Wisconsin forest and lake
  • Save

Elope in Wisconsin – The Ultimate Guide (2024)

Elope in Wisconsin and embark on a romantic adventure amidst picturesque landscapes and serene settings!

Wisconsin offers a uniquely enchanting experience that we’ve come to adore over the years.

The state’s natural beauty, with its serene lakes, lush forests, and rolling hills, provides a stunning backdrop for couples looking to say “I do” in a more intimate setting.

Whether it’s the rustic charm of a countryside barn, the tranquil shores of Lake Superior, or the secluded nooks within the majestic Northwoods, Wisconsin has a way of turning elopement into something truly magical.

We love how each season brings its own flavor to ceremonies here, from the vibrant hues of autumn to the snowy whispers of winter.

For those dreaming of a day that’s as personal as it is picturesque, eloping in Wisconsin is a choice that promises not just a celebration, but an adventure.

In this in-depth guide, we’ll cover many topics, such as:

Exactly how to elope in Wisconsin
How to budget a Wisconsin elopement
The legal aspects of eloping in Wisconsin

Join us as we delve deeper into what makes this heartland state the perfect elopement destination.

Lake with wooden deck
  • Save

The Pros and Cons of Eloping in Wisconsin

Eloping in Wisconsin comes with its share of highs and lows that you should take in to consideration.

We’ve seen countless couples navigate this path, each with their unique story of joy and compromise.

While the allure of an intimate ceremony in Wisconsin’s picturesque landscapes is undeniable, it’s wise to weigh both sides of the coin.

Here’s our take on the pros and cons, drawn from years of witnessing love stories unfold in the Badger State.

The Pros of an Elopement in Wisconsin

  • Diverse Scenery: From the tranquil beaches of Door County to the historic charm of Milwaukee’s urban spaces, Wisconsin offers a variety of breathtaking settings.
    This diversity means you can tailor your elopement to the backdrop that speaks to you most.
  • Cost-Effective: Generally, eloping sidesteps the hefty price tag of a traditional wedding.
    In Wisconsin, with so many scenic public lands available, you can often find a stunning venue without the stunning cost.
  • Simplified Logistics: With fewer guests to manage, eloping in Wisconsin often means less stress in planning.
    This simplicity lets you focus more on each other and less on managing a big event.
  • Intimacy and Personalization: Eloping allows your ceremony to reflect your personal love story without compromise.
    Wisconsin’s settings add an extra layer of intimacy, making your day truly about the two of you.
  • Adventurous Spirit: For couples who love adventure, eloping in Wisconsin can incorporate activities like hiking in the Apostle Islands or kayaking on the Wisconsin River into your special day, making for unforgettable memories.

The Cons of a Wisconsin Elopement

  • Limited Guest List: One major drawback is not being able to have all your loved ones present. This can be particularly tough if you have a large family or a wide circle of friends.
  • Legal Requirements: Navigating the legalities, such as obtaining a marriage license in Wisconsin, can be tricky for out-of-state couples or those unfamiliar with the process.
  • Variable Weather: Wisconsin’s weather can be unpredictable.
    An outdoor elopement might face challenges from sudden rainstorms or extreme cold, depending on the season.
  • Fewer Traditional Elements: If you or your family cherish traditional wedding elements, eloping might mean sacrificing some of these customs.
    It’s a balance between tradition and the unique intimacy of an elopement.
  • Post-Elopement Reactions: Not everyone understands the appeal of eloping.
    Be prepared for mixed reactions from friends or family members who might feel left out of your special day.

Each couple’s journey is distinct, and what might be a con for one could be insignificant to another.

We believe understanding these aspects can help you make the most informed decision for your dream day in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin lake
  • Save

How to Elope in Wisconsin – A Step-by-Step Guide

Embarking on the journey of eloping in Wisconsin is thrilling, yet it requires careful planning.

This guide provides a foundational overview, while the sections that follow dive deeper into specific topics.

Be sure to read the in-depth guide after this short summary, to make sure you know exactly how to plan your day.

