Documenting all love stories near or far

Shelby Jane

December 30, 2022

Best Places to Elope in the Midwest

FILED IN: Elopement

While it may not be your first thought when it comes to elopements, trust me the Midwest is incredibly underrated. There’s so much natural beauty throughout the states in this region as well as a ton of charm in the towns & cities you’ll find across the states. That’s what made me want to put together this list of a few of my top places for you to consider eloping throughout the Midwest!

Elopement Requirements in the Midwest

One quick thing to note before you get too deep into your elopement planning is to check out the requirements for the county you plan to elope in.  When it comes to eloping in the Midwest, each state for the most part has similar requirements.  You’ll need to pay a fee for your marriage license, you will need a witness, & then you will need an officiant to conduct the marriage ceremony. Requirements can vary from county to county though so be sure to do your research beforehand.

Best Times of the Year to Elope in the Midwest

The Midwest has a wide range of temperatures depending on how far north you are & how close you are to Lake Michigan & Lake Superior.  Sit down with your partner & think through what kind of experience you hope to have for your elopement & what you hope your backdrop for your wedding day to look like.  The great thing about the Midwest though is that you get the best of all of the seasons.  Hot summer days, colorful autumns, snowy winters & luscious green springs.  There is no wrong answer when you’re eloping in the Midwest, so think through what you would like your elopement day to look like & then start planning around that!

Places to Elope in the Midwest


My home state of Indiana has SO many beautiful locations for eloping & adventuring.  One of the best parts about eloping in Indiana is that there is the perfect blend of urban, small town, & adventurous experiences that can create an epic elopement for you & your partner.  Whether you want to go on a ten mile hike to an epic hill top, or walk to your favorite forest preserve 10 minutes outside of Indy there are plenty of options for everyone.

Where to Elope in Indiana

Indiana Dunes

Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, the Indiana Dunes have so many scenic views & make for the perfect backdrop to your Midwest elopement.  Though they are very popular in peak season, a sunrise elopement ceremony or an off-season elopement are always great options for setting up an intimate experience for your day.  There are SO many great trails & various locations at the Indiana Dunes that are great for your ceremony as well as an adventure to kick off your elopement day!

Permits: According to the National Parks Service, regardless of the size of the wedding or elopement, there is a permit requirement for eloping at the Indiana Dunes National Park.  To apply for a permit, you can head to their website,, & call the number listed.  There will be a $65 application fee & then depending on the size of your elopement or event, there could end up being additional charges.

Brown County State Park

Located in the center of the state, Brown County State park is known for its beautiful colors in the fall, scenic lake views, & endless recreation.  Brown County State Park even offers cabins & other styles of stays on the premises, perfect if you plan to elope with your closest family & friends.

Permits: There aren’t any details listed on the website that mention permits needed for elopement ceremonies, however, if you do plan to have guests at your wedding ceremony I highly recommend calling the park office/reservation office to be sure you are following all of the parks guidelines when planning your elopement.

Hemlock Cliffs in Hoosier National Forest

Hoosier National Forest is a vast forest full of rolling hills, hiking trails & beautiful views.  The Hemlock Cliffs specifically are located on a short loop trail. The cliffs are created by a slot canyon & surrounded by beautiful trees.  This is a great & moderately easy hike that makes for a beautiful elopement backdrop.

Permits: To elope in Hoosier National Forest you will need to apply for a special use permit.  You can find more information on how to apply for a special use permit here.

More Locations to Check Out for Your Indiana Elopement

Shades State Park, McCormick Creek State Park, Cataract Falls, Eagle Creek Park, Pokagon State Park, Clifty Falls State Park, an Airbnb, & SO many more!

For more resources & inspiration on eloping in Indiana check out some of my past blogs:

How to Elope in Indiana, Indiana Dunes Engagement Session, Winter Indiana Dunes Engagement Session, Brown County State Park Engagement Session


Located on the easternmost side of the Midwest sits Ohio.  Ohio has the best of both worlds, & is home to some of the coolest cities such as Cincinnati, Cleveland & Columbus, along with some beautiful state parks & beaches sitting on Lake Eerie. Ohio has a ton going for it & is a great option for a Midwest elopement no matter what you’re looking for.

Where to Elope in Ohio

Headlands Beach

This unique peninsula located on Lake Erie is a beautiful & scenic forest preserve perfect for your elopement.  Walk along the sandy beaches surrounded by the beautiful lake views for an elopement day where you can take in all the beauty the Midwest has to offer.

Permits: I couldn’t find any info for permit requirements through their website, so I do recommend reaching out as you start planning your wedding day. Plan on a permit being a requirement though with an application process & get that process started early if that is the case.

