Hey! We’re Ashley and Dan – adventure elopement photographers based out of Wisconsin. On top of being full time elopement photographers, we’re also full time explorers. We’re just going to cut to the chase here – we know the BEST places to elope in Wisconsin. How do we know the best places in Wisconsin to elope? Because we spend every weeknight/weekend we’re home hiking Wisconsin trails, visiting different state parks, and camping at all the random spots. We live here, and our lives revolve around being in the outdoors, so we wanted to share some of our knowledge for anyone who might be looking to elope in Wisconsin.
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Elope In Wisconsin
Do it. There is no rule that says you have to travel to an exotic or mountainous location for your adventure elopement. We will, however, argue that Wisconsin is exotic in its own rugged way. When you first think of Wisconsin, you might think “cheese, beer, and cows.” Welp, coming straight from a Wisconsin born native, it’s so much more than that. Wisconsin is full of pretty epic scenery – lakes, forests, landscapes carved out by glaciers, rolling hills, and four wildly different seasons. The people here are incredibly kind, solitude is easy to find, and the wedding scene is poppin’ (aka we have a shit ton of amazing vendors to help you out!) Whether you’re from Wisconsin or not, we want to show you just why we think Wisconsin is the perfect place to elope.
How To Elope In Wisconsin
One of the things that makes eloping in Wisconsin really stand out, is that you don’t actually even need an officiant. Wisconsin allows what is called a “Self Uniting Marriage”, meaning that you can literally marry yourselves. If you are looking for a TRULY “just the two of you” experience, marrying yourselves without a third party involved is a pretty epic way to do that. It’s also a way to include your dog in your wedding. You could technically say your vows in front of your pup and have him “officiate.”
Ask a Friend to Officiate
Another great option is to ask a close friend or family member to officiate your wedding. It is incredibly fast and easy to become ordained through Universal Life Church. Dan and I decided to have one of our close friends officiate our marriage. He wrote the whole ceremony out from scratch, and it just felt so much more personal. Sure, we could have hired an officiant from a list of ordained people in Wisconsin, but it just made so much more sense for us to choose someone that was invested in our lives. Our whole day was geared toward who we were as a couple, and we wanted that to come through in our ceremony. No matter how you decide to make it official, you are still required to have a valid marriage license, and it’s important to check with each individual county about their rules and regulations.
Where to Elope in Wisconsin
There are so many bomb ass places in Wisconsin, it’s impossible to create a blog featuring all of the best places to elope in Wisconsin. From State Parks, to campgrounds, to lakefronts – you’ve got plenty of options. We could never fit all of our locations spots in one blog post, so we decided to highlight a few of our favorites.
Kettle Moraine State Forest
The Kettle Moraine State Forest is found in Southeastern Wisconsin, and the whole landscape is formed by the glaciers that passed through a longggg time ago. The terrain is very hilly and wooded – you’ll always find beautiful colored leaves in the fall, and plenty of wild flowers in the spring. Winter brings the opportunity for cross-country skiing the trails, as well as snow-shoeing. It offers a little bit of everything!
The Nordic Trails is one of our favorite spots to hike around. Found in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, there are multiple trails ranging from .7 to 9 miles. The area can get pretty busy during peak hours on the weekends, but during sunrise or sunset you’ll find a lot more solitude. The blue trail sees the least amount of traffic and takes you through wide open prairies, as well as through beautiful wooded areas and pine trees. Click here for a map of the trail system.
Lapham Peak State Park
Lapham Peak is another great area found in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. The landscape is very similar to that of the Nordic Trails, but it also has the option to reserve two different shelters to host a wedding reception in for your small wedding. Click here to see their reservable shelters.
Paradise Springs Nature Trail
Paradise Springs Nature Trail is a half mile paved trail back to an abandoned building which houses a natural spring. Keep in mind, this isn’t a hot spring, but rather a freezing cold spring. But the area is gorgeous, and the water is super clear. The natural spring used to host a resort back in the day, but is now an abandoned overgrown area filled with charm. This is a great option for people who are looking for an accessible and easy location to reach. Click here to learn more about the trail!
Loew Lake Unit
My family lovingly refers to this area as “the Valley” – don’t ask why, because it really isn’t a valley. We love love LOVE this location. From the main parking lot, a trail immediately follows a bed of pine needles under a gorgeous canopy of pine trees. From there, you can follow the trail into wide open meadows – the sun bathes these meadows in a gorgeous golden light at dusk. A bridge crosses over a super peaceful river (which you will rarely see anyone on – great spot to go kayaking and pack a picnic!) and down toward Loew Lake. The access spot to Loew Lake is very secluded and surrounded by cattail plants. Click here for more info on Loew Lake!
