A Guide on How to Elope in Wisconsin

Thinking about eloping to the love of your life this year? If you haven’t checked out some of the BEAUTIFUL locations that Wisconsin has to offer, you’re missing out! The Midwest is arguably one of the most underrated areas of the country. There are so many hidden gems throughout the Midwest, but Wisconsin might just have some of the best! Here, I’ll guide you and your love through what needs to be considered when planning to elope in Wisconsin.

Marriage Laws in Wisconsin

If you live in Wisconsin, you will need to apply for your marriage license in you or your partner’s county of residence. If you aren’t a resident of Wisconsin, you will need to apply for your license in the county you’re eloping in. There is a three day waiting period between the day that you apply for your license and the day that it is issued (not including the day you apply for it). The marriage license is then valid for 60 days giving you plenty of time between applying for your license and your actual elopement. Keep in mind you will need a witness for your ceremony, but your photographer (me) can definitely be your witness!

Don’t Need an Officiant

Wisconsin is one of the few states in the US that allows self-solemnizing marriages, meaning the state doesn’t require you and your love to get married by a third-party officiant. Keep in mind, you might have to sign a form acknowledging that the state of Wisconsin cannot guarantee that your marriage will be recognized by all other states.

Have a Friend as Your Officiant

Another great option to make your Wisconsin elopement intimate and special for you and your love is to have a close friend act as a third-party officiant of your wedding. You can have your desired officiant use the Universal Life Church to become ordained, or you can just self-solemnize and have them run the ceremony without the credentials.

When to Elope in Wisconsin

Summers in the Midwest offer a great setting for an elopement, especially around sunrise or sunset. If you want to space yourself from the outside world in order to keep your elopement intimate, plan to elope at sunrise and or on a weekday as there will be much less people on the trails. Prepare for some warmer temps during the day though!

Don’t write off winter for your Wisconsin elopement. If you and your lover are willing to brave the potentially frigid cold of a Midwest winter, you’ll be be able to experience the reward of beautiful snow and far fewer people. You can have your elopement at a cabin or VRBO in Wisconsin and have a perfect mix of cozy indoor photos and portraits in the winter wonderland outdoors.

Fall is arguably the most picturesque season to elope in Wisconsin. The wide-ranging forests will feature a stunning assortment of fall colors and the summer weather often maintains deep into the fall months. There’s really nothing like the fall in the Midwest for a beautiful elopement setting.

A spring elopement in Wisconsin will feature nature at its most luscious if you time it right. You should plan to embrace the potential rain and go regardless of weather. When nature is in bloom in the Midwest, it’ll make for an astonishing backdrop for your elopement.

How to Find Your Wisconsin Elopement Photographer

One of the most important steps in planning your Wisconsin elopement is finding your elopement photographer. You’ll want to find a photographer who will scout your desired location before your elopement in order to plan how to best capture it for you and your lover. Whether you go with a local photographer or a destination photographer is up to you. Find someone who’s photography style matches what you’re looking for and send them an inquiry to see if they’re available. Both local photographers and destination photographers will help with location scouting and planning to make your Wisconsin elopement the best it can be!

Where to Elope in Wisconsin

Door County

Door County is on the far Northeast side of Wisconsin on the peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. It is home to State Parks such as Peninsula, Newport, and Potawatomi. As long as your elopement ceremony is a simple event for a small group of people, the Wisconsin State Park system will not require you to fill out a special event permit. The parks throughout Door County are full of that natural beauty you’d expect from the Wisconsin wilderness making for a perfect setting for your elopement.

Apostle Islands

The 22 Apostle Islands on the national lakeshore are an awesome elopement destination located on the far North side of Wisconsin in Lake Superior. They are managed by the National Park Service and home to plenty of sites to adventure. The gorgeous rock formations, native plants, and lake view will make for an awesome backdrop to your elopement. To get from the lake shore to the Islands themselves, you will need to take a shuttle, water taxi, or kayak.

Lake Geneva

Just north of the Illinois border, only a short drive away from Chicago, is Lake Geneva. Lake Geneva is a vacation town full of resorts, local beaches, hiking trails, picnic areas, and sightseeing opportunities. Lake Geneva’s close proximity to Illinois and Chicago makes it a prime location for a destination wedding for anyone living in Chicago that’s looking for an elopement surrounded by nature.

Cool Places to Stay and Elope in Wisconsin

Camp Wandawega

Camp Wandawega is an Airbnb lake resort located just 16 miles north of Lake Geneva. It was established in 1925 as a speakeasy and has been rich with history since then. It is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, making it an awesome spot for eloping. The resort offers a wide-ranging assortment of houses, cabins, and campgrounds for you to choose from. It also has an onsite dining hall which allows for you to arrange private dinners with agreed-upon private chefs and or local caterers.

Anaway Place

Anaway Place is a collection of seven unique cabins throughout 80 acres of Southwest Wisconsin. The cabins are immersed in nature and also offer an assortment of amenities, making them an awesome place to unplug and embrace nature without the hassles of camping. Surrounding each of the gorgeous cabins is the Wisconsin wilderness, offering plenty of intimate places to elope. Once you’ve decided which cabin is right for you and your love, you’ll want to book as far out as possible. Anaway Place allows you to book up to 24 months in advance.

Honeybee Inn

If you’re looking for a place that’s close to a downtown area but also not far from the nature of Wisconsin, Honeybee Inn is an option you’ll want to consider. Honeybee Inn is a 4-bed bed and breakfast located in downtown Horicon, Wisconsin. This bed and breakfast offers plenty of amenities as well as an assortment of packages and add-ons including spa treatments. It is located just 2.5 miles from Horicon Marsh, one of the biggest freshwater marshes in the country. It ranges over 33,000 acres, offering plenty of beautiful places to intimately elope.

Airbnb’s and VRBO’s Perfect for Your Elopement in Wisconsin

Off-Grid Inn

This inn located just outside of Eau Claire, Wisconsin is a quaint little inn perfect for the two of you to get away from it all and have a one of a kind elopement experience. The Inn is small and located in the middle of the Wisconsin wilderness so you can experience all its beauty first hand.

Wood County Log Retreat

About an hour north of the Wisconsin Dells you’ll find this log cabin retreat and it is an incredible option for your elopement. Whether you’re just staying here or having your ceremony on location this space is perfect. It also sleeps up to 17 so if you’re looking to have some close friends and family tag along for an elopement weekend to celebrate with you can do just that!

Portage County Retreat

Found about halfway between Green Bay and the Wisconsin Dells, this property offers stunning views from its porch, a cozy stay, and a great location for nearby hikes! The house also is large enough to sleep 14 guests comfortably so you can have friends and family with you as well.

Now that you know all the ins and outs of eloping in Wisconsin you’re probably bursting with excitement ready to plan your elopement. If so and you’re still looking for a photographer then head to my contact page to send me an inquiry and we can start the planning process together!

March 16, 2023

Sreeja Ankam

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