I’ll admit it, my west-coast heart was ready to brush Wisconsin off and say, “nope, nothing exciting here.” Folks, I was so wrong. Eloping in Wisconsin may not put you on top of a mountain, but this northern state makes up for it with craggy, lakeside views and forests for days.
This is a long post, ok? But it’s got everything you need to get you started on planning your own elopement. And if you want more help, more specifics, SEND ME A MESSAGE. I’m right here when you need me.
Alright, here we go. To start things off, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favourite places, including a whole slew of plant-based venues! Ever wanted to get married in a greenhouse…?
Indoor, plant-related venues!!
Before you go about planning your elopement, there are definitely some things to take into consideration. Wisconsin is one of those states with “seasons” (pay attention, California folks), so picking a date on the calendar at random may not work out so well for you if you don’t know what you’re in for. I’m assuming most of you do know what you’re in for, weather-wise?
Let’s talk about your options with climate and landscapes, and then jump into the logistics of it all.
According to Weather Atlas (and my own, confused experience), Wisconsin weather can vary wildly month-to-month. I don’t mind a little chill, myself, and snowy, icy landscapes are the perfect freaking backdrop to your elopement! Don’t write off the winter months, is all I’m saying.
This list is by no means set in stone (because we all know the weather does whatever the hell it wants), but it’s a good starting point if you’re having trouble deciding when you’re going to be eloping in Wisconsin:
WINTER: …You all know what winter here is like, right? Wisconsin winters are no joke, but I secretly like them! Not the middle-of-January-toes-might-fall-off part. But the ice, the snow, the formations. It’s beautiful. Picture it: you and your partner, wrapped up in something cute and warm, hot toddies in your hands to keep you warm, an incredible winter landscape in front of you, and little to no crowds. !!!
If you don’t want to brave the freezing temperatures, winter is a great time of year to get married indoors! Lucky for you, places like The Domes are open 365 days a year, and your tropical, indoor-but-looks-like-you-could-be-outdoors elopement awaits!
SPRING: Spring is a freaking delight after a long winter. Longer days, more sunshine, thawing earth. Shorts and t-shirt weather all day every day? No. But this is another favourite time of year for me. It’s warm without being “sticky humid summer” warm. Comfortable, warm days, nights above freezing, everything turning green again… What more can you ask for??
SUMMER: Look, I was born in Ireland, so “summer” isn’t necessarily in my vocabulary, but there’s so much going on in Wisconsin in the summer. This humid time of year is perfect for anything water-related: my recommendation for eloping in Wisconsin in the summer is to head north and stay near the lakes, or delve into the shaded forests. Gorgeous.
AUTUMN: Can I have three favourites? I have three favourites, and autumn is one of them. The temperatures are starting to drop, the leaves are turning brilliant colours, there’s a wee nip in the air as the weather gets milder… Stunning time to elope in northern Wisconsin. Or anywhere, really. The whole state is your metaphorical oyster.
The two biggest attractions you’ll have to decide between when eloping in Wisconsin are forests and lakes. Both of which Wisconsin has in spades.
No, seriously: Wisconsin is 46% forest. That’s 16 million acres. You’re spoiled for choice! The national and state forests are all an excellent pick for an elopement.
As far as lakes go… Wisconsin is bordered by two of the Great Lakes: Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. The first time I saw (part of) Lake Michigan, I was in Chicago. Then I took the train up to Milwaukee. For 90 minutes, it was still…Lake Michigan. It’s basically a sea, ok?
So if you’re missing that coastal vibe, and you aren’t going to travel to Washington (…hit me up if you are though), Lake Michigan is the place to be.
The portion of Lake Superior that the state borders in the north is a beautiful, rocky coastline, filled with wee islands. Highly, highly recommend.
The nitty-gritty: what’s the deal with the paperwork?
When it comes to the legality of eloping in Wisconsin, it’s actually fairly straightforward. These details are specific to Milwaukee, so check with your county to see if there are any differences.
I’m not a lawyer or involved with marriage licenses in any legal sense, so, disclaimer: this is just what I’ve found on government websites. You’re going to have to google this yourself to make sure everything is the way it should be. It’s super easy; I believe in you.
And hey, if you don’t get your license signed on your elopement day, who cares? Your anniversary is the day you say your vows and get married, not the day you file government paperwork.
…Are you tired? Is your brain full? Buzzing?
I just threw a LOT of information at you, so feel free to take some time and let that percolate. Quick very-widely-known non-secret: I’m not just an elopement photographer. I help my couples plan their entire day, start to finish. SEND ME A MESSAGE to chat about your Wisconsin elopement!
IMPORTANT NOTE: Given the current state of affairs (read: pandemic-related chaos), I’m changing the way the booking process works for the time being.
Usually, I need a date to book a client. To make sure that I have your date available and save it for you. But with all the uncertainty, I’m not bothering with that anymore.
You can book me with just a contract and retainer, no date required. I’ll help you plan things out, and then we’ll find the right date that works for all three of us when we’re allowed to be in the same room as each other. Sound good?