Hey there! I am so glad you’re peering into the window of possibility that is eloping in Minnesota. I know many people think of Minnesota as just an icy tundra land that is the last place they’d want to elope. BUT! I am here to maybe change your mind and convince you that a Minnesota Elopement would actually be pretty amazing. My hope is that by walking you through exactly how to elope in Minnesota, you will feel more at ease and see all of the excitement and opportunities that elopement in Minnesota can provide to you.
This article will cover the following:
Making it legit
Leaving NO Trace
Picking a location
What to do on your day
What I offer
Now you’re ready! Let me be there for your elopement!
Unfortunately, unlike some other states, Minnesota is NOT a self-solemnizing state which means that you do NEED a marriage license and officiant present.
The good news is that if you want to keep it small, I am ordained through the Universal Life Church and could legally be considered your officiant… but the other other great news is that it’s fairly easy to register as an officiant so if you have someone in mind that is special to you and your partner, they can register online here! From there, they will have to file with the state of Minnesota 2- 3 weeks before the wedding date. Your other option is to hire or outsource your officiant. There are a lot of great places on Google to find an officiant, but I checked out The Officiant Directory and saw some great Minnesota options!
Maybe you like paperwork, but I certainly don’t, so I’ll get right to the point!
You have to file a marriage license through the state of Minnesota IN PERSON and only used in Minnesota.
** Pro tip: If you are thinking about eloping outside of Minnesota (and bringing me with you of course) it is always an option to make the paperwork official here and still hold your full ceremony in another spot outside of Minnesota! Or vice versa… you could elope and then do the paperwork afterwards, both are options!
Once you file it is only valid for 6 MONTHS! If you don’t get married in this timeframe, you will have to re-file and pay $115 again.. No one wants to do that.
BUT! I’d like to point out one aspect that I feel I don’t hear a lot of couples/ vendors discuss. If you complete 12 hours of premarital counseling before filing, you only have to pay $40 DOLLARS! I think that’s pretty neat, and may be a really cool exercise to bring into your partnership. There’s plenty of resources out there nowadays for finding mental and relational help (which is AWESOME) but Psychology Today has a cool resource for finding therapists and counselors based on your specific criteria. The options found here are just based on the family/ marital counseling criteria in Minnesota. The other great thing about exploring this now is that if anything ever comes along in your long and happy marriage (which I KNOW you will have!!!) you already have a solid foundation with someone that knows you both before you even got married- and that is indeed pretty neat!
Finally, there must be two witnesses present at the time of the official ceremony who can sign your license and state they were there. This happens at traditional weddings and elopements alike!
Your officiant then has 5 days to get it submitted for approval to the county, and then you will get a copy of your marriage license.
Picture this… you’re in this beautiful park. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. The police sirens are a ringin’… wait.. WHAT!?
Trust me, it has never happened to me (because I know we gotta fill out that paperwork!) BUT! I have heard of people being kicked out of places for not filing the correct paperwork through the state or county. I know it may be tempting to think that no one will know if you’re getting married, especially if it’s a small group or you’re in a low-traffic area. But, it is far better to take the necessary steps ahead of time so everyone can breathe easier and be that much more present on your big day.
Permits change so much based on where you decide to get married and on what kind of land it is. Higher-traffic areas such as national parks may have a couple more hoops to jump through where as a state park such as Lake Bemidji State Park, you may just have to call and reserve certain spaces such as their pavilion or amphitheater and only have to pay the reservation fee.
Since this process is subjective, we will work through it together. You will likely have to fill out the special use permit, but I will fill out the commercial photography permit if that is requested. You can take a peak at Voyageurs National Park Permit page just to get a feel for what the applications can look like. It is important to get this piece right, especially given the spike in elopements and thus the spike in park rangers keeping an eye on these types of celebrations. That being said, I will be in contact with the park and/or rangers to ensure we are following all rules and can celebrate YOUR day STRESS FREE!
Moral of the story… I will handle most of this process but will still need your help along the way.
It’s also very important that as soon as we know where you’d like to go, we apply ASAP! It can take up to 3-4 weeks to process a permit and more based on what kind of decor or guests you’d like to bring. So as long as you have your license and we know where we want to go, let’s apply!
Another thing I need to call attention to before we get to the really fun stuff is that not only for permit purposes, but also for earth-saving purposes… we, together as a team on your wedding day, must commit to LEAVE. NO. TRACE. If you are already a fan of the outdoors, there’s a chance you may be familiar with these principles, but if not here’s a quick list of them:
FINALLY! The exciting stuff!!!! I’m guessing that’s the real reason you are here… you’re here because you’re dreaming about a beautiful adventure with your honey and can’t wait to find that exact right spot to do it in.
Lucky for you, I’ve started an ever-growing list of locations right here in Minnesota that you could have your elopement at, so please check it out! We can definitely discuss together what you are looking for and I can make some recommendations based on your vision, but here are some things to consider when choosing:
Another important thing to consider is time of year. I know I kind of said at the beginning of this article that people only think about the Minnesota winters… and while I still think Minnesota is a perfect place to elope, I understand that we do have to think about the winters here! But that still leaves us May through at least early October to get married outdoors. My personal recommendation would be to get married on those kind elbow times of season changes. What I mean by that is if you get in Mid May versus Mid June, there will probably be a lot less folks around to be in the background. BUT! The con is that the weather can be a lot less predictable during these times which is likely why there are less people around. So it really comes down to what aspects are important to you. It’s also a great option to consider getting married on a weekday because there may be less people and potentially reduced fees for usage of the location.
While that decision is totally up to you… I would say NO! If you only wanted to do the thing and be over without, you could always have a courthouse wedding. But my spidey senses are telling me you might be interested in eloping for additional reasons like making memories and enjoying an adventure. With that being said, here are some things you can do to *spice* up your Minnesota Elopement:
11:00 Start getting ready at Airbnb
1:00 First look + some portraits
1:45 Travel to Location
2:15 One mile hike to location w/ photos
3:45 Ceremony + Vows
4:30 Celebration Picnic
5:30 Hike to Next Location
6:45 Sunset and Portrait Session
7:35 Hike Back
8:30 Travel back to Airbnb
9:00 Bonfire and drinks and partying (or introvert celebrations, up to you)!
Keep in mind this just one of a million timelines we can create TOGETHER for your day. Of course this timeline will change based on what activities you want to do, where you want to hike to, and whether or not you want to have guests present with you.
** My personal recommendation would be to also add on either some photo time before you start getting ready (bubble bath or tea time perhaps?) OR add on a honeymoon session the day after your elopement. If we are in a cool spot already, we might as well keep the magic going.. Right?
For many reasons (the main one being I am not actually a certified guide in any way) I have to specify I am not actually a planner or guide. HOWEVER! I love still doing those things by providing you and your boo with plenty of resources and support along the way. So, here’s what you’ll get if you book your elopement with me:
I know it seems like elopements are just a trendy thing to do nowadays, but I truly believe it is MORE than that. It is about creating a day that is entirely so special to you and your significant other and I am passionate about that because I am passionate about connecting with others and capturing the connection between others.
I cannot wait to capture your wildly connected adventure and love story!