The Best Places to Elope in Michigan
Michigan is one of the best places to elope in the Great Lakes Region. If you’ve never been, now is the time to tie up your hiking boots, and explore some magical regions that you might not have known existed in the great State of Michigan. You can find anything from pristine waterfalls, lush old-growth forests, mountainous sand dunes, shark-free lakes and sandy beaches, picturesque wineries, and so much more that might be perfect for your Michigan Elopement!
If you keep reading, you will learn more about Michigan’s marriage laws, the perfect times of the year to have your elopement in Michigan, a list with details about our favorite elopement locations, and of course, advice on choosing which location would best suit your personal needs. Get ready to get inspired to have your elopement in one of our favorite places on Earth!
Michigan Marriage Laws
Michigan has a few rules you’ll need to plan for and abide by to get married on the day of your elopement. One way to avoid this rules is to have a commitment ceremony on the day of your elopement, and sign the legal papers at another time. This is a great option for couples traveling to a destination to elope, because it eliminates the legal timelines and other requirements you may encounter. It also gives you the perfect balance of freedom and flexibility to plan your wedding day exactly the way you want! However, getting married in Michigan really isn’t too complicated. You’ll find that with a little ingenuity, you can have a self-solemnizing elopement ceremony in Michigan!
To Get Legally Married in Michigan:
- Pay $20-30 for a Marriage License ($20 for in-state residents, $30 for out of state residents)
- There is a 3-day waiting period
- You need 2 witnesses
- You need an ordained officiant
Self-solemnizing in Michigan:
I (Jessica) am a legally ordained minister, meaning I can sign your marriage license in place of an officiant if you want to share your vows without a third party leading the ceremony. You’ll still need one witness (Jeff will happily be the other witness), but that can easily be signed before or after your ceremony, at the trailhead, or even by a passerby on your hike! (Trust me, they would be stoked to do such a thing for you!)
The marriage laws for Michigan aren’t exactly restrictive, but you will have to plan ahead. We do not believe that the government’s paperwork dictates the importance of your marriage vows. The only opinion that matters on the day you get married, is that of you and your partner. If you choose to commit your lives to one another, then that moment is your anniversary; not some checked box on a government form.
So, sign the papers before, after, or even during your elopement session. It doesn’t matter to us, and it shouldn’t matter to you. However, our goal is to help you facilitate the wedding celebration of your dreams, regardless if that includes getting “legally” married at the time you elope. We want to ensure that whatever your dreams entail, that we are able to help make those dreams come to life!
The Best Time of the Year to Elope in Michigan
Michigan’s weather is known to be a little… erratic. We have a popular saying here regarding the weather, and it goes as such, “If you don’t like the weather in Michigan, just wait five minutes, and it’ll change to something else.” Don’t let this dissuade you from considering Michigan as your choice for your dream elopement!
You’ll find the spring season to be a mixture of rain and sunshine, with cool or warm days. Summer in Michigan is usually quite pleasant with only a few days of “extreme” heat. (Rarely does it reach the 90’s, so we’ll let you define “extreme” here.) Fall has an explosion of color in the forests, with warmer days and cooler nights, and winter is probably one of our best kept secrets. Winter is full of beautiful blankets of snow that make for amazing pictures! (We should know, as we ourselves got married in January.) Let’s take a deeper look into each season, shall we?
If you’re a lover of color, then having your Michigan Elopement in the fall is a must. It only happens once a year for a few months, but the vibrant colors that fall ushers in are spectacular to witness. Evenings are crisp and cool, with the days sometimes emulating summer. (We sometimes call these warmer days, “Indian Summer”.)
Months: September – Early November
Activities: Hiking, Going to Apple Orchards, Wine Tasting
If you’re a lover of snuggling under a blanket with some hot cocoa, while snow silently falls all around you… then winter is the perfect time to plan your elopement. Cooler temps, and blankets of snow (especially in Northern Michigan), can make for a stunning backdrop for your adventure.
Months: Late November – March
Activities: Snowshoeing, Dog Sledding, Snowmobiling, Ice Fishing, Ice Climbing
Winter is done, and everyone is celebrating. This is the best time to go in search of waterfalls here in Michigan! The snow-melt from the winter season brings to life a lot of our waterfalls, as they surge forth as new beautiful beasts. Expect a lot of rain in April, but the new greenery that springs forth from the deluges is simply awe-inspiring.
Months: April – June
Activities: Hiking, Discovering Waterfalls, Avoiding Bugs (lol)
Summer is probably the favorite of all seasons for natives. This is when everyone heads north to enjoy their outdoor time for the year. This is lake season. Swimming season. Hiking season. Truly, Michigan has everything to offer you during its summer months. No matter the outdoor activity you enjoy, you’ll find it here in Michigan during summer.
Months: July – September
Activities: Hiking, Kayaking, Swimming, Boating, Fishing, Birding, Art Fairs, Stargazing
No matter when you choose to elope in Michigan, we will do our best to line up your dreams and visions with the typical weather we can find here in Michigan in any given season. Rain, sun, snow, or all three, you’ll find that your elopement will be just perfect, so long as you’re taking the adventure with the love of your life!
Choosing Your Michigan Elopement Location
The most important decision you’ll have to make after deciding to elope, is where your elopement will take place! (Of course, the only decision that is even more important than that, would be to decide who your photographer will be. Lol! Joking, kinda.) We have photographed and guided couples through hundreds of intimate wedding ceremonies and elopements all over Michigan. We live here, and even vacation here in Michigan, so we kinda know a few things about choosing some spectacular locations for the best elopements around!
