How to Elope in Wisconsin

My home state, so I may be a little biased, but I love Wisconsin elopements! With an abundance of lakes, rivers, mountains, state parks, and quaint towns, anybody can find something to love in Wisconsin.
Outline map of Wisconsin

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Why is Wisconsin great for an elopement?

My home state Wisconsin offers plenty for the adventurous couple who want to experience their special day in the great outdoors. With the Great Lakes Superior and Michigan on the Eastern and Northern edge, and the Mississippi straddling the western border with Minnesota and Iowa, there are plenty of water themed activities to bring into your elopement or wedding. Wisconsin also offers plenty of Air B&Bs or Vrbos, as well as state parks, mountains, wineries and woodlands.

Some of my top recommendations for a Wisconsin elopement include Devil’s Lake State Park, which is one of the most popular spots to explore, with incredible 500-foot tall bluffs surrounding the lake and beaches and is the largest state park in Wisconsin. I know all kinds of hidden gems for private locations with the amazing bluffs to show off in the background. There’s also Madeline Island / Big Bay State Park, which you get to after a short ferry ride from Bayfield. It’s the largest of the Apostle Islands, though it isn’t part of the Apostle Island National Lakeshore. Explore the island together and enjoy kayaking through the sea caves or camping around beaches on Big Bay State Park. Door County is also a nice area for a ceremony, with 300 miles of shoreline, remarkable sea caves, tons of orchards and wineries, and five state parks!

For those who want something really different, you could use Lacrosse River Queens where you’ll be transported back in time to the early 1900s on board an authentic Mississippi River paddlewheel boat, one of very few still in operation in the USA. For those dreaming of a romantic cruise getaway surrounded by beautiful scenery, you can’t go wrong here.

The weather around here can be a bit unpredictable. Our summers are shorter than other places, but pleasant when they are here. It isn’t too hot, but we do get most of our rainfall from May – September. Winters are very cold, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get married outdoors. For some real excitement and adventure, why not incorporate some winter sports into your special day?


All states require a marriage license, so you need to ensure that you understand all of the requirements very early in the planning process. Luckily, it’s fairly straightforward in most cases as long as you meet the criteria and follow the state requirements.

Here is what you need to know about getting a marriage license in Wisconsin.

Is Same Sex Marriage Recognized?

Yes! Same sex marriage is recognized in all states, and at a federal level, under the Respect for Marriage Act which was signed into law in December 2022.

Will I Need to take a blood test?

No. Blood tests have been abolished as part of marriage license applications in all 50 states, so don’t worry if you’re afraid of needles!

Who Issues Marriage Licenses in Wisconsin?

Marriage licenses in Wisconsin are issued by the County Clerk’s office.

Do I Need to be a Resident of Wisconsin?

Both residents and non-residents may apply for a marriage license in Wisconsin. If you’re a resident, you must apply in the county where one or both of you live and take proof of residency to your appointment with the County Clerk. Non-residents should apply in the county where the marriage will take place.

Is there a waiting period to get married?

There is a 3 day waiting period to marry, and the date of application does not count. This means that you need to apply for a marriage license at least 4 full days before the wedding. Some counties may waive the waiting period in special circumstances. This is done at the discretion of the clerk, and usually incurs an extra fee of up to $25.

How long will my marriage license be valid for?

Marriage licenses issued in Wisconsin expire 60 days from the date of issuance.


To marry with no caveats, couples must be 18 or older. Those aged 16 or 17 may apply for a marriage license with parental consent.


Valid photo ID, such as a passport or driver’s license, is required as part of your marriage license application. You must also take a certified copy of your birth certificates, and you should know your social security number.


Fees for marriage licenses in Wisconsin vary from county to county, but typically expect to pay around $100 – $120.

On Your Wedding Day

Once you’ve gotten the admin out of the way, you can get to the part you’ve been dreaming of: the wedding ceremony!

As you’d expect, each state has different requirements to make a marriage legal. Make sure you follow the guide below to get your marriage legally recognized.

Will i need witnesses to the marriage?

Two witnesses to the marriage are required, as well as the officiant.


An officiant is required to solemnize a marriage in Wisconsin. Eligible individuals include: judges, appointed court commissioners or ordained ministers.

Those ordained by online ministries are able to officiate the wedding, which is a popular method to allow friends or family members to be your wedding officiant.


So that’s it, everything you need to know about eloping in Wisconsin. And if you think that it could be the place to host your special day, why not give me a call to chat about your wedding? I’m an experienced elopement photographer, and an ordained minister, so in most cases I can be your officiant too!

Planning an Elopement?

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