Hocking Hills

South East of Columbus sits Hocking Hills state park.  This fairly popular Midwest tourist destination is a beautiful place to plan your elopement whether you want to make it a day trip or stay for the full weekend.  Hocking Hills has cabins & cottages you can rent for the weekend to spend time with your closest friends before or after your elopement.

Permits: There is a permit requirement to elope at Hocking Hills as well as a minimal fee to pay. To get that process started head to their site here where you’ll be able to get your application underway.

More Locations to Check Out for Your Ohio Elopement

Squires Castle, Buzzards Roost Nature Preserve, Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve


Wisconsin is home to arguably some of the coolest rock formations & lake shores in the US.  The state sits on the edge of Lake Michigan & slightly touches Lake Superior at the northernmost point of the state.  The state is full of so many unique locations & adventures all throughout & is a perfect choice when it comes to an elopement in the Midwest.

Where to Elope in Wisconsin

The Apostle Islands

Located on the northernmost tip of Wisconsin, the Apostle Islands sit in Lake Superior & are home to some of the most breathtaking views Wisconsin has to offer.  The lakeshore consists of rocky shore lines, beautiful beach views, underwater caves & SO much more.  There are places to stay inland as well as a few stays on the islands themselves.

Permits: There is a permit requirement to have your ceremony at the Apostle Islands which you can find more info on here. There is a $50 fee that goes along with the application that can be paid either via cash or check or over the phone with a credit card.

Devils Lake

Just south of the Wisconsin Dells sits a beautiful state park in Baraboo Wisconsin.  Devils Lake is surrounded by a variety of trails that wind through the beaches as well as a variety of bluffs that line the lake.  The bluff trails are rather steep but the views make it WELL worth it.

Permits: I was unable to find any permits required for eloping in the state park so you’ll have to reach out for more info directly. You will need a vehicle admission sticker to enter the park which you can purchase through this link here.

Taken by Dave Hoefler, sourced from Unsplash
Taken by Gabriel Meine, sourced from Unsplash

Peninsula State Park, Door County

Door County Wisconsin is full of endless scenic landscapes & so many outdoor activities giving your elopement that true authentic Midwest feel.  Located on a peninsula that juts out into Lake Michigan, Peninsula state park is known for its rocky lakeshores & beautiful trees in the fall.  Peninsula state park is a BEAUTIFUL backdrop for your elopement in all seasons.

Permits: There are no permit requirements to have your ceremony unless you plan to use one of the park’s facilities, in which case you’ll have to contact the park directly. There again is a vehicle admission sticker for park entry though!

The Dells & Mirror Lake State Park

The Wisconsin Dells might be known for its waterparks & other kitschy attractions, but the Dells & its surrounding areas have SO much to offer when it comes to scenic locations. Mirror Lake is one of these incredible locations & makes for the perfect option for your elopement.

Permits: Similar to Peninsula State Park there is no permit requirement unless you plan to use one of the facilities in Mirror Lake State Park for your ceremony. The vehicle admission sticker is still required though!


As close as you can get to being in the Pacific Northwest without leaving the Midwest is Minnesota.  The people are friendly, nature is blooming & beautiful, & there are SO many cool places to elope in the northmost Midwest state.

Where to Elope in Minnesota

The North Shore of Minnesota

The Duluth area & north shore of Minnesota honestly feels like it shouldn’t belong in the Midwest.  With its rocky shores, & views of Lake Superior, in the summers you feel like you might be off in the Pacific Northwest or something similar.  If you want the cute small town feel mixed with Midwest adventure for your elopement, the north shore of MN is for you.  

Permits: There are a TON of different parks & trails along the North Shore which each have their own requirements for eloping there, so be sure to reach out beforehand. 

Interstate Park

Located on the border of Minnesota & Wisconsin, Interstate park is the perfect easy hike for an elopement.  With the hike only being about a half of a mile to the falls & a fairly popular destination, it is the perfect location for couples who want beautiful natural Midwest views but don’t want to spend half of their elopement day exploring the trails.

Permits: I could not find any info on permit requirements on the park’s website. It being on the border of Minnesota & Wisconsin puts it in an interesting spot as well so reach out for more info as you plan your elopement.

More Locations to Check Out for Your Minnesota Elopement

Gooseberry Falls State Park, Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, Minnehaha Falls, Voyageurs National Park


Michigan has so much going for it in terms of natural beauty. Being practically surrounded by the Great Lakes & with plenty of forests & natural parks throughout the state it’s easy to see why it’s such a great Midwest state for an elopement.