  1. Choose a Date and Time
    • Consider the season; Wisconsin’s weather varies dramatically throughout the year.
    • Check for local events that might affect availability or pricing of venues and accommodations.
    • Be flexible; some locations might have limited availability, especially popular spots in peak seasons.
  2. Set a Budget
    • Determine what aspects of your elopement are most important and allocate funds accordingly.
    • Keep a buffer for unexpected expenses.
    • Research cost-saving options, like weekday ceremonies or off-season discounts.
  3. Meet the Legal Requirements
    • Apply for a marriage license at a Wisconsin county clerk’s office.
    • Note the waiting period and expiration date of the license.
    • Ensure you have all necessary documents for the application (ID, proof of residency, etc.).
  4. Choose a Location
    • Decide if you want an indoor or outdoor ceremony, considering Wisconsin’s diverse landscapes.
    • Research permits required for public spaces.
    • Visit potential sites beforehand, if possible, to envision your day.
  5. Find an Officiant
    • Look for someone who aligns with your values and understands the intimacy of eloping.
    • Verify they are legally recognized to officiate weddings in Wisconsin.
    • Discuss ceremony structure and any personalized elements you’d like to include.
  6. Plan the Guest List
    • Keep it intimate; remember, the essence of eloping is sharing the moment with those closest to you.
    • Consider if you want a “just us” experience or to include a few family members or friends.
    • Communicate your plans clearly to manage expectations.
  7. Plan the Ceremony
    • Decide on the flow of your ceremony, including readings, vows, and any specific rituals you want to include.
    • Choose music that is meaningful to you both.
    • Consider hiring a photographer to capture the moment.
  8. Plan the Reception
    • Decide if you want a post-elopement celebration, whether it’s a dinner at a fine restaurant or a small gathering at your accommodation.
    • Think about catering options or private dining experiences.
    • Incorporate elements that represent you as a couple.
  9. Hire Vendors
    • Select vendors who specialize in elopements or small weddings.
    • Focus on quality over quantity; prioritize photographers, florists, and caterers who understand your vision.
    • Check reviews and portfolios before making decisions.
  10. Book Accommodation and Travel
    • Choose accommodations that offer privacy and romance, like secluded cabins or luxury B&Bs.
    • Consider travel logistics for any guests attending.
    • Look for places that provide elopement packages.
  11. Have the Ceremony and Reception
    • Enjoy every moment; let the day unfold naturally.
    • Delegate someone to handle any day-of coordination if needed.
    • Remember to breathe and take in the beauty of your surroundings.
  12. File the Paperwork
    • Ensure your officiant signs and files your marriage license with the county clerk’s office.
    • Confirm the process for obtaining your official marriage certificate post-ceremony.
    • Keep copies of all documents for your records.
  13. Plan What to Do After the Elopement – Have a Honeymoon in Wisconsin!
    • Explore Wisconsin’s natural beauty, from national parks to cozy towns.
    • Consider activities that you both enjoy, whether it’s hiking, wine tasting, or simply relaxing by a lake.
    • Make it memorable by trying something new together.
  14. Have Fun!
    • Remember, this day is about celebrating your love in a way that feels true to you.
    • Stay present and savor each moment.
    • Embrace any unexpected hiccups with laughter and grace.

Eloping in Wisconsin is about crafting a day that reflects your unique bond.

With careful planning and a focus on what truly matters, your elopement will be an unforgettable start to your journey together.

Bench in grassy area of Wisconsin
  • Save

How to Elope in Wisconsin – In-depth Pointers

Embarking on an elopement journey in Wisconsin is an adventure that combines intimacy with the beauty of the natural world.

This in-depth guide is designed to provide you with comprehensive insights into making your elopement both memorable and seamless.

Given the unique nature of planning such an intimate occasion, it’s crucial to read through these pointers thoroughly.

They’re crafted to ensure you’re well-prepared, allowing you to focus on what truly matters – celebrating your love in one of the most picturesque states in the US.

How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Wisconsin?

Eloping in Wisconsin can often be seen as a cost-effective alternative to traditional weddings, which can easily soar into the tens of thousands of dollars.

On average, eloping might cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on how elaborate your plans are.

This stark difference in cost is a major reason why many couples opt to elope.

However, without careful planning, expenses can quickly add up even in an elopement scenario.

From securing a stunning location to ensuring every detail is perfect, the cost of eloping can vary widely based on your desires and level of simplicity or extravagance.

Budgeting a WI Elopement

Understanding the breakdown of costs involved in an elopement can help you allocate your budget more effectively.

Keep in mind that these figures can fluctuate based on several factors like the number of guests, time of year, and personal preferences.

