I am a Minnesota based wedding and elopement photographer and I am here to help you plan your perfect Minnesota elopement!
Look, I get it. Planning a huge wedding can be stressful. It really should be all about you and your partner, getting married and showing commitment to each other. That’s why many of my couples decide to elope instead of hosting a large party. Although you can still do both! There is a lot to consider when planning to elope in Minnesota. I’ve got you covered in this in-depth guide that takes you through every step you need while planning your Minnesota elopement.
The first step to planning your Minnesota elopement is figuring out what you want it to look like!
Do you want it to just be the two of you vs having a few guests? Do you want a big party afterwards? Would you like to spend the morning hiking to a beautiful location and saying your vows?
Remember, your Minnesota elopement can be whatever your heart desires. Plan a date night with your partner and brainstorm a vision together!
Now that you know what you want your Minnesota elopement to look like, it’s time to figure out what time of year you want to elope and set an exact date! Remember that you can save money and create the elopement day of your dreams by getting married on a weekday. Talk to your photographer and see what works best!
Some couples prefer to book their photographer before setting their date if they have a specific photographer in mind. You can absolutely do this – reach out to your preferred photographer and coordinate with their schedule if you’d like (and hey! If that’s me, fill out my contact form and let’s chat!). I would recommend hiring a Minnesota based photographer for your elopement in Minnesota because they know the area best and will be prepared for any weather scenario. If you live in Minnesota, you know that it can be sunny and warm one day and snowing the next. But either way, you should decide on a general time of year so that you know what to expect the weather to be like!
Luckily in Minnesota we get all four seasons – spring, summer, fall and winter. However – if you live in Minnesota, or really anywhere in the midwest, you also know that the weather can sometimes be unpredictable. Plan around a season you are most interested in, and be prepared for anything – rain, sunshine, wind, etc. If you hire the right photographer, they will help you make the most of it and it will look beautiful no matter what!
If you want a white, snowy backdrop for your elopement then consider December – February. Keep in mind, it gets VERY cold here in Minnesota during the winter, sometimes temperatures drop below 0 degrees fahrenheit. In this case, make sure to have a back up warm place to stay inside like a Minnesota Airbnb or a Minnesota venue.
The most UNpredictable time of the year would spring in the months of March and April. Sometimes there is snow, sometimes lots of rain, sometimes lots of sunshine. But on the upside, your dream vendor team is more likely to be available!
In the late spring (April – May) is when it starts getting warmer and humid in the southern part, but stays pretty dry in the northern region of Minnesota.
Summer can be very hot and humid depending on where in the state you choose to elope. If you’re eloping at a state park or anywhere completely outdoors, keep this in mind!
Fall is when you can see some beautiful colors and is the most popular time of the year to get married! If you’re having an outdoor elopement and want to elope during peak fall colors, plan for mid-September through mid-October. The colors really start to change in September, starting in the northernmost part of the state and moving south.
Even though you’re not having a traditional wedding, you should definitely still set a budget. A budget is important because you should know exactly how much funds should be allocated for each vendor, and it also helps when setting vendor priorities.
Most couples prioritize photography, videography, and location for their elopement. This is why it’s important to set a vision at the beginning of the planning process! If you imagined getting married somewhere outdoors, you can probably splurge a bit more in other areas with the money you’re saving by not booking a traditional venue. Have an open & honest conversation with your partner about how much you want to spend on your elopement and make a plan.
This is a small but beautiful beach located on Minnesota’s North Shore in Silver Bay! It’s one of my favorite gems in Minnesota!
Black Beach would be such a unique spot for your Minnesota elopement. As the name suggests, it’s filled with fine black sand that lines the shore of Lake Superior.
Black Beach is also bordered by jagged cliffs and rock formations that would make for a beautiful background/photo location for your elopement! You can reserve a camping spot at the beach and spend the evening of your elopement by a campfire making s’mores (aka my favorite food!!). Or you can find a nearby North Shore Airbnb or hotel!
Winter at Black Beach is arguably even more stunning than the summertime, when there’s a blanket of white snow that covers the beach and provides a stark contrast to the sand. Whatever time of year you pick it’ll be beautiful!
Tip: take photos at both Black Beach and Palisade Head with your photographer! (Although I only recommend Palisade Head during the late spring, summer, or early fall as the road up to Palisade Head can be dangerous to drive on if wet or icy.
Boom Island Park in Minneapolis gives you views of the city skyline, the Mississippi river, and a mini trail with trees! You can set up a picnic and get married with views of the Twin Cities.
Longfellow Gardens provides a picturesque backdrop for weddings and other ceremonies. The formal garden, featuring a pergola, graces the top of the land bridge, providing a stunning view of the downtown skyline.
The Minnehaha Falls Pergola Garden features perennial native wildflowers and grasses that border the southeast overlook of Minnehaha Falls. The blooms, and the butterflies they attract, peak from June-September, just in time for “wedding season”. Its beauty, space and convenience make the Pergola Garden one of the most popular wedding locations in the Minneapolis park system.
The park is super close to the Minneapolis Airport (MSP) making it easily accessible if you’re flying in close family members for your Minnesota elopement.
Another great option for couples who want to elope at a venue! This unique mansion venue has both outdoor and indoor ceremony spots and looks like a castle! Located in Minneapolis, the historic Van Dusen Mansion is perfect for any time of the year and hosts both full size weddings and elopements.
Depending on what you want your elopement to look like, you might want to hire an elopement planner. Not every couple needs one, but it’s definitely worth checking out! If the thought of planning an elopement stresses you out and you would rather have an expert on your side, and elopement planner or stylist might be good for you.
Think back to your elopement day vision. If you’re not planning on having any guests, then you won’t need an extensive list of vendors! In general you’ll most likely need: a photographer & florist. If you’re having guests, you’ll need to think about if you need a caterer/baker or what you’re going to do for food and dessert.
Of course you will need to allocate funds for other things like your elopement attire, hair and makeup artists if applicable, transportation, and lodging.
To put it simply, you must obtain a marriage license, participate in a civil marriage ceremony, and the ceremony must be performed by someone who is legally authorized to solemnize the marriage. In some counties, you can submit the marriage license application online. In other cases, you must apply in person at the county clerk’s office – you can see participating counties here!
Either way, when you pick up your marriage license at the Vital Records Office within 90 days, both parties must bring a form of government-issued identification, birth certificate, and social security card. The cost for a marriage license in Minnesota is $115. There is no waiting period, but the license must be used within 6 months of the date of application.
You will need two witnesses to sign your marriage license. Usually your photographer and one other vendor if you’re not having any guests!
If you’re eloping at a state park, be sure to check and see what their permit requirements are. Your photographer can also help with this!
In the weeks leading up to your elopement, it would be a good idea to coordinate with your photographer and come up with an elopement day timeline that you can communicate with your vendors so everyone stays on track/schedule. I always help my couples plan their perfect day that includes activities they love to do with plenty of time to capture everything they want documented.
The timeline does not have to be rigid! But your photographer needs to know what your elopement day consists of so that they know when would be the best time to take photos.
Again, when creating this, think back to your elopement day vision. Use that as a foundation for creating your timeline, and prioritize what you and your partner want to do versus the opinions of everyone else! (aka the key to having the best day!)
There is no better time than now to get started on planning your elopement in Minnesota! I would love to help you photograph this special day! Your photos are what you will hang up in your home together, look at in albums that sit on your coffee table, and what you’ll share for generations to come. Reach out to me via the contact form on my website and let’s chat!
Other helpful resources for planning your Minnesota elopement: