Northern Michigan | Elopement Planning


Alicia and Matt drove up from Grand Rapids for their Traverse City Elopement. These two are originally from Milwaukee and have been making the drive to Northern Michigan for many years.

Getting Married at Sleeping Bear Dunes

“Traverse City has become one of our fall weekend traditions. We always make sure to visit our favorite wineries, Mama Lu’s taco shop, and the world’s cutest airBnB – the Wadsworth’s Inn. Taking pictures in Traverse City seemed to commemorate both our fall tradition as well as our new life together in Michigan!” ~Alicia

The Gift of Light | Best Time to Schedule a Northern Michigan Elopement

We woke up bright and early for Alicia and Matt’s photos at the dunes. Sunrise is best for iconic locations if we want to get there before the crowd while still getting that early morning glow. Photographing at the break of day ensures our photos have dreamy lighting, and beautiful tones.  Sunset for the golden hour is great if you aren’t a morning person but still want the surreal colors in the sky. For weddings, I like to take a good 20-30 minutes during this time; Golden Hour is worth more than photos mid-day. While mid-day is not ideal, it’s not impossible to work with.

Elopement in Traverse City

Northern Michigan Elopement

Alicia and Matt are planning a wedding in Milwaukee next year, but they were excited about a Traverse City Elopement shoot. Alicia could not resist wearing her new lacey dress for our Dune Climb adventure. And in my opinion she couldn’t have picked a better dress for her pre-wedding Traverse City Elopement shoot.

Traverse City Elopement Photographer

Iconic Beauty| Where I Like to Shoot

I knew Alicia and Matt would be up for this sunset adventure at the Sleeping Bear Dunes. The Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes is my favorite spot to shoot and where the majority of my photos are taken. There’s just something about those rolling sandy hills leading up to Lake Michigan that is alluring to me.  I’ve taken numerous people to the dunes, some already have a love for Sleeping Bear Dunes because of childhood vacations, or maybe a recent engagement. Sometimes I have the pleasure of introducing this wonderful place to someone new who hasn’t experienced the vast, sandy dunes, and wide open freshwater coastline yet. There are many little trails and beaches to explore, some iconic and recognizable, there are also other lesser known locations you can only find by discovering them yourself, or hearing about them through word of mouth. Each hill, trail, pathway, or dune is unique in it’s own way, and I love that. 

I don’t limit myself to this one place though; it’s an ongoing mission to find new places to shoot. I’ve explored everywhere from Michigan to California, and I’ve discovered plenty of beautiful spots along the way. So if you’re seeking an adventure session outside of Michigan, don’t hesitate to reach out. Let’s explore together!

Sleeping Bear Dunes Elopement

When I asked Alicia and Matt why they chose me to photograph their Traverse City Elopement, Alicia had this to say.

“Your overall aesthetic was both timeless and modern. You feature candid action photos versus static portrait-based images. You also seemed down to earth and a true up-and-coming artist.”

A big thanks to Alicia and Matt for adventuring with me in the Sleeping Bear Dunes. I had so much fun photographing your Traverse City Elopement!

Have questions or Need Help Planning Your Elopement | Send me a message

Josh Hartman – Traverse City Wedding Photographer

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