Door County is located on a peninsula situated between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. We think miles of coastline here offer some of the best places to elope in Wisconsin.
A 30-45 minute ferry ride from the tip of the Door County Peninsula will put you at Washington Island – yes, it’s an island in Wisconsin. There are miles and miles of beautiful coastline on this island including Sand Dune Park. There is also a Lilac Farm where you can roam through 20,000 lavender plants during bloom season. Washington Island is quiet, quaint, and full of good ol’ Wisconsin charm. Click here to learn more.
Rock Island State Park
Rock Island State Park is another short ferry ride past Washington Island. What we love about this island is there are no cars allowed on the entire 900 acre island. This island features primitive camping, a white sand beach, and beautiful trails. Click here to learn more.
Peninsula State Park
Peninsula State Park is the 3rd largest state park in Wisconsin. The park is 3,375 acres and has miles of uncrowded coast line. In the fall, this place is GORGEOUS with the changing leaves. There are a ton of campsites available if camping is your thing. Click here to see a list of popular wedding locations within the park.
The Apostle Islands are a short ferry ride away from Bayfield, Wisconsin, which is located on the Southern Shore of Lake Superior. We love the idea of island weddings in Wisconsin as you can tell. Madeline Island is a great option for someone wanting to venture to Northern Wisconsin. You could even rent a sail boat for a sunset ceremony for just the two of you.
Other State Parks We Love
Wildcat Mountain State Park
With 29.8 miles of hiking trails, a steep ridge overlooking the Kickapoo Valley, and opportunities for canoeing on the river, this place is a jackpot. We especially think Wildcat Mountain is one of the best places to elope in Wisconsin in the fall!
Devil’s Lake State Park
Devil’s Lake is surrounded by big beautiful bluffs with hiking trails leading to the top. You’ll pass by all sorts of crazy rock formations with some pretty awesome views. Devil’s Lake is situated in between the bluffs with a sandy beach on either side. This place gets PACKED in the summer – we like this park in the off season (late fall and winter – yes, snowshoeing here is great!). If your a rock climber, there are plenty of trad and top rope routes to hit up on your elopement day.
Best Places to Stay for your Wisconsin Elopement
I really felt the need to point out these two epic locations – they are probably the coolest spots we’ve found to date in Wisconsin to stay at if your not really into camping. The awesome thing about these places is a) they are quiet and intimate b) BEAUTIFUL for photographs, and c) they are situated in some beautiful areas in the state with plenty of options for exploring nearby.
Off the Grid Inn
This is the cutest little tiny home/cabin in the middle of the woods. If you are looking for an epic WINTER location in Wisconsin, we think this is a great option. The trees covered in snow gives off such a quiet and peaceful feel, and a warm little cabin among it all with views out to the woods is a perfect spot to just relax and be cozy. Check out some awesome pictures of the place here. Photo from Airbnb.
Located in Richland Center, Wisconsin, this cabin has entirely glass walls in the middle of the woods. While you can’t hold your actual wedding in these cabins, you can certainly stay here during your elopement and explore the surrounding area. The Glass House is just one of the many cabins hosted by Candlewood Cabins. These cabins book up FAST and FAR in advance – it’s best to reserve these guys way ahead of time. Photo from Candlewood Cabins.
Wisconsin Elopement Photographers
When choosing a photographer for your elopement, it is SO IMPORTANT to know exactly what you are signing up for. Not only should you be in love with their work, but you should adore your photographers as well.
Dan and I put a HUGE emphasis on truly getting to know our couples – it’s really the big secret on how we actually get great freakin’ photos and by the time we actually photograph your elopement, we’re all feeling like old friends and there is zero awkwardness. Check out our Adventure Elopement Process to see how it works when you hire us to be your adventure elopement photographers.
Not only do we just show up the day of, take pictures, and leave, but we’re super involved in your planning process. Lots of State Parks and natural areas require Special Use Permits to elope or host a small wedding on their land. We take care of all the logistics for you in obtaining permits, helping you find the best places to elope in Wisconsin, and recommending some pretty awesome vendors.
Wisconsin Elopement Packages
Our adventure elopement packages are built with the adventurer in mind. We don’t offer anything less than 8 hours of coverage, because your elopement matters. We want you to remember every moment of your day. Rushing and crunched timelines are bogus. Your day should be filled with things you LOVE doing, in the places you love, with the people you love most. Whether you want an 8 hour day exploring multiple locations, or an overnight backpacking trip, we’ve got options for you. You can check out our Wisconsin Elopement Packages here to learn more about what we offer. We would love to hear about your dream and vision for your Wisconsin Elopement. We’re all about helping create + document unique adventurous elopements for couples who want to do things differently. Contact us so we can start making your dream elopement become a real thing!