How to Elope in Minnesota

If you’re looking to elope in Minnesota, you’ve come to the right place. Minnesota isn’t just the land of 10,000 lakes, Paul Bunyan’s oversized flannel shirts, and a population known for their unique ability to add “you betcha” to any sentence. It’s a gorgeous and utterly magical place to elope as well! But before we dive into the deets of how to elope in this stunning state, allow me to introduce myself.

I’m Samantha Rule, a professional photographer and the proud owner of Rule Creative Co. In this blog, I’m excited to share my expertise and shed light on the wonders of eloping in Minnesota. From breathtaking landscapes to unique venues, Minnesota offers a wealth of options for couples seeking an intimate and affordable elopement experience. Join me as we explore the hidden gems of the North Star State and discover the secrets to planning your dream elopement.

Why elope in Minnesota?

Known for its natural beauty, charming cities, and warm-hearted people, Minnesota offers an ideal backdrop for an unforgettable elopement. Here are some of my top reasons why Minnesota should be on your list of elopement destinations!

Breathtaking Natural Beauty

Minnesota boasts an abundance of picturesque landscapes, making it a haven for nature lovers. From serene lakeshores to lush forests, and rolling hills to dramatic waterfalls, the state offers diverse and breathtaking scenery that will add a touch of magic to your elopement. Imagine exchanging vows against the backdrop of a sparkling lake or saying “I do” amidst vibrant autumn foliage. Whether you prefer a scenic park, a secluded beach, or a rustic cabin in the woods, Minnesota has it all.

There’s a season for every couple

One of the unique aspects of eloping in Minnesota is the opportunity to embrace the changing seasons. Each season offers its own beauty and charm. Spring brings blooming wildflowers, vibrant greenery, and mild temperatures. Summer offers long, sunny days perfect for outdoor ceremonies and lakeside celebrations. Fall paints the landscape with a kaleidoscope of colors, creating a stunning backdrop for your elopement photos. Winter transforms Minnesota into a winter wonderland, with glistening snow, ice-covered lakes, and cozy, intimate venues.

Quaint cities and towns

Minnesota is home to several charming cities and towns that provide an inviting atmosphere for elopements. The historic city of Stillwater, situated along the scenic St. Croix River, offers picturesque streets lined with quaint shops, cafes, and Victorian-era architecture. The vibrant city of Minneapolis, known for its thriving arts scene, offers a mix of urban charm and natural beauty. From rooftop ceremonies with skyline views to art galleries as unique wedding venues, Minnesota’s cities provide a variety of options for your elopement.

Warm hospitality (AKA “Minnesota Nice”)

Minnesotans are renowned for their friendly and welcoming nature. When you choose to elope in Minnesota, you can expect a warm and hospitable reception wherever you go. From local vendors to officiants and photographers, the wedding industry in Minnesota is known for its exceptional service and attention to detail. You’ll find professionals who are dedicated to making your elopement day as special as can be, ensuring that you’ll feel right at home during your celebrations.

Endless Recreational Activities

Choosing Minnesota for your elopement means not only experiencing a memorable wedding but also enjoying a wide range of recreational activities before and after the ceremony. You can go hiking in the state’s numerous parks, take a romantic boat ride on one of the many lakes, or explore the North Shore of Lake Superior, known for its stunning cliffs and waterfalls. Minnesota also offers opportunities for skiing, dog sledding, ice fishing, and more, depending on the season. Your elopement can be an adventure-filled experience, creating lasting memories for you and your partner.

Decide on the Time of Year You Want to Elope

Minnesota experiences distinct seasons, each with its own unique charm. With its diverse landscapes and picturesque settings, it’s important to consider the time of year that suits your preferences and aligns with the unique charm of this Midwestern state.


Spring in Minnesota, usually from March to May, is a time of renewal and natural beauty. As the snow melts away, the state bursts with vibrant colors and blooming flowers. It’s a season of fresh beginnings, making it a lovely choice for an elopement. Imagine exchanging vows amidst a carpet of wildflowers, or against the backdrop of budding trees in a local park. Keep in mind that spring weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared for potential rain showers and varying temperatures.


