Elope in Michigan: Elopement Packages for the Wild at Heart

May 21, 2020

Explore Michigan Elopement Packages to Elope in Michigan

Are you inclined to walk off the beaten path and marry your partner a little differently? Elopements and intimate weddings in Michigan are quickly becoming a unique alternative to traditional weddings. Couples are reimagining their weddings and choosing smaller intimate ceremonies or adventure elopements to celebrate their love. This article will answer all of your questions about Michigan elopements, Michigan elopement packages, sample elopement timelines, checklists and the best Michigan elopement locations.

intimate wedding

What are Michigan Elopements?

Elopements are small intimate weddings on your own terms with an emphasis on experiences over things. The focus is on celebrating a commitment to each other in a beautiful location or a breathtaking landscape in Michigan. Elopements embrace a style of a wedding that reflects on the adventure of a relationship, rather than hosting a ballroom full of guests with their own expectations. They elevate creating an authentic experience and my job is to capture your love story in a way that goes beyond posed wedding photographs.



elope in michigan

How Can We Elope Legally in Michigan?

Elopements can happen anywhere – in urban or nature settings. Envision eloping in a backyard of a cool rental in Marquette, on a deck of a skyscraper in Detroit, at a courthouse in Ann Arbor, or on top of Sugarloaf Mountain in the Upper Peninsula. 

There are two ways to elope legally in Michigan:

  1. If you want to make it legal in Michigan, you will need an officiant and two witnesses! This could be a friend or family member who is ordained, or you can hire a local officiant available for an elopement ceremony. This scenario can create complications if you’re planning to hike up a mountain, or you are not planning to invite any guests who could serve as your witnesses. 
  2. Luckily, you can get married beforehand at your local courthouse and plan a completely immersive elopement day with intimate vows and your photographer to capture it all.

elope in michigan

Why Elope in Michigan?

The typical wedding day of 10+ hours can be stressful and the pressure to create an event for hundreds of guests in this added uncertainty can feel overwhelming. Instead, you can plan an intentional celebration with your one and only in the beautiful diverse landscape in Michigan. Michigan has a variety of intriguing cities (Ann Arbor, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Manistee, Traverse City) and beautiful landscape that features beaches, dunes, lakes, mountains, cliffs, even black rocks. You can say your vows privately, under the pines, overlooking the Lake Superior or while you are sitting in a canoe on the Manistee River. These intimate ceremonies are incredibly emotional and powerful.



michigan wedding photographer

Who are elopements for?

Adventure elopements are for any couple that wants to do things a little differently. Elopements are also a perfect idea for introverted couples that don’t love being the center of attention the entire day, don’t want to be stressed out while planning their day and plan to spend the money somewhere else.  Perhaps another travel adventure? Elopements are ideal for couples in love with Michigan nature, or couples that want to explore the wild outdoors. These wedding celebrations are a magical choice for adventurers and free spirits imagining an intimate elopement instead of a full on wedding. Here are a few question that might help you make the right choice:

  1. When you think about your wedding day, what are the most important elements? Is it the time spent with your partner or your family? 
  2. If you imagine this crazy idea of an intimate elopement wedding in Northern Michigan, or an adventure elopement in the Pictured Rocks, does your heart skip a beat?
  3. Does it sound exciting to create a day for you and your partner that reflects all your wants and desires regardless of what others think?

sleeping bear dunes michigan elopement

How to Elope in Michigan?

The idea of eloping on a whim is fairly outdated and there is quite a bit of detailed planning that goes into making an elopement a completely unforgettable experience. Since most eloping couples don’t hire a wedding planner for their day, I will guide you through the planning, starting from providing a list of locations, preferred vendors and elopement ideas, to help you build an elopement timeline and a plan for your day.

If you choose not to invite any guests, it will just be you two and I capturing your love all day. Luckily, this won’t be your classic, staged wedding photoshoot with others dictating your day. I capture raw moments for badass couples that dream up their unique elopement wedding adventures and marry on their own terms. My job as an adventure elopement photographer is to help you find your dreamy Michigan location and capture your day in an authentic way. 



michigan elopement packages

When planning your elopement day, keep in mind:

  • Light is everything! If you want to plan for a truly magical lighting, your ceremony should happen early in the morning or 2 – 1.5 hour before sunset. If that isn’t doable, there are locations with tree cover that are great for mid-day.
  • Allow about 15 minutes to exchange vows, 1.5 hour for the wedding portraits, and 20 minutes for photos with friends or family (if in attendance)
  • Plan for getting ready photos at your rental or hotel. Allowing me to document these moments will help tell a complete story of your day.
  • Schedule 1.5 hours for hair and makeup.
  • Always cushion your timeline with extra travel time between locations. This will give us an opportunity to make impromptu stops in case we spot a gorgeous location we didn’t know about!
  • To avoid crowds, especially in the summer, plan to elope on a weekday, or off season.

michigan elopement packages

What Kind of Activities Can we Plan for our Elopement?

If you’re eloping in the outdoors, Michigan elopements usually involve some kind of epic activities, from hiking, to camping, sailing, skiing or a canoe ride at the Pictured Rocks. Here is a great idea!

Michigan elopement timeline sample with golden hour vows in a canoe

2 pm – Couple getting ready photos 

– Photos of wedding attire, accessories, make-up touch up

3:30 pm Travel to location

4:00 pm Portrait session on the beach with coastline in the background

5:00 pm Charcuterie/cheese board snacks 

6:00 pm Toast with bubbly and cake

7:00 pm Launch canoe and paddle to location

7:15 pm Private vows in the canoe

8:00 pm First dance on the coast

9 pm Sunset photos

9:30 pm Fire on the beach



How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Michigan?

Elopements can cost as little as a couple of hundred dollars. The cost will depend on your overall plan for the day, your travel expenses, rental/hotel expenses, vendors (florist, hair and make-up artist, officiant, etc.) and the price for your elopement attire. The beauty of an elopement is in your own expression (which doesn’t correlate with how much you spend), and in crafting a day that feels natural to your relationship. 

Explore Michigan Elopement Packages:

Michigan elopement packages options start $2,999 and include:

5 – 10 hours of photography coverage

Unlimited elopement planning and consultation 

  • Includes a personalized elopement timeline 
  • Vendor recommendations 
  • Location expertise
  • Lodging research
  • Hike/Trail research

Hand-picked high-resolution files in a private online elopement gallery

Elopement digital slideshow

To get inspired, click here.

elope in michigan


Why should we book an all day Michigan elopement package?

Elopements are just as valuable, significant and precious as traditional weddings and you absolutely deserve to have your Michigan elopement day captured in a complete and authentic way! If you’re not planning to invite any guests to witness your elopement, your photographs are going to represent the only means of communicating how your entire day looked. Elopements are not styled photo shoots, or couples sessions that can be done in 2 hours. They are beautiful intimate wedding celebrations uniquely tailored to the couples’ vision. Your elopement day can be so much more epic that you can imagine right now!

pictured rocks national lakeshore lake superior

What Else do we Need to Know to Elope in Michigan?

Michigan elopement checklist:

  • Bouquet/hair piece and a boutonniere
  • Determine the time of the day and a specific setting (I am here to help)
  • Cake or desert
  • Champagne for an epic sunset shot
  • Optional: sparklers or wish lanterns
  • If you need more help, hire a planner for the day

What should I wear to my elopement?

If you’re planning an adventure elopement, you might be looking for a beautiful, flattering dress that will allow you to move freely without feeling constrained all day. You are most likely not wildly interested in a fairytale ballgown from a traditional bridal shop, but a gown that simply makes you feel you. The good news is that there are SO many options for incredible wedding dresses that will make you feel like a goddess without paying thousands. Here are some styles of dresses I compiled specifically for elopements.

elope in michigan

I can help with your elopement planning!

