mackinac island elopement

Guide to Eloping on Mackinac Island

This is the complete guide to eloping on Mackinac Island, Michigan!

Mackinac Island is a very unique place, located on Lake Huron, where there are no motor vehicles allowed. You get around by walking, biking, or horse-drawn carriage. Visiting Mackinac Island is like taking a step back in time!

Jake and I got married on the island in 2018, and it’s such a special place to us. We absolutely love visiting Mackinac and capturing elopements on the island!

Whether you are just toying with the idea of eloping on Mackinac Island, or you’re knee-deep into the planning, this guide will help make the process simple and stress-free!

This guide is broken down into five steps for eloping on Mackinac Island:

  1. Narrow down your date
  2. Hire a photographer
  3. Get your marriage license
  4. Hire other vendors
  5. Have the best day of your life!


Mackinac Island is located on Lake Huron, between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. If you’re wanting warm summer weather, then June through August are the best months for your elopement. The weather starts to cool off in September, but it is usually still in the 60s, and typically late September is when the leaves start changing and are absolutely incredible! Peak leaf color usually stay through mid October. The fall is definitely one of the best times to get married on Mackinac Island.

Keep in mind that this is Michigan, and the weather changes a lot! If you embrace the weather and make it part of your day, it can tell a really beautiful story. And photos in the rain are some of my absolute favorites! But I am always ready to change to a backup plan if the weather keeps us from our original plan. No matter what curve balls may happen the day of your wedding, I will be there every step of the way to ensure you still have the day of your dreams!

Also keep in mind that most locations are less busy on weekdays, and sunrise is usually the best time of day to find a private spot. Holiday weekends are always busy on Mackinac, so I recommend choosing a different time of year for your elopement if privacy is important to you.

If you’re having trouble narrowing down a date, reach out to me! I can help you with finding the ideal time of year for your vision.


When you’re eloping, your photographer may be the only other person besides your partner that is with you all day, so it’s so important to work with a photographer that you connect with and trust.

Many photographers, including myself, provide custom location scouting and planning assistance for your day. And honestly, I’m much more than just a photographer! I’ll start learning about you two and what’s most important for your wedding day from our first conversation. And as we begin dreaming up your day, I’ll spend the time to get to know you both better and help you with finding the perfect location and planning out your dream day.

Whether you need help with location scouting, permit research, timeline and activity suggestions, vendor recommendations, or you just want to talk through an idea – I will be here for you every step of the way. I also provide all of my couples with an in-depth planning guide that will help you two determine what’s most important to you on your day and give you ideas and inspiration.

I’ll be your photographer, your guide, your cheerleader, and your friend on the best day of your life!

If you’re interested in hiring me for your Michigan elopement or intimate wedding, you can find more information about my pricing here and contact me here.

The Butterfly House on Mackinac Island is a great place to visit after your ceremony! This butterfly landed right on Savannah’s shoulder as we strolled through the greenhouse.


If you or your partner is a resident in Michigan, you can apply for your marriage license in the county where you live, and your license will be valid anywhere in the state of Michigan. However, if both you and your partner are from out of state, you will need to apply for your marriage license in the county you are getting married in. You have the option to complete an application online beforehand, and then go to the clerk’s office to pay the application fee and complete the process.

Application fees for your marriage license are $20-$30 (depending on if you are a resident of Michigan). After your application is submitted, there is a 3 day waiting period, and the license is valid for 30 days from the date of approval.

Each county has their own web page and application to apply for your marriage license. Click here for an example from Marquette County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

While I cannot perform your complete ceremony (as I’ll be busy photographing!), I am legally ordained and can sign your marriage license as an officiant in the state of Michigan. If you’re wanting to privately exchange vows without an officiant walking you through a formal ceremony, this could be a great option for you as I don’t charge any additional fees for this service. If you’d prefer a more formal ceremony or someone to walk you through your vow exchange, I can recommend some great local officiants. You will also need two witnesses over 18 years old to sign the marriage license. I’ve had many eloping couples ask strangers on a trail to sign their license, and everyone has always been so excited to do this!


Once you have your photographer, date, time, and location selected – it’s time to hire other vendors for your day! As your photographer, I help all of my couples with recommending vendors for their day.

Some vendors to consider hiring for your elopement or intimate wedding are a planner, florist, videographer (my husband works as my videographer and video can be added on to any of my photography packages), officiant, hair/makeup artist, or private chef (many couples prefer a private reception dinner at their Airbnb opposed to a restaurant!)


After all the time you’ve spent planning and preparing for this day, remember to take it all in! Sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned – and that’s okay! What is most important is that you are celebrating your love with your favorite person in the world.

Your wedding day is so much more than a ceremony and photos. It’s an entire experience. From start to finish, spending the day doing exactly what you want to do with the love of your life. No stress, no pressure, no obligations. Just the two of you, celebrating your love. Isn’t that how every wedding day should be?

Whether you need help with marriage license requirements, permits, narrowing down a location, or getting connected to vendors, I am here to help. I guide all of my couples through the process of eloping and making sure that your day is everything you want it to be! I will be your photographer, your guide, your cheerleader, and your friend on the best day of your life.

You can make your wedding day whatever you want it to be!

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x Brittany

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