If you are looking for a unique and beautiful destination for your state-side elopement, then Michigan should be at the top of your list! Often overlooked, Michigan has so much to offer in terms of natural beauty, diverse scenery, and general accessibility. Whether you're local to the state or traveling from afar, Michigan truly has something for everyone.
Keep reading for a complete guide on how to elope in Michigan + tips for planning your intimate adventure elopement.
The Benefits of an Elopement vs. a Traditional Wedding
Elopements, by nature, are more intentional and intimate than traditional weddings. Rather than planning your wedding with others in mind, an elopement allows you to curate a day perfectly tailored to you as a couple. Opt out of traditions that don't resonate with you like walking down the aisle, reading your vows in public, wearing a white dress, etc. There are no rules! Not only that, but you're able to create those special memories at a private/meaningful location that you two can visit year after year, unlike a traditional wedding venue.
How to Plan Your Michigan Elopement
Step 1: Pick your ceremony location
What do you want as your backdrop? Water, forest, mountains, etc.? Once you pick a general view, you can begin to narrow down your options to find the ideal location for you. I'm always happy to provide recommendations for my favorite local spots!
Step 2: Create a minimal guest list (or opt for no guests!)
Elopements are typically just the two of you, but oftentimes couples will choose to invite a small group of their closest family and friends. Include them in the ceremony, or host an intimate reception at an Airbnb, restaurant, or small venue afterward.
Step 3: Select your date/season
Michigan winters can be pretty brutal, so the best time of year to elope would be summer or fall. Summertime, as well as weekends, does bring more tourists and foot traffic on popular trails so keep that in mind when planning your date.
Step 4: Hire vendors
While an elopement does require less planning and logistics, you still need to enlist the help of a few trusted vendors. Elopements typically have a shorter planning period than a traditional wedding so be sure to reach out to the following vendors ASAP!
Rentals (arch/chuppah, furniture, etc)
Step 5: Research and obtain a marriage license
The state of Michigan requires you to obtain a marriage license from the county in which you live, OR (if you are from out of state) the county in which the marriage will be performed. Make sure to bring a valid driver's license, birth certificate, and $30 to your appointment. The marriage must take place within 30 days of the license issue date!
Step 6: Create a plan B
Because elopements are often outside, the weather has a huge impact on the day. Make sure you have a Plan B in place in case of an unexpected rain/snowstorm, heatwave, excessive wind, etc. You can never be too prepared!
Step 7: Obtain necessary permits
Most state and national parks require a permit/special requirements to host your elopement there. The details may vary between parks, so make sure to contact them via their website/email to obtain all of the necessary permits.
Step 8: Book travel and lodging
Many couples choose to book a hotel or Airbnb close to their location for getting ready and/or hosting a small, intimate reception. Michigan has tons of options for cozy accommodations to match your aesthetic with great lighting and atmosphere.
Step 9: Plan your elopement timeline
A typical elopement requires about 5 hours of coverage from start to finish including getting ready, an activity/hike, ceremony, dinner, and sunset photos. View Sample Elopement Timeline!
Step 10: Pack for your big day!
The last and final step to planning your Michigan elopement is to pack for your big day. It's better to be over-prepared than wish you had packed something you didn't. For reference, I've created a complete elopement packing list to help you remember the items easily forgotten!
Michigan Elopement Location Ideas
Sample Elopement Timeline
Elopement Packing List
Michigan is truly a hidden gem home to beautiful shorelines, world-renowned hikes, and acres of forestland perfect for your adventure elopement. Opt for a private ceremony or include your closest loved ones to share in this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Planning your Michigan elopement is easier than you think and as always, I'm here to help!