If you are game to choose less of a traditional approach to your wedding, I am not just a wedding photographer, who shows up with a set of standard poses:

1. I will help you craft an elopement day that truly reflects your personalities and your relationship;

2. I will get dirty with you if you choose to take me on an adventure;

3. I will guide you on this fully immersive and unforgettable experience;

4. I will be there to share jokes and stories and most importantly document your epic wedding day;

5. I will look at this day as a unique wedding experience, because you allowed me to witness your authentic connection through raw moments.


pictured rocks beach

Where to Elope in Michigan?

There are some truly gorgeous locations in Michigan’s lower and upper peninsulas, from beaches and dunes, to waterfalls and dramatic coastlines. After we settle on the vibe you’re going for and the type of terrain you enjoy exploring, I will start researching specific locations for your day. I use professional tools to map out hiking trails and to determine the best season and light during the day of your shoot. And if you are specifically interested in a hiking elopement this article will be great help!


michigan elopement packages

Top locations to elope in Michigan

Sleeping Bear Dunes, Empire

The Lake Michigan shore and the dunes is a staple location for amazing landscape shots. Ideal choice for eloping couples that want to reflect “Caribbean” atmosphere in their elopement photos, right here in Michigan. The sunsets are stunning and romantic. There are multiple different trails to explore for a one-of-a-kind adventure experience – overlooks, sand dunes or dune grass landscapes.

Turnip Rock, Port Austin

There are several sites along the shore near the Turnip Rock formation that provide a perfect landscape for an adventure engagement or elopement – from the water! The land is privately owned, so the rock formation can only be seen from a kayak or canoe, but the entire coastline provides a beautiful nature setting right here in Michigan. If you are into a true adventure, you can bring a canoe or rent one and decorate it with florals and do your elopement vows directly on the water. Once you paddle towards the Turnip rock, the water is shallow enough for you to stand up and have a sultry couples photo session!

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Upper Peninsula

Coastline of dramatic cliffs, gorgeous sandy beaches and turquoise waters is a dreamy setting from spring to fall. If you like the adventure of hiking the trails through woods, coastline and waterfall, or you just like to have a peaceful and private elopement ceremony on the beach, this area has it all! The landscape is so diverse, that you can transform your elopement day into an adventure of exploration on foot or in a kayak.

elope in michigan

Silver Lake Sand Dunes, Mears

Most of that state park is covered in pristine sugar-sand dunes, but the location also includes a four-mile beach at Lake Michigan, inland Silver Lake and wooded hiking trails. 

The dunes that reminisce of North African Sahara desert (but on the West side of Michigan!) lure visitors to explore its sandy peaks. Absolutely gorgeous spot for sunrise or sunset engagement photography sessions. Don’t forget to wear a long gown that will reflect the soft light and fly in the wind.

Presque Isle and Black Rocks, Marquette

Is my go to location in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, because it reminds me of the lava coastline of the Big Island in Hawaii. The stunning unique landscape features large boulders, magical coves and pine forests. It is an adventure playground for a free spirited couple that likes to explore new landscapes. I recommend visiting in September, as the summer in this location might be quite busy with tourists and cliff jumping enthusiasts. 

Other beautiful locations to elope in Michigan:

Porcupine Mountains, White Pine, MI

Sugarloaf Mountain, Upper Peninsula, MI

Traverse City, MI

Manistee, MI

Holland and Saugatuck, MI

Manistique, MI

Here are some ideas for an Airbnb elopement if you are considering inviting a small circle of your closest people. 


michigan wedding photographer

On the day of your elopement:

Have fun

Be present

Don’t forget to eat and drink plenty of water

Focus on the connection with your partner

Enjoy every minute of this epic adventure!



michigan wedding photographerHi, lovely, I am Yana! When you book me as your Michigan elopement photographer, you’re also booking my knowledge of stunning locations in the lower and upper peninsulas of Michigan. But that’s not all. I spend hours scouting new locations, researching activities and vetting vendors to be able to provide my expertise for a unique experience. I will also become your sounding board to consult ideas about your dream elopement adventure. Through all of this, we will most likely become friends and I will silently shed a tear hiding behind my camera when I witness you exchange your vows with your one and only.  To book your complimentary consultation and chat about your Michigan elopement planning with me, fill out the form below.