Where to Elope in Michigan

Hocking Hills

Known for its lengthy hiking trails, rock formations, waterfalls & some epic caves, Hocking Hills is such a cool place to plan your elopement at.  Hocking Hills is located in the southeast region of Michigan & is an extremely popular destination.  If you do plan to elope here, I recommend planning your elopement on a weekday or another time when crowds are on the lower side.

Permits: There is a permit requirement in order to elope at Hocking Hills which their site gives a full breakdown of here!

Turkey Run

Turkey Run State Park is located on the west side of the state & is known for its breathtaking trees in the fall, rolling hills, camping & slot canyon-style rock structures.  This park really has it all in terms of beauty & makes for an incredible location for a Midwest elopement!

Permits: I couldn’t find any definitive info on whether a permit is required or not outside of using their facilities, so best to check with the park directly if a permit is required for eloping while on the trails of the park.

For more resources & inspiration on eloping in Michigan check out some of my past blogs:

How to Elope in Michigan


Illinois is home to so much more than just Chicago & farmland! There is a TON of gorgeous spaces throughout the state perfect for an elopement with that Midwest feeling to them.

Where to Elope in Illinois

Matthiessen & Starved Rock State Parks

Matthiessen & Starved Rock State Parks are some of the most popular destinations for couples & others in Illinois to spend their summer.  The parks are only located about a 5 minute drive from one another.  Both are also equipped with waterfalls, moderate & easy hiking trails, & so much more!

Permits: Both parks require an activity permit before your elopement can take place.  

Rock Cut State Park

Rock Cut State Park is located in Chicago’s northwest suburbs & it is such a beautiful spot to plan an elopement.  Equipped with a beach on the lake in the center of the park, ENDLESS tall trees & beautiful spaces that are perfect for hosting your Midwest elopement.

Permits: While I couldn’t find any info on their site I suspect that Rock Cut has similar requirements to Matthiessen & Starved Rock when it comes to elopements in the park, check with their office to be sure though!

More Locations to Check Out for Your Illinois Elopement

North Avenue Beach, St. James Forest Preserve, and Rock Cut State Park


Even though Tennessee isn’t technically a part of the Midwest I wanted to include it in this list as it has some of THE best locations for elopements in the US. Arguably one of the most underrated states in the country in terms of outdoor adventures, Tennessee is home to so many epic state & national parks.  Lined with the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, 12 other national parks & over 50 state parks, Tennessee has so many beautiful outdoor spaces. 

Where to Elope in Tennessee 

Taken by Sarah Swainson sourced from Unsplash

Fall Creek Falls State Park

This beautiful state park in Tennessee is number 7 for best trails in the US by the Alltrails database.  There are SO many trails with views of the iconic falls that range from .5 a mile to 3 miles of hiking.  Most of the hikes range from easy to moderate in terms of difficulty level, & all have beautiful views.  

Permits: Be sure to check with the park directly by calling their main office.  Depending on the location you hope to elope at, & how many people you plan to have present & any set up you hope to have, you may need a permit..  

Roan Mountain State Park

With 360 degree mountain views, Roan Mountain State park might be the place for you.  This state park is known for its moderate hikes, with beautiful scenic 360 degree views.  Roan Mountain State park is beautiful in all of the seasons, but if you do want to elope in the winter, you will want to make sure you stay up to date with road closures.

Permits: Be sure to check with the park directly by calling their main office.  Depending on the location you hope to elope at, & how many people you plan to have present & any set up you hope to have, you may need a permit.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Some of the most famous mountains in the US, the Great Smoky Mountains line the edge of Tennessee & North Carolina.  These gorgeous mountains are pretty popular but if you go during the week or in off-season you can avoid some of the crowds!

Permits:  There is a permit needed to elope in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, & at least a $50 application fee.  The website suggests that you apply at least two weeks in advance but I highly recommend starting your application process at least 90 days out from your elopement date.

Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain & more specifically, Sunset Rock are located on the Tennessee side of the Tennessee & Georgia border. One of the best & most scenic views you can find in the US this spot is a dream location for any adventurous couple’s elopement!

Permits:  Be sure to check with the park directly by calling their main office.  Depending on the location you hope to elope at, & how many people you plan to have present & any set up you hope to have, you may need a permit.

More Locations to Check Out for Your Tennessee Elopement

Obed, Big South Fork, Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Duck River, & SO many more.

More Resources & Inspiration for Eloping in Tennessee

A Guide to National Park Elopements, The Ultimate Elopement Planning Checklist

That covers all of my absolute favorite elopement locations throughout the Midwest. This list by no means covers all the incredible locations the Midwest has to offer though, as there are quite literally too many to name! If this list got you excited to plan your elopement I’d love to hear from you & be a part of your elopement day. Head to my contact page to send me an inquiry & we can start planning your elopement day together!