North Shore, Minnesota summer elopement

Is there anything more idyllic than spending a warm summer’s day perusing the shores of Lake Superior, followed by a cozy bonfire beneath towering pines and a sky full of glistening stars? While I might be biased, as a Minnesota Elopement and Intimate Wedding Photographer, I don’t think a more serene image exists. Well…maybe if you throw in an elopement somewhere in that warm summer’s day! A North Shore, Minnesota Summer elopement is an experience unlike any other. Whether you’re planning a 2024 North Shore summer elopement or are looking ahead, I’m here to walk you through how to plan your perfect day.

Table of Contents:

  1. Pros & Cons of a Summer Elopement in Minnesota
  2. Preparing for Your North Shore Summer Elopement
  3. Best North Shore Summer Elopement Locations
    • Duluth
    • Two Harbors
    • Silver Bay
    • Lutsen
    • Schroeder
    • Grand Marais/BWCA
    • Grand Portage
    • Isle Royale National Park
North Shore, Minnesota summer elopement

Pros of a North Shore Summer Elopement

Underrated, Unique Elopement Locations

I’m a firm believer that Minnesota’s North Shore should be on every list of the most underrated, unique elopement destinations. But I will say: I’m glad that it’s still a hidden gem for so many folks! The number of picturesque views along the North Shore are endless. The overall diversity in terrain makes for a well-rounded experience. Within a short drive, you can experience the lakeshore, dramatic cliffs, lush forests, mountain tops, and sprawling fields. 

Reliable Weather

Ask any Minnesotan: we love our summers. Our state motto could literally be, “Don’t like the weather? Wait 5 minutes and it’ll change”. And while there are definitely times of unpredictability with any season, Summer in Minnesota is reliably warm and sunny. 

It’s important to note, however, the vast difference in temperature (and conditions) from Duluth to Grand Marais. If you are planning to elope along Lake Superior, make sure to keep tabs on your specific location’s weather. Or if you’re spending time further inland, know that it’ll be warmer than the shore (due to the breeze off Lake Superior). 

Opportunity for Outdoor Activities

Summertime in Minnesota is the best time to take advantage of the warm temperatures, accessible trails, and water activities. If you’re planning a North Shore elopement, odds are: you’re an adventurous couple. There’s no shortage of activities to keep you busy after the “I do’s” have been said. From kayaking to hiking, fishing to swimming, and everything in between… 

Cons of a North Shore Summer Elopement

Heat + Humidity

You had to have seen this one coming! While the weather in Minnesota is reliable, it’s not always pleasant. Our other state motto could be, “it wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for the humidity”. While the air temperature may not feel too bad, the humidity makes the air thick. However, if you stay by the water and are properly prepared, you’ll still have the best elopement! Take your time if you’re planning on embarking on a hike, keep hydrated, and leave some time to sit by the lake to cool off!

Mosquito Season

Mosquitoes are just a part of the “package” when it comes to eloping in Minnesota. Depending where you plan to elope, I couldn’t recommend bug spray enough. While mosquitoes won’t ruin your nuptials, they can definitely put a damper on the experience if not properly prepared. Mosquitoes (and other bugs) are typically most active from dusk to dawn. Utilizing bug spray, avoiding stagnant water or marshy areas, avoiding peak time, and dressing appropriately can drastically mitigate bites from those pesky guys! 

Tourism

Spoiler alert: if the weather is nice, it’s going to be busy. Odds are, if you’re from out of state, vacationing to Minnesota during the colder months couldn’t be further from your mind. Similarly, the North Shore is a vacation destination for many folks throughout the state (and beyond). With ample outdoor activity opportunities, it’s no wonder why! When selecting a date for your elopement, make sure to consult with your photographer or planner. 

How to Prepare for Your North Shore Elopement

Do Your Research

When you are in the early stages of elopement planning, take your time doing your research on locations. Is it important to you to be close to coffee shops and restaurants? Do you prefer to be tucked away in a serene, secluded area? Is hiking or being near the water important? Make sure to also take into account the average precipitation and temperatures if outdoor activities are important to you. Some trails could be covered in mud, or even closed due to high water levels.

Invest in an Experienced Photographer

Investing in an experienced photographer along the North Shore is the key to ensuring you have an unforgettable elopement. Working alongside a photographer who is familiar with the area, frequent road closures, busiest times of the day, etc. is invaluable. The last thing you want for your elopement day is to stress about finding an alternative route or your family being able to make their way to your vacation rental.

