Showcasing the DNR: Michigan Upper Peninsula state park weddings

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A couple exchanges vows on the Lake Michigan shoreline at Fayette Historic State Park in Delta County

Plan a destination wedding at Michigan’s Upper Peninsula state parks

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Jon and Julie Sovinski of Fremont pose for a wedding photo at the Lower Tahquamenon Falls.

You don’t have to travel to the Caribbean or Mexico for a beach wedding. And no need to fly to Hawaii for a stunning waterfall in your wedding photos. 

For many couples, their wedding day is one of the most important and memorable of their life. Whether a small, intimate ceremony or a large, elaborate celebration, the venue and photo location are an integral part of the wedding.

For many people, that means the Upper Peninsula, and a U.P. state park location specifically.

“Our decision to be married at Tahquamenon State Park was an easy one,” said Julie Sovinski of Fremont, who married her husband Jon at the park’s Lower Falls in October of 2007. “We wanted it to be at the time of year we both love, which is fall. Fall in the U.P. is like no other, especially at the Falls. We wanted our close friends and family to experience the park’s peaceful, colorful beauty. Being united as one with those we love in ‘God’s Country’ was a true blessing for sure.”

Pat and Becky Prusakiewicz of Gaylord also had an October wedding at Tahquamenon Falls State Park – theirs in 2010 at the park’s Upper Falls.

“We love the U.P., and we both love fall. Even though it was a little risky to plan an outdoor wedding in October in the U.P., we knew the Falls would be beautiful.  And we got so lucky – we had a beautiful, sunny, 70-degree day,” Becky Prusakiewicz said.

Pat and Becky Prusakiewicz and their children pose for a family photo the day after they were married at Tahquamenon Falls.

“It was really fun getting married at the park. We love camping and love the atmosphere in the state parks. After the wedding we had dinner and drinks at the brewery, and everyone had a great time. The other park-goers that day also seemed to enjoy seeing a wedding happening while they were there. It was a perfect day!”

Michigan state parks have been specializing in making memories for their guests for nearly 100 years. Since 1919, these natural, scenic and historic places have inspired unforgettable moments for millions of visitors every year. 

Many idyllic wedding locales can be found in Michigan state parks, harbors, state forests and trails, and they may be closer than you think. In Michigan, you are never more than an hour away from a state park, with 103 to choose from.

From the roar and fury of Tahquamenon Falls, to the picturesque beauty of the windswept Lake Superior shoreline at F.J. McLain State Park or the quiet serenity at Craig Lake, the U.P. has nearly 20 state parks, managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The Recreation Search tool can help find an ideal venue for a ceremony, rehearsal or honeymoon.

Stunning locations

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Michigan state parks can provide the wedding location, shelter and pavilion rentals, lodging, even concessionaires who handle wedding planning. The scenic, natural and historic backdrops available create a unique and naturally beautiful atmosphere for a destination wedding.

Check out a video of some U.P. state park wedding couples.

“Our state parks have become very popular outdoor wedding venues. In 2017, 19 percent of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division’s permitted events were weddings,” said Elissa Buck, event coordinator for the DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division. “We have hosted everything from small trailside wedding ceremonies to large tented wedding receptions.”

One of many weddings at the Bond Falls Scenic Site in Ontonagon County is shown.

Envision saying your vows in front of a breathtaking waterfall at Bond Falls Scenic Site in Ontonogan County, Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Chippewa County or at the bridal-veil style cascades at the Laughing Whitefish Falls Scenic Site in Alger County.

A sunset ceremony at McLain State Park in Houghton County or Muskallonge Lake State Park in Luce County, both on Lake Superior, could be spectacular.

Perhaps a ceremony over the state’s largest natural spring at Palms Book State Park in Schoolcraft County, or amid the beautiful setting along the Fortune Lakes at Bewabic State Park in Iron County.

Historic locations also can be a unique setting, especially for theme weddings. Not only do the historic state parks, like Fort Wilkins Historic State Park in Keweenaw County and Fayette Historic State Park in Delta County, have restored buildings and interpretive displays, but they also have exceptional scenic areas like many other Michigan state parks.

Amanda and Jeremy Hardman on a bridge at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Chippewa County on their wedding day.

“Although the historic townsite could be used for weddings,” said Randy Brown, park supervisor at Fayette Historic State Park, “the most popular locations are Sawmill Point or the grassy area in front of the Furnace Complex for their amazing views of the dolomite cliffs and Snail Shell Harbor.”

Judy Woodburn and her husband Bruce – who lived in Illinois at the time of their wedding but have since become Michigan residents, living outside of Manistique in Thompson – dressed in historic clothing for their wedding at Fayette Historic State Park in 2003.