  • Marriage License: Approximately $60-$120, depending on the county.
  • Location Fees and Permits: Costs can range from $0 for public spaces without need for permits to over $1,000 for exclusive venues.
  • Officiant Fees: Typically ranges between $200-$400. Prices vary based on experience and services provided.
  • Elopement Photography: For quality photography, expect to pay between $1,000-$3,000, depending on package options and photographer’s expertise.
  • Attire: Depending on personal style and preferences, attire can range from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000.
  • Makeup and Hair: Professional services can cost anywhere from $150-$600.
  • Wedding Rings: Highly variable, but couples often spend between $500-$2,000.
  • Decorations and Flowers: Simple setups can start around $200, with more elaborate decorations and floral arrangements costing upwards of $1,000.
  • Accommodation: Depending on location and luxury level, prices can range from $100-$500+ per night.
  • Transportation: Costs will vary greatly depending on distance and mode of transportation chosen.
  • Catering: For small gatherings, catering costs can start around $20 per person and go up based on menu complexity and service level.

Tips to Reduce Costs When Eloping in Wisconsin

Eloping doesn’t have to break the bank.

Here are some effective ways to keep costs down while still having the elopement of your dreams:

  • Opt for Off-Season Dates: Eloping during Wisconsin’s off-season can significantly reduce costs across venues, accommodations, and vendors.
  • Public Spaces as Venues: Utilize Wisconsin’s stunning natural landscapes as your venue. Many public parks offer breathtaking views at a fraction of the cost of private venues.
  • Limit Guest Numbers: The beauty of eloping is in its intimacy. Keeping your guest list small not only preserves this but helps minimize costs.
  • DIY Where Possible: Whether it’s decorations or makeup, a DIY approach can add a personal touch while saving money.
  • Flexible Vendor Selection: Look for vendors who offer elopement packages or are willing to customize their services to fit smaller-scale events.
  • Midweek Elopement: Vendors and venues often offer lower rates for midweek bookings compared to weekends.
  • Digital Invitations: Save on printing and postage costs by opting for digital invitation options – that’s if you choose to invite anyone!
  • Local Elopement Packages: Some Wisconsin vendors offer all-inclusive elopement packages that bundle several services at a reduced rate.
  • Rent Attire Instead of Buying: Consider renting your wedding attire instead of purchasing it outright for a one-time use.
  • Simple Celebratory Meal: Instead of an extravagant reception, opt for a meaningful meal at a local favorite restaurant or a catered picnic.

By incorporating these tips into your elopement planning, you can enjoy a beautiful Wisconsin elopement without compromising on the essence of your special day.

A city in Wisconsin
  • Save

Ensuring your elopement is legally recognized is crucial.

The romantic allure of an elopement can easily sweep you away, but overlooking the legalities could lead to an invalid marriage.

Below, we outline the key legal steps and requirements for eloping in Wisconsin.

Remember, laws and regulations can change, so it’s always best to verify these details with the county clerk’s office and your chosen officiant well before your planned elopement date.

How to Get a Marriage License

  • Couples must apply in person at any county clerk’s office in Wisconsin.
  • The cost of a marriage license varies by county but generally ranges from $60 to $120.
  • A waiting period of 6 days applies from the application date before the license is issued, valid for 30 days.

Identification Needed

  • Valid photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport is required.
  • You may also need to provide certified birth certificates and social security numbers.

Age Limits

  • Individuals must be 18 years or older to marry without parental consent.
  • Persons aged 16-17 require written parental or guardian consent.


  • Wisconsin law requires two witnesses present at your ceremony, both of whom must be at least 18 years of age.

Cousin Marriages

  • Marriages between first cousins are prohibited unless both parties are 55 years of age or older.

Proxy Marriages

  • Proxy marriages are not permitted in Wisconsin. Both parties must be physically present for the ceremony.


  • The marriage must be solemnized by an officiant who is legally authorized to perform weddings in Wisconsin.

It’s imperative to check with your local county clerk’s office and your officiant for the most current information and any additional requirements specific to your situation.

Places to Elope in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s diverse landscapes offer an array of enchanting settings for elopements.

From serene lakeshores to historic buildings, there’s a perfect spot for every couple.

While this list provides a glimpse into the possibilities, we recommend diving into our comprehensive guide to uncover the best places to elope in Wisconsin.