Be Flexible

No matter where you’re eloping, having backup plans will give you peace of mind. While you definitely don’t want to plan for a disaster, you’ll find comfort knowing that in the event of a road closure, unexpected gale force winds, or a wardrobe malfunction, you have a backup plan (or two).

Packing for a Summer Elopement

No matter what research you’ve done, what vendors you hire, or how prepared you think you may be, having appropriate gear will set your day up for success. Whether you’re planning on hiking 7 miles around Bean and Bear, or you’re going on a leisurely stroll, packing appropriately for your North Shore elopement will keep you safe.

  • First-Aid Kit
  • Sun Protection
  • Water (Highly recommend a Camelback)
  • Electrolyte Packets
  • Snacks (Jerky, protein bars, trail mix, etc.)
  • Headlamps/flashlights
  • Bear Spray
  • Bug Spray
  • Extra pair of socks
  • Extra shoes/boots
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Swimsuit
  • Towel
Lake Superior Elopement locations

Best Places to Elope on Minnesota’s North Shore

Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth is the first city on the North Shore before entering Highway 61 to the North Shore. With a population just below 90,000, it’s the largest city along the shore. Offering dining experiences, unique shops, accommodations, breweries, and more, there’s plenty to occupy your time. Beyond the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge, there are beaches, trails, and historic places to visit.

Two Harbors, Minnesota

Two Harbors is known as a “sister city” with Grand Marais, but is located just beyond Duluth. It has the perfect little small town feel, but still has lots to offer. Just 15 minutes North of downtown Two Harbors is the fan-favorite Gooseberry Falls. If you value a quaint, Hallmark-esque town, Two Harbors is best elopement location for you!

Silver Bay, Minnesota

Don’t knock this town! Silver Bay is an industrial taconite mining town with a small population. But it is home to some of the most iconic, beautiful North Shore destinations:

  • Black Beach
  • Palisade Head
  • Tettegouche State Park

Lutsen, Minnesota

Lutsen is the perfect Minnesota elopement location for those craving the mountain vibes. Believe it or not, Northern Minnesota is home to the Sawtooth Mountain Range. Oberg Mountain has a loop trail for hiking, but Spirit Mountain has a gondola ride to the top of the mountain! Both mountains offer incredible views and an unforgettable experience.

Minnesota elopement photographer Payton Rademacher Photography

Schroeder, Minnesota

Temperance River State Park is truly such an underrated state park with ample hiking. With the most beautiful bridge above a waterfall plunging below, I’ve always wanted to photograph an adventurous elopement in that very spot. Schroeder definitely has some Pacific Northwest/Twilight vibes with the peaceful, serene views.

Grand Marias/BWCA

I might be a tad biased, but Grand Marais is literally my favorite town in the entire state of Minnesota. Another “small town vibes” kinda town, just booming with the kindest locals. There are tons of campgrounds, resorts, and vacation rentals. Grand Marais is also the gateway to the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness with thousands of acres of wilderness and scenic vows. This area is perfect for those who value privacy and a slower pace.

Grand Portage, Minnesota

Another underrated location, Grand Portage has the highest waterfall in Minnesota! Not only that, but it is easily accessible and nestled near the Canadian Border. I highly recommend taking a little stop at Hollow Rock on the way to Grand Portage to take a peek at a unique natural rock formation.

Isle Royal National Park

I know, I know. Isle Royal National Park isn’t technically a Minnesota national park. However, geographically, the island is closer to Minnesota than the state in which it belongs to (Michigan). Isle Royal National Park is the biggest island on Lake Superior and is full of car-free wilderness just waiting to be explored. Plus, there’s a museum, lighthouse, and dive sites with several shipwrecks. It’s truly such a unique elopement destination.

Where to elope in Minnesota

North Shore, Minnesota Elopement Photographer | Payton Rademacher Photography

Now that you are prepared for your own dreamy North Shore, Minnesota summer elopement, you’re ready to watch your dreams become a reality. But if you’re still on the lookout for some more Minnesota elopement resources, you can check out the blog for additional planning tips and inspiration. Ready to get this party started?! Let’s connect!

And as always, you can keep up with my latest Minnesota adventures over on Instagram (@paytonrademacherphoto). 🫶🏻

  1. Minnesota is so underrated for elopements! This is so cool!

  2. Rachel says:

    These are absolutely stunning! And love how you deep dive into the topic of eloping not near the coasts! This is so good!!

  3. So many great ideas!! Loved reading them all!

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