Summers in Minnesota, from June to August, are warm and inviting, perfect for couples who enjoy outdoor adventures. The days are long, and the lakes come alive with boaters, swimmers, and sunbathers. Choosing a summer elopement means embracing the enchanting beauty of the numerous lakes, where you can exchange vows on a sandy beach or at a lakeside resort. The weather is generally pleasant, but keep in mind that summer is also the peak tourist season, so popular destinations might be more crowded.


Autumn, from September to November, is a breathtaking season in Minnesota. As the leaves change color, the landscape transforms into a kaleidoscope of red, orange, and gold. The cool, crisp air adds a romantic touch to your elopement, making it a popular choice for nature enthusiasts and photography lovers. Consider hosting your ceremony in a picturesque state park, surrounded by the stunning fall foliage, or plan a charming countryside elopement with a rustic theme.


If you and your partner embrace the magic of winter, planning to elope in Minnesota during the snowy season can truly be an enchanting experience. From December to February, the state turns into a winter wonderland, with snow-covered landscapes and frozen lakes. Choose a cozy cabin, an ice-skating rink, or even a ski resort for a unique elopement setting. However, bear in mind that winter can be bitterly cold, so ensure you and your guests are prepared for the weather conditions.

Ultimately, the best time to elope in Minnesota depends on your personal preferences and priorities. Consider factors such as weather, availability, budget, and the atmosphere you desire for your elopement. Do you envision exchanging vows under a canopy of cherry blossoms or in the crisp, snowy air? Are you flexible with dates, or do you have specific requirements for your elopement venue? Take time to discuss your options and determine what resonates most with you as a couple.

Outline your priorities

Sit down with your partner and identify your top priorities for the elopement. Is it capturing stunning photos, finding an extraordinary venue, or sticking to a specific budget? By defining your elopement priorities, you’ll be able to allocate your time, energy, and resources like a true Minnesotan. This isn’t the time to stress! Trust me, you’ll be grateful to be on the same page as your partner as you plan your big day. I highly recommend really writing out your priorities. Although discussing them is great, it can be useful to come back to a written list to remind yourselves of what is most important to you.

Write out your budget

Once you’ve determined your priorities, it’s time to create a budget that aligns with your vision. Having a clear understanding of your financial limits will help guide your decision-making process. Allocate funds to the aspects that matter most to you, such as photography, venue, or accommodations. Being mindful of your budget will allow you to make informed choices while avoiding unnecessary stress. Here are some tips for writing out your elopement budget …

Start with a piggy bank

Remember those childhood days when you saved every penny for your favorite toy? Recreate that excitement by creating an elopement fund piggy bank. Decorate it with stickers, write “Elopement Adventure” on it, and start tossing in spare change. It’s amazing how those little coins can quickly add up to fund memorable experiences.

Determine your hard financial boundaries

Discuss your elopement budget openly and honestly with your partner. Set realistic financial boundaries and make sure both of you are on the same page. Decide how much you can comfortably spend on travel, accommodations, ceremony essentials, and even some special treats. Remember, you don’t want to break the bank before the honeymoon even begins!

Prioritize what matters most

Your elopement is all about you and your partner. What do you value the most? Is it a breathtaking location, exquisite dining experiences, or splurging on a luxury suite? By identifying your priorities, you can allocate your budget accordingly. Just remember, if you spend it all on a fancy cake, you might end up exchanging vows while eating ramen noodles. Choices, choices!

Embrace the thrill of DIY

Elopements are the perfect opportunity to embrace your inner DIY guru. Consider crafting your own decorations, bouquet, or even writing personalized vows. Not only will it save you some moolah, but it will also add a personal touch to your intimate celebration. Just be prepared for the possibility of a Pinterest fail or two. Remember, even the most talented DIYers have glue gun mishaps!

Budget for post-elopement celebrations

While elopements are all about the two of you, it’s important to plan for post-elopement celebrations. Whether it’s a casual gathering with close friends and family or a grand reception upon your return, allocate a portion of your budget for celebrating with loved ones. After all, you’ll need someone to catch the bouquet you didn’t toss!

