Our Guide to Eloping in Minnesota

Tali      January 16, 2022

There are few things as exciting as planning an elopement. You get to plan a day that is exactly what you want… not dictated by what people expect, tradition demands, or society says is required. The day is all about the two of you and open to be crafted in any way you choose. As with most exciting and fun things in life though, there is a bit of ‘paperwork’ and ‘logistical stuff’ required to make your day official… something that most people find far less exhilarating. If you aren’t one of those few ‘unique’ people who find digging into the legal and logistical side of things absolutely thrilling, this blog is for you!

We will cover a quick outline of what is required to be legally married in the state of Minnesota such as getting your marriage license, who needs to sign it, and when and where it needs to be returned. This blog will also go over a brief overview of permits and because it’s never fun to just dig into the legal stuff, we will wrap up with some tips, tricks, and ideas for the perfect Minnesota elopement!


A couple smiles as they pose for a portrait during their winter elopement in Minnesota. The beautiful winter snow is a popular reason couples choose to elope in Minnesota.


Part of planning your Minnesota elopement is making sure that you have a marriage license so that you can make things official! In Minnesota, you may apply for a marriage license in any county, regardless of where in the state you decide to get married (you must be married in the state of Minnesota though). It is not necessary for either individual to be a resident of the state of Minnesota (or even the US). You will need to apply for your marriage license in person and both of the people getting married must be present (there are some special forms that can be completed and notarized if one of you is unable to make it). It is definitely a good idea to make an appointment for this to ensure that everything goes smoothly. 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 (if you have one) as well as your after-marriage name(s) and address. At the time of writing this blog, marriage licenses in Minnesota cost $115 or $40 after completing 12 hours of valid premarital counseling. Your marriage license will be issued at your appointment (there are no waiting period or blood test requirements… making it a perfect state for a quick wedding) and is good for six months.


In the state of Minnesota, your marriage license will need to be signed by the applicants, two witnesses, and the officiant. Within five days after the ceremony, the officiant who performed the marriage will need to file the marriage license with the county in which the license was obtained. After your license is returned, you will be able to get your marriage certificate to prove things are official!

A beautiful bride in a simple white wedding dress holds a colorful flower bouquet. Fall is a beautiful time to elope in Minnesota!

Pro Tip: To make life a little easier, Minnesota has an online feature called MOMS (Minnesota Official Marriage System). This online system is managed by Minnesota counties to help you navigate the process (Note: Scott and Washington County do not participate at this time).


Permits are often overlooked by couples as they plan their elopement but are super important and something that we recommend you look into early. The requirements for permits depend on the location you are planning to get married and can vary greatly. Not all locations require permits and some only require permits for events that meet certain criteria. If you have any questions about permits or need help with permits while planning your elopement, we are happy to assist!

While dealing with permits might seem like a bit of a pain, they play an important role in your elopement. Permits help parks and forests manage the traffic in different areas so that you aren’t competing with five other couples who were all hoping to get married in front of that same waterfall at the same time. Managing traffic in popular areas is also an important part of Leave No Trace and permit costs help provide resources for managing and preserving these beautiful areas. Plus, it’s always nice to know you have permission to have your ceremony at your location so that you aren’t interrupted and asked to move in the middle of one of the most important moments in your life.


A newly married couple chose to elope in Minnesota to be with their closest family and friends.


Minnesota is a gorgeous place to get married year-round, but it is a state with great seasonal variety so the time of year is going to play a huge part in what your wedding day is going to look like. If you are looking for sunshine and wildflowers, crimson shades of fall colors, magical snowy forests, or a background melody of chirping birds and soft winds, you can have it in Minnesota… but you can’t have it any time you want.

Minnesota Spring Elopement

  • Spring is a lovely time in Minnesota and often has smaller crowds than the busier summer season.
  • Weather in the spring can be a bit unpredictable… you might have sunshine, rain, or snow (possibly all on the same day). Best to be prepared for anything.
  • Areas of unmelted snow can add beautiful contrast and variety to the landscape, but be prepared for a little mud!
  • In April, the average Minnesota high temperature is around 58F, the average temperature is 47F, and the average low temperature is 39F. Temperatures can vary greatly in different areas of the state, so be sure to check the temperatures for your planned location.
  • The state is coming alive as hibernating animals venture out, migrating birds return home, and leaves, plants, and flowers being to pop up.
  • The bugs are still all dead from the winter. 😏

Minnesota Summer Elopement

  • Summer in Minnesota is why most people live here. Although there can be a few hot and humid days, most of the summer the weather is just perfect.
  • Summer days are often sunny, but rain is a possibility. The rain is often warm and doesn’t last all day… plus, dancing in the rain can make for some amazing memories (and photos).
  • Trails are open, lakes are warm enough for swimming, and the days are long (more than 15 hours of sunlight for some days in July!).
  • There are bugs (everywhere has bugs), but if you plan right, they usually aren’t much of a problem.
  • Minnesota forests are magical in the summer. The full canopy of leaves beautifully scatters the sun’s rays and in the evenings, forests are often dancing with the glow of fireflies. 

