Devil's Lake Elopement Guide
Tali February 25th, 2023
I love finding places that give off those “out west” vibes in the middle of the Midwest. With huge cliffs overlooking the lake, it’s hard to believe you are in the middle of Wisconsin when you elope at Devil’s Lake. I also love that Devil’s Lake State Park is so close to Wisconsin Dells (the waterpark capital of the world). If you are looking for a place that you can get out in nature and also enjoy all the bustling entertainment of a huge tourist town during your elopement, this is the place. Wisconsin Dells is full of amusement parks, indoor and outdoor waterparks, restaurants, hotels, and countless other entertainment options (laser tag, escape rooms, museums, etc.). Whether you are looking for a place to have fun just the two of you or a great destination for entertaining close family and friends, a Devil’s Lake elopement has it all!
HOW TO ELOPE AT DEVIL'S LAKE STATE PARK
1. WHEN TO ELOPE AT DEVIL’S LAKE STATE PARK
The time of year that you decide to elope is going to have a huge impact on what your day looks like. While Devil’s Lake State Park is accessible all year round, the weather varies greatly. My favorite seasons there are Summer and Fall. Summer is warm and usually sunny and fall brings an incredible display of fall colors painting the cliffs around the lake. Winter is characterized by beautiful snow and an ice covered lake. Spring brings new life to the lake, while trails are a bit muddier, temperatures are mild and pleasant while crowds are still low.
Seasons aren’t the only thing to consider when picking the perfect time to elope. During the weekends, crowds at Devil’s Lake State Park are going to be larger in the summer and fall (the busy season). If you are hoping to avoid crowds, weekdays might be a better choice. Otherwise, starting your day at sunrise is always a great way to beat the crowds for more of a “just us” experience.
2. FIND THE PERFECT DEVIL’S LAKE ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER (psst, hi!)
We might be biased (okay, we probably almost certainly are…), but truthfully, hiring an elopement photographer is one of the best first steps for planning. Elopement photographers are typically more than just camera button pushers. Besides being the takers of epic pictures, elopement photographers are great at helping navigate the planning process. (We have done it a time or two.) Finding an expert who is experienced in the outdoors and elopements will help take the stress out of the whole process. Need someone to help put a timeline together so you take advantage of the best light and avoid the crowds, an unexpected family reunion occupying your perfect vow location and need someone who can suggest an even better backup location on the spot, need help picking the best hike for epic views…? Your elopement photographer is there for you!
Here at Forever and Evergreens, we are there for you every step of the way. We’ll help you put together the perfect day and are armed with an arsenal of tips and tricks to help with everything from location recommendations to timelines, activities, packing lists, permits, and more!
3. PLAN YOUR STAY
This area of Wisconsin really has it all. For a more nature filled vibe, there are plenty of camping and cabin rental options in the area. Beautiful hikes are not hard to find and we love how many restaurants and breweries in the area have beautiful outdoor seating spaces and even live music. If you are looking to up the glam, nearby Wisconsin Dells is filled with hotels and resorts. Wisconsin Dells also offers plenty of entertainment options, from shows to water parks, there really is something for everyone. If you are looking for places to stay, things to do, and tips for planning your trip in the Dells, wisdells.com is a great resource. (We are also happy to offer recommendations on some of our favorite things to do in the area!)
4. MARRIAGE LICENSES AND LAWS
In Wisconsin, you must apply for your marriage license in the county in which you will be married, unless one of you is a resident, and then the license must be applied for in the county in which you live. It is not necessary for either of you to be a resident of the state of Wisconsin. You will need to apply for your marriage license in person and both of you must be present. When you are there, be prepared to provide a valid ID (such as a driver’s license or passport), your full legal name, address, telephone numbers, documentation on any prior marriages, and social security numbers. Marriage license costs vary by county in Wisconsin, typically ranging from $50 to $110.
While there are no blood test requirements in Wisconsin, there is a waiting period of six days (not counting the day you apply… so basically a week). It is possible for this waiting period to be waved “for good cause” for a fee of $25. If this is something you are considering, be sure to call the County Clerk’s office in advance. (We recommend calling in advance either way to make sure you have all the details you need for things to go smoothly.) After you obtain your marriage license, it is good for 30 days.
Your marriage license will need to be signed by the applicants, two witnesses, and the officiant. Within three days of the ceremony, the marriage license must be filed with the register of deeds office in the county of the marriage.
5. FIND AN OFFICIANT
An ordained officiant is required to get legally married in Wisconsin, so you will need to find one for your Devil’s Lake elopement. We are happy to offer some recommendations, or, if you are looking for something simple (a two birds with one stone sorta deal), Dom is ordained and can step in to act as the officiant during your ceremony!
Having your ordained photographer step in to act as the officiant for your elopement is a great idea if you want to do a sort of “self solemnized” ceremony. You can do the fun stuff on your own and we can step in to make sure everything is legal.
All Wisconsin State Parks, including Devil’s Lake State Park, require a commercial use permit for weddings, elopements, and photography sessions. The permit fee (at the time of writing this blog) is $50 and must be submitted with the permit application a minimum of two weeks before the event. Dom and I have navigated Wisconsin State Park commercial use permits a number of times and are more than happy to handle these logistics for our couples.
You will also need an entrance permit to access Devil’s Lake State Park. Park pass rates vary depending on the category that you fall into (resident, senior, non-resident) and can be purchased as a daily or annual pass. Passes can be purchased at the entrance station or online. For current pricing, check out the Devil’s Lake Wisconsin Park Stickers and Fees page. Note, Devil’s Lake entrance pass pricing is different from other Wisconsin State Parks. If you happen to have a National Park Pass, you are in luck! Devil’s Lake State Park accepts National Park passes!
If you are looking to add a little extra excitement to your day, Devil’s Lake offers plenty of options. Apart from the numerous beautiful hikes, nearby restaurants and breweries, and picnic areas, Devil’s Lake also offers rentals for water activities. You can rent single and double kayaks, paddle boards, paddle pontoons, and even boats!
If you are planning a larger wedding at Devil’s Lake State Park and want to have a shelter and a place with tables and chairs for a meal, The Gathering Place at Red Oaks might be just what you are looking for! Located on the South Shore of Devil’s Lake, The Gathering Place is well equipped to house a great celebration. A reservation at this Devil’s Lake wedding venue includes seating for up to 100 guests and access to kitchen space with a refrigerator, sink, and plenty of counter space. The Gathering Place also has heating and air conditioning as well as a wood-burning fireplace. Plus, it’s hard to beat the beautiful views of Devil’s Lake right out the windows!
Last, but certainly not least… it’s time to get married and enjoy the best day together during your Devil’s Lake elopement!
If you are dreaming up your own Devil’s Lake elopement or intimate wedding and are looking for the perfect photographer to capture those precious memories, we would love to tag along and capture your story. Get in touch and let’s get rolling!