Planning to elope in Minnesota doesn’t have to be a budgeting nightmare. By approaching it with a sense of humor and a pinch of creativity, you can create an unforgettable experience without breaking the bank. Remember, a budget is your guide to making the most out of your elopement adventure while ensuring you start your journey as a married couple on solid financial ground. So, embrace the whimsy, grab that pen, and get budgeting for the elopement of your dreams! Happy planning and may your love story be filled with laughter, love, and unforgettable moments!

Select your venue

Minnesota offers an array of enchanting venues for elopements. Consider iconic locations like the North Shore, with its stunning cliffs and shoreline vistas, or explore the serene beauty of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. If you prefer a more urban setting, Minneapolis and St. Paul boast a plethora of unique venues. Alternatively, embrace the intimacy and flexibility of a backyard wedding or consider booking an Airbnb or VRBO for a more personal touch.

Here are just a few of my favorite venue recommendations for couples planning to elope in Minnesota …

North Shore of Lake Superior

The North Shore of Lake Superior is a dream come true for nature-loving couples. From the majestic cliffs and serene shorelines to the lush forests and cascading waterfalls, this region offers an array of breathtaking elopement locations. Imagine exchanging vows with the sound of crashing waves in the background or capturing stunning photographs amidst the vibrant fall foliage. Popular spots like Gooseberry Falls State Park, Split Rock Lighthouse, and Tettegouche State Park provide stunning backdrops for an intimate elopement ceremony.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

For art enthusiasts seeking a unique and urban elopement experience, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is an ideal choice. Located in the heart of Minneapolis, this picturesque venue features a vast collection of contemporary sculptures set amidst beautifully landscaped gardens. The iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, along with the charming Cowles Conservatory, offer romantic and artistic settings for exchanging vows and capturing stunning photographs.

Minnehaha Falls

Nestled within the heart of the Twin Cities, Minnehaha Falls is a hidden gem that will transport you to a fairytale-like setting. This 53-foot waterfall, surrounded by lush greenery and picturesque walking paths, creates a captivating backdrop for a romantic elopement. Whether you choose to say “I do” on the stone steps overlooking the falls or amidst the tranquil groves nearby, Minnehaha Falls promises an enchanting experience.

Northland Lodge

If you envision a cozy elopement surrounded by rustic charm, Northland Lodge is the perfect venue. Located near the beautiful Gull Lake in Brainerd, this historic lodge offers a serene lakeside setting and a variety of intimate ceremony locations. Whether you prefer an outdoor ceremony on the picturesque lawn or a cozy gathering by the fireplace, Northland Lodge provides a warm and inviting atmosphere for an unforgettable elopement.

Afton State Park

Situated along the scenic St. Croix River, Afton State Park is a nature lover’s paradise. With its rolling hills, prairies, and wooded ravines, this park offers a picturesque backdrop for an intimate elopement ceremony. Exchange vows amidst the towering trees or by the riverbank, and celebrate your love amidst the tranquility of nature.

Begin booking your vendors

Vendors often book their schedules well in advance, so it’s crucial to secure their services promptly. Based on your priorities list, start with the vendors that are most important to you. Here are some essential vendors you may need as you make plans to elope in Minnesota:

  • Photographer/Videographer
  • Officiant
  • Florist
  • Caterer
  • Venue
  • Lodging
  • Wedding Planner

Seek inspiration and advice

I highly recommend tapping into the wealth of knowledge and support from others looking to elope in Minnesota within Facebook groups and online forums! These communities offer valuable insights, shared experiences, and recommendations from fellow couples and vendors. Feel free to share ideas, seek advice, and connect with others who have embarked.

And last but not least …

If you’re looking to elope in Minnesota, it’s so important to have someone with the right experience and know-how to make your experience as luxurious, seamless, and YOU as you deserve. If you’re looking for a Minnesota local with a #poppin’ resume full of elopements, look no further than Rule Creative Co.. I’ve been documenting Minnesota elopements for years, and I know the best places, the top vendors, and all the super secret tips for planning your dream wedding in the land of 10,000 lakes! If you’re ready to start chatting about your big day, click here and let’s get grooving.

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Mn based Wedding + elopement Photographer