By: Nikki Thompson

Want to say I do on the shores of your favorite Minnesota lake?
Here’s how to make it a reality!

Photo: Haley Front Creative – Fargo, ND

Options For A Lakeside Wedding

Dreaming of a destination wedding at the beach? With Minnesota’s 90,000 miles of shoreline, you don’t need to travel to Mexico for waterside nuptials; Otter Tail County alone features over 1,000 lakes! Imagine a warm summer breeze, comfortable shade from mature trees, the peaceful sound of loons calling across the water, and the shimmering blue water before you. Sounds like just another afternoon in lakes country!

Private Residence

Photo: Haley Frost Creative

If you are fortunate enough to have family or friends with ideal lake property, you could ask if they’d be willing to host your lakeside ceremony. Work out who will take care of the landscaping, set-up, decorating, and clean-up, and whether or not other parking arrangements will need to be made (shuttling guests from a nearby field may be a solution). While this is a low-budget option, consider offering your host compensation for opening up their space—cash or a gift card is always appreciated.

Commercial Venues

Photo: Ben Gumeringer Photography

Lakeside venues, such as The Barn at Five Lakes Resort, Frazee, MN, ( offer a lakeside wedding option with all-inclusive packages for the ceremony and reception. Opt for this when you’d prefer to be less involved in the planning, which would be handled by the venue’s trusted staff.

Public Lands

Photo: Brittney & Caleb

Most state parks allow for wedding reservations and rentals of picnic shelters or main lodge buildings for ceremonies and/or receptions. Park Manager Jeff Wiersma of Glendalough State Park in Battle Lake, MN, says he has seen an increase in park weddings in the last few years, the majority of which take place in the fall when traffic is lower (since the park remains open to other visitors). Glendalough has a number of location options for a lakeside wedding; contact Jeff at 218-864-0110 for reservation details.

Photo Tip

If a lakeside wedding isn’t a viable option, you can still have your wedding party photos taken near the water for a great backdrop. If none of the above locations work with your plans, a public boat access makes for terrific waterside portraits. 

Wedding Weekend Activities In The Lakes Area

Summertime nuptials in the lakes area offer guests plenty of sun, sand and waves, meaning your wedding weekend can double as a dreamy (and affordable!) vacation for your guests. Include these fun suggestions on your wedding website so friends and family can maximize their visit to the lakes area. 

Photo: Kristen Perala, Creative

Stay On The Lake

Where to Stay in Lake Country.

Stay in a quaint lake cabin, park your RV, or go low-maintenance and pitch a tent, just minutes from the reception venue. There are plenty of cabin and camping options in lakes area, such as the Golden Eagle Campground on Big Pine Lake near Perham (, offering RV and tent sites, as well as cabin rentals. Because of the demand, make sure you encourage guests to book right away.

Shop Small

Shop small, specialty downtown shops. 

Mainstreet in Perham or Battle Lake offer plenty of options.
Gear up with Up North shirts. Get suited up with trendy lake-themed tees + shirts from North Pines Market in Perham; perfect for that Insta pic!

Lakeside Eats

Boat to a lakeside restaurant. 
Parking is never an issue at the dock! 

Try Zorbaz for pizza and Mexican, a local favorite in Perham, Ottertail, Detroit Lakes, Alexandria, and more. We recommend the loaded Macho Nachos!
Try Longbridge on Lake Detroit, for easy-going American classics + live music. We recommend the Jaimacan Gold Rush wings!


Rent a pontoon for a sunset tour + drinks.

Check out J & K Marine ( in Detroit Lakes, Vergas, Cormorant, Ottertail and Walker for half- or full-day rentals ($250 – $350). We recommend an easy, pleasing bubbly like Moscato d’Asti for toasting. But please, have a designated driver (boat and land!).


Enjoy an old-school bonfire and smores. 

Most lakeside lodging sites offer fire rings and campfire wood. Don’t forget to pack the grahams, chocolate, and marshmallows!

Hashtag Tip

Encourage guests to post photos of their “up north” weekend activities using your #weddinghashtag so you can see what fun they’re having!

Find more Lakes Area Wedding inspiration in our
Fall 2019 issue.