  • Door County: Known for its picturesque waterfronts and charming lighthouses, Door County provides a romantic setting for an intimate ceremony.
  • Apostle Islands: Perfect for adventure-loving couples, the Apostle Islands offer breathtaking views of Lake Superior and its surrounding sea caves.
  • Devil’s Lake State Park: This state park features stunning natural beauty with its turquoise waters and dramatic bluffs, ideal for nature enthusiasts.
  • Madison: The state capital offers a mix of urban elegance and natural beauty, with venues ranging from sophisticated city spaces to tranquil gardens.
  • Milwaukee Art Museum: For a touch of modern elegance, consider the Milwaukee Art Museum, which provides a unique architectural backdrop for your special day.

Each of these locations has its unique charm, capable of making your elopement in Wisconsin truly unforgettable.

Wisconsin Government building
  • Save

How to Find a Wisconsin Elopement Officiant

Selecting the right elopement officiant is a decision that can deeply impact the tone and essence of your ceremony.

Beyond leading the proceedings, the officiant plays a crucial role in shaping the entire experience.

Here are some tips to help you choose an officiant who not only aligns with your beliefs but also understands your vision for the intimate ceremony:

  • Meet in Person: Schedule a meeting or video call to ensure you connect on a personal level.
  • Discuss Ceremony Style: Talk about the atmosphere you want to create and ensure they can accommodate your preferences.
  • Review Past Work: Ask for examples of past ceremonies or testimonials to gauge their style and professionalism.
  • Understand Legal Requirements: Confirm they are authorized to perform weddings in Wisconsin and are familiar with the necessary paperwork.
  • Ask About Flexibility: Inquire about their availability, willingness to travel, and any customization options for your ceremony.

How to Choose Wisconsin Elopement Vendors

When planning your Wisconsin elopement, choosing the right vendors is crucial to ensuring your day unfolds seamlessly and beautifully.

Whether it’s capturing the moments through photography, enhancing your natural beauty with makeup, or adding floral touches to your ceremony, each vendor plays a vital role.

Here are some tips to help you select vendors who will bring your dream elopement to life:

  • Research Extensively: Look for vendors who specialize in elopements and have experience working in Wisconsin’s unique settings.
  • Check Portfolios: Review past work to ensure their style aligns with yours and that they have a track record of delivering quality results.
  • Read Reviews: Seek feedback from past clients to gauge their professionalism, reliability, and overall satisfaction with the service provided.
  • Communicate Clearly: Ensure vendors understand your vision, preferences, and any specific requests you have for your elopement.
  • Consider Personality Fit: Choose vendors you feel comfortable with and who share your excitement for your special day.
  • Budget Wisely: While quality is paramount, ensure the cost aligns with your budget and that there are no hidden fees.
  • Ask About Packages: Inquire about package options that may offer bundled services at a more affordable rate.
  • Request Contracts: Always sign contracts detailing services, costs, and any additional agreements to protect both parties.
  • Schedule Trials: For services like hair and makeup, schedule trials to ensure you’re happy with the results on your elopement day.
  • Plan Ahead: Secure vendors well in advance to avoid last-minute stress and ensure availability on your chosen date.

By following these tips and taking the time to choose vendors who resonate with your vision, you can create a magical and stress-free elopement experience in Wisconsin.

You can, of course, choose to elope without any vendors at all, other than the required elopement officiant.

This will save you money, but you will need to consider that your day may be more stressful, if you are wanting any of the more traditional wedding elements.

A Wisconsin barn that could be used for an elopement
  • Save

Designing the Ceremony

Your elopement ceremony is a moment of pure celebration and intimacy, a time when your love takes center stage.

It’s an opportunity to craft a ceremony that truly reflects who you are as a couple, filled with personal touches and meaningful moments.

Collaborating with your elopement officiant is key to ensuring your vision comes to life.

Here are some tips to help you design a ceremony that is uniquely yours:

  • Reflect on Your Story: Incorporate elements that tell your love story, whether it’s through personalized vows, readings, or symbolic rituals.
  • Choose Meaningful Readings: Select readings or poems that resonate with you both and convey the depth of your relationship.
  • Include Loved Ones: Even in an intimate setting, consider ways to involve family or close friends in the ceremony.
  • Add Personal Touches: Infuse elements that are special to you – whether it’s a favorite song, a shared hobby, or cultural traditions.
  • Plan for Emotional Moments: Anticipate that emotions may run high; embrace the authenticity of the moment and let your feelings guide you.

Designing the Reception

While your elopement reception may be small in scale, it can still be big on charm and personalization.