Therefore, you can trust us when we say Michigan holds a special place in our hearts, and will do the same for you. Viewing sunsets over Lake Michigan, or hiking through a grove of old-growth forest, or even finding that perfect unobstructed waterfall for picturesque memories that will stay with you for the rest of your life. The diversity of Michigan’s wilderness areas will surely give you anything you desire for your special day.
To start, pick a season, and we’ll help guide you to a location that is ideal for that time of the year. Or, inversely, you could pick a location that you want to visit, and we’ll guide you to the perfect time of the year to visit that location. Keep reading to learn more about some of our favorite locations found in Michigan that we feel would be perfect for an intimate elopement.
Best Places to Elope in Michigan near Detroit
While we have done numerous work in Downtown Detroit, we pride ourselves (and always find ourselves) in locating the green spaces around this metropolis. If you’re anything like us, you’re tired of the city, and use nature to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Here are a couple locations around Metro Detroit that would be a perfect way to do just that.
Belle Isle was recently purchased by the State of Michigan from Detroit. The State has been working tirelessly to restore this beautiful island that sits within the Detroit River. You’ll find beautiful, groomed trails throughout the island, as well as scenic views of the sunset over the Detroit Skyline.
One of our favorite locations to go hiking that is “nearby”, would have to be Holly State Recreation Area. We used to come this way only to check out the Renaissance Festival that is held annually in this area. However, we’ve recently been poking around the trails, and we’ve found several locations that would be perfect for photos. Woods, trails, marshes, lakes… you name it, and this recreation area has it.
Best Places to Elope in Michigan in the Upper Peninsula
The Upper Peninsula is a goldmine of natural beauty that seems to still be hidden from the rest of the world. “In da UP”, as we like to say, you’ll find the majority of our states’ waterfalls and wilderness areas. Lake Superior surrounds the northern coast of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, while Lakes Michigan and Huron, border the southern coast. If you truly are a nature lover, then this will be our first recommendation for you to consider!
One of the best and easiest to access locations in the Upper Peninsula for waterfalls, would have to be Munising. It’s a quaint little town that is nestled in a bay along “Gitchee Gumee”, or Lake Superior. We try to visit this area almost every year, as it is filled with easy to access waterfalls, hiking trails, and the ever popular, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
If you want a true nature and hiking filled adventure, with little risk of seeing another human being (aside from those who come along for this adventure), then the Porcupine Mountains is where you need to go. You’ll find pristine old-growth forests here, streams, lakes, springs, waterfalls, and so much more! We’ve always wanted to bring someone with us for pictures here, and we would love it if you were our first!
Best Places to Elope in Michigan in Northern Central Michigan
If you’re a lover of sand dunes, beaches, lakes, wineries, rolling hills, or forests as far as the eye can see, then you have to check out Northern Central Michigan. Here you will find a ton of things to do, no matter what adventure you may wish to undertake.
If you’re a lover of wine, or simply love the way grape fields look in photos, then you need to check out the Grand Traverse Bay area. It is chock full of wineries to sate any wine connoisseur’s fancy. Not to mention the fact that the entire drive around the bay is beyond gorgeous, especially if you do so around sunset time.
(View an elopement we did at Mission Table in Traverse City here.)
One of my earliest memories of vacationing as a young child, was taking a trip to the Sleeping Bear Dunes with my grandmother, mother, and two younger brothers. We had a blast here! Not only will you find the sand dunes for which this National park is named after, but also tons of trails into hardwood forests, kayaking and canoeing opportunities, and so much more! It’s truly a magical place for any type of visit, let alone for a Michigan elopement.
Best Places to Elope in Michigan along the Great Lakes
Michigan is almost entirely surrounded by the Great Lakes. It’s one of the reasons why our state is called the “Great Lakes State”. They’re as big as inland seas, and can certainly be as dangerous as such, but contain so much diversity and beauty, that you’ll be hard pressed to find anything like them anywhere else in the world! Did you know that Michigan has 3,288 miles of shoreline from all of our lakes combined? The only state that has more shoreline than we do, is Alaska! Let’s talk about some areas to consider for the shorelines of our Great Lakes, shall we?
One of our favorite places to capture elopements on the coast of Lake Michigan, would have to be Little Sable Point Lighthouse. It’s near the Silver Lake Dunes, but still far enough away that you’ll find only the truest of adventurers come here. Unfortunately, due to the rising levels of Lake Michigan, a lot of it’s beach has been washed away, but it is still a fantastic area to consider. In fact, check out the recent Engagement Session we captured here!
Let’s head to the other side of Michigan, shall we? If we’re talking about Lake Huron for a Michigan Elopement destination, then you have to consider Mackinac Island. This little island is a heaven sent paradise. No motor vehicles are allowed on this island (except emergency vehicles), meaning everyone gets around via a horse-drawn carriage, with a bicycle, or your own two feet. There are plenty of shops for your enjoyment, and trails with which to explore. Sunset (or even sunrise) here is magnified in it’s beauty due to Lake Huron and the Mackinac Bridge! Just don’t forget to grab some fudge before you leave.
While these locations are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to amazing locations found within the Great Lakes State of Michigan, we truly hope they get your adventure juices flowing. Michigan should totally be at the top of your list for a perfect elopement location. Michigan is filled with beauty not found elsewhere, character, charm, and so much more! Michigan truly has something for everyone.
If you are ready to begin planning your own Michigan Adventure Elopement, please reach out to us! We would love to hear more about your plans, dreams, hopes and fears, and how we can help you make these dreams a reality.
Contact us now and tell us which of these locations from this list of Best Places to Elope in Michigan is calling your name! We truly cannot wait to help you plan your perfect Michigan Elopement.
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