND OF 10,000 LAKES… Do I even need to say more?!

Generally, Minnesota elopements are hosted in the great outdoors because the of all the variety of natural beauty there is! But besides enjoying gazing upon stunning lakes, you can do so much more like: hiking, paddleboarding, ziplining, skydiving, skinny dipping, having a picnic on the beach… the options are endless!

Oh, and I should probably mention the ice caves in the Winter season which look like they jumped out of a fairytale! Winter brings LOTS of more unique activities for your elopement like dog sledding, skiing, building a snowman, tubing, and SO much more!

Still, if you aren’t fond of doing things all outdoors, the Minneapolis area is perfect if you want more of that urban vibe!

Reason #3: Less Strict Regarding Permits in Certain Areas

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 permits, to make your process even LESS stressful!!

Hint – the Black Beach on the North Shore! Did you know you don’t need ANY permits to get married here because it’s a public beach?!

How to Elope in Minnesota

How to Get a Marriage License in Minnesota

Let’s take care of the legalities first!! In the state of Minnesota, you’ll have to apply for your marriage license in-person. You can get your marriage license at ANY location in Minnesota, no matter where the ceremony is going to take place! I recommend applying for your marriage license in your home county, just to make things easy for you.

You’ll have to be at least 18 years of age and appear together (in-person) with your current photo IDs! Once you have your license, it’s good for up to six months!

Who Can Marry You & Do You Need Witnesses in Minnesota?

The state of Minnesota requires an authorized officiant or minister to marry you and your partner. This person must be 21 years old or older, and have their credentials filed with the state of Minnesota! (Pssst… I’m actually ordained in the state of Minnesota and have married some of my couples!) You will also need two witnesses to sign your marriage license. If you’re not having guests, I’ve had couples ask random bystanders to sign as their witnesses on the day of and haven’t been told no!

Communicate & Establish What’s Important to You

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!

Make Your Dream Elopement Vision Board

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. 

  • What small details will we include? (Charms, books, crystals, lightsabers, etc?)
  • What kind of bouquet do we want, if we 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? (Suits? Dresses? Pant Suits? TIP: If you want to wear a wedding dress, it doesn’t have to be white!)

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!!

Choose The Perfect Ceremony Location

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:

  • An Airbnb or VRBO!
  • Within a historical house like the Blaisdell!
  • At the bottom of a waterfall such as High Falls in Tettegouche State Park!
  • The gardens of an estate!
  • On a lake!
  • A sailboat!
  • In the middle of the woods!
  • In a nature reserve or botanical garden
  • A clifftop such as Palisade Head!

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!!

Choose Your Elopement Date

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!!

Research + Contact Elopement Vendors

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:

  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Stylist (hair + makeup)
  • Florist
  • Officiant (If you book me as your elopement photographer, I am ordained in MN if you’d like me to sign off on your license!)

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!!

Obtain Your Permits & Marriage License

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 Your Lodging

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!

Choose Your Wedding Attire

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!!!



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!

Black Beach near Silver Bay!

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!

Click to Take A Peek at Kayleigh & Gage’s Elopement at Black Beach and Palisade Head!

Stone Arch Bridge – St.Anthony Main in Minneapolis!

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!

Palisade Head

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

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

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!

Downtown Stillwater

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!

Temperance River State Park

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:

  • Lodging

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!

  • Dining

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!)

  • Marriage License

Most marriage licenses throughout the state cost anywhere from $40-$140! It will depend on what county you’re filing in!

  • Vendors

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!

  • Officiant

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!!! 😘

  • Attire

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!!

Adventurous Elopement Activities

  1. Go indoor rock climbing at Vertical Endeavors
  2. Hike the gunflint trail around Grand Marais
  3. Visit the least visited National Park in the U.S – Isle Royale National Park
  4. Rent a canoe or kayak and explore some lakes
  5. Go skydiving
  6. Go explore some waterfalls
  7. Cliff jumping
  8. Snowmobiling
  9. Fishing
  10. Hiking
  11. Go off-roading
  12. Paddle boarding
  13. Axe-throwing

Relaxing Elopement Activities

  1. Go stargazing together (perfect way to end your elopement day)
  2. Cook breakfast together
  3. Have a picnic with your favorite foods
  4. Get a couples massage
  5. Write your wedding vows together
  6. Soak in a hot tub
  7. Relax in a hammock
  8. Play a board game or card game
  9. Tour a distillery or winery
  10. Make some s’mores around a campfire
  11. First dance
  12. Read books together
  13. Get sweaty in a sauna together


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!!

Related Blog Posts Just For You!

15+ Ideas to Make Your Elopement Even More Special

Airbnbs For Your Elopement in Minnesota

Abby + Chris’s Lyndale Park Elopement in Minneapolis

Small MN Wedding Venues for Your Intimate Wedding

How To Elope on Minnesota’s North Shore

Samantha Burke is a traveling adventurous Minnesota elopement photographer for the passionate, romantic and spontaneous soulmates!! Sam] is also a traveling addict that’s always looking for somewhere to travel too! She’s 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!

If you're ready to go on a wild adventure with me and get freaking married in a way that calls to your heart - let's start planning! Use the contact form here to start the process of making your dream elopement come to life! 

P.S. I cannot WAIT to hear from you!!!

are you ready to say yes to the elopement you deserve?

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