This is where you get to celebrate your union in a way that speaks directly to you as a couple.

Whether it’s a romantic dinner for two or a cozy gathering with a select few, here are some tips to help you design a reception that mirrors your bond:

  • Choose a Meaningful Setting: Select a venue that resonates with you both, whether it’s a cozy restaurant, a scenic overlook, or a charming Airbnb.
  • Personalize the Decor: Add touches that reflect your style and personalities, such as photos, candles, or DIY decorations.
  • Curate a Special Menu: Opt for dishes that hold significance for you as a couple or explore local cuisine for a taste of Wisconsin flavor.
  • Plan Engaging Activities: Consider incorporating activities or games that reflect your interests and encourage interaction among guests.
  • Select Signature Drinks: Create custom cocktails that represent your relationship or showcase local spirits for a unique touch.
  • Capture the Moments: Hire a photographer or videographer to document the reception, ensuring you have lasting memories of this special occasion.
  • Create an Intimate Atmosphere: Set the mood with lighting, music, and seating arrangements that foster connection and warmth.
  • Express Your Gratitude: Take time during the reception to thank your guests for being part of your celebration and share your joy with them.

By infusing your reception with personal details and thoughtful choices, you can create an atmosphere that perfectly encapsulates the essence of your love story and makes your elopement day truly unforgettable.

Tracks going through a field
  • Save

Ideas for a Honeymoon After You Elope in Wisconsin

After the whirlwind of your elopement ceremony, it’s time to embark on a romantic honeymoon to unwind and celebrate your new chapter together.

Wisconsin offers a diverse range of experiences, from serene nature retreats to vibrant city escapes.

Here are some enchanting honeymoon ideas to consider:

  • Door County Getaway: Explore charming villages, scenic lighthouses, and indulge in local wine tasting along the Door Peninsula.
    Stay in cozy bed-and-breakfasts or waterfront cottages for a romantic escape.
  • Northwoods Cabin Retreat: Relax in a secluded cabin surrounded by towering pines and tranquil lakes in Wisconsin’s Northwoods.
    Enjoy outdoor adventures like hiking, fishing, or simply unwinding by the fireplace.
  • Madison City Escape: Immerse yourselves in the vibrant culture of Madison, with its bustling farmers’ markets, eclectic dining scene, and lakeside strolls.
    Discover local art galleries, live music venues, and historic sites.
  • Lake Geneva Luxury: Experience luxury at Lake Geneva with upscale resorts, spa treatments, and lakeside dining.
    Take a boat tour on the lake, explore charming boutiques, and savor gourmet cuisine.
  • Apostle Islands Adventure: Embark on a kayaking or sailing adventure among the Apostle Islands’ sea caves and pristine waters.
    Camp on secluded islands or stay in a cozy lakeside lodge for an unforgettable outdoor experience.

Each of these honeymoon ideas offers a unique blend of romance, relaxation, and adventure to complement your Wisconsin elopement experience.


Here are answers to some common questions you may have:

Can You Elope in Wisconsin?

Yes, you can elope in Wisconsin.

The state offers a variety of scenic locations and venues for intimate ceremonies.

What is the Best Time of Year for an Elopement in Wisconsin?

The best time of year for an elopement in Wisconsin depends on your preferences.

Spring and fall offer mild weather and beautiful landscapes, while winter can provide a snowy wonderland backdrop.

Who Can Marry Me in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, officiants such as judges, clergy, and ordained ministers can legally perform wedding ceremonies.

How Much Time Do I Need to Plan an Elopement in Wisconsin?

While timelines may vary, it’s advisable to start planning your elopement in Wisconsin at least 3-6 months in advance to secure vendors, permits, and accommodations smoothly.

Have a Great Day When You Elope in Wisconsin!

As you venture into the enchanting state of Wisconsin to elope, remember that this day is all about celebrating your unique bond in a special way.

From the serene lakeshores to the captivating forests, Wisconsin provides the perfect backdrop for your intimate ceremony and beyond.

Embrace the magic of this occasion, treasure each moment with your partner, and create memories that will endure.

May your elopement day be filled with joy, love, and unforgettable moments as you embark on this new journey together!

Other Resources

Still wondering where exactly to elope? Wisconsin might not be the final destination for you? Why not have a look at…

Or why not check out this list of the best places to elope in the United States?

Pin this Pip!

Elope in Wisconsin Pinterest Pin
  • Save
  • Save

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *