I believe in soulmates, and I’m here to help you marry yours in the great outdoors.
December 18, 2020
So you’ve decided to elope… Congratulations! I bet you’re wondering where in Wisconsin to do it and exactly how. I’m here to help with that! I’ll give you all the deets on legally eloping in WI and the best places to do it. Let’s dive in!
One of the coolest parts about eloping in Wisconsin is that you don’t actually need an officiant to elope in this state. Yup, you read that right. The state of Wisconsin allows Self-Uniting Marriages which means that, unless you want an officiant, you are more than welcome to say your vows and call it good. How sweet is that? (You could technically even say your vows in front of your dog and say that your puppers officiated your wedding!)
If you are interested in having an officiant for your elopement wedding, you are more than welcome to have a religious or secular ceremony. This means that you can have anyone become a legal officiant through the Universal Life Church. It’s so simple! I’m a legal officiant through them, so if you want a combo photographer and officiant, I’m happy to help out! You could have your mom or dad or best friend do it, too! Just check out your county’s marriage license requirements to be sure that everything is legal before planning your elopement day–I’m happy to help research this, as well.
Okay, you’ve got the rules down; it’s time to pick a spot! Lucky for you, I love to travel (around the world, but also all over Wisconsin!). Here’s a list of my favorite places for Wisconsin elopements. (This list is by no means comprehensive–One blog post just isn’t enough!)
Let’s start with Door County. Door County, in northern Wisconsin, offers a plethora of places to elope, from endless pine forests to cozy AirBnBs to long stretches of sandy beaches. Door County is a peninsula situated between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The miles and miles of coastline offer some of Wisconsin’s most beautiful places to elope.
Washington Island is a quick 30-45 minute ferry ride from the very tip of the Door County Peninsula – Did you know that Wisconsin has an Island? Pretty cool, right? There are miles and miles of gorgeous coastline on this island including Sand Dune Beach Park. Also on Washington Island is a stunning lavender farm where you can roam through 20,000 lavender plants during bloom season over the summer. Washington Island is quiet, quaint, and full of good old Wisconsin charm.
Rock Island State Park is another quick ferry ride out just past Washington Island. What I love about this island is that there are absolutely no cars allowed on the entire, almost 1000 acre, island. This island features basic camping, a beautiful white sand beach, and tons of lovely hiking trails. In addition to the amazing nature on the island, there’s also a very old lighthouse! The Pottawatomie Lighthouse sits atop a high bluff at the northern tip of Rock Island, and dates from 1836, 12 years before Wisconsin even became a state. Wow! The Pottawatomie lighthouse was the first of many lighthouses erected at key points along Wisconsin’s Great Lakes coastlines.
Also in Door County, Fish Creek specifically, is Peninsula State Park. The park contains 3,375 acres, making it the 3rd largest state park in Wisconsin. What’s remarkable about this state park is the miles and miles and miles of uncrowded coastline. In autumn, arguably Wisconsin’s most beautiful season, this place is GORGEOUS with the reds, yellows, and oranges of changing leaves. Camping is big in this state park and there a ton of possible elopement locations within the park.
No guide to eloping in Wisconsin would be complete without mentioning the astounding Apostle Islands. Located off of the Southern Shore of Lake Superior, these islands can be reached by a ferry that leaves from Bayfield, WI. You can also kayak among the islands! I would be remiss in not mentioning Madeline Island, a beautiful and quiet island, perfect for elopements. In addition, a great option to see Door County from one of the Great Lakes is from a sailboat! Consider using Sail Door County. Having shot an elopement from one of their sailboats, I can highly recommend them as being super friendly and professional.
One of the most beautiful areas in all of Wisconsin is Devil’s Lake State Park. There are beautiful tall bluffs and wild rock formations. There’s a gorgeous lake, hence the name. There are countless hiking trails and views for days. This is definitely one of my favorite locations for Wisconsin elopements. If you plan your elopement for a weekday (always my recommendation!), you’ll avoid big crowds and can have the place almost to yourselves. There are innumerable places to elope within this state park. Some locations include hikes and some can be done right on the beach or grass next to the lake. It’s also a gorgeous place to watch the sunset and provides tons of photo opportunities for golden hour (the time right around sunrise or sunset and the best time of day for taking pictures).
Another beautiful state park in the southern half of the state is Kohler-Andrae State Park on the coast of Lake Michigan. This park is the home of majestic sand dunes, miles of golden beach, shimmering blue Lake Michigan water, and an entire forest of whispering pines. I shot an elopement here in September and it was absolutely breathtaking. The great variety of landscapes provide for a plethora of photo opportunities.
Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail is home to many beautiful areas. One of my favorites is up near Wausau, WI. It is home to whitewater rapids, bluffs overlooking a river below, a beautiful forest, and gorgeous colorful leaves during the fall. Perfect for any season, I can’t recommend this park enough.
Also off of the Ice Age Trail, but closer to the Madison area, is a state natural area. The hike to the top of this cliff is a bit steep, but not too long at all, and the view is absolutely breathtaking. It’s well worth the climb! The view from the top overlooks a river below and is magical during the fall when all of the leaves are changing color. This is probably one of Wisconsin’s greatest overlooks. You really have to see it to believe it!
Another park that I feel is worth mentioning is Wildcat Mountain State Park. Located on a ridge rising steeply above the Kickapoo River, Wildcat Mountain State Park offers twenty-one miles of scenic hiking, nature and equestrian trails meandering through the park. An observation point and picnic areas overlook the Kickapoo Valley. The Kickapoo River is popular for paddling and rentals are available in the village of Ontario. Perfect for an adventure elopement (yes, you can do a Wisconsin adventure elopement!), this park has everything you could want for views and pictures, and offers tons of recreational activities, as well.
The last park that I feel is worth mentioning (remember, this is not a comprehensive list!) is Interstate State Park. Situated on the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota, this park sits half in Wisconsin and half in Minnesota, our northern neighbor. Interstate is Wisconsin’s oldest state park, established in 1900. Located along the picturesque St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, the park provides scenic views of the river and the steep-sided gorge known as the Dalles of the St. Croix. The park is full of towering bluffs, gorgeous views of the river below, and a forest which, again, looks beautiful during the summer and fall months. The park is full of hiking trails which can been seen on the map below (and this is only Wisconsin’s side of the park!).
Wisconsin is full of amazing places to elope. This Wisconsin Elopement Guide covers some of the best places to elope in Wisconsin, but like I said before, it is not an all-inclusive list! No matter where you live in the state, there are plenty of options for beautiful places to elope in the great outdoors. Adventure elopements with kayaking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, or skiing are all possibilities depending on the time of year you want to elope. I hope that this list provides you with some insight into some great locations to elope in Wisconsin. Please let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below. If you’re ready to say, “I do,” contact me here!
I’m a hopeless romantic – I believe in soulmates, and I’m here to help you marry yours in the great outdoors.
Combining my passion for epic landscapes, love stories, and equality for every human being, I’m on a mission to guide couples of all colors and backgrounds to the best wedding day of their life. A day without judgment and pressure, a day to connect with each other and nature.
Best of all?
I’ll make sure you leave with the most epic photos you’ve ever seen.
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