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How to plan elopement in minnesota in the north shores

Wedding Education

How to Plan a North Shore Elopement

February 10, 2023

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Thinking an elopement might be perfect and dreamy for your wedding, but unsure where to start with how to plan an elopement? Not to worry, it’s me! Your friendly MN elopement photographer, Jess! Today, I’m sharing some amazing tips (and gorgeous elopement inspo photos) to help with how to plan a North Shore elopement in Minnesota! 

Wedding planning can definitely feel like a LOT (let’s be real)! And that’s why you might be considering an elopement in the first place! I mean, if you’d rather plan a wedding day adventure over choosing table decor and deciding what to feed 150 of your closest friends and family, an intimate wedding surrounded by nature and with your partner is just the thing!

To elope used to mean popping over to the Courthouse or rushing off to Vegas with a few people (maybe), a quick ceremony, no photos, and no celebration of the new life you’ve committed to creating together. Flash forward to what an elopement for couples can mean now, an intimate setting with close family and friends, gorgeous wedding photos to look at for years to come, and a celebration full of memories that will last a lifetime! 

If you’re thinking of planning an elopement wedding ceremony in the North Shore, Tofte Minnesota then read on for my awesome wedding planning tips! Also, stick around till the end when I share some exciting news about elopement photo sessions I’m planning for.

When thinking how to plan a elopment this post dives into helpful information so you can look like this couple standing embraced after their elopement ceremony. Couple standing together in wedding attire.


Elopements are becoming more popular and are in the top wedding trends for 2023 and 2024. Why might you ask? Well, there are quite a few reasons. 

First, couples are redefining wedding budgets and where their priorities are with weddings. With a traditional wedding, it’s often you can find the venue, meals, alcohol, and décor can be the main parts of your budget. With a more intimate wedding, more of the focus can be on what makes your day special to you (as a couple) and sharing those experiences. In a smaller wedding, the main parts of your budget could consist of wedding photography, experiences at your wedding, meals, and alcohol.

Second, couples want to have more intimate weddings. I bet we all remember attending those weddings growing up where you were meeting a bunch of people for the first time at a wedding. At times, these weddings felt a bit like family reunions! Now, couples want to focus on spending quality time with guests. This means instead of having 200+ people you must meet and chat with, couples are wanting a smaller wedding where you can spend quality time with the closest people in their life.

Lastly, and my personal favorite reason, couples don’t want to do it “the way it’s always been done”. Couples want their money to go towards shared experiences, saving for a home or family, and travel. 

Why the North Shore in Minnesota?

It is gorgeous! Need I say more? 

The North Shore refers to the shores of Lake Superior, one of five great lakes in North America. It is absolutely breathtaking to see and spend time near. There is so much to do on the North Shore, from shopping, dining, museums, beaches, lighthouses, state parks, and cliffs! Truly, it’s a magical area that is filled with endless possibilities perfect for a custom and unique elopement! Want some more ideas of what can be found on the north shore, give a look at the attractions list here

Minnesota Elopement Inspiration

As promised, here’s some dreamy wedding photography of a gorgeous couple who eloped in Minnesota! Don’t these vibes just make you want to skip the traditional wedding and jump straight to laughing, happy crying, and celebrating with friends? 

Outdoor Tofte Elopement Locations

When thinking about your elopement which is drama-free, stress-free, and intimate you know what comes to mind? Nature and being outdoors. If you often find yourself scrolling around Pinterest looking at gorgeous sunrise and sunset outdoor wedding images – then my friend, I think an outdoor elopement could be perfect for you! The Tofte township in Minnesota makes for a gorgeous space to plan an outdoor elopement and there are several gorgeous backdrops. 

With an outdoor wedding, you can add your own spark and make it creative. I’ve seen couples in the past want to do hiking elopements, cliff elopements, and forest elopements. If this sounds like you and your fiancé – then a Tofte Elopement could be perfect for you.

Here are some incredible venues to check out if you’re looking to plan a North Shore elopement outdoors.

  • Chateau LeVeaux On Lake Superior
  • Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior
  • Palisade Head
  • Black Sand Beach
  • Lake Outlooks on the Superior Hiking Trail
  • Hidden Waterfalls on the Superior Hiking Trail

How to plan elopement and make the day special

When getting married, you want your day to be special. Here are some simple ways to make your day unique once you’ve gotten the administrative side covered, such as marriage license, wedding venues, elopement announcements, etc. 

Make it your own!

Bring in your own elements to your wedding day, like Kristin and Rick! They even brought their dog, Goku, to their elopement. Like most pets, Goku is an important part of Kristin and Rick’s family, so of course they wanted him to be there to celebrate. He was definitely a show-stealer! This is one of my favorite things about elopements, the personalization! It allows you the flexibility to plan a truly unique day while celebrating your love. 

Small Guest List!

Making your day special starts with sharing it with those special people in your life! With elopements, you can have a very small guest list that gives you an intimate wedding. For Kristin and Rick, they had only 10 people at their wedding and it was a truly cozy and warm environment sharing it with those they are closest to. It provided them with so many beautiful and unforgettable moments: talking, laughing, and crying as they shared memories, stories, and experiences at their wedding table. 

Did someone say activities?

Plan elopement activities that you love! These can be part of your elopement ceremony, or you can do them post-elopement! Such as:

  • Go Exploring
  • Have a picnic
  • Build a campfire
  • Enjoy a hot air balloon ride
  • Rent a boat, kayak, or canoe
  • Go rock climbing
  • Go horseback riding
  • Reading poetry
  • Painting
  • Grab a shovel and plant a tree together
  • Watching the stars
  • Have fun with games and activities
  • Taking time to read family letters
  • Tour a winery
  • Go skiing
  • Take a ride in a helicopter
  • Sing songs or play instruments
  • Blow bubbles
  • Take a walk on a beach
  • Take a drive  in a vintage car
  • Go ziplining
Image of a boat decorated with Just Married signs!

How to plan your elopement: the checklist

If you’re planning to elope here are some of the basics to help you plan your dream wedding day. The elopement process can appear from a distance to be daunting to some couples, but I assure you we’ll keep it simple today and break it down to help you with focusing on creating a beautiful wedding day. This checklist is a suggestion of ideas to help you with the elopement process, I encourage you to make your day yours! This means that I want you to feel like you have the freedom to be yourselves and plan a truly authentic wedding. 

Elopement Checklist

  1. Create a budget.
  2. Create a guest list (if you want guests at all).
  3. Brainstorm your ideal locations and dates.
  4. Find a location for your ceremony and reception.
    1. Understand eloping in your location (more info can be found here)
  5. Hire a photographer/videographer.
  6. Determine officiant/witnesses. 
  7. Hire other vendors (flowers, food…etc.)
  8. Book Travel and Accommodations.
  9. Buy Attire for your elopement. 
  10. Have the BEST DAY EVER!
Bride and Groom kissing under a veil at their minnesota wedding.

Elopement Wedding Photos

Phew – we’ve covered a lot! I hope this gave you a sneak peek idea of what can happen when thinking about how to plan a North Shore engagement! When it comes to how to plan an elopement, wedding photography is an important part of making sure the story of your day is carefully created and captured.

I love to work with couples who are thinking of planning their own elopement wedding, especially in Minnesota. In August (2023), I’m planning on holding a week of elopements in Tofte, Minnesota! Interested in learning more – let’s get in touch! You can also stay up to date by following me on Instagram — can’t wait to see you there!

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It's Jess!

Passionate about celebrating relationships between partners and between us and our home, Earth.

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