Minnesota Fall Elopement

  • Fall is one of my favorite seasons in Minnesota. The days are still warm, but the evenings have just enough of a chill to justify a cozy jacket or blanket.
  • You can’t talk about fall in Minnesota without talking about fall colors. Minnesota gets some INSANE fall colors. The maple trees are my favorite with shades of pink, gold, red, and everything in between.
  • The sun is rising a bit later in the morning and setting a bit earlier in the evening, which means you don’t have to wake up as early for sunrise or stay up late for sunset.
  • Fall activities are fully embraced in Minnesota. Hayrides, corn mazes, apple picking, pumpkin patches, warm apple cider… there is no shortage of fun activities!
  • Fall evenings are absolutely perfect for campfires and cuddles.

Minnesota Winter Elopement

  • Winter in Minnesota is breathtaking. If you are looking for snowy forests, incredible ice formations, and cozy vibes, look no further.
  • Minnesota often has snow from December (sometimes even November) until March (and maybe April).
  • Minnesota knows how to winter. From plowing roads to finding creative ways to have fun outside in the cold, the state is ready for the season. 
  • Winter means cozy vibes. After playing in the snow, there are countless opportunities to warm up. Whether that means cuddling by the fire, snuggling under a blanket, or drinking hot chocolate is up to you!
  • While Minnesotans love to get outside during all seasons, the crowds are drastically lower in the winter, meaning you are far more likely to have a location to yourself.
  • The bugs are all dead. 😏


I could write 100 blogs about all of the hidden gems and magical places to elope in Minnesota… but that would take a lifetime and I am sure no would would bother to read them all. 🤣 We would love to hear about your elopement dreams and help you find the perfect place for the two of you to say your vows. A few of our favorites are:


We have already covered Minnesota seasons, but there is more to “when to elope” than just the time of year. Minnesota parks and trails can get busy on the weekends. If solitude is something that you value for your big day, we recommend choosing a weekday or planning an early morning or sunrise ceremony. A sunrise ceremony also gives you your full wedding day to celebrate as a married couple!

From a photography perspective, early morning and evening light will give you the most flattering photos. Those gorgeous golden photos you see on Instagram are taken during the prime photography hours of the day, known as golden hour. Golden hour occurs the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset, when the sun is low in the sky.

Planning your Minnesota elopement is an exciting time in your life! I hope this blog has helped ease any stress related to marriage licenses and other “how to elope in Minnesota” worries so that you can get back to focusing on the fun stuff, like what to wear! (If you are looking for some help finding the perfect elopement dress, check out this blog.)

If you are dreaming up the perfect Minnesota elopement and need a little assistance, we would love to help you plan a crafted-to-you day (and tag along to capture the biggest day of your love story). Get in touch and let’s get rolling!

10 thoughts on “How to Elope in Minnesota”

  1. What a great guide to eloping in Minnesota! I looked up the Black Sand Beach of Minnesota – what a cool looking place!! Definitely would not have expected that in Minnesota. 😉 Love this!

  2. WOW! This is a super helpful blog post!! It can be so hard to find this info but you have made it so so simple for people! Thank you for putting this together!

  3. Super helpful blog! As someone who lived in Minnesota – very helpful to see what/how you can elope in all seasons!

  4. Love this resource and that you’ve taken the time to lay out what to expect for each season. I think I vote for winter with no bugs! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I feel like some of the states are so overlooked and underestimated – just like here in Italy, it seems like Minnesota has so much to offer and awesome options for year round elopements! These tips are so helpful!

  6. Beautiful scenery is everywhere! Lovely post for couples who don’t want to trek far for elopements. Elopements can happen in beautiful and unexpected places!

  7. This is such a helpful post! Thank you so much for taking the time to write it. Minnesota looks like a beautiful place to elope, my favourite photo is the winter family shot though. You can really see the love between them all.

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