“We decided to get married at Fayette State Park mainly because of the beauty and peacefulness of the park,” Judy Woodburn said. “Park Ranger Randy Brown and the staff made sure we had everything we needed for our wedding. It was a perfectly beautiful day in July. Since the state park is a ghost town and in a remote area of the Upper Peninsula, it was as if we had the whole park to ourselves.”

How to rent a shelter, reserve lodging and get an event permit

If you decide that getting married at one of our fantastic locations is something you would like to pursue, you should contact the facility directly to determine if an event use permit would be required. At that time, a staff member will help you through the application process and determine if fees and additional documentation are necessary.

If requesting a camping, lodging and shelter reservation, visit

Theophilus Williams and his wife Dominique were wedded on Oct. 22, 2015 at Belle Isle Park in Detroit.

“The Parks and Recreation Division has a long-standing relationship with providing access to recreation and resources for the purpose of planned events such as weddings,” Buck said. “Our staff are happy to walk brides and grooms through the process, so we can help provide scenic and memorable locations for nuptials.”

Event applications can vary in size and scope.

Many of the weddings planned for locations, like Bond Falls in the U.P., are for 20 guests or less.  

“The couples are looking for an easy and accessible, but scenic and memorable, location for their wedding,” said Dan Dowdy, unit supervisor at Baraga State Park.

High-demand or unique Michigan locations, like Belle Isle and Mackinac Island, may require additional planning time and submitting an event application much farther in advance of the event to secure the date and facility of your choice.

See more information about planning an event at a DNR-managed location like a state park, state forest, boating access site, trail or water body.

Key points when considering a location

When deciding on a location, it is best to contact the facility to ensure that it allows weddings or the type of event you would like to hold. There may be sensitive natural, cultural or historic features that are not ideal for a facility to allow events or activities.

Find out if the location requires a Recreation Passport; if so, all vehicles entering that facility will need to get one if they didn’t get it when they renewed their vehicle registration. Ask who your facility contact will be and where to send the event use permit application.

Other questions to ask the facility about or consider when planning:

  • The date, alternate inclement weather locations if necessary and potential use conflicts with other park users or events.
  • Parking – some areas have limited parking and may require consolidating vehicles.
  • Potential insurance needs – depending on the activities occurring at your event, your event permit may require insurance.
  • Pet rules and pet-friendly/pet-free areas, if you’re planning to have pets involved.
  • Decorations or additional seating/tables for your guests.
  • Restroom facilities and waste receptacles, especially for large events. 
  • Officiant – plan ahead to find one who is willing to do a ceremony at an outdoor location.
  • Sound system, if you would like to use one – some locations may not allow use of sound amplification to prevent disrupting other guests.
  • Photos – be sensitive to other guests using the facility. Try not to include them in your photos. Use discretion in going off trails, boardwalks or designated areas to avoid trampling vegetation, flowers, and breaking or cutting limbs and branches.
  • Accessibility needs for those on your guest list.
  • Lodging – from camping to cabins and lodges, you and your guests also may be able to stay where your ceremony is being held. For more information about lodging options, call 800-447-2757 or visit    

Make the event part of a lifelong tradition after your nuptials and celebrate your anniversary with a visit, overnight stay or donation to the facility. Many couples return to Michigan state parks every year to celebrate anniversaries.

“We love to return to the exact location where we said, ‘I do,’ to celebrate another year and to be thankful to live in this beautiful state we call Michigan,” Sovinski said about her Tahquamenon Falls State Park wedding spot.

The Woodburns have a similar tradition at Fayette Historic State Park.

“We go back to the park every year on our anniversary and take an anniversary photo to celebrate that special day,” Judy Woodburn said.

Depending on size and nature of your celebration, a wedding in a Michigan state park location can be an easy and inexpensive destination wedding. There are also many lodging options for honeymoons.

Whichever options you choose, park employees are here to help make your visit a memorable one and to help you say “I do” at a Michigan state park.

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/Note to editors: Media contact: John Pepin, Showcasing the DNR series editor, 906-226-1352. Accompanying photos are available below for download. Caption information follows. Credit Michigan Department of Natural Resources, unless otherwise noted.

Falls: One of many Upper Peninsula weddings which have taken place at the Bond Falls Scenic Site in Ontonagon County.

Family: Pat and Becky Prusakiewicz and their children pose for a family photo the day after they were married at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Chippewa County. The couple was married on Oct. 9, 2010.

Fayette: A couple weds on the shores of Lake Michigan at Snail Shell Harbor within Fayette Historic State Park in Delta County.

Hardman: Amanda and Jeremy Hardman on a bridge at Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Chippewa County on their wedding day. They were married on Aug. 23, 2014.

McLain: Katelyn and Mark Preston kiss during their wedding ceremony on Aug. 20, 2016 at F.J. McLain State Park in Houghton County.

Sovinski: Jon and Julie Sovinski of Fremont pose for a wedding photo at the Lower Tahquamenon Falls. The couple returns to the park each year for an anniversary kiss./

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to