How to Elope in Michigan - sparrowsongcollective.com

How to Elope in Michigan

Michigan is a crown jewel of the Midwest, and offers so many beautiful places to elope! If you’re interested in eloping in Michigan, but aren’t sure where to start, this blog is the perfect guide for you on how to elope in Michigan start to finish.

This Manistee Forest elopement in Michigan is purely magical

Brainstorming Ideas

The first step to elope in Michigan in general is to brainstorm ideas and inspiration. I *highly* recommend sitting down together and answering the following questions in a notebook. Writing down your answers is statistically proven to help organize thoughts and retain information better as well!

What does a typical shared day off look like for the two of you?

What hobbies / interests do you share? How could you incorporate some of these into your elopement day?

What is something you are looking forward to most on your elopement day?

What is an activity or something on your bucket list you’ve always wanted to try?

Don’t worry if the vision is fuzzy at first, or about the little details. It’s okay if you just have a vague idea! If you need more ideas for activities during your elopement, check out our blog post: Elopement Activities for a Unique Experience.

Picking a Location and Date

With elopements, you don’t have to pick a date before a location, but they do tend to go hand in hand! We suggest starting with what time of year you want. These are some good questions to ask on how to elope in Michigan and picking a location/date:

Do you prefer colder temperatures or warmer temperatures?

Is there a specific season you want to elope in? (i.e. fall elopement with autumn color)

Now also consider general location. Say you want a fall elopement in Michigan. Early October in the Upper Peninsula will have peak fall color, whereas the same time in lower Michigan will have more greenery still.

Michigan has endless locations and scenery, so the world is your oyster with location possibilities (or should I say, the state of Michigan is your oyster!) I do location scouting for all my couples, and these are just a few questions I ask when it comes to narrowing down a specific location.

What scenery do you envision for your day? (such as waterfalls, dunes, the beach, forests, lighthouses etc.)

How much hiking do you want to do? Would you prefer a location that doesn’t require a lot of walking?

Is there someplace in Michigan you’ve always wanted to visit?

Again, don’t get too lost in the details here! We’ve worked with couples who hire us before even choosing a date or location, and it’s totally okay if you just have a general idea. Location scouting is something I do for every elopement couple, including different trail distances and difficulty, what permits are required for photography, Leave No Trace principles to follow, lighting and so much more. (And I include photos of every recommended location in your custom tailored location scouting guide, because it’s easier to get an idea of what your day could look like with visuals!)

Hire a Photographer and Vendors

The beauty of elopements is you can start hiring a photographer and vendors before you have a solid date or location yet. We love being able to bring clarity to your elopement vision, and help you decide on the perfect date and location. This also allows us to have more flexibility in our elopement schedules so we can better serve you as well! If you already have a location and date set in stone, reach out and there’s still a chance we’re available. We know planning any event can be stressful at times, which is why we’re here to guide you on how to elope in Michigan!

We really stress the importance of hiring a photographer that you really connect with! It’s a privilege to document your day and we want you to feel comfortable and in a space of peace and unconditional love on your elopement day. Which is why we focus on cultivating relationships with our couples, so instead of feeling like a stranger is photographing you, it’ll feel like an old friend you can be yourself with.

Elopements may not often have as many vendors as traditional weddings, but this allows you to hire high quality vendors that are passionate for giving you an incredible experience. Some vendors you can hire to make your day extra special are:

Officiant

Florist

Hair / Makeup artist

Intimate wedding decor

Private Chef or catering

Airbnbs / lodging

Desserts / cake

We also have a list of Michigan vendors we recommend, that will help bring your elopement vision to life!

Marriage laws

It’s so important to know the legalities of how to elope in Michigan, so we made it simple and compiled all the info you need to know here! If you plan on legally marrying in Michigan, the following is required to be legally married:

  • You must be 18 years of age to apply for a marriage application in Michigan.
  • To get married in Michigan, couples must apply in person, with current valid driver’s license or state I.D. to obtain a marriage license from the County Clerk of the County in which either applicant resides.
  • The marriage license fee is $20.00 for residents of Michigan and $30 for non-residents.
  • There is a three-day waiting period after the application before the license may be issued and used.
  • Michigan requires two witnesses (who must be at least 18 years of age).
  • A Michigan Marriage license is valid for 33 days, so be sure to apply within that time frame before your elopement.
  • Any couple regardless of sex, religion or other may be married legally in Michigan.

If you are a Michigan resident, you must apply in the county where you live.  If both parties are Michigan residents, you may apply in either county.  The license is valid throughout the state.

If both parties are out-of-state residents, you must apply in the county where you are going to be married, as the license is valid in that county only.

Officiants

Myself and Jake are both ordained and can legally marry you in any state, so if you want to keep your elopement as small as possible, we would be more than happy to officiate for you and sign forms as well! Or if you need recommendations for officiants, we would love to send some your way. Michigan also requires two witnesses, which you can either have us sign for, or have passing by hikers sign for as well! If you have me officiate, I won’t able to sign as a witness, so this is a fun alternative, and passing hikers always get excited and love to sign as a witness!

Michigan is NOT a self-solemnizing state, so you cannot marry yourself and must have an ordained officiant to legally marry.

Doing the Legal Stuff before / after

If you don’t want to mess with paperwork and legalities the day of your elopement, you can always do so before or after as well! You can hire an officiant to meet with and fill out the paperwork, or you can go to a courthouse and have a civil ceremony (where a judge legally marries you) and fill out the paperwork so it’s legally official. Both these options can be done before or after, so your real ceremony can focus on you two, your vows, and just enjoying the experience together. These are great options if you want a totally private elopement day without worrying about paperwork.

Getting legally married outside Michigan

Every state has varying laws and requirements for getting married. If you want to elope in Michigan but legally marry in a different state, these are some important things to research:

  • How to obtain a marriage license where you live
  • ID requirements
  • Is there a waiting period after you apply / obtain a marriage license?
  • What are all the fees?
  • Do you need witnesses to sign your marriage license?
  • How does your marriage license get recorded?
  • How do you get copies of your marriage certificate?

Have an incredible elopement experience!

Now that you know the details on how to elope, it’s time to make your dream a reality! This is a lot of information to take in, so take your time and send us a message for help with planning!

I’m deeply passionate about creating a peaceful place where you can be fully known and loved in the start of your marriage, and documenting your story in an honest and emotional way. We create art through a blend of photojournalism and cinematography, for those who want to take the road less traveled by. You deserve a wedding experience and photos that reflects your hearts. We’re so excited for you to celebrate your love in an authentic way and experience the beauty of Michigan!

Ready to start planning?

Hey! I'm Corinne, an adventure elopement + intimate wedding photographer based in Indiana, but documenting love stories across the U.S. I believe in documenting the start of your marriage in an honest and emotional way that reflects your legacy. So that you can look back on photos fifty years from now with the same emotions of the moment flooding back. Let's take the road less traveled by together and craft your dream wedding day!

When I'm not documenting sweet couples, I spend my days with my sweet husband, Jake, two kitty babies and a crazy dog in our hometown of Fort Wayne. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, hiking and finding new trails, and creating art.

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